Untranslatable Words #35: shěnměi píláo - When love fades away

Hello peeps! @ailindigo here :)

We're now on the 35th week of Untranslatable Words and moving up to north Asia, we're once again visiting China. This week we're talking about an interesting expression that makes us reflect on a big topic: love.

This week's word is the chinese: shěnměi píláo.

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shěnměi píláo

When I found this word, it really left me thinking about that natural part of us as humans that is getting used to things or people and then getting bored, something that even though I know it's normal I always perceived it as odd and even weird.

shěnměi píláo literally means "aesthetically fatigued", it means boredom towards things one has got used to; longingness for something new or different. *

This is a Mandarin phrase that refers to the emotion you have when you've been looking at something or someone quite beautiful, but for too long, and so you begin to lose interest. Even though the phrase can apply to many different sorts of things, it is most often used to describe faded feelings toward a lover. As they say on Emotional Granularity: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all, and it’s rude to stare. *

When I read what this expression was about I remembered all those times I had this emotion after looking at someone I liked so much that I started seeing physical flaws I didn't see before, as well as how easily I get bored by anything and how quick to move on I am from failed love relationships. What I find the oddest and weirdest is how after one starts seeing those flaws one can almost feel how the interest starts to decline.

Then, I can't help but dive on this aspect many of us have and wonder why it is and why it triggers me in this odd way, but what I end up with is how is that boredom exist? And regarding love especifically, why those love feelings tend to fade away over time? For this question, at least science was able to provide me an answer.


In an article by Quora they talk about passionate love and long term attachment, making a distinguish between both of them. Literally if you looked at a picture of your love the first week in the relationship, and then a picture of them 10 years later, you may still love them, but different parts of the brain are being activated and responding depending on where you are in the relationship with that person. *

They even talk about infatuation love which is the initial stage of love that is supposed to fade but also the one that gives the initial push to spend as much time with that person to be able to develop long term attachment by the time the infatuation fades, and at this point it's where the boredom part gets in and the first question gets somehow solved, when the infatuation fades but the attachment never stuck people get bored and realize they no longer love this person anymore.

Also, there's the issue of infutuation love being associated to the real deal when, as I said, it is supposed to fade; due to cultural perceptions and the media, we have this misconception that infatuation love is true love and it should remain consistent throughout the relationship, and that if it wanes then it is an indicator that true love is waning too, and therefore the relationship is failing.

What do you think? Do you often get aesthetically fatigued by either lovers or things? Please feel free to let me know what you think in the comments!

Thank you very much for passing by! And if you have an Untranslatable Word you'd like to suggest, please don't hesitate to do so! :)

Previous Untranslatable Words:
#1: Torschlusspanik#11: sankofa#21: xibipíío - how the Pirahã deconverted a Christian man
#2: Mono no aware#12: annus mirabilis#22: aduantas - rambling between two nuances
#3: Rasāsvāda#13: voorpret#23: Eh - Canada's proud politeness
#4: Cavoli riscaldati#14: pikit mata#24: Janteloven - the egalitarian nature of Nordic countries
#5: Nefelibata#15: ranorànilac#25: Dadirri - finding the answers by contemplating ourselves
#6: Sturmfrei#16: gagung#26: catalepsy - doubting my senses
#7: Jootha#17: gumusservi#27: kiasu - Singaporeans's survival instinct
#8: bilita mpash#18: yaourter#28: dustsceawung - We are stardust
#9: resfeber#19: nunchi#29: yoisho - encouragement and reminder of strength
#10: Vāde mēcum#20: flâneur#30: hyggelig - Denmark's way of creating intimacy in cozy sorroundings

#31: orenda - God as a power of nature's energy
#32: ishin-denshin - Japanese telepathy
#33: gökotta - connecting with nature and ourselves
#34: kalpa - the longest time measurement

This content is part of a new series to get more people interested on languages and how they, perception and culture are related!

Exclusively for the Hive Cross Culture Community, the community for language exchange and cross-cultural purposes.

If you'd like to be part of the discussion don't hesitate to hop into the Hive Language and Culture Exchange Discord server! As well as subscribing to the Hive Cross Culture Community so you don't miss any new word comming ;) We'll be sharing a new Untranslatable Word each week!

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