Love Week: Melyssa - '5 Love Lessons'

Today I am writing you from Notting Hill in London, England!  We had an amazing week in Wales and now we are enjoying our capital city with our family members before they have to leave.  Yesterday we checked out Portobello Road market, ate fish and chips, and went to Kensington Gardens.  Today we are excited to take my boys to the Imperial War Museum and aim to get to platform 9 and 3/4. However we have at least 6 people with us (including me) that are still upset we cannot get into Hogwarts and never got our letter.  One person who shares my love of Harry Potter is my guest blogger for today, Melyssa.  

Melyssa is really the sweetest person I know and sometimes it is hard for me to think about her without thinking about her and her adorable fluffy corgi, Monja (also pictured above).  I love hearing about things he is up to on her twitter feed.  What is so great about Melyssa is her amazing way to connect people and in the blogging world that is golden.  Between her weekly link up and monthly snail mail collective she brings bloggers all over the world together.  Today I am glad to return the favour and bring you all to her. Thank you babette for joining in this LoveWeek series!

Hi everyone! My name is Melyssa and I blog over at The Nectar Collective. I'm a California native currently living in Tokyo, Japan where I met my boyfriend, Keiji. Being in an interracial and intercultural relationship can definitely get interesting (and fun) and today I'm sharing five of the sweetest lessons I've learned from that fella up there about love, relationships, and life. Here goes nothin'! 

  1. You don't need to be fluent in someone's language to have a meaningful relationship with them. 
Whenever people, especially friends back home, hear about our relationship, they always ask if I'm fluent in Japanese or if he's fluent in English. Actually, the answer is no. "What?! So how do you communicate?" Well, if I think about my regular relationships with friends who speak English, not everything is about words anyways. There is tone, gestures, facial expressions, and even silences that help me decipher the meaning of what we want to express. Keiji and I do speak together in Japanese and can understand each other pretty well, but I've learned not to undervalue the connection I can have with someone based on language alone. There's a deeper language inside that connects us all together.

2. Small I'm-thinking-of-you gifts go a long way. 
One part of Japanese culture is something called "omiyage." It literally means, "souvenir" and has about the same meaning. However, in Japan, gift-giving is a big deal and people give omiyage much more than we would think to in my North American culture. In Japan, omiyage is usually given to say "you've been in my thoughts even while I was away." Even if you go on a vacation from work, people will generally bring back omiyage for each person in their office, as well as close friends and family. Sometimes when Keiji goes somewhere without me, he'll bring back some small omiyage as a way to say that he hadn't forgotten about me. I never really thought I'd like this tradition because I don't think love should have to be expressed with purchases, but now I am seeing the underlying meaning behind omiyage. It's not so much about the gifts, which are usually small anyways, but about the sentiment - you're always with me, even when you're not.

3. Love is only between two people. 
Let me explain what I mean by that. I am a white woman from the US and Keiji is Japanese, born and raised. It's not completely uncommon to see a foreign man with a Japanese woman in Japan, but to see a relationship the other way around is very rare. Sometimes we'll get stares from people. I remember a time one of his friends asked him in front of me, "are your parents ok with her?" But the more stares or awkward conversations there are, the less I seem to notice or care. Because really, love should be between the two people who share it. It doesn't matter what other people think because, well, they're not dating us. And that's that. 

4. Japanese boys will never like spicy food. You must hoard it and eat it by yourself. 
Japanese food is not spicy and most people do not like spicy food here. You'd also be surprised what is considered "spicy." Keiji definitely has a hard time stomaching typical things like burritos or spicy types of ramen, but he also can't stand less obviously "spicy" things, like cinnamon candy or toothpaste. Yes, toothpaste. He uses an apple flavored toothpaste because minty North American versions are just too hot too handle. Coming from Southern California where spicy food reigns supreme, I obviously hoard it and eat it alone. Ok so maybe this one has nothing to do with lessons about love, but if it's any consolation, I love spicy food. 

