Millennial Love Column: #RomanceIsNotDead

 

Nearly 10 years ago, my very first boyfriend asked me out by recording a message on a mix CD that instructed me to meet him on the school stage the next morning. There, in front of the whole world (and by “the whole world” I actually just mean the kids in high school), he gave me my first kiss and handed me a box containing 143 folded paper hearts — which he had made during the nights we stayed up talking on the phone. Was I swooning? Yup. Was I turning a dangerous shade of red that only looks appealing on tomatoes and stop signs? You bet I was.

By the time I got home that night, I was practically exploding in giddiness as I told the story to my family. Now, I was prepared for my mom’s teasing, and I even expected my brother to throw up a little, but who could’ve foreseen my grandma’s reaction? She sighed in disapproval and mumbled something about romance being dead.

Have you ever seen a balloon deflate? That’s about the best description I have of how I felt in that moment. How could my grandma — my wise, sage grandma — think that romance was dead after the incredible day I just had?

After much prying, she finally explained that she was upset because the “rude boy” didn’t pick me up at the door on our first date, and those “scraps of paper” could never compare to roses.

I cracked a smile of relief. Of course she felt that way. This wasn’t the first time I’d been told Millennials didn’t know a thing about romance. You see, in my grandmother’s eyes, as well as many Boomers and Gen X’ers, boys these days lack chivalry, serious relationships are traded for casual “hook-ups,” and communication is only done through a computer or phone screen. Given that perspective, I completely understand why people think romance is dead.

But I’m here to let you in on a secret: Romance is alive and well. The naysayers simply don’t recognize it because they’re looking for the wrong things. Romance changes, grows and adapts. The way we show and perceive romance now may not look like it used to, but has it disappeared? Of course not. Here’s why.

 

Myth #1: Chivalry Is Dead
According to the old-school definition, the quintessential romantic gentleman should pay for my meal on dates, spoil me weekly with flowers and pick me up at my front door. But there’s a problem with that theory. First of all, I quite frankly don’t care how much a man spends on me. I know from firsthand experience that being a college grad drowning in student loans is no joke. So I have no intention of putting anyone through the extra pressure of paying for two if he simply can’t. Second and most importantly, it’s the 21st century. Who says I need a guy to pay for my meals?

And sure, not every guy knocks on my door to pick me up for a date, but I’m actually quite relieved when someone shoots me a text instead. Not only is texting a faster and more efficient way to get me, there’s also no need to freak out about that mess in the living room and I have time for my last touch-up in the mirror.

Believe me, I appreciate chivalry just as much as the next girl, but this does not equate to romance in my book. I know plenty of men who are still working towards financial stability and can’t afford flowers on a regular basis, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be romantic. On the other side of the spectrum, I know even more men who know everything about holding doors open and nothing about the kind of romance that gives you butterflies.

 

Myth #2: It’s All About Hooking Up
I won’t deny it. Our generation has mastered the art of keeping things casual, especially in college. And don’t get me wrong — I’m not trying to argue that hookup culture is romantic. I do, however, believe that fully understanding hookup culture (and why we partake in it) is important to seeing why romance is sometimes put on hold.

Hookup culture is one that encourages casual relationships and sexual encounters, while generally staying away from serious relationships. What some people don’t realize is that we keep our love life casual during the times that we need to take our career life seriously.

Decades ago, it wasn’t rare for a couple to get married right out of high school or college. Nowadays, ask someone in their mid-20s about marriage and many will say they’re nowhere near that stage of life. We live in a world of low employment opportunities, high competition and even higher stress and depression rates. Getting into college has become harder than ever and becoming financially stable after graduating is even worse. Do you really think our focus is on marriage right now?

We have not, by any means, traded romance for a culture of hookups. We’re simply making sure we mold the best versions of ourselves until we’re ready for a serious, romantic relationship.

 

Myth #3: Technology Killed Romance
This is simultaneously the most valid argument and yet the biggest misconception here. I say that because I can completely understand why older generations think texting, online dating and the Internet in general gets in the way of proper romance. After all, I’m sure they shake their heads at couples who spend dinner dates scrolling through Instagram instead of talking.

