If someone can think of a better title, please edit or suggest a better one.

Recently, I have started noticing some Japanese people using the adjective 真面目な paired to words such as 出会い, 関係, etc, when referring to relationships. As opposed to casual ones I suppose.

I have a strong feeling that this is some kind of modern thing. Maybe an adaptation deriving from the fact that other languages commonly refer to relationships as "serious" or "casual". In the past I may have attempted to use 真面目 this way. If memory doesn't trick me though, that resulted in a sort of "understandable but odd" Japanese. Just as it often happens when someone lacking better options, tries to translate literally from another language.

So I wonder if over the years something like 真面目な関係, for example, became actually more common just as a result of that "understandable but odd" usage I mentioned above. Could this have also been aided by the internet age and the advent of popular dating apps, in which obviously this constitutes base terminology?

I may be completely wrong though and 真面目な has always been used like that or simply some Japanese people use it on purpose as an "odd but easily understandable by foreigners" kind of Japanese. This is all based on a limited personal experience and a hunch after all and that's why I wanted to ask here.

1 Answer 1


To my eyes, 真面目な出会い is a perfectly natural word usage as Japanese. I do not think it was influenced by any English phrase or phenomenon. Period.

...Well, I agree that 真面目な出会い is becoming a popular catchphrase, and I think there is a reason. 真面目な in this context refers to somewhat "proper" form of love based on the traditional Japanese standards. While 真剣な(恋/関係) also translates to "serious (love/relationship)", it mainly refers to the strength of your love. On the other hand, 真面目な more focuses on the form of love; 真面目な出会い/関係 refers to a "proper" relationship, a relationship that will not be seen as frivolous or hedonistic by other people. Recently, 真面目な出会い tends to be more emphasized in the konkatsu/deai industries. In Japan, the number of 草食系 people has increased, and the marriage rate is constantly declining. They tend to see love as an ephemeral, frivolous and risky thing. To them, 真面目な関係 has a cleaner and safer impression, and thus can appear more appealing than 真剣な関係, although both are translated as "serious relationship" in English.

  • 1
    Thank you. As I said, I may have been wrong since after all it's only based on (limited) personal experience. Probably I have false memory regarding 真面目な関係 coming of as odd for the listener in the past.
    – Tommy
    Oct 29, 2018 at 6:55
  • @Tommy Yes, 婚活 services really need to emphasize their "cleanness" to gather those "grass eaters" who hate casual dating services. 真面目 is a nice word for them.
    – naruto
    Oct 29, 2018 at 7:02

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .