What is a Platonic Love?

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THE NATURE OF PLATONIC LOVE

Platonic love (often lower-cased as platonic) is a term used for a type of love that is non-sexual. It is named after Plato,  although this philosopher never actually used it himself. Instead, it comes from Plato’s dialogue, the “Symposium,” which discusses the different types of Eros (love).

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Platonic love is a bond between a couple that involves no lust or carnality; often a deep pure love. Its symbol is usually the white rose. A simple example of platonic relationships is a deep, non-sexual friendship between two heterosexual people of the opposite sexes. A platonic relationship is one without romantic or sexual intentions. It can be considered as a “romantic friendship” i.e.,  a close, physically intimate but not sexually intimate – friendship.

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Platonic love in its modern sense is an affectionate relationship into which the sexual element does not enter, especially in cases where one might easily assume otherwise. It is a deep, non-sexual friendship between two heterosexual people of the opposite sex. Platonic love is ‘close affection between two persons, attracted to each other, but without sexual intimacy’ [1].

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It is a purely spiritual and emotional and presumably free from physical desire. St. Claire and St. Francis of Assisi  who are known as two great Catholic saints in the Catholic Church were said to be close friends spiritually as followers of Christ without sexual intimacy. Their type of intimacy and friendship were based on a common love for God; thus, they can be considered Platonic and not romantic. “The love between friends is platonic love. Platonic describes a relationship that is purely spiritual and not physical. So, if a guy and a girl hang out all the time but aren’t boyfriend and girlfriend, they’d describe their friendship as platonic” [2].

FROM PLATONIC LOVE AND ROMANTIC LOVE: IS THIS POSSIBLE?

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Yes, but once platonic becomes romantic, it’s difficult to return to its original platonic state. Best friends can fall in love romantically depending on the situations and personal goals of the partners. However, platonic love has no intention of entering into an exclusive erotic relationship nor entering into marriage, while romantic love aims to achieve an exclusive relationship, with lovers “going steady” and  to “tie the know” in the altar of matrimony.

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Despite these differences, platonic and romantic love also have similarities. Attraction, intimacy, respect, support and pleasure are just as important in platonic relationships as they are in romantic relationships. Closeness matters in romantic as well as in platonic relationships.

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But whether it’s platonic or romantic, the most important thing is the love couples share for one another. In the words of Plato: “Love is the joy of the good, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the Gods.”

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References

[1] Gooch, 1989, p.360 cited in Karandeshev, 2015, p.4.

[2] https://www.wikihow.com/Understand-Platonic-Love-and-Friendship.

Does Age Matter in a Romantic Relationship?

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“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter” (Mark Twain).

INTRODUCTION

The saying that “Age doesn’t matter” is a popular expression among people for those who fall in love with a wide age gap. They say that love is blind. So, it’s okay to be blinded by the age of one’s crush or lover. Experts on romantic love acknowledge that falling in love is indeed a strong positive energy that makes a person less aware of the consequences of having a big age gap in romantic relationship. One can be so enamored with the other person’s beauty, popularity, personality, social status, or wealth, that he or she forgets that the other person is either too old or too young for him/her! I already encountered some people who fell in love or even got married despite a wide age difference. When I was a boy, our 20-year old nanny was having a secret love affair with our 60-year old neighbor who was a widower with married children. It was indeed embarrassing during their wedding ceremony as the officiating priest had mistaken the groom as the parent of the bride and one of the young best men as the groom! Despite the age gap, they manage to have 3 children before the old man died.

AGE AS A SOCIAL NORM IN SOCIETY

Age really does matter in relationship despite romanticism of some people that it doesn’t affect romantic relationships. In sociology, age is an informal and unwritten social norm. Society has some standards on what age bracket is appropriate for a particular type of relationship, depending on the local culture. Whether one likes it or not, society has a way of classifying people engaging a particular type of social interaction. Defying this informal norm in a romantic relationship can lead to unintended informal and psychological sanction from the public, such as ridicule, suspicion, rumor, gossip, digital bashing in the social media, or even public shaming by people who strongly oppose the relationship. Try to hold hands and show romantic affection with an older man or woman while walking in a public park and you’ll never miss seeing people whispering or giggling in disbelief, or staring at you as if something is terribly wrong, especially when you’re in a rural setting! Generally, women like their men to be a little older and more experienced and mature in life. But if the age gap is quite wide, many people would probably start to think that it is not romantic love or true love that motivates the attraction but something else, maybe the wealth of the older partner.

