Are You Prone to Parasocial Love?

The term “parasocial love” refers to a psychological experience of admiration toward another person with whom we have no real relationship. Besides, another person may be unaware of our existence. It turns out that some individuals tend to be more inclined than others to fall in love parasocially. Who are they? Let’s take a look.

Parasocial love is a one-sided relationship. The most common types of parasocial relationships are those with television stars, celebrities, and sports teams. Parasocial love is admiration for famous people when we devote our time, attention, and emotional energy to thinking about them. This love only exists in admirers’ fantasies.

Who Are the Celebrities on the Marketplace for Parasocial Love?

Throughout the centuries, people have experienced parasocial love toward celebrities. However, when new mass media like radio, movies, and television came out, parasocial love emerged and became quite a common phenomenon among fans (e.g., Douglas & McDonnell, 2019; Lilti, 2017).

In modern times, American, British, and French cultures especially cherish the idea that celebrities are worthy of special attention and valorization (Giles, 2002). Today, many cultures around the world have grown to admire television series, soap operas, sitcoms, and their celebrity actors. The United States has exerted significant influence over global television, substantially dominating this market. Cultural imperialism has resulted in the export of television shows to other nations, typically in the form of a “one-way flow,” which has had a significant influence on local cultures (Bielby & Harrington, 2005; Giles, 2002). 

Who We Love Para-socially

Celebrities usually belong to glamorous professions. Celebrities of the same age but of the opposite gender are more likely to be loved. The typical celebrity is a well-known figure in singing, acting, or being a TV talk-show host. Actors, musicians, and athletes are the most admired celebrities (Green, Griffith, Aruguete, Edman, & McCutcheon, 2014).

In popular magazines and other social media, the adoration of pop singers, entertainers, and athletes precipitates the cultural idolization of celebrities and parasocial types of admiration and love. The world we live in now is full of photo magazines, performance stages, broadcast communication, TV, mass media, and screens that change all the time. For some, this new world of social media has taken the place of the world they lived in directly. A lot of the time, people lose themselves in dramatic experiences and avoid experiencing reality.

Actors in this social media world commonly appear in people’s lives. They become their heroes, companions, and objects of love, adoration, and admiration. In this socially mediated world, men and women frequently interact parasocially with the characters and celebrities. This relationship can be quite parasocially close and personal.

In the context of television, the evolution of this para-social relationship begins with attraction to the TV character, progresses to parasocial interaction, and ultimately culminates in the emergence of a sense of relationship significance. The main difference in how a person experiences such a relationship is the lack of active reciprocity. The bonds of intimacy can develop despite one-sided interaction (e.g., Giles, 2002; Horton & Wohl, 1956; Rubin & McHugh, 1987).

How People Experience Parasocial Love

The audience is led to believe they are in close proximity to the performer, actor, or showperson, despite viewing these media from a distance. Many young men and women believe that being close to a celebrity is a more desirable goal than becoming a successful business owner or public servant.

Admiring fans may fantasize about including their favorite celebrity in an imaginary romance. They often feel tempted to act and behave compulsively, adopting an attitude such as “I often feel compelled to learn the personal habits of my favorite celebrity.” (McCutcheon, 2002, p. 92).

Celebrity fans may have hundreds of replicas of her or his idol in their possession—pictures, photographs, and posters. They regularly spend a lot of money on clothes and magazines from their celebrity’s shop. Admirers can make pilgrimages to be closer to their idol.

Who Prefers to Be in Parasocial Love?

Certain individuals who lack social engagement, experience feelings of loneliness, and are isolated may dedicate a significant amount of time each day to watching television, using the internet, and engaging with social media platforms. They lack meaningful social and interpersonal connections, resulting in a limited range of life experiences. Over time, their frequent interactions with others through technology may develop into “para-social relationships.” Individuals perceive the personalities of characters, TV show hosts, and pop stars as the reality of their social existence.