But I would argue that technology has actually helped make us openly romantic and sometimes extravagantly so. What are texts if not instant love letters? What is online dating if not the romantic pursuit of finding someone you may have otherwise never met? Yes, we are obsessed with taking pictures of our dates, but isn’t that just an effort to physically preserve our memories?

Men no longer are limited to dropping an engagement ring into a champagne glass. YouTube has allowed us all to see extravagant proposals using flashmobs, scavenger hunts and hidden cameras. We’re publicly displaying our love and doing so creatively and loudly. Yes, our methods are showy — another criticism we often receive — but spend an hour looking up wedding proposals online, and you’ll take back everything you said about romance being dead.

Want to learn how to play your crush’s favorite song on the guitar to serenade her? Go find a tutorial online. Want to tell her how you’re feeling but can’t find the words? Find the perfect song on YouTube. Want to get the perfect Valentine’s Day present? Check her pins on Pinterest. Want to reassure her that there’s no one else? Let everyone on your social media platforms know your heart is taken.

Flashmobs, texting and social media may not be included in the traditional definition of romance, but if my guy posts that embarrassing picture of us just because he knows I love it, then that sure counts for me.
Feature image courtesy of dailybruin.com
This story was originally published in our Spring 2015 issue. Get your copy here

[Video] Jubilee Project Releases Another Tearjerker About Unconditional Love

 

Jubilee Project has done it again. Their latest video “Blind Devotion,” which has us simultaneously crying sad and happy tears, proves that they’re masters at pulling our heartstrings.

Not familiar with Jubilee Project? According to their official website, they “make short films, PSAs and documentaries in collaboration with non-profits to increase awareness and inspire action. [Jubilee Project’s] vision is to produce entertaining content that will empower, enable, and inspire others to do good as well.”

And with over 172K subscribers on YouTube, they certainly seem to be doing a good job at that goal. “Blind Devotion” was uploaded onto their channel just a few months ago, but it has already gathered nearly 4 million views.

The premise of the short is simple enough: A woman explains the various ways she shows her devotion to her husband. But when their lives are flipped upside down, she has to deal with the guilt of being a burden to him. Of course, this only gives her husband an opportunity to show his devotion back. If you’ve given up on the idea of unconditional love, then you should definitely watch this.

“Blind Devotion” is the second short in a series by Jubliee Project which focuses on unconditional love. The series is in partnership with with Pastor Francis Chan and his latest book You and Me Forever. In the book, Francis Chan and his wife Lisa explore what it means to have a fulfilling and successful marriage. Best of all, all proceeds from book sales goes to a good cause.

The official website promises:

100% of the net proceeds from You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity will go towards various ministries that include providing food, shelter and rehabilitation for thousands of orphaned children and exploited women around the world. We would love to raise $5 million, so please support the work now by ordering your own copy here or by donating directly to the project fund.”

 

Find out more about the book in the video below.

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Aziz Ansari’s Book ‘Modern Romance’ Explores How Technology Affects Relationships

 

We were all sad to see the cast of the Parks and Recreation say goodbye to their loyal viewers during the series finale last week, but when one door closes another one opens. That certainly seems to be the case for 32-year-old actor and comedian Aziz Ansari. Not only does he have a Netflix stand-up comedy special on its way, Ansari also has a book coming out soon. And no, it’s not what you expect.

Many comedians, such as Mindy Kaling and Amy Poehler, release memoirs to give fans a look into their personal life. Ansari, on the other hand, is releasing a book called Modern Romance where he apparently recruits a sociologist to conduct studies on love and romance in this day and age.

“I had been starting to do this stand-up about dating and realized that the current romantic landscape is way different,” Ansari told TIME.  “All these very modern problems — like, sitting and deciding what to write in a text — that’s a very new conundrum.”

Ansari goes on to explain that while doing research for a stand-up bit, he realized he wanted the perspective of someone in the proper academic field to assess things like texting and how it can affect relationships. The result? A sociology book that has Ansari humor written all over it.

“I want to be clear: The book is not, “It’s crazy! We have phones now!” The changes are far beyond the technology,” Ansari explains. “And marriage, not that long ago, was an economic institution where two families would come together to bring their wealth together. The whole idea of finding a soul mate only became a thing in the past 100 years. So the whole redefinition of what marriage is — nobody’s really written this comprehensive book about this kind of thing. I think it’s really funny and very interesting.”

