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 Passionate Love Emerges from Arousal

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

How Misattribution of Arousal Makes Us Fall in Love

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

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

How Men Fell in Love on the Capilano Suspension Bridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Make Someone Fall in Love

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

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

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

Is Kissing for Love Culturally Universal?

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

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

The Myth of the Cultural Universality of Kissing for Love

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

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

Kissing for Love Is Not Culturally Universal

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

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

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

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

Culturally Specific Perceptions of Kissing for Love

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

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

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

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

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

(Junod 1927, 353-354)

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

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

(Wagley, 1977, p. 158).

How Our Brain Developed the Ability to Love

Love is one of our core psychological and biological needs. We need to love, and we need to be loved. These needs are cross-culturally universal, even though the way people experience and express their love may differ across societies and contexts (Karandashev, 2019).

As a cross-cultural psychological phenomenon, love stems from some basic neural and physiological processes that occur in our brain and body. The need and capability to love evolved over a long history of biological evolution (Karandashev, 2022).

The Neurophysiological Evolution of Love

The evolution of the mammalian autonomic nervous system (ANS) has provided a neurophysiological basis for emotional processes related to the experience and expression of love, such as reproduction, proximity, and safety (Porges, 1998). Sexual arousal, passionate sexual activities, and long-term pair bonding develop as a result of phylogenetic changes in the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The vagus nerve of the mammalian autonomic nervous system (ANS) is anatomically connected to the cranial nerves that control social interaction between individuals through vocalization and facial expression. Subsequently, courting, love, and seduction behaviors develop.

Mammal Neural Systems for Love

Mammal brain systems exhibit specific neural activity patterns related to sexual behavior, affectionate emotions, and love. Several brain systems are involved in mating, including neural systems for sensory perception and cognitive and emotional responses to the object of love.

Dopaminergic reward pathways are the specific brain mechanisms involved in sexual and romantic attraction (Dixson, 1998, 2009; Fisher, Aron, & Brown, 2006; Panksepp, 1998).

Passionate attraction during courtship in mammalian species is directly associated with increased levels of central dopamine and norepinephrine, as well as decreased levels of central serotonin in the brain’s reward pathways (Fisher, 2004; Herbert, 1996).

Mammalian Human Brain

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in humans has revealed that passionate attraction and love are associated with activity in primitive brain regions (Aron et al., 2005; Bartels & Zeki, 2000, 2004; Fisher, Aron, & Brown, 2006; Ortigue et al., 2010, see for review, Karandashev, 2022). Passionate love involves the brain’s subcortical reward pathway and motivation systems focusing on a specific person. Thus, basic evolutionary mechanisms embed the basic emotion of love. This form of love could have appeared early in hominid evolution, providing people with emotional signals for mate selection (Fisher, 2004).

Modern Intimate Practices in Online Dating Apps

According to previous research on online dating app practices, there are two groups of users. Some are seeking casual sex, while others are seeking a committed relationship, as an imposed normative framework suggests.

Intimate Relationships in Online-Mediated Cultures

Sociologists have long discussed the impact of technology on personal life in the context of online dating apps. Initially, they welcomed the internet’s emancipatory potential, predicting increased safety, control, and freedom. The internet’s romantic freedoms have made intimate relationships less traditional, thus weakening patriarchal sexual and gender orders.

However, some authors have negative and pessimistic views on the emergence of dating apps. They believe that such mobile services can damage intimate relationships.

Social networking and dating apps reclaimed the popularity of Christopher Lasch’s ‘ ideas of a culture of narcissism’ in the late 1970s. (Lasch, 1979) Increasing individualization and excessive consumerism have led to personal relationships crumbling due to emotional weight. It is asserted that technology has damaged interpersonal skills. The technologies prevent men and women from being fully present in relationships due to phone and internet-mediated distractions.

How Dating Apps Divide Love and Sex

The technological tools of dating apps allow us to organize intimate contacts by using rational procedures and question catalogs to calculate match probabilities. These tools have evolved from online dating to mobile dating, reducing physical and digital space. Many researchers focus on how people use dating apps and whether this challenges traditional commitment patterns.

According to some evidence, many users use online apps to engage in casual sex in addition to looking for a committed partnership. Mobile dating facilitates temporal, goal-oriented encounters for the easy establishment of relationships.