Age as informal norm in society is not, however, an absolute rule! One can see couples with a big age difference. Among the Hollywood celebrities, the famous actor Michael Douglas and actress Catherine Zeta-Jones were married despite their age difference. These Oscar winners tied their knot in 2000, when Catherine was 31 years old and Michael was 56.

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Michael, 56 years old, with wife Catherine, 31 (Photo credit: hollywood.com)

In the Philippines, the famous folk singer Freddie Aguilar fell in love with a 16-year old girl and managed to marry her in Islamic rites. Under the Shariah law, a 16-year old can contract a valid marriage but not under the current 1987 Family Code of the country for Christians. Apparently both decided to change religion to tie the knot.

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Freddie, 60 years old, with his 16-year old wife (Photo credit: Poklat.com)

Another famous noontime TV host and comedian married a younger woman more than twice his age. The 61-year old veteran Filipino comedian Vic Sotto married the 27-year old TV host Pauleen Luna in a private wedding.

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Pauleen Luna, 27 years old and Vic Sotto, 61 (Photo Credit: gmanetwork.com)

If it is not an arranged marriage sanctioned by culture, people can be suspicious of the motive if they see romantic couples with a wide age gap. They often suspect wealth and/or social status as the main motive why the younger partner “falls in love” with the older guy. This suspicion can have a grain of truth. Normally, people are first attracted to others through their physicality. People project and communicate to the world though their bodies. Appearance matters during the initial encounter of partners in romantic love. Many surveys showed that the person’s eyes as the sexiest or most attractive body part during infatuation. They say that the eyes is the window of the person’s soul. The woman’s big breasts and butts associated with femininity and fertility are also attractive to men, while a tall height, a flat and strong abdomen and chest are attractive physical traits for women. But old people generally cannot boast their physical assets to attract younger people to enter into a romantic relationship with them. Thus, people become cynical of seeing a young and old couple romantically linked with each other.

Physicality, however, can take a backseat if the young and old partners become intimate and learn more about the cultural or non-physical aspects of the relationship such as knowing the other’s attitude, personality, social status, and value system. So people can be suspicious if a poor young woman falls in love with an old rich man as the latter’s youthful physicality has already been deteriorated by age. If he is not extremely handsome and sexy despite his age, it is understandable for them to conclude that it is not the physical appearance but probably the person’s wealth and social status that motivate her to love the other. Age then matters in discerning whether the relationship is truly a romantic love that can lead to marital love or just what the sociologist Anthony Giddens calls as “confluent love” or a contingent form of love without commitment, a love that is based on mutual and temporal satisfaction of the romantic partners–“enjoying the relationship while it lasts.”

In the next blog, we’ll discuss why a wide age gap can be a problem in the interaction and adjustment of the couple as they stay longer in the romantic relationship and marriage. This will also show that age matters in romantic or marital interaction! Cheers!

 

 

Male Physical Traits Women Find Very Attractive according to Research

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On Physical Traits

Romantic love often begins with physicality. People are embodied beings and communicate with the world through their bodies. In cultures where marriages are arranged, physicality is not a major problem in the selection of partners. But in urban and advanced societies with strong emphasis on romantic love and falling in love before marriage, physical looks play an important role in the selection of partners. Research has shown that it only takes between 90 seconds and 4 minutes for a person to fall in love at first sight or fancy someone. And what usually attracts the person during this moment is not what the other says, but what his or her presence projects through body language (55%) and the tone and speed of the voice (38%). The content of what the person says is only 7%.

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It’s probable that a person “falls in love for the first time” because of the physical presence of the other as resembling somebody, whether real or imagined, whom he or she idolizes or had a crush, whether a celebrity, a friend, former classmate or office mate or anybody he or she had been attracted to. The person’s wish list of an ideal romantic partner immediately become active during the first encounter and “falls in love” with somebody he or she has not been known acquainted with.

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Although popularly considered as “love at first sight”, experts and moralists do not generally consider this as love but infatuation and only a first step towards true love. Using biological theory, Helen Fisher of Rutgers University also considers “love at first sight” as only the first of the 3 stages of love: lust, attraction and attachment. For her, the first stage of love is only lust. This is the amazing moment when two people are driven by the sex hormones of testosterone and estrogen. In the second stage, the couple is truly love-struck and can think of little else. And in the third and attachment stage, the couple is bonded together long enough to have and raise children.

