Many social situations can provoke anxiety. Be it a networking event for work or having unannounced guests, these kind of interactions can cause even the most outgoing among us to feel unsettled. But do these feelings differ between the sexes?
Researchers asked more than 1000 U.S. married couples about their desired and actual sexual frequency. Spouses who weren’t getting as much sex as they desired were less satisfied and thought about ending their marriages more often, had less positive communication with their partners, and reported more conflict. Similarly, the spouses of sexually unfulfilled individuals reported these same negative outcomes (i.e., if you aren’t getting the sex you desire, your partner is less satisfied etc.). While these effects are likely reciprocal, getting the sex you want is associated with better relationship quality for both you and your partner.
Do you believe these statements?
- College students today care more about hooking up than forming meaningful relationships.
- Hooking up on college campuses is rampant.
- Millennials are part of a “hook-up culture” that did not exist in the past.
I mean, they sound perfectly reasonable, especially based on what you’ve likely seen in the media about Millennials (i.e., those born in the 80s and 90s). However, just because it feels true doesn’t mean it is actually true. Let’s see if these statements are correct by examining what the most recent science has to say. (For a primer on “hooking up,” click here.)
Do College Students Care More about Hooking Up than Forming Meaningful Relationships?
To answer this question, researchers surveyed over 200 college students and asked them which of the following they preferred for themselves:
These are Titi monkeys. Why did we decide to post their picture?
a) They are cute and cute animal pictures is what the Internet is all about
b) Their name appeals to our juvenile sense of humor.
c) Titi monkeys sit side-by-side with their tails entwined and mate for life.
d) All of the above.
Clearly the answer is D. If you'd like to learn more about the science of animal relationship behavior, click here.
What do you do after sex? If you don’t already, our new research suggests that you may want to spend a little extra time cuddling up with your partner. Across two studies, spending more time being affectionate with your partner after sex -- above and beyond the time spent engaging in sex itself -- was linked to feeling more satisfied with your sex life and overall relationship.1
In the first study, involving 335 participants (138 men and 197 women, all of whom were in romantic relationships and 90% of whom were heterosexual), people who reported a longer duration of after-sex affection were more satisfied with their sex lives and in turn, happier with their overall relationships. Although people varied in how long they reported cuddling after sex, the average amount of time spent being affection after sex was 15 minutes. Interestingly, duration of after-sex affection was even more important for sexual and relationship satisfaction than duration of sex and foreplay!
In the 32nd installment of SAGE’s Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Amy Moors (University of Michigan) discusses her research on consensual non-monogamy (an umbrella term that refers to polyamory, swinging, and open-relationships) – or relationships where partners do not have an expectation of complete sexual exclusivity.
Dr. Moors points out that our society generally views monogamy as the ideal form of partnering within romantic relationships and stigmatizes consensual non-monogamous relationships. Despite such a stigma, however, a sizeable minority of people (3 to 5% in her samples) engage in non-monogamous relationships and report high levels of relationship satisfaction.
What is the point of music? Psychologist Stephen Pinker likens it to “auditory cheesecake,” a confection intended to tickle our neural pleasure circuits1 -- a jolt of enjoyment rather than a necessity for human survival. But 140 years ago, Charles Darwin was tinkering with another theory: that music’s true purpose is to impress the opposite sex.2 He recognised that birds don’t sing for pure joy, but to attract a mate or challenge rivals. Could music serve a similar function in humans?
Quite possibly. The lyrics of most pop songs are about relationships, with love at first sight, jealousy, and breakups being common themes. And it’s also plain that music stirs fierce emotions, from the screaming adulation that provided a second soundtrack to Beatlemania, to the Beliebers and Directioners of today whose online worshipping of their idols knows no bounds. But until recently, there’s been little hard evidence for Darwin’s theory that music is a method of sexual seduction.
“Roses are red, violets are blue; when I’m around flowers I’m more attracted to you!”
Whether it's red roses for Valentine’s Day or a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers as a bride walks down the aisle, flowers are inextricably linked with relationships. But can the mere presence of flowers influence actual relationship behavior? To test this question, a French researcher randomly assigned female participants to watch a video of a male discussing food while participants were either (a) sitting in a room decorated with three vases full of flowers (roses, marigolds, and daisies), or (b) sitting in a room decorated with empty vases.1 Women who sat in the room with flowers rated the male in the video as sexier and more attractive, and they were more willing to date him.
While planning a get-together with my friends recently, one of my girlfriends immediately took a happy hour venue off the table because the location reminded her too much of her ex-husband. The odds of running into her ex-husband were very low at this watering hole, but she did not want to be reminded of him while we were out. I have known many people to do this -- avoid travel destinations, restaurants or bars, or even stop doing a hobby that they previously enjoyed because it reminded them too much of their ex-partner. Admittedly, there have been times in my own life when I have avoided doing things because it was too painful to be reminded of a lost love, such as not listening to a whole genre of music (reggae) for a few years because it only reminded me of my ex-husband.
