Friendship Marriage: Japan’s Latest Relationship Trend Explained


Friendship Marriage: Japan's Latest Marriage Trend Explained

Friendship marriage is the latest relationship trend taking the world by storm, and it’s got everyone talking. Forget the traditional notions of romance and commitment; these couples are rewriting the rules of marriage and how!

This unique approach has not only got people talking, but it’s also challenging many societal norms when it comes to marriage, romantic relationships, physical intimacy and cohabitation.

So, are you ready to unravel what the friendship marriage in Japan is all about? Let’s go then.

Related: 5 Simple Ways To Strengthen The Friendship In Your Marriage

What Is Friendship Marriage?

The sort of a marriage is a cohabiting relationship that is based on shared values, beliefs and interests. When you choose to go for a marriage like this, you don’t get married to someone with whom you have a romantic bond; you marry someone who is a very good friend of yours.

You enter into a legal marriage with your friend and live as husband and wife under the same roof. You also have the freedom to date other people and have romantic relationships with them, as long as there is mutual agreement between you and your spouse.

Friendship marriage in Japan is trending because such couples firmly believe that friendship can offer a more sustainable and strong foundation for a lifelong partnership than passionate and romantic love.

Deep mutual understanding, compatibility and a desire for companionship are what drives this idea.

Friendship marriage

There are actually quite a few reasons why this sort of cohabiting relationship is blowing up in Japan. For one, the birth rates in Japan are falling drastically and many people are just not as into the whole traditional marriage-and-family thing anymore. Raising kids and throwing a wedding are expensive affairs you know, especially the former.

However, it’s not just about finances. A lot of people value their independence and individuality, and they feel like a friendship-based marriage lets them maintain that better than a typical romantic relationship.

Moreover, let’s not forget the emotional angle. Sometimes, rock-solid platonic connections are far stronger and sustainable than that flame-out-after-a-few-years romantic love.

But of course, not everyone in Japan support friendship marriage, because they see it as a cop-out or compromise. But for the people who are embracing this, it’s really fascinating, isn’t it?

Who Are Choosing Friendship Marriage?

A recent survey found out that around 30% of single adults in their 20s and 30s in major cities like Tokyo and Osaka are open to the idea of friendship marriage. These are often highly-educated, career-oriented people who value things like financial stability and companionship over traditional romantic ideals.

Another significant group are those who have experienced the stress and disappointment of failed romantic relationships. Research shows that around 40% of friendship marriage couples in Japan have been divorced or called off an engagement in the past.

For them, platonic relationships and marriages offers a chance to find a fulfilling partnership without the baggage and risks of a typical marriage.

Related: 8 Questions To Ask Yourself If You Want To Avoid Marrying The Wrong Person

Interestingly, there’s also a growing number of LGBTQ+ individuals embracing friendship marriage. In Japan, same-sex marriage is still not legal, so this alternative approach provides LGBTQ+ people the freedom to enjoy married life without any judgement and legal issues coming their way.

Actually around 20% of friendship marriages in Japan consist of LGBTQ+ people.

Not just young urban dwellers, even some older Japanese adults are reconsidering the traditional path. An increasing number of senior citizens are turning to friendship marriages and platonic relationships as a way to find companionship and support in their golden years, without the full commitment of a relationship.

Is Friendship Marriage the Same as Open Marriage?

Ah, that’s a really good question – and one that a lot of people tend to get confused about. While both the concepts may seem similar on the surface, they’re actually pretty different.

The big distinction is that friendship marriage is is all about prioritizing that deep, platonic bond over romantic love. The whole idea is that these couples are building their relationship on shared interests, emotional intimacy, and lifelong companionship – not sexual or romantic entanglement.

Open marriage, on the other hand, is when a couple agrees to have other sexual and romantic partners outside of their marriage. The focus is still very much on the romantic, sexual love between the two partners, just with the freedom to explore other connections as well.

So, in a friendship marriage, sex and romance aren’t really a factor – the emphasis is on having a best friend for life. Whereas open marriage is all about maintaining that romantic spark while also allowing extra-marital activities.

Now, that’s not to say there can’t be some overlap between the two. Some friendship marriage couples do have an understanding about casual sexual relationships outside the marriage. But that’s more of an exception than the rule.

For the most part, friendship marriages and open marriages are quite distinct in their philosophies and goals.


In conclusion, the trend of friendship marriage in Japan reflects the evolving attitudes of people when it comes to relationships and marriage. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if it does work for some people and it makes them happy, then why not?

Related: 6 Unconventional Relationship Choices That May Seem Weird, But They Do Work

What do you think of this trend? Do you ever see yourself in a cohabiting relationship like this? Let us know your thoughts in the comments down below!

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