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.

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).

What Love Languages Are and Whether We Should Know Them

Over 30 years ago, Baptist pastor Gary Chapman introduced a theory of love languages, suggesting five typical ways people express and perceive love. His book “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts” has become very popular since that time in many countries around the world. Chapman’s theory suggests that love means different things to different people. The author identified 5 different meanings and corresponding ways of expressing love. These languages of love are

  • words of affirmation (giving compliments),
  • gifts (presents big and small),
  • acts of service (helping your partner with chores or in other ways),
  • quality time (doing things together) or
  • physical touch (such as hugs, kisses or sex).

Gary Chapman claims that understanding your partner’s love language is the key to a good relationship. Many people who read his book have found it to be helpful in their relationship with a partner. This competency can have a tremendous positive impact on romantic and marital relationships.

Is the Theory of Love Languages Science or Pop Culture?

A neuroscientist and journalist, Richard Sima, discusses this question in a recent article in the Washington Post, January 15, 2024. Let’s consider some evidence.

Chapman strongly believes that almost everyone has a primary love language. And this language “tends to stay with us throughout a lifetime,” he said. According to his opinion, the only people he has encountered who say all five are equally important are those who either were always loved or never loved.

Chapman admits, “I’m not a researcher.” He said that some researchers criticizing his theory of 5 love languages interpret his work too strictly.

“I was never dogmatic to say that there’s only five love languages. I’m still open, but I’m a little more confident that these(five)are pretty much fundamental to human nature.”

Chapman said.

Some researchers, however, question the scientific validity of the concept of 5 love languages. Emily Impett, a psychologist at the University of Toronto, Canada, and her co-authors Haeyoung Gideon Park and Amy Muise  recently published an article in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science presenting an extensive review of the scientific literature on the topic (Impett et al., 2024). They concluded that core assumptions about love languages stand on shaky ground, unsupported by empirical evidence.

Their analysis of scientific publications has shown that there is no strong empirical support for the book’s three central assumptions that

  • (a) each person has a preferred love language,
  • (b) there are five love languages,
  • (c) couples are more satisfied when partners speak one another’s preferred language. 

Here are the main points of critiques:

1. Do People Have a Primary Love Language?

The existence of the person’s “primary” love language is a cornerstone of love language advice. So, a key assumption of Chapman’s book is that you need to know the primary love language your partner speaks. Researchers found that people tend to connect with several love languages, not one.

“In real life, we know that people often don’t need to make these kinds of trade-offs between do you want a partner who is going to touch you versus express love in some other way,”

Impett said.

“If that’s the core assumption, then everything that follows kind of falls apart in a lot of different ways,”

said Sara Algoe.

2. People Have More Than 5 Love Languages

Researchers show that people experience and express love in more than the five ways, or five key love languages, as defined by Chapman.

Other expressions of love are possible, such as the support of a partner’s autonomy and personal growth.

“We know that these things are really key for relationship satisfaction and might be more meaningful to couples with more egalitarian values,”

Impett said. 

“Just being nice to your mother-in-law, being on time for the opera, creating interests together, learning things together, doing novel things together. It’s a little different than just spending time together.”

said Helen Fisher

3. Having the Same Love Language May Not Lead to Relationship Satisfaction

Chapman’s theory of love languages implies that learning the love language of a partner and speaking the same love language as your partner’s would lead to a successful relationship.

However, studies show that partners who have the same primary love languages do not necessarily have higher relationship satisfaction compared to those who have different love languages.

According to Emily Impett, research suggests that perceiving expressions of love in any form leads to high relationship satisfaction.

Family therapist Dr. Gottman, co-founder with his wife Julie Gottman of the Gottman Institute, is renowned for scientific relationship research. He expressed his doubts that learning your partner’s love language is a key to relationship happiness.

“My general conclusion is that these dimensions are not very distinct conceptually, nor are they very important in terms of accounting for variation in marital happiness and sexual satisfaction,”

said Dr. Gottman.

Gottman believes that the idea of love languages focuses on the important question of partners’ needs and their satisfaction in a relationship:

“What can I do to make you feel more loved now, and help me understand where you are right now?”

