Tsunderes in Real Life: Not Desirable Dating Material

Watching the relationship dynamics of a hot-tempered girl with a clumsy, accidentally perverted guy can be entertaining to watch.  If she’s the right character, the tsundere can be very pleasant to watch, even to the point of waifu-status.  But does anyone really want to be in that kind of relationship, especially in the guy’s case?

Last year at Anime North, I had the pleasure of meeting a very shy, cute, and overall charming girl at the con’s formal function, the moonlight ball.  We both attended without dates, and after striking up conversation on the shuttle bus to the event, we ended up spending the entire evening together, and I asked for her number, which she teasingly accepted.  We met up for a few dates, and got to know each other a little bit more, possibly to the point where we were very comfortable talking about our mutual interests in anime.

On paper, it seemed like there was potential for a sound relationship based on a shared hobby.  But as she started feeling more comfortable around me in general, she showed her true form: an extreme tsundere. The Naru-punching kind.

It as around this same time last year when I was driving the both of us to an amusement park (Canada’s Wonderland for you fellow Canadians) that we had a peculiar conversation.

She asked me why I didn’t bring swimming wear with me, as it was a hot day, and she implied that we would go to the water park.  I told her that I had an ear condition that made me prone to infection if I swam without plugs (I’m at the age where I detest wearing them), and that I usually don’t swim.  She expressed disappointment that she wouldn’t be able to go swimming with me, to which I replied, “Don’t worry, I’m sure you would have looked very nice in your swimsuit.”

Her face turned red really fast.  She seemed short of breath and struggled to hold back her fist.  She lost control.  She sent that fist flying.  Towards my face.

I was driving.  She hit me square in the nose.

If there were other cars on the road, I probably would have swerved and hit one, but luckily, I was slowing the car down to a stop sign, which may have affected the motion of my face and her fist, possibly causing the impact in the first place.  Either way, what she did was very dangerous, and may very well have gotten us killed.

It was also kinda adorable.  Kinda.

The car stopped, and she was still blushing.  “What the hell is wrong with you?” I asked.  “You don’t punch someone who’s driving!”

“You’re the one who said something really embarrassing!” She replied. “You weirdo.”

The argument went on like that for a small bit, and the two of us went silent.  I kept driving, I was a bit shocked.  I didn’t know what to feel.  The genre-savvy side of me was jumping for joy, having experienced something that you only see in anime.  The realistic side of me wanted to turn the car around and bring her back home and never see her again.

She broke the silence, but didn’t look me in the eye. “I…really want to spend time with you today.” Nothing else was said in the car, and we ended up having a great time at the amusement park, even if we didn’t go to the water park.

Let’s step back for a moment and pretend that neither of us are otaku, and that we weren’t aware of the tsundere archetype and all the endearing bitchiness that it entails.  From the eyes of a normal, socially healthy individual, that action was wrong.  You should never, ever, hit another person if you are in a relationship (still-developing, long-term, or otherwise).  It doesn’t matter what gender you are.  In this week’s Tiger and Bunny, even the anime fandom is aware of how wrong it was for Legend to abuse his wife.  So why is it that we are more likely to turn a blind eye in this week’s Hanasaku Iroha where Takako slaps Enishi?  They’re not even dating, yet we are driven to believe that they would make a very compatible couple?  Hitting is hitting, even if it’s something seemingly low-impact as a slap to the cheek or even a clean fist to my the nose.  It establishes a bad cycle of abuse and acceptance of abuse that can grow into something much worse, especially between two people who initially thought the gesture was affectionate or cute.  Genre-savvy turns into blindness when relationships turn sour.

It doesn’t even have to be physical gestures from a tsundere.  Who in their right mind would want to be in a relationship where one person spends the majority of the time calling the other a creep, an idiot, a worthless sack of crap, and so on?  Do you really want to live with that for the rest of your life?  How can you even be sure that her dere side will be worth it, if she shows one at all?  It’s something to think about.

We didn’t last long afterward.  We saw each other less frequently, to the point where she suddenly didn’t want to talk to me anymore.  Turns out she got tricked into joining a pyramid scheme, and even tried to recruit me into said scheme, which was a huge red flag at that point.  I had to break it off.

Maybe a little tsundere would be nice for a girl.  But not too much tsundere.  Even if she was the cutest girl I’ve ever met, I would ideally like to keep my nose intact.  Besides, shy, silent bookworms who wear glasses are the superior archetype anyway.

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32 thoughts on “Tsunderes in Real Life: Not Desirable Dating Material”

  1. Good observations, and good on you for drawing attention to the fact that what is accepted in anime doesn’t fly in real life. Now the tough part will be driving that message home to all the people who act like Azusa or Lady Elizabeth and don’t know when to shut it off.

    …Yes, I have been punched, choked, and violently “accessorized” by friends of mine who couldn’t tell the difference between cartoon effects and real life. Good thing your girlfriend wasn’t into Loony Toons. She might have dropped a piano on you.