On the other hand, ‘real’ or authentic love seems possible only within romantic relationships, which some authors present as something to be preserved and protected. It is contrasted with casual sex as a commodified social form (Illouz, 2020) that accumulates capital in the form of multiple sexual partners.

Dating apps can help organize casual sex, avoiding long-term commitment. These sex-focused practices and relationships seem to be neoliberal, focusing on pleasure and satisfaction without real romance. These practices are aimless and fluid. They lack the goal of romantic relationships.

Casual sex, for many, is the choice of non-choice. Sexual partners relate to each other without pursuing a specific goal, such as initiating a romantic love relationship.

Some researchers suggest expanding traditional understandings of relationship formation and development to include the changes in interaction afforded by mobile dating.

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.

Family Evolution in the Late 20th Century

The 1950s and 1960s were the “golden age of marriage” and the triumph of romantic love in many modern Western societies. The cultural ideologies of “love marriage” and “sexual revolution” prevailed. Marriage rates rose above 90%, and people married younger (see Karandashev, 2017, for a review).

That “golden age of marriage” promised to make men and women happy in loving marriages. Marriage achieved a fair balance between love and marital stability. However, surprisingly, the late 20th century’s dramatic evolution of marriage overturned romantic cultural ideals, rapidly changing people’s attitudes and behaviors toward sex, love, and marriage.

In the middle of the 1970s, marital relationships and families changed too fast, in some cases in a positive way and in others in a negative way. Fewer men and women wanted to get married. Many postponed their marriage. Some did not want to marry at all.

Marriages lasted less time; by the 2000s, they lasted an average of seven years. Divorce rates increased. Cohabitation and other alternatives to marriage have emerged. Living together without registering the marriage became very common. Between 1970 and 1999, the number of unmarried couples living together increased seven times. Only when a woman became pregnant did many couples decide to marry.

In the 1990s and by the early 2000s, women and men no longer viewed marriage as necessary to conceive a baby and get pregnant. For instance, in the United States, nearly 40% of cohabiting couples had children (Karandashev, 2017, p. 168).

Family and Parenthood in the Late 20th Century

The cultural evolution of marriage in the later 20th century headed toward a different model of parenthood. The birth rate among married couples continued to decline. Many women delayed becoming mothers. Women waited even later to get married. Childbearing rates among unmarried women increased. The number of children born outside of wedlock became more frequent (Coontz 2005, p. 261).

Many men became unwilling to marry. They preferred to get into relationships with women, yet they wanted to be less involved financially and emotionally. Some publications in the public media undermined men’s family responsibilities by encouraging them to enjoy the pleasures of romantic relationships. In this regard, women complained that contemporary men were reluctant to commit to relationships, which led to new tensions between women and men.

New Opportunities for Women’s Personal Growth

But on the flip side, aspirations and opportunities for women in the workplace increased both before and after marriage. Many of them postponed marriage in order to complete college. Their personal ambitions and self-confidence increased.

Others relished their single status for a few years before settling down with marriage and children. They remained single for longer and gained work and academic experience (Coontz, 2005).

The Contraceptive Revolution of the 1960s

In the 1960s, more effective contraceptives were developed. Since women had better access to effective contraception, they had more freedom to use birth control. Therefore, they were in a better position to decide on their own when and how many children to have. This gave them the possibility of changing their lives and marriages.

In some ways, the contraceptive revolution of the 1960s paved the way for the so-called sexual revolution. Reduced risk of unintended pregnancy allowed women to consider sexual activity and childbirth motivation separately, if desired. This gave her more freedom to enjoy sex and love.

Men and women became more involved in promiscuous sexual activity. Many premarital and extramarital couples were able to enjoy the sensual pleasures of sexual activity. Lovers and good friends enjoyed their sex, not necessarily being engaged as bride and groom and not planning to marry at all. The myth that sex can only be enjoyable within a marriage has been debunked. Men and women were more interested in sex than ever before, becoming more equal partners in sexual relations.

The Psychology of Sex in the Late 20th Century

Sex, on the other hand, entailed not only physical sexual activity but also psychological aspects of intimacy and a genuine interpersonal relationship. The latter attributes of sex were paramount. Sexual adequacy in a woman, in particular, was strongly related to the quality of her intimate relationships (Murstein 1974, pp. 441–442).