Responding to all criticism, Chapman said that

“He understands that love languages aren’t “the answer to everything in marriage, for sure. But I think it could be a helpful tool for any individual or any couple that wants to enhance their relationship and especially meet each other’s need to feel loved.”

How Assertion and Hesitation Help Sustain Love in Bicultural Marriages in Japan

Authors: Clifford H. Clarke and Naomi Takashiro

Intercultural partners experience many challenges in building and sustaining love in bicultural marriages. In the previous article, we reviewed the key problems that Japanese and American partners encounter in their bicultural marriages. We explored those cases of third-culture marriage in Japan by observing their interactions and interviewing them.

We clarify misinterpretations through the use of kotowaza, or proverbs and sayings that illuminate the values behind cultural interactions. Understanding the deeper values leads to modified interpretations of each other’s behavior that become more isomorphic and mutually acceptable to partners committed to constructing together a successful Third-Culture Marriage.

In our recent chapter 51 in the International Handbook of Love (Clarke & Takashiro, 2021), we elaborated on the eight primary qualities of third-culture marriage interactions. They are important when partners commit to constructing together a successful intercultural marriage.

Here is one more advice.

Context of the Interaction Assertion and Hesitation in Bicultural Marriages

Partners in bicultural marriages have varying degrees of action-oriented versus being-oriented inclinations (the oft-noted ‘A’ or ‘B’ type personalities). When these are not in sync they cause tension. For example, in planning everyday schedules, leisure trip activities, even with the pace in which house chores or shopping get done, and many other occasions in which joint preparations are desired.

Time Is a Key Value

Time is a commodity in both cultures however it is worshipped differently.   Preciseness of departure times or eating times or sleeping times cause communication issues when there is a significant difference between marriage partners’ commitments to preciseness or being laissez-faire toward time (letting things take their own course.) But proper timing is also important and that can vary by context and objective.  

The kotowaza, Seite wa koto o shisonzuru or ‘Hasty ones make blunders’ reminds us of the issue of proper timing, such as when to end or leave a conversation or party. This also suggests the importance of enryo or hesitation as a pause before sasshi can occur (Miike, 2003) as in giving consideration or guessing a meaning.

Necessary Elements of Place

Besides the perspective of ‘time’, there are also considerations of ‘Place’ that bicultural couples must appreciate and resolve.   There is an appropriateness of time, place, and occasion, “TPO” to speak honestly in private with honne or tactfully in public with tatemae. 

Tatemae & honne (public & private speech) create style ambiguities that result in challenging attributions that question each other’s integrity, based honesty, shōjiki, or on harmony, “Wa, as the primary value in society (Prince Shotoku Taishi, 604; Clarke, 1992; Nawano, Annikis, and Mizuno, 2006; Oosterling, 2005; Pilgrim, 1986).

Here Is an Example of One Scenario

A long-term U. S. man, a professor, complained often of his Japanese partner never having an opinion of her own, even about where to take a weekend trip or what to eat.  The American wanted her honest feeling regardless of potentially having her opinion overruled.  Having “no opinion” created comfort in the Japanese woman while not in the U. S. man. It rather limited the scope and depth of the bicultural relationship.  The man did not value awaseru, to adjust, adapt, or match, as the woman did because without ‘the truth’, her shōjiki, how could he know that he was pleasing her? 

She on the other hand was practicing enryo, hesitation, in order to let him choose.  Whatever his decision, she was sure that she was happier to awasu, to adjust to his preferences and would easily gaman, endure, the consequences.  She would be ‘the wise hawk that hides its talons’ – No aru taka wa tsume o kakusu.

Here Are the Tools for Cultural Exploration

Kotowaza (sayings and proverbs – some are the same as sayings and proverbs in English) can uncover deeper values and assumptions, which are often unknown to non-Japanese (Galef & Hashimoto, 1987).  Kotowaza, like those from Confucius or Musashi, reveal models for strategic thinking and behaviors and can provide a basis for conversations about different styles of communication. 

In this case the Japanese wife chose to enryo, hesitation, and awasu, to adapt to his expressed wishes.  The husband chose to act in a way that could have conveyed rikutsuppoi, argumentative, or display what she may have perceived as ki ga tsuyoi, strong mindedness, and jikoshucho, self- assertiveness, not characteristics admired in Japan.  

