The Indian Myth of Kamadeva, the Hindu God of Love

Many modern Western symbols of love date back to the early Greeks and Romans. Eros was the Greek god of love, while Cupid was the Roman god of love and desire.

The image of a chubby Cupid aiming love arrows at unwary people’s hearts appears to be a typical Western symbol of love. Americans and Western Europeans can widely see him on greeting cards and chocolate boxes on Valentine’s Day.

What about Eastern cultures, such as Hinduism? Does Cupid trick them too? Or do they have their own “Cupid”? People from all over the world, especially Indo-European cultures, have sacred stories that are a lot like Hindu stories about gods.

Who Is Kamadeva, the Hindu God of Love?

In Indic traditions, Kamadeva represents the Hindu equivalent of Cupid and Eros. Kamadeva is known as the Indian or Vedic Cupid. He is the Hindu god of love, desire, and infatuation.

Jeffery D. Long, Professor of Religion and Asian Studies at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, USA, explored the old Indian scriptures about Kamadeva.

Kamadeva is the god of desire and love. The word Kama comes from Sanskrit, meaning “sensual desire.“ He is accompanied by his wife, Rati, a goddess of love and sexual passion.

Different from Cupid, however, Kamadeva is depicted not as a plumpy cherub but rather as a handsome young man who rides on a majestic green parrot named Suka. He is riding a parrot’s back with a sugarcane bow, a honeybee bowstring, and flower arrow points. Kamadeva, the Hindu Cupid, also shoots his love darts into people’s hearts.

This is how the Rigveda, the most ancient of Hindu scriptures dating back at least 3,000 years, describes Kamadeva.

Each of these elements of his description represents the inherent sweetness of love. Additionally, they elicit the spirit of the spring season, when new life arises in the world. Suka, the parrot of Kamadeva, symbolizes both the spring season and the notion of love, as parrots frequently live in pairs.

The Tensions of Hindu Love

The stories of love in Hindu culture illustrate the tension between the most deeply held Hindu values. Love is a highly valued belief, especially in the context of families.

The highest ideal of life, however, is liberation from the cycle of rebirth. To reach this goal, spiritual people must give up worldly attachments, including love relationships. They should seek meditative solitude instead.

Shiva, a highly esteemed Hindu deity, embodies this tension by combining the qualities of a devoted yogi with a loving husband and father.

What Happens When Kamadeva Intervenes Life with His Love Arrows?

One time, during a period of intense meditation, Kamadeva was going to pierce his heart with an arrow. Then Shiva, angered by the interruption of his meditation, blasted the unfortunate god of love with a powerful beam of energy emanating from his renowned third eye.

Actually, Kamadeva’s intention was good. It was not meant to whimsically pierce Lord Shiva’s heart. According to the Indian story, a dangerous demon, known as Taraka, endangered the world. None of the gods could defeat this terrifying demon.

Only Kartikeya, the son of Lord Shiva, and his wife, the Mother Goddess Parvati, could defeat this demon, according to a prophecy. However, Kartikeya had not yet been conceived. Shiva was the patron deity and embodiment of yoga, so he unlikely could do this anytime soon given his dedication to meditation. So, the Hindu gods sent Kamadeva to do just that: to make Shiva fall in love with Parvati and wake him up from his meditation so he could have the child who would save the world.

Shiva demonstrates mercy despite his proneness to anger. Heartbroken over the death of her beloved, Rati begged Shiva to bring Kamadeva back to life, which he did. Following this, Shiva and Parvati had a son named Kartikeya, who later killed the demon.

What Was the Message of This Story?

It says that erotic love is important in all religions, even ones that value asceticism and meditation as ways to reach the ultimate goal of freeing people from the cycle of rebirth and its pain. Not only is Kamadeva a fun thing to look at, but it also does good things in the world.

Why Are So Many Americans of Millennials and Generation Z Unhappy?

There has been a recent decline in the level of happiness and well-being among the American population, and young men and women from Millennials and Generation Z are leading the downward spiral. American Millennials and Generation Z are currently the most unhappy in the United States, according to a new survey.

What the 2024 World Happiness Report Revealed

The World Happiness Report of 2024 revealed that self-reported data from those under the age of 30 knocked the United States out of the top 20 happiest countries for the first time since the annual report’s inception in 2012.

It is worth noting that young people in Canada and other English-speaking countries also reported a decrease in happiness.