Cultural Evolution of Partners’ Psychological Roles in Relationships

The rate of childbirth decreased. The number of childless marriages and families with one to two children increased. All these factors weakened the links between marriage and parenthood. Couples reconsidered the roles that each partner should play in their marriages and families. There were fewer small children vying for their attention. Therefore, many couples appreciated the qualities of their own relationships in terms of intimacy and romantic love feelings.

By the 1970s and 1980s, all these changes had a profound impact on how people felt about intimate relationships. A significant shift toward prioritizing emotional gratification, intimacy, self-fulfillment, and fairness over conformity to social roles occurred.

The value of companionate love and partnership increased. When both the husband and the wife had jobs, they commonly discussed how to rearrange the division of housework and the equality of family chores.

The cultural evolution of social norms regarding relationships prompted many men and women to believe that autonomy and voluntary cooperation were more important than obedience to authority. Everywhere in North America and Western Europe, acceptance of singlehood, unmarried cohabitation, childlessness, divorce, and extramarital pregnancy increased (Inglehart 1990; Coontz 2005; see for review, Karandashev, 2017, p. 169).

So, while it took more than 150 years for love-based marriage to become the common model of family union in Western Europe and North America, it took less than 25 years to dismantle it (Coontz, 2005).

What Aphrodisiacs Are and What They Do for Love

Aphrodisiacs are substances and foods that heighten erotic arousal, sexual attraction, and pleasure in love and sexual relations. Aphrodisiacs can enhance the sensual pleasure that both men and women get from their sexual relationships. The term “aphrodisiacs” comes from the name of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love.

The Cultural History of Aphrodisiacs

People have used aphrodisiacs in their sex and love affairs throughout the history of many civilizations and cultures.

Throughout the course of human history, aphrodisiacs have been sought after and used by people. They have created them using a variety of materials, including foods, plants, and minerals. There have long been aphrodisiac superstitions in many different cultures around the world.

How People Use Aphrodisiacs in Modern Love and Sexual Encounters

The history of human cultures has preserved the recipes for making aphrodisiacs from plants, minerals, and foods. This variety of substances is what men and women have used to boost sexual desire, erotic attraction, and enjoy sex and sensual pleasures in love relationships.

The hedonistic wish of great sex has always been appealing to people in their lives. So, it is not surprising that they were interested in something that would increase desire and pleasure in sexual affairs.

Subsequently, cultural beliefs evolved that aphrodisiacs could increase the qualities of sex, making it more desirable, exciting, and pleasurable. However, researchers still need to investigate whether or not aphrodisiacs are actually capable of doing what they promise to do. According to some studies, substances like aphrodisiacs may even have adverse side effects (Brunetti et al., 2020).

The Types of Aphrodisiacs

Among the substances that people commonly use as aphrodisiacs are

  • Certain sorts of herbs, such as sage and cloves.
  • Some kinds of food, such as dark chocolate and oysters.
  • Alcohol and psychoactive substances, such as marijuana.
  • Supplements that contain the ingredients yohimbine, ambien, ginseng, and horny goat weed.

How Aphrodisiacs Work

People widely use certain types of food that evoke the senses of sight, smell, and taste. They believe that spicy foods and substances work as aphrodisiacs. For instance, chili pepper tends to boost body temperature and, therefore, induce feelings of arousal.

Kendra Cherry, for example, reviewed some types of aphrodisiac foods and natural supplements that can boost libido and sexual pleasure.

What Foods Are Aphrodisiacs?

There are two categories of foods that can be used as aphrodisiacs: those that are easily accessible and those that are extremely uncommon and difficult to find. Studies haven’t linked specific foods to changes in libido or sexual performance. Nevertheless, it may be worthwhile to order or cook certain kinds of food that can be presumably conducive to feeling energetic and excited. All these can boost sexual motivation and emotions.

Certain foods may contain properties that are advantageous to your sexual life. Omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods, for example, can help improve blood flow throughout the body, including the genitals (Omega-3 Fatty Acids Fact Sheet for Health Professionals/National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements)

Some sources mentioned specific kinds of food and substances as having an aphrodisiac effect. Among those are various nuts and fruits, such as figs, pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, watermelon, bananas, pomegranates, strawberries, and honey. Various kinds of vegetables, such as asparagus, avocado, saffron, garlic, pumpkin, and celery, can also have an aphrodisiac effect.