Learning Through Experimentation

Differences across these two cultures due to assumptions about integrity, honesty, persuasion, and adjustment often result in dissatisfaction within the marriage. However, just deeper understanding is inadequate without exploring the necessary changes in attitude, accepting the conflicting values, and experimenting with new behaviors.

One Pathway to Conflict Resolution

There are two social paths by which to display integrity.   One is by being honest; the other is by being harmonious.   In Japan, Prince Shotoku Taishi wrote in 604 A. D. “Above all, there is harmony” in what is known as Japan’s first constitution. 

Honesty is not as core a value in Japan as in the U.S. due to the predominance of tatemae rather than honne in the language, which enables the construction of greater harmony. 

One kotowaza shows the necessity of what Americans call lying; Uso mo hoben, similarly, ‘a white lie is a necessary evil’ teaches us that lying is sometimes expedient in order to save face and build harmony, as in diplomacy or office politics.

How Japanese and Americans Sustain Love in Bicultural Marriages in Japan

Authors: Clifford H. Clarke and Naomi Takashiro

Intercultural lovers experience many challenges in attempts to build bicultural marriages. In this article, we consider the key issues that arise in the dozens of bicultural marriages we have known through observation of interactions and interviews in Japan. We clarify misinterpretations by use of kotowaza or proverbs and sayings that illuminate the values behind the cultural interactions. Understanding the deeper values leads to modified interpretations of each other’s behavior that become more isomorphic and mutually acceptable to partners committed to constructing together a successful Third-Culture Marriages.

A Third-Culture Marriage (TCM) builds upon earlier concepts of Ruth & John Useem’s (1967) Third-Culture Kid (TCK) and David Pollock’s (1999) Adult TCK.

What Is Third Culture Building Model?

Fred Casmir (1993, 1999) recognized the need for a building model or conceptual framework for individuals interacting across cultures for extended duration.  He developed the conceptual Third Culture Building Model (TCBM), which inspired Clarke & Takashiro (2019) to research and develop an applied process of communicating between Third-Cultural Marriage partners in Japan.

The Third-Cultural Marriage is defined by its process wherein two partners from different original cultures commit to a lifetime of utilizing periodic processes to investigate each other’s perceptions, values, and communication styles with approaches grounded in intercultural communication competencies. The goal of the Third-Cultural Marriage is to sustain commitment to the relationship in a way that demonstrates increasing mutual understanding, respect, appreciation, empathy, trust and love.

The Third-Culture Marriage interaction process they developed was built upon Barnlund’s (1976) holistic interpretation of intercultural communication processes and Ruben and Kealey’s (1979) augmented seven intercultural communication competencies.

In their recent chapter 51 in the International Handbook of Love, Clarke & Takashiro (2021)elaborated on the eight primary qualities summarized below.  These eight primary qualities below are not sequential steps of interaction processes but rather must be applied simultaneously with consistent awareness.

