Experts, scholars and my Aunt Esther are united in one belief:
True love has spiritual dimensions, while romantic love is a lie.
A myth. A soulless manipulation. And speaking of manipulation …
lt’s like going to the movies and seeing the lovers kiss …
The music swells, and we buy it, right?
—Rose Morgan, The Mirror Has Two Faces
I don’t know if it’s just me, but have you ever wondered why we say aww’s and kyaa’s whenever we see a dokidoki moment? Usually these moments are wherein the characters stare at each other’s eyes, hold hands, cling arms, and kiss each others’ lips. In most cases, these acts are meant to stimulate heart-pounding, temperature arising, and exciting sensational effects. Because of this, I find it so interesting how we fall in love just by watching and reading. As a matter of fact, some viewers become so compelled by the scenes, making them imagine that the characters that they’re watching are their husbandos or waifus.
Eros, agape and caritas’ theorists revealed that what we discern as romantic love is only about 800 years old. At first, this seems implausible since we know that people have been mating and reproducing for million years. However, philosophers and sexologists posited that romantic love is just a cultural construct which has been spread by the mass media throughout the world. Indeed, prior to radio, television, shōjo, yuri, and yaoi anime/manga people already have sexual relationships and families. But, the fantasy of romantic love isn’t something that is naturally embedded into the perception of our ancestors.
It was also said that romantic love is basically an emotional story which we tell to ourselves. In visual novels and manga’s, in order to sensationalize this feeling, inner monologues together with sparkles and bubbles are extensively used. Perceptibly, these materials trigger us to produce a fantasy feeling by giving us a dream lover inside our heads. Plus, the scripts and visual representations are designed to trap our sensations and make us dokidoki according to the prescribed plotline.
Furthermore, the notion of romantic love and lust is hard to separate because of these biological and sexual responses that manifest on humans. Lust is an organic feeling which we find arising that is directly associated with our thoughts about another person who activates our sexual responses. Take for instance Yuno from Mirai Nikki, she claims that her diary is full of Yukkii’s future because of her romantic love for him. Hence, in order to portray this, she’s being depicted as a lusty girl who is full of sexual insinuation and obsessive acts. This deep craving for Yukkii makes us describe her as someone who is madly or insanely in love.
Of course, the character doesn’t need to portray such extreme acts, like Yuno, in order to become romantic. For instance, aside from being very friendly and nice on each other, Kazehaya and Sawako are super romantic because they blush whenever they stare at each other and discreetly want to kiss each other’s lips. Nanami and Hitomi are so cozy and tender together because they share and keep a forbidden love. And, Kanba turns out to be so chivalric because of his incestuous love for Himari.
Consequently, we might think that our sexual responses originated from our animal ancestors and were some built-in basic instincts; however that would not explain why we are stimulated by words, stories, myths, settings, clothing, and such. We get ‘turned on’ by all sorts of things that encompass strong symbolic contents, which is impossible for the other animals, since they do not use abstract codes. Hence, it’s arguable to say that falling in love sets the start of our symbolic capability and the emergence of human language.