5. If you love someone, you don't need to hide it. 
Japan is not a very PDA-prone country. I've heard that some couples in Korea match their outfits to show they're dating. You just don't see things like that in Japan. People are more private. But there is something I do see - people are proud to be in relationships. Keiji holds my hand wherever we go. Always. He also doesn't hesitate to tell people about me and share our relationship with the world. On a planet where sometimes relationships can feel like "burdens," my Japanese boy has always made me feel like it was a blessing. This is definitely one of the most important lessons I've learned about love - that if it exists, there's nothing to hide. 

 Thanks for stickin' around! If you liked this post, I hope you'll join me for my on my blog, The Nectar Collective, where I tend to write about my travels, Japan, positivity, my dog Monja, and anything that gets me thinking!

Now tell me, are YOU in a relationship? What have YOU learned from your partner? If not, what is something you've learned from past relationships? I'd love to hear your thoughts below. :)



  1. :) That was enjoyable -- a wondrous treat! YAY! :) And now I want to eat a boatload of spicy food!

  2. This was totally sweet and I loved how you went with the 5 things you've learned from being in a relationship with Keiji. Hoard all of the spicy food and I love the idea of omiyage because they do the same thing in Korea, seonmul, and it is CRITICAL to relationships and showing how much they mean to you. I am a pro seonmul giver after Korea! ;)

    Yes, they do match outfits in Korea and it was always hilarious/cute to see...I once even saw a couple with matching purses...dooney & burke, y'all. I always tried to trick Rich into dressing like me, but I never managed to pull it off because he always noticed before we left. Blast.

    I have a question for you on the subject of an interracial relationship. Is your relationship with Keiji your first? Because what you said about people questioning it in Japan is just like the climate in Korea, and it also rang true with me in my own experiences. Even in Korea, I would regularly get stared at when out with Rich or asked questions by random older Korean people who assumed I was Korean or half-Korean and they would be in disbelief that I had chosen my husband and even MORE confused when they found out he wasn't a boyfriend, but my husband. I loved what you said about love being between TWO people and they aren't dating you so they can just butt out. Every relationship that I've ever been in has been with someone of a different ethnicity than myself and even in America I've had instances of "are your parents ok with this?", "so what are those people like?" and "THAT'S your boyfriend?" *Imagine me giving them the serious side eye with a clenched fist* It's hard to stay positive when people think it's ok to question who you've chosen to love, but what you said is important to keep in mind. "Love is only between two people, and that's that."

  3. So loving to read, and a lovely tonic for the heart. It makes me think of my lovely husband and how much I miss him but feel so blessed to have him in my life. All the best to you, Keiji and Monja!

  4. This was so sweet, Melyssa! I'm happy to know that simple language barriers can't block love out and I love the idea of giving small gifts more often. I think they often go underrated in's not about the materialistic items, it's about the thought anyways! Also, it sounds like I'd do well in Korea because I HATE spicy foods. I'm getting better but for a while there it was just about everything and people thought I was nutballs!

  5. I love this post! I'm the oldest child from an interracial and intercultural marriage, and since I'll very likely have such a marriage of my own, I love this glimpse into the challenges and blessings being in that kind of a relationship brings.

  6. This was such a darling post, Melyssa! I'm a fan of all kinds of relationships but interracial and intercultural relationships never cease to fascinate me. I feel like the blending of cultures and backgrounds can make for a beautiful relationship even with its challenges. It's most likely that I'll end up being in an intercultural relationship myself so it's really nice to see your experience. :)

  7. This is such a cute post, I love it! I told my co-workers that I like Korean food, now every time I eat something that's supposedly spicy, they're like, "Is it okay????" I'm just sitting there thinking, "This isn't spicy at all..." haha. Anyways, I loved all your points, especially number three. I think this goes for any couple out there. Don't pay attention to the others and what they have to say, the only thing that matters is the two of you.