Here Are Eight Primary Qualities of the Third-Culture Marriage Interaction

  1. For Third-Cultural Marriage (TCM) creation, instead of trying to fit into others’ categories, construct together from your own experiences, with new definitions and communication scenarios, the intercultural interactions that are relevant to each partner. The ICC (Intercultural Communication Competencies) that are required is that of personalizing one’s perceptions, in other words, the ability to communicate one’s own values, beliefs, and assumptions as personal and not universally applicable and accept that personal preferences may need modification or to be changed altogether. This usually requires learning about oneself by analyzing how it impacts its new environment, the society and the marriage.
  2. TCM focuses on creating a process for communicating about any issues of your choice that you would like to create clarity around, such as making sense of each other’s attitude or approach to something or interpreting what each partner perceives as common sense in order to build common grounds. Develop mutual commitment to your communication process even as you make changes together along the way. It is this process that is your goal rather than building final unchangeable standards. The ICC skill for this process is being non-judgmental about whatever one hears from one’s partner, while seeking to understand and accept whatever that may be. 
  3. TCM is based on principles of fairness and democracy, focus on each other as equals and build an atmosphere of caring and respecting the other, avoiding confronting or trying to persuade each other. No one’s needs take priority over the other’s needs. An ICC for this quality is to communicate respect in a way that is acceptable to the other partner and that requires listening to the other’s preferred ways of receiving respect that generate happiness and self-esteem. 
  4. TCM requires a process that searches for new insights to oneself as well as the other’s including personal backgrounds, preferences, knowledge, and feelings. Think of this process as an exploration into the unknown of both parties and a negotiation that constructs shared experiences and new learnings. ICC that support this process are perseverance and patience because the end of the process never ends. For such sharing patience needs to be demonstrated and not only felt internally. Patience is required because exploring the culture that each partner brings to the relationship and then constructing together a new culture takes dedication and perseverance. 
  5. TCM processes are engaged with mutual enthusiasm and deliberateness. It requires conscious effort and discipline to establish structures, systems, artifacts, shared values, and styles of communicating that can enrich the quality of the couple’s lives together. Their process should be aimed at creating trust, respect, and meaningful interactions that both partners can understand, explain, and support. The ICC skill for this process is to show an ability to tolerate ambiguity when working together without demanding clarification or conformity to one’s own standard or common sense.
  6. TCM is grounded in proactive communication that avoids crises, conflicts, and problems because it takes a proactive problem-solving approach that can enable healthy interactions with modifications of external circumstances or ingrained cultural behaviors. The ICC skill for a proactive problem-solving approach is to display personal empathy for the partner when a situation seems to be creating a problem. The challenge is to learn how to exhibit empathy in the partner’s preferred way. That requires keen observation, trial and error, or inquiry in a way that shows appreciation for any answer. 
  7. TCM is strengthened by a striving for positive outcomes that will be beneficial and satisfactory to both partners for the present and into the future. It is designed to enable partners to build, create, and shift frameworks if needed by any situation but does not advocate any specific outcome as it is a process for constructing a new culture for a third culture marriage of partners from two different cultures. An ICC skill that suits this process is demonstrating role flexibility by the willingness to experience new roles within the marriage and the society, as an active learner eager to try new behaviors with the partner. 
  8. TCM definitely requires time because it is a communication process that serves to integrate thoughts, feelings, and behaviors from two cultures into one new culture. It requires of partners considerable reflection, exploration of new information, new standards or norms for the new culture.  Expanding one’s behavioral repertoire also requires practice with mutual support. The ICC skill needed for integrating diverse thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of the partners is a demonstration of perpetual reciprocal concern for each other. Concern for another is a feeling of compassion that is best communicated by action with or without words.

The foundational ICC that were mentioned in these eight steps are the authors’ modifications on Ruben & Kealey’s (1979) Intercultural Communication Competencies. (Refer to: Clarke & Takashiro, 2021)

We believe these pieces of advice and experiences about sustaining love and building bicultural marriages among partners in Japan will be helpful for partners living in bicultural marriages not only in Japan but also in other countries.

Authors: Clifford H. Clarke and Naomi Takashiro

The Courage to Love

Sometimes love requires strong actions. When we love someone, it is easy to mistake the respect we feel we should have towards the other person’s choices, with cowardice and fear. In the case of parental love, for instance, it is crucial to be able to distinguish between interfering and intervening. This is one of the themes present in Follow your Heart, an Italian novel that despite its astonishing commercial successithas been translated into eighteen languages and sold over sixteen million copies worldwide – is often dismissed as excessively sentimental and soppy. A more careful reading uncovers the true themes at its core: incapacity to deal with human emotions – often disguised as modesty – going hand in hand with familial histories of abuse within a patriarchal arrangement of relationships harmful to women as well as men.

An extensive article on the novel is included in the collective volume Love and the Politics of Intimacy (2023), an exploration of love in the 21st century. Incorporating academic writing and original creative work from scholars around the globe, the volume seeks inspiration for transforming and re-mapping the pathways of love.

Love Does Not Suit the Lazy

The novel tells the story of Olga, a grandmother who feels that her relationship to Marta, her granddaughter, has been recently infiltrated by sourness and misunderstandings. Sensing the nearness of her death, Olga recognises the urgency to communicate truthfully to her granddaughter. She therefore consigns to the pages of a diary the honest confession of her life. 