Different from this pessimistic tendency, young women and men in many other countries have an increase in their feelings of well-being. The report revealed that young people in central and eastern Europe, as well as certain regions of sub-Saharan Africa, experienced a rise in their level of happiness.

We still don’t fully understand why young people in these regions experience a different trend from those in the U.S., Canada, and other English-speaking countries. Their findings, however, indicate that this declining trend in happiness is not global.

What Makes the Current Young Americans Unhappy?

Key factors that significantly contributed to the rapid decline included young people’s dissatisfaction with their living conditions, social support systems, diminishing trust in the government, and a perception of reduced personal freedom in making life decisions.

As journalist Christopher Cann from “USA TODAY” commented, young Americans said that they were unhappy and disappointed because of the economy, the cost of housing, student loan debt, political polarization, social media, climate change, and the war in Gaza.

Women and men of Millennials and Generation Z Gen mentioned that several things, from high rent and debt to the comparison culture on social media, had left them feeling tired and unhappy.

Researchers agree that the trends in the decline in the feeling of happiness among young people in the USA, Canada, and some other English-speaking countries are worrisome.

A combination of factors, rather than a single cause, can be responsible for the decrease in life satisfaction among young men and women. Individuals’ physical well-being, academic performance, involvement in community activities, and financial income correlate with their happiness and satisfaction levels.

Among other things, an epidemic of loneliness makes young Americans unhappy. Experts have also expressed concern about an epidemic of loneliness among teenagers and young adults in America. This psychological experience has surged alongside an increase in virtual schooling and remote work, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic.

What Can We Expect in the Future?

According to researchers, one of the most reliable indicators of adult happiness is the level of happiness experienced during childhood and adolescence. This correlation raises concerns that American teens and young adults’ discontent may only worsen as they get older.

Typically, the level of happiness is highest among young individuals and decreases to its lowest point during middle age (40–60) before gradually increasing again as individuals approach retirement and old age—a phenomenon commonly referred to as the U-shape.

Over the course of several years, experts have observed a gradual decrease in variation in the United States. However, this year, the extent of this decrease has become extreme and very recognizable.

As Laurie Santos, a psychology professor at Yale University, stated:

“Honestly, I look at these data with terror, not just because of what they reveal about our country right now, but what they will reveal about our country in the future unless we change this pattern”

What Can Be Done to Make People Happier?

Both external (socioeconomic) and internal (personal) factors influence how men and women feel and experience life—happy or unhappy.

It is evident that there are several economic and social changes that society can implement to support the healthier and happier development of young women and men.

Nevertheless, young people have their own ability to improve their own well-being. Extensive research has consistently demonstrated that people can enhance their satisfaction in life and happiness by engaging in certain behaviors. These include increasing face-to-face social interactions, practicing self-compassion, and allocating dedicated time away from work, school, and other responsibilities.

The Power of an Individual Choice

Here’s an example from Christopher Cann about what young Americans believe causes them to be unhappy.

Ashlie Marchant, a second-year student at the University of Central Florida, recognized social media as the primary catalyst for discontentment in her own life and the lives of her friends. She deleted TikTok from her mobile device. She attempts to resist the compulsion to scroll on the screen.

“I’m trying to lean off of social media. It’s so easy to get caught up in it, and all it does is make me unproductive and upset.”

Marchant, age of 20 years, said.

Marchant preferred to read a paperback novel while sitting in a public park. She expressed her adoption of tangible forms of media, such as film photography and vinyl records.

How Passionate Love Emerges from Arousal

Here is a psychophysiological secret about why we fall in love with someone at first sight. It happens in special circumstances of autonomic arousal and the exciting context of a situation. In the appropriate conditions, the extrinsic arousal effect transforms any extrinsic arousal into love and sexual attraction. When and how?

How Misattribution of Arousal Makes Us Fall in Love

In his book The Art of Love, Ovid, a first-century Roman poet, suggested that a man seeking to seduce a woman take her to a gladiatorial tournament. It would most likely arouse her sexual passion and increase her desire. Only intense and vivid emotions, whether pleasant or unpleasant, can trigger passionate love. Why does this phenomenon occur?

Modern research has provided evidence regarding the consequences of misattribution of arousal, which occurs when individuals erroneously attribute the source of their aroused state. When people experience arousal in their autonomic nervous system due to fear, they misattribute those physiological responses to passionate love and sexual arousal.