Needless to say, the book certainly shows plenty of promise. Modern Romance hits bookshelves on June 16th. You can learn more about the book here on the official website.

In the meantime, check out Ansari on The Tonight Show talking about how text messages have changed the dating game. We wouldn’t be surprised if this stuff shows up in Modern Romance.

 

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Kiss of Love: Mass Protest in India Opposes Conservative Views on Kissing

 

When I see couples give each other a quick kiss in public, I really don’t think twice about it. After all, growing up in American means movies, television shows and even cartoons which have characters show their love for one another with a quick peck. This act is not only normalized in our society, it’s actually seen as endearing and sweet.

This is certainly not the case in India. In fact, a public kiss is viewed as so disgraceful, you can receive jail time for that small, quick act of affection. The Indian Penal Code states that anyone who “does any obscene act in any public place” may be subject to arrest. And yes, public kissing falls into that list of obscene acts.

Although Westerners may be baffled by the conservative view, right-wing Hindu fundamentalists certainly take it very seriously. On October 23rd, a local news channel showed footage of a couple kissing inside of a cafe in Calicut. The reaction to this was swift and overwhelming. Within an hour of the broadcast, people smashed the windows of the cafe and caused chaos inside. They claimed it was punishment for endorsing “un-Indian” behavior. According to one Facebook commenter, public kissing is only for “filthy western people, where shame exists only in the dictionary.”

 

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From Cartoonist Unnikrishnan Mathrubhumi. Photo courtesy of www.facebook.com/kissoflovekochi

 

But while there are those bent on aggressively enforcing this conservative view, there are also many, especially the youth, who seek to oppose this perception on kissing. Less than a day after the violent acts against the cafe, a nation-wide movement called the “Kiss of Love” campaign was created and sparked protests throughout India.

“We wanted to show how humans express their love. A kiss is a short and sweet expression,” explained Rahul Pasupalar, co-creator of the movement’s Facebook page which now has over 140,000 likes.

 

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A number of these protestors are receiving daily death and rape threats, but the movement continues strong. In fact, many claim that this is about much more than just kissing. Because arranged marriages are still a common practice in India, the act of public kissing is seen as women making decisions on their own terms. The rise of kissing reflects the growing power of young women in deciding who to marry.

“The terms and timing of intimacy used to be initiated and decided entirely by the man,” said Dr. Avdesh Sharma, a psychiatrist practicing in New Delhi. “That is no longer true.”

 

Feature image courtesy of http://www.bbc.com/

 

How Men REALLY Feel About Trading Bachelorhood For Married Life; Columnist Paul Nakayama Spills All

In his regular column for Audrey Magazine, published in the Summer 2014 issue, Paul Nakayama talks about dismantling the man cave and other life changes he’ll have to make as he (finally!) bids farewell to bachelorhood. 

 

In my 20s and early 30s, I did my share of dating. Mind you, I didn’t have one night stands or a monthly swap-out of girls, but rather a steady string of long-term, monogamous relationships. I was generally considered a Nice Guy, and while Nice Guys do often finish last, I met some Nice Girls who found me at the finish line. But then I debunked the myth about Nice Guys being nice, and when things got hard I ended up screwing up the relationship. Now after a few years of mostly being single, I’m hanging up my bachelor hat again. I’ve met an amazing girl who makes it seem easy — I mean not easy easy — but easy. In fact, it’ll be the first time I live with a woman other than family. And therein lies my new dilemma: as I approach 40, I’ve kinda settled into the bachelor life.

For example, I’m a writer and I tend to keep graveyard hours — less people to bother you at night and it doesn’t seem so weird to drink during work. While most of the world is sleeping, I’m sitting at my computer thinking of new ways for evil masterminds to destroy the world or, in my most ironic of gigs, doling out really bad relationship advice to all of you. For a few more months, my girl is in Japan so our hours coincide. When I go to bed around 8 a.m., it’s midnight over there. But when we start living together, I have to start functioning like a normal human being. She even says that I need to be under the sun occasionally, despite my complaints that it’d be impossible to look at my iPhone or iPad and then I’d spontaneously combust from digital withdrawal.