While telling her story to Marta, Olga exposes a palpable absence of love in all her most significant relationships. Between herself and her husband, as well as between herself and her parents, communication was formal and insincere. Olga recalls her mother dying “unsatisfied and holding a grudge” after a marriage characterized by unkindness and spite. As Olga’s account reaches its highpoint, the reader discovers that at the centre of Olga’s pain is an immense sense of guilt for having  caused – albeit involuntarily – the car accident in which her daughter died.

Wishing to leave behind an honest and coherent narrative of her life, for herself as well as for Marta, Olga recognizes, one by one, her faults and mistakes. First, she sees that behind her apparently progressive choice of respecting and not interfering with her daughter’s unhappiness was hidden a good amount of laziness and cowardice: “love doesn’t suit the lazy, sometimes it requires strong, precise actions. Do you see? I disguised my listless cowardice as noble sentiments about personal liberty” (Tamaro, 1994, p. 63-64).

Olga’s Lack of Courage

Ultimately, Olga blames her lack of courage and self-knowledge for her incapacity to really love her daughter, for not having understood the difference between interfering and intervening, and for having lived her life in fear: “most of my life has been like this, I didn’t swim, I floundered. With uncertain, confused movements, without elegance or joy, I have barely managed to keep myself afloat” (Tamaro, 1994, p.79).

One of the most interesting aspects of the novel is that it does not shy away from describing the strong connection between emotional incompetence, its damaging and far-reaching power, and cruelty, one of its most frequent outcomes. Olga, who was a young woman in post-fascist Italy, connects her bitterness to the condition of women in general, vividly describing a world in which men could access opportunities of self-realization: “men had their professions, their politics, their wars, they had outlets for their energy. Women, to the contrary, for countless generations have been confined to the bedroom, the kitchen, and the bathroom; we have taken millions of steps, millions of gestures, each one encumbered by the same rancour and the same dissatisfaction” (Tamaro, 1994, 49-50).

The Courage of Reading without Prejudice

While reading the story of Olga, I thought that it could be of particular interest to the younger generations, more and more accustomed, when discussing familial or romantic relationships, to a language that highlights consent, self-affirmation, the transparency of feelings, as if these perspectives had always been widely shared and available to everyone. To the contrary, private histories have always been, and still are, fraught with conflicts, abuse, and ineptitude in dealing with human emotions. As such, narratives that investigate these aspects should be read without prejudice in order to better understand the complex and contradictory history of our relationships.

Francesca Pierini, Asian University for Women

Why People Love Romantic Comedies

Why are romantic comedies so popular among people? Do their narratives reflect men’s and women’s love?

Romantic comedies, also known as rom-coms, are among the most popular film genres. However, they have often been criticized for not being serious enough and for distorting people’s perceptions of love.

Anthropology of Romantic Comedies

Marianne Gabrielsson, a student from the School of Global Studies at University of Gothenburg studied these questions from an anthropological perspective. She explored:

  • Why do people watch romcoms?
  • In what way do people embody love as portrayed in romcoms?
  • How can we relate people’s perceptions of love to the romcom genre?

What the Study Revealed

Thus, according to the recent study conducted by Marianne Gabrielsson,

  • Romantic comedies have psychopharmacologic functions in the sense of escapism.
  • People embody romcoms in terms of EPIC love, disappointment, fear, non-realistic demands, resignation, false happiness, or joy.
  • Romantic comedies are often negatively loaded with ideals, traditionalism, stereotypes, and conformity.

The Functions that Romantic Comedies Have in People’ Lives

The concept of escapism serves as an indicator of underlying societal issues, wherein romantic comedies are often depicted as a potential solution rather than a contributing factor to these problems.

Paradoxically, romantic comedies present this solution in a stigmatized, negative tone, causing feelings of shame, blame, and belittleness, contextualizing romcoms as a ‘guilty pleasure’ for the female consumer.

As a result of this paradox, culture continues to rewrite cultural norms and reinforce stereotypes, reproducing the outdated idea of the Other. This way, romantic comedies divide people into intellectual, serious, and pragmatic consumers and the rest: the naive and stupid consumers of banal and superficial depictions of love.

