“As soon as I had seen her, I was lost. For Beauty’s wound is sharper than any weapon’s, and it runs through the eyes down to the soul. It is through the eye that love’s wound passes, and I now became a prey to a host of emotions.”
-Clitophon describing his love at first sight with Leucippe; in an ancient Greek love story by Achilles Tatius
We have all seen countless romantic movies that depict the typical candlelit dinner date. Dinner by candlelight has become the quintessential date as it is what people imagine first when they hear the words “romantic date”. Very few activities come close to the amount of romance the candlelit dinner provides. This all begs the question: has it become the be-all and end-all of dates just because of its depiction in media or is there an actual science behind it?
Having dinner by candlelight in a dim lit restaurant does multiple things that add to romance. To illustrate this, let me paint a picture for you: You’re on a date with your partner in a fancy restaurant. Sitting across from them, all you can see is your date’s face illuminated by the candlelight. Everything that isn’t them gets covered in darkness and all you can hear are the clinking of other people’s forks on their plates. Your other senses are dulled and your focus is on your date; the meal you’re sharing, the conversation you’re having, their face and their eyes. You feel connected. Back to reality! As you can see, many factors are at play here; some small and some large. The larger factors are the romantic setting of the restaurant, the interesting conservation, your date and the ambiance the candlelight provides. Some of the smaller aspects involve things that may surprise you. The eyes! Having dinner by candlelight increases the pupil size of your partner which has a very interesting effect on attraction levels. This is completely backed up by science! In psychology, the act of measuring one’s pupil size in response to stimuli is titled Pupillometry and it is used to measure a subject’s response to light, arousal and emotions!
Our pupils dilate when we are excited and it is an indicator of attraction to one’s partner especially in females. If a male looks across the table at his date and is greeted by enlarged pupils, he will feel as if his date is attracted to him, excited by him and very engaged. This allows the romance between the pair to grow and strengthen. So, to revisit our previous question of whether it’s the media or if there is a scientific explanation the answer is it’s a little bit of both. Movies are a great way to steal date ideas and keep the romance alive. Watching candlelit dinners on screen may inspire a couple to also have one. Mostly all couples tend to experience the decline of ideas for dates as the honeymoon period gives way and a routine sets in. Having dinner by candlelight is a surefire way to jumpstart and keep the romance alive for more established couples and are an excellent way for newer couples to build a romance together.