Television series, sitcoms, and soap operas create alternate worlds that are particularly significant for individuals who are socially isolated and fulfill their desire for real connections. Para-social relationships hold genuine emotional importance for individuals, depleting and diffusing emotional energy. Relationships with those characters may take precedence over other possible relationships with other people (Slade & Beckenham, 2005).

People who are quiet, lonely, shy, withdrawn, or otherwise socially awkward can live their pretend lives through these social media plots and scripts, which help them replace real relationships with those substitute ones (Giles, 2002).

This imitation style of relationship and emotion lets people avoid the challenges of starting a relationship with someone of the same or opposite sex, which can be hard, awkward, and embarrassing. They find it easier to live and meet their needs in these satisfying relationships than to go through the risks and difficulties of making a real relationship work.

References

Douglas, S. J., & McDonnell, A. (2019). Celebrity: a history of fame. NYU Press.

Horton, D., & Richard Wohl, R. (1956). Mass communication and para-social interaction: Observations on intimacy at a distance. Psychiatry19(3), 215-229.

Green, T., Griffith, J., Aruguete, M. S., Edman, J., & McCutcheon, L. E. (2014). Materialism and the tendency to worship celebrities. North American Journal of Psychology, 16, 33-42.

McCutcheon, L. E. (2002). Are parasocial relationship styles reflected in love styles. Current Research in Social Psychology7(6), 82-94.

Lilti, A. (2017). The invention of celebrity. John Wiley & Sons.

Rubin, R. B., & McHugh, M. P. (1987). Development of parasocial interaction relationships. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 31, 279–292. Slade, C., & Beckenham, A. (2005). Introduction: Telenovelas and soap operas: Negotiating reality. Television & New Media6(4), 337–341https://doi.org/10.1177/1527476405279860

Polyamory Appears to Be a New Form of Love

There is some evidence that polyamory appears to be a novel alternative to traditional monogamous romantic love. Polyamory is on the rise in many modern societies. Why so?

Let’s consider what Americans think about polyamory and polygamy.

What Is Polyamory and Why?

Polyamory refers to the practice of willingly and openly engaging in relationships with more than one romantic partner at the same time, with the full awareness and consent of all parties involved.

Approximately 55% of Americans express a preference for exclusive monogamy in their relationships, while a significant number of adults are inclined towards various forms of non-monogamy.

Nevertheless, according to a YouGov survey from February 2023, among American adults, 34% say they would prefer some type of relationship other than complete monogamy if given the choice. It is especially evident among people under the age of 45.

A significant number of Americans have already engaged in various forms of non-monogamy, either with the explicit agreement of their main partner or without it.

Monogamy, Polyamory, or Polygamy? Any Alternatives?

Many Americans have already engaged in some type of alternative to monogamy, whether that took place with the consent of their primary partner or not.

Among those respondents, 12% of Americans said that they have been involved in sexual activity with someone other than their primary partner with their primary partner’s consent, while 20% of adults did so without the consent of their main partner. In both cases, men are more likely than women to have had sexual encounters outside of their relationship.

About 67% of Americans indicated that they would not consent if their partner expressed a desire to participate in sexual activities with another person. However, approximately 20% of Americans indicate that their level of comfort is contingent upon the circumstances, while a mere 5% express acceptance of such a polyamory scenario.

Shall We Accept Polygamy?

Polygamy refers to the practice of having more than one spouse simultaneously. It seems similar to polyamory, yet polygamy is more legal than a relational term. According to the YouGov survey from February 2023, Americans consider polygamy to be the least acceptable. A majority of Americans, specifically 68%, are against the legalization of polygamy. However, individuals between the ages of 18 and 29, with a percentage of 52%, are comparatively less inclined to oppose it.

While the majority of Americans oppose the legalization of polygamy, approximately half of them either believe that it will be legalized within the next 50 years (18%) or are unsure about its future (30%). Approximately 52% of respondents believe that it will not be legalized within the next five decades.

