I am a 32 year old American male. I dated a Japanese female from Kobe for three years. She is now 35 years old, married with a baby. I met her in Kobe, where I lived as well. We haven't spoken in about four years.

This summer I am going to Kobe and expect I will see her. The reason is because I would like to apologize for how I treated her. I will write her a Facebook later asking if we can meet, whereupon I will explain myself.

My question is what kind of language should I use? How formally should I write the letter and speak to her in person? Should I say "お久しぶりです" or "久しぶりやな!", for example. Or 神戸弁で、「最近何しとん?」? (When we were going out and even just friends afterwards we would always use the casual form, and often Kobe-ben 神戸弁. This was in a kind of playful way, because she is from Kobe, and I love the Kobe region.)

Since the purpose of my meeting her is to apologize for some of the things I did, there will be a tone of remorse. However, she is a very warm and kind person, not too formal either, so I expect she will still treat me kindly. Thus I do not want to be too formal if she will not be. However, I do not want to inappropriately suggest intimacy that is no longer there, if doing so crosses boundaries.

  • 3
    I am no expert on relationships, but I think it might be a good idea to run this by the interpersonal skills stack exchange as well. Especially if she is married with a kid, the situation could be a little sticky.
    – ajsmart
    Mar 23, 2018 at 16:21

1 Answer 1


My impression is that the language in written correspondence such as emails tends to be on the more formal side of the language in face-to-face conversation.

In addition to that, things have changed in your relationship with her, so I think being more conservative in your choice of tone (such as です・ます調) might be better.

(Interacting with ex-boy/girlfriends always carries the risk of causing trouble — with the ex-partner or with the new partner (or both) — so by contacting her, you will likely put her in an awkward position. I would consider twice if asking her to meet with you really has the effect you are hoping to achieve. As mentioned in the comments, Interpersonal.SE might be a good place to ask about this.)

  • 2
    I agree with です・ます調, and she will likely make a comment if she does not take well to it. However, when speaking to an ex, even in English, my choice of words would be formal and respectful until I'm told to put my guard down. It's always better to explain you meant no disrespect than to assume you can chum it up like old times.
    – psosuna
    Mar 27, 2018 at 0:25

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