How Men Fell in Love on the Capilano Suspension Bridge

The well-known studies, which Dutton and Aron did, are often called the Capilano Suspension Bridge Study (Dutton and Aron, 1974). For the experiments, they used a suspension bridge, and for the control conditions, they used a strong bridge. People were scared when they saw the suspension bridge because it was so high off the ground. People would be scared of the suspension bridge, which was hanging over the river and wasn’t stable enough to walk on. On the other hand, the same experiment would not show fear when walking across a strong, stable bridge. Researchers used that condition as a comparison control.

A pretty female interviewer went up to 85 male pedestrians, some of whom were on a scary suspension bridge and some of whom were not. Before the interview, the person asking the questions asked them to fill out questionnaires with pictures from the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) and tell stories based on those pictures.

The stories told by the people standing on the scary bridge contained more sexual content. Also, these male participants were more likely to try to get in touch with the female interviewer after the test.

How Strong Arousal Enhances Our Attraction to Attractive Women and Decreases Our Attraction to Unattractive Women

Two additional studies provided further evidence that misattributing arousal can facilitate romantic attraction. During those experiments, specific activities—listening to audiotapes of gruesome murders or comedy routines—or running in place—triggered physiological arousal in the men (White, Fishbein, & Rutstein, 1981).

Following that, they viewed a pre-recorded interview featuring a woman who possessed either physical attractiveness or unattractiveness. They then evaluated the woman’s physical attractiveness and sexiness. Additionally, they rated their level of interest in dating her and kissing her.

The findings indicated that, under each of these experimental conditions,

  • First, men had the impression that attractive women were more sexily attractive when they were first physically aroused by the experiments than men who were not aroused.
  • Second, men had the impression that unattractive women were less sexually attractive when they were first sexually aroused by the experiments, compared to men who were not aroused.

Therefore, prior states of arousal amplified both positive reactions to attractive women and negative reactions to unattractive women, contingent upon cognitively appropriate evaluation (White, Fishbein, & Rutstein, 1981).

How to Make Someone Fall in Love

I believe that the psychophysiological mechanism of arousal transfer offers a solid explanation for the transition of pleasurable emotions from sexual attraction to romantic attraction (Karandashev, 2017, p. 270).

There have been many variations of these kinds of experiments in the following years, illustrating how the arousal transfer effect makes men and women fall in love. They all replicated the scientific validity of the effects that arousal has on attraction.

So, what personal lesson can we take from this research? Next time, when you want someone to fall in love with you, bring him or her on some adventurous journey or exciting circumstances.

How to Love When You Experience Insecure Attachment?

Developing and maintaining a relationship with a significant other is difficult since many of us are dealing with high personal stress, anxiety, and psychological insecurity. We all want to feel satisfied with our relationship with our partner. But what if your partner feels insecure in the relationship with you despite your attempts to understand him or her and be supportive? How can you deal with insecure attachment, improve communication, and resolve conflicts with your partner?

The attachment theory has become increasingly popular in the study of love. Love is primarily an emotional bond that originates from our early years. Researchers classified individual types of attachment into four attachment styles: secure, anxious, avoidant, and disorganized.

Here, you can have the opportunity to discover your individual attachment style.

Our attachment styles can pose significant challenges for our close relationships, especially because, according to some research, human love attachment can be imprinted in the early years of life.

How Can We Overcome the Feeling of Insecurity in Our Relationship?

It is possible that emotionally focused therapy and human attachment theory can provide a better understanding of how to repair and heal our complicated relationship. We experience insecure attachment when we feel blocked from doing something for our relationship. According to the theory of attachment, it is essential for our intimate relationships to experience the feelings of being seen, valued, respected, and emotionally validated.

Avoidant attachment and anxious attachment are the two types of attachment in an intimate relationship that cause challenges in our lives. People with avoidant attachment tend to pull away or shut down from their partner to keep the relationship from getting tense. Anxious attachment is the opposite. People with this type of attachment tend to move toward their partner to close the emotional gap. That deep-seated worry is still there, but it shows up in a different way.

Julie Menanno, a marriage and family therapist, comments:

 “Both strategies ultimately fail leaving us with a relationship with varying degrees of fighting and emotional disconnection.”