How Our Perception Tricks Us When We Are in Love

How can we know if someone loves us or at least finds us attractive? There are certain verbal and non-verbal expressions and behaviors that we recognize as mutual attraction (Karandashev, 2024). However, our perception when we are in love is biased. Once we love someone, we tend to believe that he or she also loves us, and that our attraction is mutual. Why does this occur?

Romantic love involves the idealization of the beloved and the relationship (Karandashev, 2019; 2022). It turns out that our love and romantic attraction make our perceptions positively biased. We tend to deceive ourselves in hopes of a mutual attraction.

Men are especially prone to overestimating the interest of others in them. When a man finds someone attractive, he is likely to believe that the other person is also interested in him.

A New Study on How Romantic Attraction Affects Our Perception

A recent study demonstrated how romantic attraction influences our attention and perception, as well as how we make choices when we find someone attractive. To explore these questions, cognitive psychologist Iliana Samara from Leiden University in the Netherlands conducted her project on the topic “How do we form romantic bonds?

Does a Long Gaze Indicate Attraction?

Speed dating experiments showed that people tend to respond faster to attractive faces. In four experimental sessions, the researchers paired 10 women and 10 men for a five-minute speed dating encounter with all participants from the opposite sex.

Prior to their actual meeting, researchers showed participants a picture of the person with whom they would later go on a speed date and asked them to rate their level of attraction towards them. Then, the participants’ speed dates followed.

Researchers observed the participants’ gazes using eye tracking technology and found that they lingered longer on the faces of those they previously rated as attractive.

How Our Excitement Blinds Us

Following the speed dating experiment, researchers asked the participants whether they were interested in a subsequent date. Researchers also asked participants whether they expected that interest to be mutual. It turned out that men often overestimated the likelihood that their date would desire to meet them again.

Researchers primarily observed this tendency in men who felt attracted to their dates. Men with a lower degree of attraction and interest in the other person were more realistic in their estimations of their chances for a mutual attraction.

Such sexual over-perception bias implies that the way we interpret social cues perceived in communication with other people depends on how aroused we are ourselves. Why do men, in particular, overestimate their likelihood of getting mutual attraction from others more than they really do?

As Iliana Samara, a Leiden University researcher, explains,

“A theory from evolutionary psychology suggests that women have to be more selective; if they have sex with a man who then does not invest in them, they may have to handle a resulting pregnancy and offspring on their own. Women are therefore more vulnerable if they make a wrong judgment in dating. On the other hand, men would rather risk some embarrassment than miss out on the opportunity to mate.”

How a Coy Smile Betrays Our Sexual Interest

The final experiment by Iliana Samara looked at how partners mirror one another’s nonverbal cues on speed dates. She explains,

“Mimicking each other’s facial expressions and body language has a social advantage; people who subtly mirror each other find each other more likable.”

Samara conducted a thorough analysis of more than a hundred videos from the speed dates to identify the expressions that were associated with a follow-up date. She rendered the videos without sound to focus exclusively on the facial expressions. During the coding process, it took her more than three hours per video to record the facial expressions and observe the speed at which they occurred consecutively.

Participants in speed dating who looked at their dates with the same expression for five seconds were probably subconsciously mimicking them. Samara commented,

“We assumed that imitating each other’s smiles would increase the chances of getting a second date. Surprisingly, that was only true for the coy smile, where, while smiling, you tilt your head or look away for a moment. This expression often indicated mutual interest. Conversely, people who mirrored a broad, genuine smile at each other during a date more often did not want to go on a second date with the other person.”

Conclusion

These findings add important pieces of knowledge about non-verbal cues of interpersonal attraction to the abundance of scientific publications that are available on the topic (see Karandashev, 2024, for review). Iliana Samara is going to continue this line of research on romantic attraction at Leiden University. In the future, she would like to adopt a different approach to this research.

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 Occurs in Our Brain When We Fall in Love with Someone?

The need for love is one of the most basic physiological and psychological needs people have. We need to love someone and be loved by somebody. Although people’s experiences and expressions of love may vary across cultures and situations, their basic human needs for love are still universal across the world (Karandashev, 2019).