I’m also deprogramming my brain and eyes to not check out girls anymore at restaurants and bars. After years of conscious and subconscious honing of my babe radar, I realize I’ll need some time to shut it off. It’s certainly not a deliberate action when I leer at a girl, particularly one that is exposed to the elements, but I don’t want to risk having my girl think I have eyes for anyone but her. To counter the programming in my internal detection systems, I have started to spend a lot more time reading menus, counting ceiling/floor tiles, staring deep into my girl’s eyes without blinking and ignoring all peripheral motion. Sadly, the only thing that seems to work well is to take excessive photos of my food and drinks. And my leftovers and empty dishes even.

 

 

The biggest visible change is probably going to be the dismantling of my man cave. Over the years, I’ve collected a serious treasure trove of video games, comics, DVDs, books, CDs and geeky art prints — and I love all of it. I can’t just abandon them when I make a new friend. That would just be wrong. But spatially there’s no way for her and her supposedly essential goods, like clothes, to fit into my apartment with all of my stuff. So in trying to be a good, accommodating boyfriend, I’ve come up with an alternate plan. I’ve studied the blueprints, sketched out some ideas and will be constructing a secret man cave by tearing down a wall in the broom closet. That way I can sneak in a few minutes here and there to spend with my precious lovelies. UPDATE: I was informed by my neighbor that he doesn’t appreciate me busting a hole into his living room; he said I was encroaching on his personal space. I suppose he may have a point, but I think that’s why he doesn’t have friends.

Speaking of living together, I’m told it takes a system of compromise and sharing to make it work. I’ve heard a competing theory that it’s more about giving up all personal freedoms and just saying yes. But let’s operate off an optimistic presumption for now. That means that I probably can’t watch Game of Thrones in my underwear while swinging a sword anymore. (I’ll try subtly tossing out the idea, but I have my doubts.) It means I’ll have to give her at least half of the DVR space, which is why I’m convinced that most BitTorrents are downloaded by husbands and boyfriends and not cheapskates. Meals will now have to be more nutritious than my usual fare of beer, steak and Red Vines. I’ll now have to take my music playlists more seriously and not “experiment” with One Direction and Taylor Swift songs … or maybe include more 1D and Taylor. Or something. I don’t know what the “good” boyfriends are doing these days.

I’m sure there’s a lot more to consider in the days ahead. I’m getting all of the cautionary tales from my friends, and there are a lot of them. But somehow, I’m still really excited. I’m looking forward to having a partner in my life. You know, someone to watch movies with or have spontaneous cocktails with or share my meals with, other than my pal Netflix. Someone to bring me toilet paper instead of having to waddle into the hallway. You know, really romantic stuff that’ll change my life for the better. Thankfully, I’ve been writing these columns for Audrey for 10 years now, talking about my bachelor life, so I’ve got a whole record of how I’ve messed up with girls … and I can save all my successes for this one.

 

— STORY BY PAUL NAKAYAMA

This story was originally published in our Summer 2014 issue. Get your copy here. 

Facing the Big 3-0 … Single

Story by Kanara Ty. 

When you’re programmed to believe happiness equals marriage and kids by 30 — and they’re nowhere in sight — what’s a 29-year-old (and her angst-ridden mother) to do? 

When I was in college, my mother found out I was seeing somebody for the first time. So she did the one thing that comes most naturally to her: she confided in a fortuneteller. I’m not talking about Miss Cleo and her crystal ball; more like a Buddhist monk at the local temple. It was something she grew obsessive about because, every week, she would tell me a new fortune.

I heard fortunes ranging from “He told me that the best guy for you is the one I pick for you” to “You should graduate first before you fall in love with someone” — which led me to question whether she was actually confiding in someone else or, really, just herself.

But then one week, there came a fortune that was really specific and struck a chord with me: “When you turn 26, you will meet three guys. The third guy will be the one you marry — and you will be married by 27.”

I became obsessed with the idea, even more so than my mother. I scrutinized everything about myself at the time (my looks, my body, my career) and I became a bit of a H.A.M. — a Hot Asian Mess. My mom added on to my own over-scrutinizing by constantly bombarding me with questions like “Are you a good enough catch?” “Are you appealing enough to men?” Rather than letting fate take its course, I was determined to see that fortune come true.