Julie Menanno says

Practice of Secure Love

A marriage and family therapist, Julie Menanno, in her book Secure Love: Create a Relationship That Lasts a Lifetime helps us understand our different attachment styles as well as how they affect our romantic relationships. She talks about the fears underneath insecure attachments. She explains why women tend to be anxiously attached and how couples with different attachment styles can understand each other better. To help couples who are having trouble move toward secure attachment, she gives them a practical guide and scripts for hard conversations to overcome challenges in their relationships.

What does “insecure attachment” implicate for a relationship?

This is what Julie Menanno says about insecure attachment and its implications for a relationship

“If the [anxiously attached] partner is overwhelmed with unmet needs and anxieties—experiencing intense urges to reach out and get their needs met to relieve some of this relationship fear and anxiety—the other person won’t be comfortable, because it’s not healthy communication. If they can’t navigate their partner’s behavior in a healthy way—either showing up to help them with those feelings, responding authentically, or setting boundaries, which we would consider secure attachment—the next best thing is pulling away. Because they’re uncomfortable with too much coming at them.

In contrast, if the avoidant partner handles relationship anxiety and fears of enmeshment, or fears of weakness, by avoiding—they’re sending the message to their anxious partner: I’m not here for you. I’m not here to meet your needs. I’m not here to keep you feeling safe.

If the anxious partner can’t manage that in a healthy way—from leaving the relationship because their emotional needs aren’t met, or communicating in a healthy way to create safety in the relationship, to draw the person closer—they handle it the way they know. More anxiety, more pulling for closeness, more going toward, more desperation, more protest, more blame. That’s how they’re going to show up with problems of anything from how to load the dishwasher to how to find emotional closeness with each other.

Often, avoidant partners are invested in the relationship early on, pursuing the anxious partner. Avoidant partners thrive on the feeling of being seen as a success, being seen in a good light, being appreciated.

Early on, they’re not hiding as much. So the anxious partner feels seen, heard, they’re getting enough of those needs met that some of their relationship fears aren’t showing up. Things are great—but when they start to have conflict, it sends messages to the anxious partner: “Your needs don’t matter. I don’t really want to resolve anything. You’re too much.” Now the anxious partner gets more anxious. They behave in an anxious way that sends the avoidant partner messages: “No matter what you say, you’re failing, you’re getting it wrong.” And then the avoidant partner starts to hide more.

The more the anxious partner behaves anxiously, the more they’re reinforcing the avoidant partner’s avoidance. The more the avoidant partner behaves avoidantly, the more they’re reinforcing the anxious partner’s anxiousness.”

as Julie Menanno explains.

What The Stories Teach Us About Cultural Experiences in Emotions

How do we love him or her? How do we hate them, and why? Over years of research, scientists have discovered an abundance of knowledge and findings that show how certain situations, contexts, and behaviors elicit specific emotions, such as joy, love, anger, and sadness. Scientists have found that cultures substantially shape our emotions and the way we experience and express them (see, for review, Karandashev, 2021; Mesquita, 2022).

The Cultural Study of Emotions in the Hadza People and Americans in North Carolina

In 2016, Katie Hoemann and Batja Mesquita, the researchers from the University of Leuven in Belgium, started to investigate how the people known as the Hadza, a group of hunter-gatherers living in a remote area in the north central part of Tanzania, experience and express emotions.

Researchers collected the stories the Hadza people shared with them about their feelings. The authors compared how those stories were different from the stories told by Americans from North Carolina.

In a recent article published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, the authors compared the stories they collected from the Hadza people with the stories collected from American university students and community members in North Carolina. They examined the narratives people use to construct their emotional experiences.

Researchers discovered that these two cultural groups have different methods of describing emotions. Furthermore, the differences the authors have observed are surprising for the right comprehension of emotions. The manner in which individuals communicate and perceive their emotions can have a significant impact on their social interactions and relationships. In the absence of the right understanding, we can overlook nuance and diversity in our understanding of emotions. We can miss the intended meaning and what others are trying to say.

In these studies, researchers interviewed the Hadza and American adults, asking them to recall a recent time they felt pleasant or unpleasant, and then answered questions like “Where were you?” “What happened?” and “How did you feel about it?”

What the Hadza people and Americans in North Carolina say about emotions:

The Hadza people emphasize physical experiences and bodily sensations while Americans emphasize mental experiences and subjective feelings

Researchers quickly noticed that the Hadza stories frequently emphasized physical experiences, such as bodily sensations and movements. As an illustration, a woman in her middle age expressed her experience of not receiving payment for a job by referring to her heart, head, and hands:

“My heart is beating very fast until my head is pounding, because I’m using so much power while working hard, because I expected I would get something for it. But I got nothing.… When someone refuses to pay you, it’s like they cut your hands: because even if you go do other jobs, you worry the next guy also won’t pay you.”