    1. Wait, which azusa? You mean from k-on? Maybe you’re thinking of Mio, who always hits Ritsu whenever she acts really dumb. It’s a strange case for those two, because they’re both quite antagonistic toward each other, even if mio’s actions are reactionary. Even then, they’re friends, and friends are prone to do that to each other, likewise with close siblings. Relationships on the other hand, are a different case altogether.

      Still, Azusa is definitely dating material with her musical talent and adorable personality and hairstyle. If I were still in high school, I’d totally confess to her.

  2. As I read this I was sure that the punch would of landed square on the shoulder… I was really taken back by someone doing this. A lot of good points in here and you are exactly right. Tsundere stops on the screen!

    1. It’s reached a point where I can’t even find it acceptable even on screen. In this case, it’s not about whether or not they’d be right for each other, but I just don’t like wimpy males or overly violent tsunderes as individual characters, let alone together.

  3. Yeah, I’ve had my share of this working with troubled kids. Anime’s glorification of this social disorder is troubling, because the people who like it forget that it really does come with the horrible abuse, and that it’s not funny when it happens to you. Puts a new spin on all those “classic tsundere” characters when you re-watch it after an experience like that 🙂

    Makes you wonder what she would have done if you guys were in an accident.

    1. Which is why I absolutely love the way Taiga’s case of tsundere was explored in Toradora. Her depicted emotional development as a child definitely made her present-day character traits a lot more realistic, not to mention the way Ryuji was strong enough as a character to stand up to her violence at times. It seemed to make the times when Taiga did act dere (which she did a LOT) feel a lot more genuine, and it made me root for Ryuji to get together with her, even if I was shipping him with Minori the whole time.

      TL;DR – real-life tsundere usually means either that the person is anime-savvy but is easily influenced, or has a very troubled past. When going into relationships with the latter, you have to determine whether or not you’re willing to accept the baggage, or even work things out with that person in the end.

      1. In RL it might not have anything to do with anime, it’s one way that social anxiety disorders seem to manifest themselves. It might be an effect of media like slapstick humor, but not necessarily. All I know is that I wish anime would actually explore it as a social anxiety disorder and not glorify it 🙂

        Toradora was largely a show about teenagers with various social anxiety disorders, and it did very well with those themes for people who were paying attention. Taiga’s case is an example of the tsundere thing handled pretty well. Her behavior was consistent and not simply used for “slapstick romantic comedy”. It was terrifying to everyone. She knew it was wrong and wanted to change, even studying other’s (often bad) examples to become more normal. And Ryuuji actually called her out for her mindless abuse, which was a nice touch.

    1. Regardless of the message, I found the experience to be very interesting, and a hilarious story to tell other anime enthusiasts. I’d never tell it to a normal person though, they just wouldn’t understand. I tried to one time, and the girl really took offense about it, especially in regards to me taking it a lot lighter than a normal person would.

  4. That was an amusing anecdote. Fortunately it didn’t happen in traffic. Personally I would put something like that down to inexperience of being in that type of relationship on her part.

    On the portrayal of hitting, that was something that always bothered me about Index. It was just the way that a massive right hand to the face solved everything.

    1. I always thought it was his monologues that saved Academy City day in and day out. That’s just me though, lololol.

  5. I can’t help but think that the idea of acting tsundere comes from a very innocent place. If you really like someone, it’s hard to admit your feelings. Admitting any sort of romantic feelings towards someone requires a great amount of bravery, and amount of bravery that, often, people don’t possess. By acting meanly towards someone one likes, they can easily say, “See, I didn’t really like you anyway.” when facing a moment of rejection.

    That being said, I can’t help but think that the idea of a tsundere, especially its use in anime lately has become a bit more perverted (in the literal and figurative senses) from its initial meaning: a person who is outwardly cold towards someone they actually have feelings for. Instead, it has become what you describe in your real-life, and painful, example: a person who always resorts to violence in potentially awkward or emotionally overwhelming situations. Hearing a compliment like that, especially in such an off-handed manner, can have a far greater impact than you would think. This also ties into the fact that accepting compliments in a graceful manner is hard.

    As an aside: do you feel as if, because you both watched anime, she was acting in a way that she thought that you would think was attractive because of the tsundere archetype? You did say initially that she was shy, cute, and charming, which isn’t typically the first impression of a tsundere (who is more outwardly cold).

    tl;dr Admitting your feelings is sometimes scary. I’m not condoning her reaction, but hearing something flattering like that as an off-handed comment can be quite pleasant, but emotionally overwhelming. And wow, I had way too much to say about this. 😉

    1. “I can’t help but think that the idea of acting tsundere comes from a very innocent place.”

      I would agree with this, but go on to say that it stems from puppy love experiences in childhood. At its most simplest, “b-baka! It’s not that I like you or anything” can be seen every day in the school playground, even with the physical aspect, eschewing skyward-sending punches for general pushing and shoving. For youngsters, love at that point is a completely foreign concept and they are unable to identify those feelings as they are, and are not knowledgable on how to act on those feelings. As they grow up and learn more about it, it seems to move away from this childish model to a more straightforward one.