We recently discovered Hello Cheri, a new brand of adult accessories for your love life. Hello Cheri offers a diverse range of tasteful and affordable toys and accessories. They feature sex toys, massage products, intimate lubricants, books and also some bondage accessories. And if you have any questions about love and sex, Hello Cheri is there to help. Professional sexologist Ian Kerner will answer all of your most intimate questions in the ‘Ask a Sex Question’ section of their website.
You can visit their online store at www.hellocheri.com.
The Hello Cheri Love Box includes everything you need for a hot and romantic date night:
- Hello Amour Shea Cashmere massage oil
- Hello Power love ring from our vibrating toys collection
- Hello Condoms Chocolate-Strawberry
- Hello Mystery couple’s game from our bondage accessories collection (a set with a blindfold and padded handcuffs)
How can you win the Love Box?
Before May 25th:
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Visit www.hellocheri.com and enjoy accessorizing your love life!
Oxytocin is a hormone that promotes bonding during the early stages of relationship development, positive feelings toward relationship partners1, including feelings of trust.2 In fact, oxytocin has been implicated in a variety of positive relationship behaviors, including attachment, social memory, sexual behavior, and orgasm, as well as maternal caring and bonding behaviors.3 As a result, the media often refers to oxytocin as the “cuddle hormone.” However, recent research suggests that the so-called “cuddle hormone” may have a dark side by increasing relationship violence.
How They Did It
Researchers randomly assigned 93 undergraduate students to receive a nasal spray containing either (a) oxytocin or (b) a saline solution (i.e., a placebo spray). Importantly, the administration of the spray was double-blind; neither the researcher nor the participant knew which spray the participant was receiving. Following the spray, researchers provoked participants in an attempt to raise stress levels and establish a context for aggression. The provocations involved giving a brief speech to an audience who disagreed with the speech and experiencing a “cold pressor task” in which extreme cold is applied to the participant’s forehead (resulting in moderate physical pain). Participants then completed a measure of trait aggression (i.e., how much the person is naturally inclined toward aggression) as well as a measure of how likely individuals were to be aggressive toward their partners that asked about the likelihood of engaging in several behaviors toward their romantic partners (e.g., throwing things, twisting their arm/hair, shoving).
Recently, an article featured on Psychology Today provided some very unscientific advice on “deciphering your date” (meaning, how to interpret signals in your date’s behavior and gauge his or her level of interest/enthusiasm). Giving misleading advice can be harmful in the dating world, so we thought we’d set the record straight.
Below is a list of points in the article (read the full article here), followed by the real science...
As a relationship researcher and college instructor I often have conversations with students who are experiencing difficulties in their relationships. More often than not, I direct or escort students to our local campus counseling and mental health center. But there are times when students’ levels of distress don’t require professional intervention; they just want to learn more about relationships so they can better understand their own. I typically take this opportunity to remind students that conflict and ‘downtimes’ in relationships are common; it’s very difficult for two people whose lives are intertwined to not occasionally be unhappy with their partners or relationships. Students, in turn, often take the opportunity to remind me that just because what they are going through is common doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck (I jest; I fully recognize this fact). This is an important point --- not getting along with somebody we care about is not fun, and can often be quite frustrating. But is relationship conflict more frustrating for some than others? And do some people try to cope with or otherwise deal with their relationship difficulties in an unhealthy manner? According to recently published research in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, the answer to both questions is “yes”.
About a year ago, I made a very silly, and costly, mistake.
I forgot my backpack in a cab.
My partner James and I were on our way home from the airport. It was late, we were both tired, and I didn’t even realize what I had done until I went to check my email and didn’t have my laptop.
“Hmmm”, I said, to no one in particular. “My backpack isn’t here. I think I might have left it in the cab.”
James, who is characteristically calm and collected, proceeded to completely lose his cool. “Oh no! Oh NO!! This is awful. This is so bad! What can we do? Your passport was in there! Your laptop!! Can we call the cab company? This is terrible!”
“Yes,” I mused. “I probably should have checked for it before getting out of the cab. Perhaps there is a lost and found.”
After about an hour of searching, we had exhausted all avenues of trying to retrieve the bag. It slowly dawned on me that I was never getting my stuff back.
“I can’t believe this”, I groaned, slumped into the couch with my head in my hands. “It’s gone. My laptop. My passport. I think my lab keys were in there! This is awful.”
My partner, who was more or less over the crisis at this point, tried his best to be responsive to my sudden state of dejection and misery. But he couldn’t help but ask, “Uh, Sam - didn’t we know this an hour ago?”
Have you ever tried playing matchmaker by setting two people up in the hopes that they form a relationship? Playing matchmaker allows us to use our insight into others’ lives to help others find love. And really, why not? If we’re wrong, the mismatched partners go their separate ways and are likely no worse off than they were before. But, if we’re right about the match, the potential reward for the couple is great…they find love, start an amazing relationship, and live happily ever after. That sounds great for the newly matched couple, but what are the benefits for you as the matchmaker? Do you get anything out of playing Cupid?