This suggests a shift in the focus of discourse from a widely shared sentiment of love to a more practical and rational approach.

Nevertheless, the study found that love is related to pragmatism, disappointment, and love always being for someone else. The author conducted the interviews that revealed a prevalent views of love as aspirations, dreams, and a desire for a love that transcends societal norms and expectations.

Conclusions of the Study

The author concludes that the complexity exhibited by romantic comedies presents a promising path for future academic research. Within this realm, three specific aspects have emerged as particularly intriguing subjects of study:

  • 1) The phenomenon of culture consumption encompasses various forms such as film, literature, music, and social media. And it has its significant impact on society.
  • 2) The persistent practice of rewriting culture is an ongoing process that shapes and reshapes societal norms and values.
  • 3) Within the field of anthropology, there exists a notable gap in the discourse surrounding the potential universality of love as a human experience.

How to Avoid Date Night Boredom and Passion Decline

The article describes how a date night, and a romantic relationship can become boring and what partners can do to make them more passionate.

Many love scholars consider passion to be a key feature of romantic love and the beginning of romantic relationships. The boost of passion appears so high that it seems like its intensity will never fade. However, keeping the spark of passionate love alive is challenging.

How to Maintain Passion in a Romantic Relationship

In romantic relationships, passion entails intense feelings of emotional and sexual longing for a partner. In European and European-American cultures, many people believe that they can be happier when their romantic relationships are more passionate. However, the reality of relationships shows that passion, which is usually high when a romantic relationship starts, tends to fade over time as the relationship evolves (Karandashev, 2019; 2022).

You can certainly foster passion in long-term relationships by participating in exciting activities with a partner, such as travel, hiking, or date nights. People can gain new perceptions of a relationship and themselves through these kinds of activities, especially when they are distinctively special.

For instance, you might discover that you enjoy camping, hear various political viewpoints, or encounter various cultural practices and cuisines. Being engaged in these events may lead to greater sexual arousal, passion, and relationship satisfaction. This psychological phenomenon refers to the “excitation transfer.”

The excitation-transfer effect explains the secret of falling in love instantly. It also explains how sexual arousal transfers to other emotions.

The advantages of participating in an exciting activity with a partner are evident. However, many have difficulties doing so. For example, some people may not be very good at setting up exciting dates with their romantic partners. Others may experience difficulties or be stressed by something else. They might be ill. They may have a hard time finding childcare, or they may be strapped for cash.

What Is the Boredom of Date Night and a Relationship?

Another problem is that one of the partners or both can become bored in a relationship rut, also known as boredom.

Boredom is a dissatisfying emotional state that can affect all aspects of a person’s life, including their relationships. At its most extreme, relationship boredom is apathy associated with feeling trapped and not wanting to be around the partner.

Typically, a person feeling bored in a relationship can feel like they have lost something once positive. You may feel as though the spark, fun, and laughter have disappeared. ‘Spice things up’ is a common piece of advice given to individuals who feel stuck in a rut. However, does it work?

Boredom Affects the Frequency and Quality of Date Nights

The feeling of boredom makes it more difficult to add excitement to the relationship. To investigate the problem, Cheryl Harasymchuk, a professor of psychology at Carleton University in Canada, studied how people maintain happy relationships.

In a recent study, the authors tracked the relationships of couples who were already in committed relationships. Researchers monitored their experiences on a daily basis over three weeks, followed by a three-month follow-up.

The authors revealed that on days when partners were more bored in their relationship than usual, they had a lower occurrence of exciting, shared activities (such as date nights).

Furthermore, when men or women who were more bored than usual went on dates, they had dates of lower quality and experienced lower feelings of enjoyment, passion, closeness, and satisfaction. The authors also discovered that men or women who were bored at the start of the study had fewer exciting dates and less relationship passion three months later. Thus, oddly, just when couples need it the most, bored partners are less likely to engage in date nights. Even if they do, the quality of their dates may be lower.

How to Avoid a Boring Date Night and the Decline of Passion

What can couples do, then, to rekindle their passion and break out of a rut?