      “Hearing a compliment like that, especially in such an off-handed manner, can have a far greater impact than you would think.”

      I would agree, but not to the point that it would justify something as reckless as punching a driver in the middle of operating a moving vehicle. That said, there is a psychological aspect to what happened. She didn’t really do what she did for the sake of it, she was put off to the point where, as mentioned above, she was unsure about how to identify those feelings and used her most available experiences from anime and perhaps acted accordingly. Interesting way of looking at it, I would think!

      “do you feel as if, because you both watched anime, she was acting in a way that she thought that you would think was attractive because of the tsundere archetype? You did say initially that she was shy, cute, and charming, which isn’t typically the first impression of a tsundere (who is more outwardly cold).”

      It would make sense, but I think that using that reasoning would be a juvenile approach to the thing. That said, what I didn’t mention in this post was that she was noticeably younger than me at the time (she was 20, while I was 24). At the end of the day, I attributed our differences in maturity as one of the causes for the falling out. Maybe if she were a non-anime-ajusted 20 year old, My anime-adjusted maturity would have brought it a bit closer to her level.

      “tl;dr Admitting your feelings is sometimes scary. I’m not condoning her reaction, but hearing something flattering like that as an off-handed comment can be quite pleasant, but emotionally overwhelming. And wow, I had way too much to say about this.”

      haha, no problem. I find that geek romance is a very interesting thing to explore, since the dynamic is very different than that of your usual romance. In fact, I find that the romance in, say, The Big Bang Theory, to be rather unrealistic. I hate treading on stereotypes, but I can’t help but expect some of those relationships to be a bit more, say, awkward between the two individuals, especially given their supposed developmental backgrounds. Then again, it’s hard to make generalizations about geek relationships at all, considering the, um, limited sample size from which said presumptions are drawn from.

  6. “Her face turned red really fast. She seemed short of breath and struggled to hold back her fist. She lost control. She sent that fist flying. Towards my face.”

    Cool story, bro.

  7. I fell for a someone who can only be described as a moeblob. She was cute at first, but there’s a limit to how much bloody-minded gormlessness one can take

    1. I am amused and aghast by this picture. Somehow I picture a 3D scamp with a 3D-ified generic KEY character, big eyes et al. It scares me, but the schadenfreude in me takes pleasure in your displeasure trying to purge yourself of the CLANNAIDS.

  8. Pfft! I think tsundere works better IRL if the girl isn’t shy. I guess confidence makes it less dissonant, but people grow in-and-out of those phases.

    1. The shyness wasn’t a problem once she got out of her shell. In fact, it wasn’t until she came out of her shell that she revealed herself to be a tsundere.

      I do agree that confidence is very sexy. Shyness just happens to be the cute alternative :3

  9. I feel like the issue is more that the girl you were with doesn’t realise it’s dangerous to hit someone while they’re driving. The fact that she’s tsundere has nothing to do with it.

    Though I may be biased because I was talking about this blog post to my husband (“I just read a blog post by someone who said dating real life tsundere is horrible) who replied “Really? It’s great. Based on you.” So.

    1. I should probably clarify that in my world, we use the original meaning of tsundere (someone upthread defined it partially – “its initial meaning: a person who is outwardly cold towards someone they actually have feelings for”. Really more just alternating between tsun – tough and cold and dere – clingy and emotional.) No hitting going on in our relationship.

    2. It is true that the danger involved was sort of overshadowed by the nature of the event in question, but either way, she did hit me anyway, and her back and forth nature about stuff like that is noticeably indicative of modern tsundere.

      And yeah, I’m on the same boat about preferring the classical definition of the tsundere archetype. I have a post about classic tsunderes and how the Beast from the disney film Beauty and the Beast is very much one of those, you should definitely read it!

  10. I’m glad I happened to catch this post as it certainly rings true with me – without trying to one-up your story, I ended up *marrying* a tsundere.

    She wasn’t an anime fan, and I wasn’t attracted to her because of her tsundere tendencies but in spite of them – I guess a lot of our relationship on my part was me turning a blind eye (insert clichéd “love is blind” comment here) to the huge, sudden mood swings from not wanting to talk to me one minute to never leaving me alone the next, and (like your example) throwaway comments or actions by me turning into some kind of major diplomatic incident in our relationship… somehow the good times managed to outweigh the bad enough for me to live with it, and we ended up getting married.

    However, that kind of thing begins to take its toll after a while, and the moment that finished the relationship was basically when being tsundere turned worryingly towards being a yandere – I put up with a lot of abuse over the seven years we were together, but being threatened at knifepoint in my own home was the tipping point towards calling it a day.

    Long story short then, you probably did well to get out when you did – although ironically, I still loves me a tsundere character in my anime. I guess I’ll never learn…

    1. I think I’ve been playing too much Catherine, but I remember hearing a saying in that game that the relationships we seek today are idealized forms of the relationships we had yesterday. I think your case is an example of that, haha.

      Tough break man, it sucks when the girl changes from tsun to yan, even moreso if they don’t even get to show dere in the middle of it. It’s made of all kinds of suck. My heart goes out to you, man.

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