When I turned 26, I did indeed meet three guys — all of which turned out to be men I’d never marry even if you’d paid me. But up until that point, I believed I was going to be betrothed, have a wonderful career and even think seriously about having a couple of kids. All before I turned 30. It wasn’t just my dream, but a shared dream among my friends. That dream stemmed mainly from our immigrant parents’ expectations because they didn’t want us to go through the same financial hardships they did. We grew up believing that finding security and stability was the path to happiness.

But of course, life didn’t pan out the way I had hoped. For those keeping track, I’m about one for three on the Asian American immigrant dream scoreboard: I’ve got a solid career, but I’m not married with kids nor do I own any property. About half of my friends are married with their own homes and some even have kids already. My social media feeds went from being filled with episodes of debauchery to minute-by-minute updates on child-rearing. As for me, I’m about to enter my 30th year in a couple of months, and I’m definitely not getting married anytime soon (nor do I have any intention of doing so). Just like that, my dreams changed because I had to rethink a happiness that was my own and not one tied to the Asian American immigrant dream.

Thankfully, my mother no longer asks about making her a grandmother anytime soon. (She used to forget that a partner is necessary before I go into the baby-making phase.) Instead, she asks when I’m going to buy a house. She’s slowly accepting the fact that I’ll be a career-minded serial dater for a while, so she’s using buying property as her new marker for security and stability.

Dreams may change, but nagging Asian moms never will.

This story was originally published in our Summer 2014 issue. Get your copy here. 

Adorable Image of The Day: Couple Recreates Photo 51 Years Later

Some say that romantic love doesn’t exist anymore and who can blame them? After all, there’s a Korean website for “discreet cheating” and in Japan, people have resorted to virtual girlfriends.

Luckily for us, there are still some believers of love and every now and then, they help us believe in it too.

The Twitter account History in Pictures shows us exactly what its title suggests. They post pictures of a New York blizzard in 1888, a San Francisco drive-in theater in the early 90’s and even a rare picture of Charlie Chaplin and Helen Keller.

Recently, they posted an image that has been capturing hearts. An Asian couple posed for a picture in 1963 and then recreated the picture in 2014 at the exact same spot. The picture was only uploaded last night, but it has already gathered nearly 4,000 retweets and over 7,000 favorites.

Unfortunately, no one seems to know who this adorable mystery couple is. We’d like nothing more than to get in contact with them and thank them for reminding us of how love looks like.

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Dating Culture Shock: The Good, Bad and Fetishism of Modern-Day Dating in Japan

Story by Paul Nakayama. 

After decades of the singles scene in America, columnist Paul Nakayama discovers the good, bad and fetishism of modern-day dating in his ancestral home of Japan. 

Why would I forsake the moderate temperatures of Los Angeles and spend six weeks in the freezing, ball-numbing winters of Japan? The same reason I’ve always tortured myself— a girl. Well, and ramen. Really, really good ramen. But mostly, it’s for a girl. And while I was there, I made a few observations about the dating scene in Japan. They aren’t about my personal experiences per se, because this is my column and not my diary — I mean, journal. Men don’t keep diaries … not that I keep a journal. Wow, jet lag is nature’s crystal meth.

I should start by explaining that I was in Fukuoka, which is in southwestern Japan. If Tokyo, where I usually party in Japan, is like New York, then Fukuoka is like Chicago. In Fukuoka, like Chicago, people tend to get married while they’re still in their 20s or early 30s. So many of my girlfriend’s friends were already married. Otherwise, the first words from the single ones to me were, “Do you know any single men?”

Despite the marital aspirations of most of the people I met in Fukuoka, there was a contradictory and disappointing social trend, one that I’ve seen often in Asia. Cheating is a common occurrence. I don’t know the official numbers, but I met a lot of married men with mistresses and a lot of girls that were dating married men. It’s no surprise that in 2013 AshleyMadison.com (the affair-friendly website) made Japan its first Asian market. You can’t see my face, but I’m frowning, like I’m tempted to drive around Japan in a pickup with a TV in the back streaming Before Midnight.

But to get back on a positive note and to get back to the single people that are in search of true love, how do they find one another in Japan? While online dating is on the rise, the predominant method is undeniably the goukon, or group blind date. Basically, it’s a system where a single man and woman who know each other invite approximately four friends to meet at a restaurant or gastropub. It’s safer and less stressful. And genius. Oh, how I wish this could’ve been a possibility in my earlier years. The money saved from failed first dates aside, I — I mean, my friends — would’ve been spared all the emotional scars of humiliation. You know, like those horrible moments of dance-walking up to a girl at a club where she vehemently shakes her head “no,” and then having to shuffle back to the bar in shame. At goukon events, it becomes pretty clear who’s interested in whom, and it’s already established that everyone there is looking for something serious, meaning attendees can’t use the “I’m not ready for a relationship” line.