Katie Hoemann and Batja Mesquita

Different from these narratives, these stories of Americans about emotion placed more emphasis on mental experience—subjective feelings, conclusions, and explanations—than on physical sensations, as did the Hadza. For instance, a middle-aged American woman highlighted her rage, her sense of “unworthiness,” and the wrongdoer’s malice in another narrative concerning conflict at work:

“I was very angry, but unfortunately I never had any respect for this person anyway. She abused her power, she manipulated people, she … [thought] that all of the decisions that she made were the right ones. But the effect that she had on so many people was, well, so discouraging, and … she really liked to make you feel totally unworthy.”

The Hadza people emphasize shared experiences while Americans on their individual experiences

Researchers also observed that Hadza narratives about emotion focused on shared experiences, i.e., other people’s needs and viewpoints. The young man below said he was happy after a successful hunt because he “knew [his] kids would be satisfied”:

“I waited for the impala to come close to where I was hiding, ready to hunt them. I was hiding by a big branch of the baobab so they could not see me. So, when they are starting to eat, and I started descending slowly and I started to shoot them … I was laughing so much because I had never killed an impala before. My whole life I had been trying to kill impala. This was a very lucky day for me.… I loved it so much because I knew my kids would be satisfied.”

This description is contrasted with a statement made by a young American man in North Carolina, whose story of winning a different kind of major game was far more self-centered. He describes his appearance in the local paper and the accolades he received as a “ego-trip.”

“I played for our varsity basketball team, and we were playing one of our big rivals, and I ended up scoring, I don’t know, like 16 points in the last quarter, which basically won the game for us. I received a lot of praise for that, and then the next day in the newspaper it had a big article write-up about me, and the picture, and so … I felt praised, kind of an ego-trip.… I knew I would get a lot of recognition that night and have a lot of fun.”

What Are the Differences Between Hadza and Americans’ Narratives About Emotions?

The authors summed up their findings by examining patterns in the emotional narratives from Hadza and North Carolina and comparing data from both sets of interviews. Participants’ comments about time, objectives, and the reasons behind their actions varied. Aside from that, the authors concluded that:

  • American participants place the emphasis on their individual experiences, whereas Hadza people place the emphasis on their shared experiences,
  • American participants place the emphasis on mental experiences, whereas the Hadza people place the emphasis on their physical sensations.

These distinctions show how culture shapes stories about emotions, just like it shapes any other narrative practice. There is no single way to discuss feelings. In fact, feelings may not even play an important role in how people make sense of their experiences.

You can see more studies presented in the recent books Cultural Models of Emotions by Karandashev (2021) and Between Us: How Cultures Create Emotions by Mesquita (2022).

How to Make an Online Dating Profile Appealing: New Research

The fact that the first dating websites appeared only in the 1990s might seem surprising. However, dating websites have developed significantly over the last three decades. This development had a significant impact on how partners met, fell in love, and developed their relationships. These days, over one-third of marriages start online. But this data differs depending on the culture.

Modern online-mediated cultures of relationships have changed intimate practices in online dating apps.

Research findings have shown the ambiguities and opportunities men and women experience using dating apps.

One of the challenging questions is how to create an attractive online dating profile.

Most people who are looking for love online will fill out their profiles with all the interesting things about themselves that make them stand out. They have a dog, three kids, or an iguana. On the weekends, they paraglide and do hot yoga, or something like this.

Sometimes, though, they forget to say what they want to know about a potential partner. They, however, are not always aware that others are not less but may be more interested “to be known” than “to know them as their partner.”

New Research on Dating Profiles Shows

A recent series of experiments conducted by Juliana Schroeder, Professor of Management Philosophy & Values at Berkeley Haas, and Ayelet Fishbach, Professor of Behavioral Science and Marketing at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, showed that the most important thing online dating users should keep in mind is that people are more satisfied when they feel like “they are known,”  rather than when they feel like “they know the other person.

Juliana Schroeder and Ayelet Fishbach recruited a group of research assistants to analyze dating profiles from Match.com and Coffee Meets Bagel. According to the information provided in the profiles, more than 50% of the writers were rated as desiring recognition from a potential partner, whereas only around 20% expressed a wish to know their potential partner.