First of all, you should remember that not every type of date night will be ideal for you. A couple may attend a play as an idea for an exciting date. While it can become another couple’s disappointment. This does not mean that you must go “bungee jumping.”

Talk with your partners about what will fit the level of excitement in your relationship. What fascinates you two? Attempt a novel, exotic restaurant? Or testing your teamwork to see if you can survive a terrifying haunted house? Even discussing potential outcomes can occasionally be exciting.

Partners may also try a variety of activities before settling on one that appeals to both of them in their relationship. For instance, both a man and a woman may not enjoy dancing or rock climbing, but they might enjoy taking a cooking class together.

Partners’ expectations are also important. They may need to adjust their beliefs in order to avoid unrealistic goals, such as recreating the intense feelings from the beginning of the relationship. Instead, partners should concentrate on being present in the moment and being thankful for the time spent with their loved ones.

Finally, there are numerous spices in the “spice things up” cabinet. If you can’t find the right ingredient for your love and relationship, ask around or look it up on the internet.

Lastly, doing fun things together is just one way to make a relationship more passionate. Spending time apart doing hobbies can give couples new things to talk about and give the relationship new energy in terms of how each person feels and how the other person sees them.

Take Notice of Your Partner’s Being Grateful to You

Gratitude is the best attitude. Love and happiness are closely associated with being grateful. On the other hand, it is so great when your partner notices your being grateful.

Please recall the last time you were thankful for someone. This was most likely because someone did something good for you. You were grateful, and you thanked your partner for doing this for you. Right?

Feeling and expressing gratitude to others are great experiences associated with positive relationship outcomes, including one’s feeling of being happy.

But what happens when your partner in a relationship perceives your gratitude towards them? Do they really see it? Do you see when someone is grateful to you for what you did for them?

How Can I Know that my Partner Sees Me Being Grateful for Him or Her?

First, it is necessary to understand how people perceive each other’s gratitude. And only then can we answer the question and understand whether perceiving a partner’s gratitude also benefits you and the relationship. These perceptions can be accurate or not. Actually, partners may not really notice that their partner is grateful to them. What a bummer, isn’t it?

What might that entail when your partner is grateful? Consider the following relationships: Monica and Chandler, Rachel and Ross, and Phoebe and Joey. If someone asked Monica, Rachel, and Phoebe to rate their partner’s gratitude, what would they say?

They might rate their partner’s gratitude as 7, 8, or 9 on a 10-point scale, respectively.

Then, we need to compare their perceptions of their partner’s gratitude with their partner’s actual gratitude. Right? Only then can we determine whether they are accurate or not and whether they are under- or over-perceiving their partner’s gratitude.

When asked, Chandler, Ross, and Joey might say they are grateful to their partners, rating their gratitude on a scale of 6, 7, and 8, respectively.

Do these women notice their partners’ being grateful? How can we know this?

If each woman underestimated their partner’s gratitude by one point, they were all inaccurate and somewhat biased. The fact that Rachel rated her partner higher than Monica or Phoebe and that this matches the pattern of their partners’ levels of gratitude shows that they were also largely accurate. However, Ross’s actual rating of gratitude was higher than Chandler’s and Joey’s ratings.

The key point here is that partners may underestimate or exaggerate their partner’s gratitude. However, they are still accurate about the relative levels of gratitude of their partners. They are relatively accurate in their perception of their partner’s being grateful.

How Accurate and Biased Are Partners’ Gratitude Perceptions of Each Other?

Hasagani Tissera, the graduate research student at McGill University, collaborated with other researchers working at McGill, York University, and the University of Toronto to explore this question. In two studies, which they administered among 514 couples, they asked each partner in the couple to report on how grateful they are and how grateful they believe their partner is. We also asked how partners are satisfied with their relationships. Researchers administered their survey by asking partners independently of each other.

Then, researchers compared partners’ perceptions of their partners’ gratitude with their partners’ actual gratitude. Surprisingly, they discovered that partners tended to underestimate their partners’ gratitude. Nevertheless, they remained reasonably accurate about it.

Why so?

Why Do Partners Fail to Recognize Others’ Being Grateful?

Obviously, it makes sense. It would be good and important to know how grateful your partner is. This makes them feel satisfied.