As great as goukons are, they aren’t infallible. Everyone is a friend of a friend, so at least there’s a level of trust. But honestly, how many of you know the sexual proclivities of your friends? Whenever my friends start dropping details, I cover my ears and sing Katy Perry songs. I heard this great/awful story of one goukon match gone awry. Apparently, they dated for a few weeks, but the guy always came up with some excuse not to let her go to his apartment. She finally found out why: he was an underwear fetishist with huge stashes of ladies’ used underwear. He’d buy them from vending machines. (They actually exist! I was as shocked as you to learn that it’s not an urban legend.) He’d even wear them to work. I may be embellishing at this point, but he might have peed on her, too. You know, I take it back. Goukons are perfect. Someone please go out there, host a goukon event and send your favorite stories to the Audrey office.

Now, once you’re dating, Japan has a whole slew of interesting and unique cultural options. For example, many people still live with their parents (or their spouses) and lack privacy, so many couples go to “love hotels,” which is essentially an upscale, usually gimmicky, pay-by-the-hour motel. They usually come equipped with karaoke, which is what I like to combine with sex (I didn’t watch porn growing up; I watched music videos). Another interesting difference is in the holidays. Christmas is Japan’s Valentine’s Day. It’s the busiest night of the year for restaurants. Interestingly, on Valentine’s Day in Japan, girls give chocolates to boys. Then a month later, on White Day, boys reciprocate. I don’t quite understand it, but it is kind of sweet.

It was a fascinating experience to hear everyone’s dating stories during my time in Fukuoka. In my case, I’m a Japanese American dating a Japanese girl, so I suppose we can pick and choose the best of both dating cultures. I like the idea of having two major romantic holidays, so we agreed to that. It was also comforting to both of us that I have no interest in wearing her underwear nor does she in mine. There are no love hotels in the U.S., at least not of the same hygienic and entertaining quality as found in Japan, so any music we make in the bedroom will have to be of our own making. Katy Perry, anyone?

This story was originally published in our Spring 2014 issue. Get your copy here

Do Girls Find You Romantic or Creepy? The Answer Could Surprise You

Wong Fu Productions is awfully great at making us stop and really think about many of our everyday social situations. In one video, they made us realize just how crazy we look while we’re taking our foodies for instagram.  In a more recent video, they pointed out that as much as we deny it, we treat people differently if we think of them as “more than a friend.”

So what could be next on this list of social situations? The fine line between being romantic and being a creeper.

According to this video, there’s not much of a difference at all. Apparently, what categorizes you with the creepers or the romantics is whether or not the recipient is attracted to you.

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No matter how much I deny it, I can’t help but recall a number of times that I’ve seen this happen in real life. In fact many comments on youtube show women who agree and admit that they have been guilty of this. Of course, even more point out that men are just as guilty of this habit.

Watch the video below and tell us what you think. Is there really no difference between the romantic and the creeper?

 

Even More Korean Couples With Matching Outfits on Valentine’s Day

Recently, we showed you a very popular trend among couples in Korea. In an effort to publicly show their relationship, many couples will go for the “couple look.” They will match with the same color, shirt, shoes, or even go to extreme lengths and match head-to-toe in identical his-and-hers versions of an entire outfit.

There are many reasons for this phenomenon. Some couples use this as a way of showing affection. Others use it as a clear sign that they are off the market. Some have even reasoned that it makes a big fashion statement because it is so easily noticed.

Whatever the reason may be, matching couple outfits are getting more and more popular everyday. WWD wandered the streets of Seoul on Valentine’s Day to catch a glimpse of the “couple look.”

Sure enough, the matching outfits popped up everywhere during the romantic holiday. One couple argued that they didn’t need Valentine’s Day to be cute with one another. “We dress the same every day,” said Shin Seung-Chul and fiancée, Bae Jung-a.

Check out more couples who decided to flaunt their love for Valentine’s Day:

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