    As for me, I think one of the most important things I learned being in a relationship is that if you truly love that person, you'd do anything to make the other person happy. It hurts me to see Mark mad or sad, and I want to make him feel better then and there. That's why our fights always end right after it happens. We can't bear for them to go on for hours or days. Seeing him happy, makes me happy :)

  8. haha you nailed it with "this isn't spicy at all..." SO TRUE! I remember times when people would ask me in Japanese if something totally non-spicy was spicy and I would have to ask myself "do they just not understand spicy foods or do I not understand Japanese?"

    And I totally agree with your second point! I love making the people I love happy too and my fights always end quickly. I think it hurts me more when they don't!

  9. Mary, I totally agree! It is difficult sometimes and I think there are things that are just really hard for him to understand about me (i.e. why does she think it's normal to eat pizza more than once a week?!), but you're right - it does create beautiful opportunities to learn and grow and love! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

  10. Thank you Annie! It's nice to hear from others who are living in that same realm. :)

  11. Thank you Kayli! I agree about the gifts - it's something I want to keep doing! And you're speaking crazy talk about hating spicy foods! I can't live without them!!

  12. What a sweet comment, Molly - thank you! I'm glad you've found someone you're blessed to be with. :) Have a great day!

  13. HAHA matching dooney & burke purses? Actually purses for guys are really popular in Japan, too! haha that's hilarious you tried tricking him into matching. hahahah pictures please if you ever succeed.

    Do you mean my first relationship ever or in Japan/interculturally? It's not my first relationship ever, but IS my first boyfriend in Japan. But in the states I was in some interracial relationships.

    That's so weird that they questioned your guys' relationship, especially because you're not even Korean! Do they just not know that in the states it's more common? Ahh that sucks that people ask you weird questions about your relationship (especially when they already know the answers). It can be hard/frustrating, but I'm glad you've moved past it! :)

  14. Thank you friend :) And so do I! probably will purdy soon :D

  15. I know! I was like I'm America! I can do what I want, yo! They know it's common in the states (not good), but the older generation (and too much of the younger Korean generation) still believe in the purity/superiority of Korean blood stuff (crap) and because they thought I was Korea they thought it was their right to ask. If I was Korean they could then give me their opinion on why I shouldn't be doing what I was and some of them did anyway even after I explained that I was Mexican. I had Korean friends female and male who caught serious fall out for their waygook(foreigner) partners, but they are pretty strong individuals who just listened politely as they should before moving on. It's a really weird climate at times in Korea that doesn't get explored, but there is extreme prejudice to foreigners and anyone seen as ethnically inferior so racism is prevalent but not widely publicized.

  16. Loved this post! I was asked very similar questions about my Argie bf when we were dating. Thankfully, the questions stopped once we were married haha.

  17. This is great! It's weird how much people assume that relationships are totally based on verbal communication. When you date someone from another culture, you learn that's not true at all!

    And I wish my partner didn't like spicy food... more for me!

  18. omg I LOVEEEE you for this comment because it is SO how I feel about living in Japan and a big reason why I'm planning to move home in the coming months. Thank you for sharing this experience because I often don't feel like I can say these things since people won't understand/might just think I'm being ignorant.

  19. I totally agree! I don't think I realized until now how much of my previous relationships with Americans was based on so many non-verbal things. And HAHA gooood point on the spicy food ;)

  20. Thanks Andi! I'm glad people are keeping their mouths shut now ;)

  21. Mel thank you so much for participating in Love Week series, I really loved reading everyones comments today from your post. I've always been told to surround yourself with people who love life and thats one reason I really love to read your blog and appreciate all your tweets. :)

  22. Well shucks Bonnie, you are just too sweet! I loved getting to share this here and loved LOVED this whole week in general! It really inspired me and filled me with all the good stuff. Thank you for your kind words and inviting me to be part of this. :) I hope your vow renewals were wonderful. :)


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Bonnie Rose

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