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Physical attractiveness has always been a top criteria in choosing a dating partner. Based on many research studies, the following physical traits are generally attractive to women:

1. Taller than the Female Partner

Height matters in falling in love. Women are generally attracted to men who are taller than them. Taller men have a bigger body frame, and thus, have stronger physical strength and more capable of protecting their romantic partners.

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“A 2014 research conducted by professors at Rice University and the University of Northern Texas found out that out of around 1000 Yahoo! Personal Dating ads, nearly 50% of women claimed that they’d prefer to date a man who’s taller than they were.” Thus, height still matters. Tall men are usually attractive to women because of the popular belief that they can provide more protection to their female partners than the shorter ones. But take note that this doesn’t mean that men should be very tall to be attractive to women. This study only suggests that the male partner must be at least a little taller than the female partner and not shorter. The average height of men and women of a particular culture of countries applies here. Southeast Asian men such as Indonesians, Thais and Filipinos are generally shorter than Caucasian European or American men. So what is the average height for men in a given culture is still socially acceptable as long as male lovers are taller than their female partners. What is generally unacceptable is that the male partner is shorter than the female partner. In this case, it seems the woman is physically stronger and providing protection to her male partner which is considered as a reversal of roles; thus, culturally unacceptable.

 

But people must not make this height requirement absolute as there are couples who are happy with shorter male partners. For older people, what matters more in a relationship are intimacy, companionship, social status of the partner, and financial security rather than the height and other physical attributes of their partners. By age, the youth and young adults seem to value this requirement of height than older people.

 2. Athletic Body

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 Researchers have found out of all the body shapes, women in general seem to prefer a “V-shaped” athletic body of their men. Respondents say a strong and well-defined musculature on the upper body and a narrow and slim waist. “Because body type is a reliable indicator of health and fertility, men are more attracted to women with a lower waist-to-hip (WHR) ratio and an average body mass index (BMI), neither thin nor plump, because these are associated with youth and sexual maturity.”

   3. Slower Movements

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Researchers have found that men who have slower movements and speech are often perceived as more at ease and confident, and thus, more attractive. This particularly true in first date or where the partners are still cautious with one another. The male can give a good impression if he is slower in his verbal and nonverbal communication that allows the female partner to be at ease in the social interaction. “Stay calm and lean back in the beginning to persuade your partner that you are safe, trustworthy, and likable. Lean in and get more energetic once you’ve earned their trust, to motivate them to become excited about the prospect of seeing you again.” Slower movements can also indicate good manners, confidence, gentleness, and good breeding.

    4. Smaller Belly

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A large amount of abdominal fat can indicate lower levels of testosterone and lower sex drive and fertility. It’s absolutely no surprise that women love that washboard stomach. The ripples are the epitome of what a man is defined by. Some women didn’t necessarily require rock hard ab, but a flat stomach is important just the same.

        5. Deeper Voice

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Men with deeper voices are more likely to appear attractive or make an impression than those with higher voices. Deeper voices are generally associated with masculinity and power while higher voices are associated with femininity and weaker strength. According to a group of researchers from University College London, women perceive men with a deeper voice as a sign of a larger and stronger physicality.

       6. Symmetrical Face

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An Austrian study found out that women prefer male faces that are symmetrical with evenly spaced eyes (which are often considered a sign of good health).

       7.  With Alpha Male Features

 

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Heterosexual females tend to be physically or sexually attracted to men with traditionally masculine features such as a muscular frame, a square jaw, big nose and small yes. These physical traits often signify higher levels of testosterone, and are more common in “alpha males”, males with a set of personality traits that include directness, decisiveness, and intensity.

        8. Attractive  Eyes

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Many women attracted to men’s eyes. The Eyes is the window to the person’s soul. The sincerity and character of the person can sometimes be glimpsed through the expression of his eyes. An eye movement can give a lot of clues to women with regard to the kind of men they are dating with.

Moreover, researchers speculated that human beings are naturally drawn to what’s most familiar, and eye and hair color indicates familiarity and thus induces attraction. Women are usually attracted to men whose eye color is similar with those of their father’s.

      9. Nice Butt

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In one survey in the United Kingdom with 1000 respondents, women find the male body parts, according to rank, as the sexiest which can turn them on. Women are generally attracted to athletic men with nice butts. Some respondents wrote that they love those “half-moon” butts, while others preferred the “slightly curvaceous” ones. Men with honed hips are also attractive to women.