There isn’t much scientific evidence that these foods actually affect sexual desire. Yet they can enhance positive emotions, pleasurable feelings, and well-being because they contain potassium, zinc, and phytochemicals.

Aphrodisiac Effects of Dark Chocolate and Wine

Dark chocolate and coffee can have a possible aphrodisiac effect. Some studies have shown that they may improve blood flow, while other studies found no aphrodisiac evidence for dark chocolate (West & Krychman, 2015, West et al., 2014).

Alcoholic beverages have an effect on enhancing sexual arousal. Regular yet moderate consumption of red wine is good for better sexual health in women. Daily consumption of one or two glasses of red wine increases sexual desire and sexual performance in women. Low to moderate alcohol consumption can reduce inhibitions and increase desire. It is still worthy of note that excessive alcohol consumption can hinder sexual performance (Mondaini et al., 2009; Prabhakaran et al., 2018).

The Use of Aphrodisiacs in Sex and Love Affairs Across Cultures

Men and women have used aphrodisiacs to increase erotic attraction, arousal, and sexual pleasure in love affairs for many centuries and in many different cultures around the world.

What Aphrodisiacs Are and What They Do for Love

Aphrodisiacs are foods and substances that increase erotic attraction, arousal, and sexual pleasure in love affairs. Due to aphrodisiacs, men and women may experience enhanced sensual pleasure in their intimate relationships.

People have sought and used aphrodisiacs for thousands of years of human history. They have made them from many things, such as minerals, plants, and foods. The beliefs in aphrodisiacs have been known across many cultures of the world.

Aphrodisiacs Across Civilizations

Men and women in ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, and other civilizations have used aphrodisiacs to boost sexual desire and potency and augment the pleasure of sensual experiences in love. The word “aphrodisiacs” has its origins in ancient Greek culture. It derives from the name of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite.

Men and women of ancient Rome widely used aphrodisiacs in their art of love. Ovid’s poems of“Ars Amatoria”­ written in the first century BCE, depicted the self-indulgent and stylish lives of the Roman upper class. According to Ovid’s writing, the use of aphrodisiacs was a vital skill in their art of love and sexual affairs.

Ovid’s Poem about Aphrodisiacs

Here is Part XII of Ovid’s Book II, advising men and women of the ancient Roman society on how to use aphrodisiacs.

“There are those who prescribe eating a dish of savory,

a noxious herb, my judgement is its poisonous:

or mix pepper with the seeds of stinging nettles,

or crush yellow camomile in well-aged wine:

But the goddess who holds high Eryx, beneath the shaded hill,

doesn’t force you to suffer like this for her delights.

White onions brought from Megara, Alcathous’s city,

and rocket, herba salax, the kind that comes from gardens,

eat those, and eggs, eat honey from Hymettus, and seeds from the cones of sharp-needled pines.”

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

Aphrodisiacs Across Human Cultures

People across many other cultures in history have used foods and other natural substances to increase love attraction, sexual desire, and even fertility. According to many cultural beliefs, chocolate, cinnamon, cloves, thyme, and ginger have the capacity to enhance arousal, sensual pleasure, and sexual performance.

Therefore, these aphrodisiacs have continued to be popular for thousands of years in many cultures for love and sexual affairs. Aphrodisiacs are likely to continue to be popular among those looking to have better sex lives and love relationships. However, modern researchers need to explore their effects more to understand how certain foods and substances can affect sexual functioning and relationships.

Do Not Be Faint-Hearted, Win Over the Servants, and Give Little Gifts, as Ovid Taught

The three poetic books of Ovid’s “Ars Amatoria” provided guidance on how to master the art of love for the men and women of the Roman Empire. His clever love advice has been passed down from generation to generation. His poetry taught men and women the art of love and seduction.

The first two books instruct men on how to flirt, converse, and seduce women. Ovid’s love poetry gives men and women sage and entertaining advice on how to find and maintain a lover.

Even though contemporary people live in a different time and place than ancient Romans did, I believe they will still find these books fascinating and interesting to read. So, I included passages from these books in a few articles. Many old ideas about love continue to be suitable and valuable for those who love and study love today.