I wrote about how our brain developed the ability to love in another article.

The activation of certain neural and physiological mechanisms in our body and brain generates the psychological experience and expression of love. These biological mechanisms for the capacity and necessity to love have developed in our mammalian ancestors throughout the course of biological evolution (Karandashev, 2022).

How Our Brain Works When We Fall in Love

Studies of the neurophysiological processes involved in our feelings of love have proliferated in the last two decades. Brain imaging techniques have been a valuable method to study human cerebral functions associated with love and romantic relationships.

Neuroscientists have traditionally investigated the subcortical structures of reward-related systems involved in the experience of love. Later neuroimaging studies showed that, in addition to these subcortical structures, different cortical networks and cognitive factors play an important role in reward-related systems associated with the experience of love.

Several scientists investigated how men and women feel in the early stages of romantic love and what occurs in their brains and bodies. Early-stage romantic love often induces euphoria.

What is happening in our brains when we are falling in love? According to Lucy Brown, a neuroscientist at Einstein College of Medicine in New York, and her colleagues, the first activation of love occurs in a primitive part of the brain’s reward system that is located in the midbrain. This finding once again confirms that our ability to love stems from the long evolutionary history of our animals’ ancestors. It is possible that romantic love originated from a mammalian drive to pursue preferred mates.

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Love

Lucy Brown and her colleagues studied seven men and ten women who were “in love” using the method of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Some of these participants were intensely in love, while others were moderately in love or had a low thrill for their partner.

Participants in this study alternately perceived a photograph of their beloved and a photograph of another familiar person that researchers exposed to them in the fMRI machine. When participants perceived the photo of their romantic partner, they experienced a feeling of love. What occurred in their brain? Researchers recorded brain activation in the midbrain’s ventral tegmental area (VTA). This is the part of the brain connected to meeting basic needs, such as eating when we are hungry and drinking when we are thirsty.

Professor Brown commented,

“It’s the area of the brain that controls things like swallowing and other basic reflexes. While we often think about romantic love as this euphoric, amorphous thing and as a complex emotion, the activation we see in this very basic part of the brain is telling us that romantic love is actually a drive to fulfill a basic need.”

The Hormones of Love

Stephanie Cacioppo, a professor from the University of Chicago, and her colleagues revealed more findings on how love affects our brains.

Researchers found 12 areas of the brain that are activated to release chemicals such as dopamine, the hormone associated with “feel-good,” oxytocin, the hormone associated with “cuddle hormone,” and adrenaline, which stimulates a euphoric sense of purpose. These findings also showed that the brain’s reward circuit, which includes the amygdala, the hippocampus, and the prefrontal cortex, is sensitive to behaviors that induce pleasure. These parts of the brain are active when we are talking about a loved one, and these areas have increased blood flow.

When these processes are occurring in the brain, our level of serotonin, a hormone responsible for the regulation of appetite and intrusive anxious thinking, decreases. Low levels of serotonin are common among men and women experiencing anxiety and obsessive-compulsive symptoms.

“This explains why people in the early stages of love can become obsessed with small details, spending hours debating about a text to or from their beloved,”

Stephanie Cacioppo

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.

A New Study on the Importance of Affectionate Touch in Romantic Love

Touch is an important way people communicate love and intimacy in romantic relationships. Affectionate touch, such as hugging, stroking, and kissing, is common worldwide. Romantic partners across many cultures frequently use affectionate touch to express their love for a romantic partner, passion, desire, and intimate feelings.

The affection exchange theory explains how affectionate touch is beneficial for our romantic relationships and mental and physical health in various respects. It turns out that both giving and receiving affectionate messages through touching behavior boost our mood and reinforce our relational bonds. In the same way as other forms of affectionate communication, affectionate touch nurtures our mutual affection in a relationship.

What the New Study Explored

In their recent publication, Agnieszka Sorokowska and her authors reported two studies in which they examined the relationship between romantic love and affectionate touch behaviors. They administered a cross-cultural survey, collecting data from 7880 participants from 37 countries.