What might be less apparent is why people often don’t see how grateful their partner is. Why do partners tend to be biased in a certain way? What does it entail in a relationship?

Thinking that the other person isn’t as grateful as they really are might keep partners from getting too comfortable and push them to keep working on making the relationship better. This is different from thinking their partners are more thankful than they really are. The latter could cause them to put in less effort in the future and put the relationship at risk.

How Biased Gratitude Perceptions Affect Relationship Satisfaction

In fact, a relationship depends on how much a person underestimates their partner’s appreciation. If they are drastically off, it is associated with a less happy relationship. However, a small mistake in the perception of gratitude can make a relationship happier.

If partners do not believe their partners are grateful, despite the fact that they are extremely grateful, this could lead to serious problems in a relationship. The large gaps in partners’ underestimation of gratitude are detrimental to relationship satisfaction. However, a small gap appears to be beneficial.

It Is Wise for a Woman Hiding Her Defects

Ovid was a renowned Roman poet who lived between 43 BCE and 17 CE. His poetry trilogy “Ars Amatoria” (The Art of Love) has been popular among educated and noble individuals for centuries. Numerous modern humanities scholars are familiar with Ovid’s “The Art of Love.” In his poems, Ovid instructs Roman men and women on how to attract and maintain a partner’s affection as well as how to make love.

The Romans lived in a different time and had a different way of life than people do now. But I think that educated men and women today can still learn something from Ovid’s poetry collections about love. This is why I’ve put excerpts from these books on this website for people who want to learn more about how ancient Romans thought about love.

“Ars Amatoria” is a book of poetry with helpful advice for modern men and women on how to find and keep a partner. Ovid’s first two books of poetry give advice on how to talk to, court, and seduce women. The poetic wisdom in the third book shows women how to entice and love men.

The Roman Art of Love Published in my Earlier Blog Posts

In earlier blog posts, I shared some of Ovid’s advice to men in the form of poetry. Some of the things these beautiful verses talk about are, “What Is His Task“, “Search for Love while at the Theatre“, “Triumphs that Are Good to Attract a Woman“, “Search for Love around the Dinner-Table and on the Beach“, “How to Know the Maid“, “How to Make Promises of Love to Her“, “How to Woo and Seduce a Woman”, “How to Captivate a Woman at Dinner”, andHow Tears, Kisses, Taking the Lead Can Help in Love Affairs”.

Here are some poetic quotes from Book III of Ovid’s “Ars Amatoria,” addressed to girls and women. Ovid teaches them about love and how prudent it is for a woman to conceal her defects.

Idealization of the beloved is the core feature of romantic love (Karandashev, 2017; 2019; 2022). So, what Ovid suggested is really worthwhile.

Here Is How Ovid Advises Women to Be Prudent in Concealing Their Defects

“I’ve not come to teach Semele or Leda, or Sidon’s Europa,

carried through the waves by that deceptive bull,

or Helen, whom Menelaus, being no fool, reclaimed,

and you, Paris, her Trojan captor, also no fool, withheld.

The crowd come to be taught, girls pretty and plain:

and always the greater part are not-so-good.

The beautiful ones don’t seek art and instruction:

they have their dowry, beauty potent without art:

the sailor rests secure when the sea’s calm:

when it’s swollen, he uses every aid.

Still, faultless forms are rare: conceal your faults,

and hide your body’s defects as best you may.

If you’re short sit down, lest, standing, you seem to sit:

and commit your smallness to your couch:

there also, so your measure can’t be taken,

let a shawl drop over your feet to hide them.

If you’re very slender, wear a full dress, and walk about

in clothes that hang loosely from your shoulders.

A pale girl scatters bright stripes across her body,

the darker then have recourse to linen from Alexandria.

Let an ugly foot be hidden in snow-white leather:

and don’t loose the bands from skinny legs.

Thin padding suits those with high shoulder blades:

a good brassiere goes with a meagre chest.

Those with thick fingers and bitten nails,

make sparing use of gestures whenever you speak.

Those with strong breath don’t talk when you’re fasting. and always keep your mouth a distance from your lover.”

Kline, A. S. (2001). Translation of Ovid’s Ars Amatoria: The Art of Love.