So, I took a few of them from Anthony Kline’s translations of Ovid’s magnificent books and posted them on my blog (Kline, 2001).

The charming poems of book 1 teach us about

“What Is His Task” (Part 1),

“How to Find Her” (Part 2),

“Search for Love While Walking” (Part 3),

“Search for Love while at the Theatre” (Part 4),

“Search for Love at the Races or Circus” (Part 5),

“Triumphs that Are Good to Attract a Woman” (Part 6),

“Search for Love around the Dinner-Table and on the Beach” (Parts 7 and 8),

“How to Win Her” (Part 9),

“How to Know the Maid” (Part 10),

“How to Be Attentive to Her” (Part 11),

“How to Make Promises of Love to Her” (Part 12),

“How to Woo and Seduce a Woman” (Parts 13 and 14),

“How to Captivate a Woman at Dinner” (Part 15),

“How to Make Promises and Deceive” (Part 16),

“How Tears, Kisses, Taking the Lead Can Help in Love Affairs” (Part 17),

“Psychology Love Tricks in the Art of Love” (Parts 18-19).

Here are Parts V, VI, and VII of Ovid’s Book II, teaching men how beneficial it is for them (a) not to be faint-hearted, (b) win over the servants, and (c) give her little tasteful gifts. All these things are the important things in the art of love.

Don’t Be Faint-Hearted, Part V of Book II:

Here is Part V of Ovid’s Book II, teaching men how beneficial it is for them not to be faint-hearted.

“Love is a kind of warfare. Slackers, dismiss!

There are no cowards guarding this standard.

Night and winter, long roads and cruel sorrows,

and every kind of labour are found on love’s campaigns.

You’ll often endure rain pouring from heavenly clouds,

and frozen, lie there on the naked earth.

They say that Phoebus grazed Admetus’s cattle,

and found shelter in a humble hut.

Who can’t suit what suited Phoebus? Lose your pride,

you who’d have love’s sorrows tamed.

If you’re denied a safe and level road,

and the door barred with a bolt against you,

then drop down head-first through the open roof:

a high window too offers a secret way.

She’ll be glad, knowing the chase itself is risky for you:

that will be sure proof to the lady of your love.

You might often have been parted from your girl, Leander: you swam across so she could know your heart.”

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

Win Over the Servants, Part VI of Book II:

Here is Part VI of Ovid’s Book II, teaching men how beneficial it is for them to win over the servants.

“Nor is it shameful to you to cultivate her maids,

according to their grades, and the serving men.

Greet them by their names (it costs you nothing)

clasp humble hands with yours, in your ambition.

And even offer the servant, who asks, a little something

on Fortune’s Day (it’s little enough to pay):

and the maid, on that day when the hand of punishment fell

on the Gauls, they deluded by maids in mistress’s clothes.

Trust me, make the people yours: especially the gatekeeper,

and whoever lies in front of her bedroom doors.”

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

Give Her Little Tasteful Gifts, Part VII of Book II:

Here is Part VII of Ovid’s Book II, teaching men how beneficial it is for them to give little tasteful gifts.

“I don’t tell you to give your mistress expensive gifts:

give little but of that little, skilfully, give what’s fitting.

When the field is full of riches, when the branches bend

with the weight, let the boy bring a gift in a rustic basket.

You can say it was sent from your country villa,

even though it was bought on the Via Sacra.

Send grapes, or those nuts Amaryllis loved,

chestnuts, but she doesn’t love them now.

Why even thrushes are fine, and the gift of a dove,

to witness your remembrance of your mistress.

Shameful to send them hoping for the death of some childless

old man. Ah, perish those who make giving a crime!

Do I also teach that you send tender verses?

Ah me, poems are not honoured much.

Songs are praised, but its gifts they really want:

barbarians themselves are pleasing, so long as they’re rich.

Truly now it is the Age of Gold: the greatest honours

come with gold: love’s won by gold.

Even if you came, Homer, with the Muses as companions,

if you brought nothing with you, Homer, you’d be out.

Still there are cultured girls, the rarest set:

and another set who aren’t, but would like to be.

Praise either in song: and they’ll commend

the reader whatever his voice’s sweetness:

So sing your midnight song to one and the other, perhaps it will figure as a trifling gift.”

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