The two studies that the authors conducted revealed interesting results. Generally, this extensive cross-cultural research demonstrates the significance of nurturing love for affectionate touch behaviors and, conversely, the importance of affectionate touch for nurturing love. Although it may seem intuitive that love and affectionate touch are directly related, this new study is one of the few scientific studies that has convincingly demonstrated this association using empirical data.

These studies found that affectionate touch is consistently associated with love in a diverse range of cultures around the world. Partners with high levels of passionate and intimate dispositions more frequently use various kinds of affectionate touch in their romantic communication. However, the partners’ degree of commitment does not make them inclined to use more touching behavior. These differences in effects of these three components of love make sense since the first two are more emotional and physical, while the third is more rational but less physical.

Individual Differences in Affectionate Touch

The authors importantly noted that these statistical relationships substantially varied within cultures, in some cases higher than in others. I believe this means that despite the cross-cultural universality of affective touching in romantic relationships, individuals within those cultures may substantially differ typologically in their preferences for the use of affective touching in daily intimate encounters.

People’s attitudes toward touch are highly individual. And touch can be perceived as not necessarily pleasant, as in cases of social anxiety and touch avoidance. Some men or women may prefer avoiding touch or react negatively to touch, even in romantic relationships. However, even for those individuals who experience attachment avoidance and are less open to touch, more touch in a relationship can promote well-being. Individuals within any society may have different needs for affectionate touch behaviors. Some, for instance, may have a lower preference for interpersonal touch.

Cultural Factors Influencing Affectionate Touch

Collectivistic and individualistic cultural norms of proxemic behavior can have an effect on the frequency and cultural contexts in which men and women use their affective touch. Other cultural factors also play a role.

As the authors conclude, in more conservative and religious societies, cultural norms encourage more physically restrained expressions of affection. Therefore, people tend to use more formalized, less freely expressed, and less diversely expressed affectionate behaviors, even in private and intimate relationships.

What Authors Conclude

The authors of this study finally conclude that various kinds of touching are very common behaviors in romantic relationships. Partners in such relationships experience more need for touch from their romantic partner than they do from other people with whom they communicate and interact.

How Affectionate Touch Expresses Love to a Romantic Partner

Men and women use many verbal and nonverbal ways to express their love for a partner in a relationship. Affectionate touch of various kinds is among the major nonverbal channels to express romantic love that lovers use in their intimate relationships.

Agnieszka Sorokowska and her colleagues explain the role of affectionate touch in romantic relationships.

What Is Affectionate Touch?

In romantic relationships, touch is the most common means of expressing intimacy. Loving partners touch each other significantly more frequently than other individuals. Those in romantic relationships show significantly more intimate touch with each other than those who are single. Even imagining a partner’s touch can evoke pleasurable and erogenous feelings.

Romantic partners are typically permitted to touch many more parts of the body than strangers or acquaintances. For instance, most people feel comfortable when their partner touches them in the abdomen and thighs, but not when other people do so. Moreover, affectionate touch in partnerships is more diverse than in other social interactions. When directed towards a romantic partner, a stroke, for example, is performed with a particularly low velocity.

In line with this, a recent cross-cultural study revealed that, despite significant intercultural differences, affectionate touch behaviors such as an embrace, caress, kiss, and hug are universally present in partnerships across the globe.

Why Touch Deprivation Is Bad

The tendency to use affectionate touch in romantic relationships seems natural. The negative effects of touch deprivation stand in stark contrast to the many advantages of affectionate touch in close relationships.

Touch deprivation is associated with anxiety, depression, and somatization. On the other hand, the higher prevalence of partner touch leads to better psychological well-being. Furthermore, interpersonal touch contributes to a lowered stress response by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol production. Touch can also reduce pain.

However, touching might not always be beneficial. Some people dislike touching. They may avoid touching others. Or have negative reactions to touching others. Such aspects of the relationship with a partner as low familiarity or a condition can make one feel a negative reaction to touch, such as disgust.