Despite all these attractive physical traits, true love is beyond physicality. It also includes mutual self-giving, strength of character, good personal values, and the capacity to commit one’s self to marriage.

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What’s the Difference between Romantic and True Love?

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It’s not true that one’s character is shown on one’s face. If it’s angelic and beautiful, then he or she is probably Mr. or Ms. Right or one’s long-lost soul mate or destined partner in life! Social science research has shown that there is no dependable association between facial features and personality traits. A person may look meek, soft-spoken, wholesome, and with sympathetic eyes, but may turn out to be abusive, violent and indecent in real life after a long acquaintance. Thus, a person cannot immediately identify his or her right partner in life based solely on facial or physical features during the first encounter or first date despite the strong feeling of romantic attraction or “love at first sight”.

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      Moreover, a person who is infatuated is usually blinded with romantic passion or intense feeling of attraction for his or her partner that he or she tends to neglect knowing his or her true character and personality. Just enjoying the current bliss of falling in love without a serious effort to know the real character of one’s partner is a dangerous attitude, especially if the person intends to find his or her true love and enter into marriage.

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       Relying merely on the attractive looks of one’s partner and intense romantic feeling for him or her can be deceiving.  Many marriage counselors would say that people in love could not really know the real person or character of their partners unless they live together constantly in a conjugal home for at least five years in marriage. Knowing the real person of one’s romantic partner requires time, effort, and scientific strategies to know the real person behind the smiling and loving face!

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Young people are prone to falling in love based on looks and physical appearance. But older people usually look for substance, personality, and, above-all, financial security their partners can offer in life. To avoid or minimize blunders in courtship, always remember that “Things are not what they seem!” There is more that meets the eye!

There are basically 3 kinds of love: Erotic love, which is basically sexual and physical in nature; filial love, which is a non-erotic love and based on spiritual love as bothers or sisters; and agape, the highest form of love–the self-giving love.

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For Christians, love is more than physical looks and personal traits. Agape is the type love Christ has done for us. Christian love is motivated for the desire to serve the Lord through one’s partner in life. It does not hesitate to sacrifice and to die for the other!

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Older People Have a more Satisfying Relationship than Younger Adults

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Age does matter in social relationships. It is assumed that older people experience more negative experiences in life compared to younger people because of loneliness and detachment from relatives and friends who are either sick, dead, or migrated to distant places. Although it is generally true that older people, especially the retired and senior citizens, tend to have lesser reach in social network, the quality of their relationships, however, tend to be more satisfying compared to younger ones.

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Age is connected with experience in life. Older people have more experience about the realities of life and thus more resilient than younger adults with limited experience and who are more prone to commit mistakes and encounter conflicts in social relationships. Younger people are usually facing disillusionment or discovery period in their marital or romantic commitments during young adulthood. But the older ones have already surpassed this transition period and have “gone through the storm” so to speak. After more than 10 or more years in marital or romantic adjustment, it is assumed that they are more or less stable in their relationships and accepting of the faults and limitations of their partners, as well as their respective circles of relatives and friends that directly affect their social interactions, than younger ones.

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The high satisfaction in social relationships among older adults is confirmed by a number of studies that  showed that older people experienced more quality relationships than younger ones. Older adults reported greater satisfaction and fewer negative experiences in their social interactions than younger adults according to a study by Birditt & Fingerman in 2003.

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Other studies also showed that older adults reported experiencing a greater intensity of positive emotions and less intense negative emotions with their close social partners than do younger adults. They also recalled that they derived greater support from their close social ties compared to younger ones.They confirmed that they have better quality ties with their children, more positive marriages and closer friendships (e.g. Rook, 1984, 2003). Thus, social support grows more positive with age (e.g. Field & Minkler, 1988).

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Finally, a study by the United States of Aging Survey found that “[m]ore than half of seniors (53 percent) nationally indicate that being close to friends and family is important.” It  revealed that “[e]ighty-four percent of seniors nationally cite technology as important to their ability to connect with the world around them.” It also showed that spending quality time with their children and grandchildren as very exciting:

  • “41 percent say seeing their children and grandchildren grow up is the most exciting prospect of living a longer life”
  • “One-fifth say spending time with friends and family will be the best part of their bonus years”
  • “18 percent say they are excited to have more time to do the things they enjoy”(https://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/05-08-17-seniors-secret-to-happy-life/)

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