Subsequently, the researchers requested a group of many online participants to compose their own profiles, with the option to emphasize being known or getting to know the other person. Then, they surveyed an additional 250 individuals to evaluate these profiles based on “how much they found them appealing and how much they would potentially want to contact them” using a rating system ranging from 1 to 7. Thus, their ratings evaluated the level of attractiveness and the likelihood of wanting to initiate contact with the individuals in the profiles.

What Do People Look for in Dating Profiles?

Consistent with their previous findings, Schroeder and Fishbach discovered that the raters exhibited a preference for the profile authors who placed emphasis on their desire to understand the other person.

These findings could provide valuable guidance for individuals seeking to enhance their attractiveness on a dating platform.

“What they want to be doing is saying, ‘I really care about you, and I’m going to get to know you and be there for you and listen to you and be a great partner,”

Schroeder says.

That makes sense, Schroeder says, adding credence to the notion that the phenomenon of a parent-child relationship is primarily about support.

 “It’s the one relationship where it’s very clear the parent needs to be supporting the child.”

A New Perspective for This Research

Schroeder and Fishbach’s next research task is to explore how individuals can redirect their attention towards utilizing their understanding of others to genuinely make them feel recognized. Then, it’s likely that experiencing a sense of being recognized may enhance both partners’ satisfaction with their relationships.

This positive perspective may also work in a workplace context, improving relationships with coworkers.

“To develop relationships with work colleagues, you might think not just about personal knowledge but also what are people’s habits and how they like to work,”

Schoeder says.

“While this was beyond the scope of our study, it’s possible that stronger workplace relationships could ultimately make a difference in terms of people’s satisfaction with their jobs.” 

What Is More Important for Relationship Satisfaction: To Know Others or To Be Known?

Partners’ mutual understanding in a relationship is very important for relationship satisfaction in romantic and companionate relationships, as well as with friends, family members, neighbors, coworkers, and casual acquaintances.

What Is More Important: “To Know Your Partner” or “To Be Known”?

A series of experimental studies conducted by Juliana Schroeder and Ayelet Fishbach showed that the most important thing is that people are more satisfied when they feel like “they are known, rather than when they feel like “they know the other person.

“People want to be known, so they’re looking for partners who will know them and support them. But because other people also want to be known, they end up writing these not-super-appealing profiles when trying to attract partners.”

Juliana Schroeder said.

In their recent paper “Feeling Known Predicts Relationship Satisfaction,” Juliana Schroeder, Professor of Management Philosophy & Values at Berkeley Haas, and Ayelet Fishbach, Professor of Behavioral Science and Marketing at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, contend that this phenomenon affects all types of our interpersonal relationships, including those with friends, romantic partners, neighbors, family members, coworkers, and casual acquaintances.

“Of course, people say they want to know their relationship partner and support their partner. But that’s not actually the thing that makes them happiest in their relationships. People feel happier in relationships where they feel like they are being supported—and for that, they have to be known.”

Juliana Schroeder said.

Here’s What Really Leads to Relationship Satisfaction

In their experimental studies, researchers first asked participants to rate how well they thought they knew a family member, partner, or friend compared to how well they thought they were known. Then, researchers asked participants to rate their relationship satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 7. It’s interesting to note that people frequently believed they knew the other person better than they did.

Researchers called this effect the illusion of asymmetric insight.

“People think they are unique and special and have a lot of complexity to them, so other people just don’t know their true self. Whereas once they know one thing about the other person, they’re like ‘I know you. Done. “

Schroeder says.

People value relationships more when they feel that someone truly knows them, maybe because it happens so rarely. The results of that study showed that

“In fact, the degree to which they knew the other person mattered less in how they felt about the relationship compared to the degree to which they felt they were known, regardless of how they felt about the overall quality of the relationship.”

Schroeder says.

In another study, the researchers gave participants one of two scenarios in which they encountered an acquaintance at a party who either forgot their name or whose name they forgot. Participants reacted differently to the two scenarios. Schroeder commented on this:

“If you forget their name, it’s not great for the relationship, but if they forget your name, it’s much worse — the relationship is over,”

Schroeder says.

When Ancient People Began to Kiss for Love

Anthropological studies of modern societies have revealed that sexual and romantic kisses are not universally present across different cultures. Such a display of affection as kissing was once considered obscene. Who first thought of kissing as a way to show affection for one another?