Why Affectionate Touch is Good in Close Relationships

Researchers use Affection Exchange Theory (AET) to interpret the significant implications and consequences of affectionate touch. According to this theory, affectionate communication is essential for “fostering the formation and maintenance of significant human pair bonds.” (Floyd, 2006, p. 165).

Expressions of affection are common among couples and related to the quality of romantic relationships. Men and women with higher levels of commitment in relationships usually physically display their affection toward their partners. The level of physical affection is also positively associated with relationship satisfaction and partner satisfaction while being negatively associated with attachment insecurity.

Affectionate communication typically includes multiple types of behaviors and verbal displays of affection. Men and women feel the desire for touch when their relationship quality is good.

Touch is strongly related to attachment patterns. When partners experience attachment avoidance, they are less likely to experience a desire for touch.

Love and Loving in Middle-Class Pakistan

The article by Ammara Maqsood, Associate Professor in Social Anthropology at University College London, tells us the modern story of love in Pakistan and how modern urban women manage their desire for love in Pakistan.

Traditional marriages in Pakistan are arranged marriages. However, I previously talked about how love coexists with modern arranged marriages in Pakistan. I also explained the controversies surrounding love marriage in Pakistan.

Modern transformations in the notions of love, romantic love, intimacy, and conjugal relationships occur in Pakistan as well as in South Asia overall. The author challenges the traditional depiction of the transitional processes of love transformation in Pakistani culture as a straight lineal transition from the cultural values of ‘traditional’ (collective) obligations to the values of individual desires in modern individualistic societies.

Taking these ideas as a starting point, the author of this article examines how different types of intimacy coexist in a middle-class urban setting in Pakistan. The author does this by concentrating on the emotional experiences and modern relationships of young mobile women of the middle class in Lahore and Karachi, the two major cities in Pakistan.

“Within these families, like elsewhere in Pakistan in other South Asian contexts, arranged marriages are the norm, both in prevalence and in social approval. However, love unions, in the form of love-cum-arranged marriages – where partners engage in a pre-marital romance but then seek parental approval and follow typical marriage proceedings – and elopements that are on the rise.”

(Maqsood, 2021, p. 3).

How Different Ideas of Love in Pakistan Coexist

The article highlights the ways in which different ideals of love and intimacy coexist, the ways in which they are entangled in everyday practices, and the places, situations, and spaces in which they separate.

Young women, who live mostly in joint-family arrangements, need to negotiate between two values in their lives. On the one hand, they value their private desires for a life within a nuclear family and the associated forms of consumption. On the other hand, they respect the economic pressures and emotional obligations that necessitate their collective living in the nuclear family.

They live in a persistent presence of liminality, the psychological process of transitioning across the boundaries and borders of these two groups of values. In these conditions and contexts of their lives, the women make it possible for these competing desires to be experienced and managed in a certain way.

Love in Liminality

In this cultural context, their understanding of liminality opens their doors to experimentation and potentiality and provides a space in which they experience novel desires and behaviors.

However, at the same time, their “emotion work” to manage these situations and controversies bends and brings these new emotional paths into line with the moral codes that are culturally common in Pakistani society.

One young woman, who had married against her family’s wishes, commented on the hurt that she experienced when

“none of the women in the family did come to her wedding. Her husband’s family organised a small event, to mark the marriage, and invited her family members, in a bid to normalise relations. In response, her two brothers came but left without eating. She said, ‘more than anything, I felt bad .. still feel sad … that my younger sister in law did not come. My mother, I can understand, she was forbidden but she loves me, but my sister in law, she could have convinced my brother [her husband]’

(Maqsood, 2021, p. 7).

Professor Ammara Maqsood also tells in her article other dramatic stories of love and marriage in modern Pakistani urban cultures.

As the author concludes, these individual experiences are not gradual transformations from collective to individualistic ties and persona values. These young women do not disrupt pre-existing ethical codes. These emotional practices are rather the management of differing demands and desires that constitute ‘feeling’ middle-class.

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.