Historical analyses of ancient civilizations have shown that romantic and sexual kisses appeared quite late in human history and evolved in different cultures independently (Crawley, 2005; Danesi, 2013). Recent archaeological studies have reconstructed the “evolution” of kissing around the world.

A New Archaeological Study Revealed the Ancient History of Kissing

Sophie Rasmussen, Professor from Linacre College, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, and Troels Arbøll, Professor from the University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark, studied the cuneiform texts on clay tablets from Mesopotamia (located on the territories of modern-day Iraq and Syria) and Egypt.

Researchers found on these clay tablets clear examples of intimate kissing. In their article The Ancient History of Kissing, published in the journal Science, the authors contend that kissing has been a widespread and established part of romantic relationships in the Middle East since at least the late third millennium B.C.

“Kissing was not a custom that arose suddenly at any one point. The behavior seems to have been common in many cultures.”

– Professor Arbøll said.

Authors have suggested that the earliest description of kissing was engraved on the Barton Cylinder, a clay tablet from the mid- to late-third millennium BCE with a Sumerian creation myth. In the second column of text, a male deity, possibly Enlil, makes love to the mother goddess Ninhursag and then kisses her. What is interesting is that in depictions of kissing in Sumerian literature, individuals first engage in sexual intercourse and only then kiss each other.

Sumerian written history goes back to the 27th century BC and ends a millennium later, when civilization collapsed after the Elamite invasion.

Friendly-Parental and Sexual-Romantic Kisses

Researchers found that the Akkadian language (a Semitic language related to today’s Hebrew and Arabic) distinguishes kissing into two categories: “friendly-parental” and “sexual-romantic.” (Arbøll & Rasmussen, 2023).

The friendly-parental kiss is a display of familial affection, respect, or submission (including when a royal subject kisses the feet of the ruler).

The sexual-romantic kiss has to do with love and sexual acts, and it is not culturally universal.

The republicans of ancient Rome formulated a hierarchy of kisses and gave each type a suitable name:

The osculum (a chaste but affectionate kiss on the hand or cheek) was used as a greeting.

The basium showed the bond between close friends with a closed mouth and lips, and the savium was the forerunner of the modern French kiss.

When Kisses Were Permitted and When Not

In ancient Mesopotamia, kissing outside of marriage was discouraged. Extramarital sex was considered a crime on par with adultery. But the Romans also considered public displays of affection in the form of kissing to be obscene.

In some cases, the Romans even considered it a health risk. For example, in the first century A.D., Emperor Tiberius tried to ban kissing at state gatherings, probably because of an epidemic. By the way, many medical writings from Mesopotamia mention a disease called bushanu, the symptoms of which resemble those of herpes.

Professor Rasmussen believes that kissing originally evolved as a way to assess potential partners by smell. Healthy people smell good, have no dental problems, and are therefore more attractive. From this idea came the cultural tradition of kissing, especially on dates.

Is Kissing for Love Culturally Universal?

Is kissing cross-culturally universal? Who invented kissing to express love to each other?

It could seem that sexual kissing is a universal cultural practice. Artists widely portrayed the acts of kissing in a variety of material cultures, including books, paintings, and other forms of media.

The Myth of the Cultural Universality of Kissing for Love

Scholars from the behavioral and social sciences widely believe that romantic-sexual kissing is a common way of communicating love in many cultures. Some researchers claim that romantic and sexual kissing is a common practice among mating partners in over 90% of cultures (Fisher, 1992; Kirshenbaum, 2011; Wlodarski & Dunbar, 2013).

The widespread claims about the cross-cultural ubiquity of kissing across societies seem overrated.

Kissing for Love Is Not Culturally Universal

Ethnographic analyses of modern societies have shown that sexual and romantic kisses are not cross-culturally universal. The data from a large cross-cultural sample set (n = 168 cultures) documented the presence of romantic-sexual kissing only in 46% of societies. It is 77 out of 168 cultural samples. The remaining 54% of societies—91 cultural samples—had no evidence of romantic kissing among their populations. (Jankowiak, Volsche, & Garcia, 2015, p. 535).

The study found that romantic kissing is least common of all among Central American cultures and most common in the Middle East and Asia. It is nearly ubiquitous in northern Asia and North America.

Cultural anthropologists found no evidence of sexual and romantic kisses in New Guinea, Sub-Saharan African, and Amazonian foraging or horticultural societies.

Analysis of this cross-cultural ethnographic data showed that the presence and frequency of romantic kissing are more widespread in cultures with high complexity of social stratification. People in complex societies with distinct social classes, such as modern industrialized societies, have a much higher frequency of this type of kissing than people in egalitarian societies.

Culturally Specific Perceptions of Kissing for Love

The perception of romantic kissing across non-kissing societies varies. In some societies, people show simple disinterest in this action. In other societies, people consider it amusing, while in others, they experience total disgust.

For instance, Trobriand Islanders and the people across the Pacific Ocean in Melanesia were bemused by the foreign custom of kissing (Malinowski, 1929, p. 330).

“Certainly it never forms a self-contained independent source of pleasure, nor is it a definite preliminary stage of love-making, as is the case with us. This caress was never spontaneously mentioned by the natives, and, to direct inquiries, I always received a negative answer. The natives know, however, that white people “will sit, will press mouth against mouth–they are pleased with it.” But they regard it as a rather insipid and silly form of amusement.”

The Tsonga people of southern Africa perceived the practice of kissing as disgusting.

“Kissing was formerly entirely unknown… When they saw the custom adopted by the Europeans, they said laughingly: “Look at these people! They suck each other! They eat each other’s saliva and dirt!” Even a husband never kissed his wife”

(Junod 1927, 353-354)

Here is another example among the indigenous Tapirapé people of Central Brazil. In that culture, “couples showed affection,” but “kissing seems to have been unknown.” As Wagley (1977) explains,

“When I described it to them, it struck them as a strange form of showing physical attraction … and, in a way, disgusting. It was common, instead, to see a married couple walking across the village plaza with the man’s arm draped over his wife’s shoulder. A couple might stand close to each other during a conversation with the man’s arms over his wife’s shoulders and she holding him around the hips”

(Wagley, 1977, p. 158).

How Our Brain Can Love for Years

People have a very basic need for love, which affects both their bodies and minds. We need to love someone and be loved by someone. People from different cultures and situations may experience and show love in different ways. However, their basic human need for love is still the same everywhere (Karandashev, 2019).

Love is a feeling and an expression of emotion that arises from the activation of specific neurological and physiological processes in the human body and brain. Throughout biological evolution, our mammalian ancestors have developed these biological mechanisms for the capacity and necessity of love (Karandashev, 2022).

In other articles, I talked about how our brain evolves its ability to love and how the human brain works when we fall in love.

Brain in Love

In the last two decades, researchers have conducted numerous studies on the neurophysiological processes that underpin our feelings of love. Brain imaging techniques have proven to be a valuable tool for studying human cerebral functions related to love and romance.

Neuroimaging studies have revealed what occurs in their brains and bodies in the early stages of romantic love when we are falling in love. As a couple progresses from the initial euphoria of affection to a state of deeper commitment, the activation regions of the brain undergo expansion.

How the Brain Works After Partners Marry

Researchers discovered that when newly married couples viewed images of their long-term partner, certain regions of the brain’s basal ganglia were activated.

As Lucy Brown, a neuroscientist from Einstein College of Medicine in New York, commented,

“This is an area of the brain heavily involved in promoting attachment, giving humans and other mammals the ability to stick it out even when things aren’t going quite so well.”

People may show the patterns of brain activation corresponding to romantic love for many years after marriage. For example, long-term married partners who have been together for 20 years or more exhibited neural activity in regions of the brain that are rich in dopamine and associated with reward and motivation. This finding aligns with previous studies on the early stages of romantic love.

In the study of neural correlates of long-term intense romantic love, participants exhibited greater neural activity in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) when they perceived the pictures of their long-term spouse compared to the images of a close friend or a highly familiar acquaintance. The study also revealed common neural activity in several regions that are frequently activated during maternal attachment, such as the frontal, limbic, and basal ganglia.

As Stephanie Cacioppo, a professor from the University of Chicago, and her colleagues found, long-term love also increases activation in more cognitive areas of the brain. Among those are the angular gyrus, which is associated with complex language functions, and the mirror neuron system, which helps us anticipate the actions of a loved one.

According to Cacioppo, this is the rationale behind the evidence that partners seamlessly navigate a tiny kitchen while cooking together or can finish each other’s sentences.

“People in love have this symbiotic, synergistic connection thanks to the mirror neuron system, and that’s why we often say some couples are better together than the sum of their parts. Love makes us sharper and more creative thinkers,”

Stephanie Cacioppo commented