I’ve received a gift on Valentine’s Day once in the past ten years. I wouldn’t consider my lackluster gift count so remarkable if I were perpetually single, but I have been romantically involved with someone on every single Valentine’s Day in the last decade! In contrast to my former partners, I derive a ridiculous amount of pleasure from giving people presents. Although I hardly need a reason to buy someone a gift (“It’s Tuesday? Cool; here’s the box set of Top Gear you said you wanted”), Valentine’s Day offers the perfect excuse for me to indulge my gift-giving fancy.
For heterosexual couples, just making sure that both partners reach orgasm during vaginal intercourse can be difficult. Achieving orgasm at the exact same moment (i.e., “simultaneous orgasm”)? That’s even more of a challenge. Why? Because the typical motion of penile thrusting does not seem to provide adequate sexual stimulation for many women. In fact, only about half of women report being able to climax from penile movements alone during sex and, even among those women, many of them report that they do not experience orgasm reliably.1 As a result, many women find that adding clitoral stimulation to intercourse (e.g., with the use of one’s hand or a vibrator) or attempting different sexual activities is necessary to help them climax. However, it turns out that you may not need to do these other things if you can better align your own and your partner’s genitals during sex.
Dr. Tim Loving makes his second appearance on The Dudley & Bob Morning Show (KLBJ-FM, 93.7) in Austin, TX. Anxiously-attached associate producer Carissa and her boyfriend of 1-year were in the studio for a real-life application of relationship science. Click on the button to play the clip (~20 minutes long).
If you had a chance to write a short description of your feelings for your partner on Valentine’s Day, what would you say? After all, proclaiming your feelings for your partner is the reason for the (Valentine’s Day) season. In the past, newspapers gave readers the opportunity to post a Valentine’s Day announcement (some newspapers like the Telegraph in the UK still offer this opportunity). This doesn’t happen so much any more (damn you internet!), but regardless of the medium, it isn’t everyday that you get to be nosy and see what people have to say about their relationships. That’s where relationship science comes in…
In a previous post, I critiqued the recently-released report of the “Singles in America” survey. The report is the third annual attempt of Match.com to perpetuate the myth that what single people care about, more than anything else, is becoming unsingle. The company pretends to don the mantle of science, and gets lots of media attention, so it is important to take the report apart claim by claim, rather than just dismissing it out of hand.
The Huffington Post took the press release from Match.com and turned it into a slide show with the title, 10 things you didn’t know about single people. The 10 things included such topics as sexting, sex, more sex, snooping in a partner’s Facebook or email account, hiding things online, dating, and more dating.
Real single people live bigger, more interesting, and more meaningful lives than those very circumscribed topics would suggest. So here, in tribute to the real lives of single people, are 10 meaningful things you might want to know about them.
There is a lot of pressure to impress your romantic partner with a fabulous Valentine’s Day date (I should know – Valentine’s Day is also my wife’s birthday!). If you decide to go to a fancy restaurant, how do you know which cuisine to choose? Should you go with spicy Thai or cold sushi? If you’re going to buy your partner a gift, do you choose something practical and imminently useful but unromantic (the Science of Relationships book?) or should you instead go with something useless but romantic (a stuffed teddy bear holding a satin pillow shaped like a heart with “Valentine’s Without You Would be Un-Bear-able” written on it?). Or, if you’re going to get your sweetie something, well, sweet, should you choose the heart-shaped box of chocolates that is the candy equivalent of Russian Roulette or should you buy some specialty hot cocoa?
Have you seen the headlines about the “Singles in America” survey? Match.com is oh-so-proud of it. The company boasts of the intellectual firepower behind their study. The survey is touted as “comprehensive” and the Match.com CEO brags that, “Since its inception, Singles in America has proven to be an unprecedented source of insight into the ideologies and lifestyle choices of today’s singles.”
Of course, the fact that the survey comes from Match.com should set off our scientific alarm bells. But Match.com points to their scholars in charge, and notes that the results are based on a representative sample of 5,000 American singles and 1,000 married people. Plus, sadly enough, many media outlets take the findings reported in the press release and run with them, as though they were ferrying precious cargo. So I think it is important to take a close look from a scientific perspective, and offer a less credulous perspective than you might find elsewhere.
Editor's note: Relationship researchers and married couple Drs. Charlotte and Patrick Markey give us "his and her" takes on how to approach Valentine's Day gift giving.
I went to the mailbox this morning and found a turquoise blue catalogue amongst the undesirable bills and solicitations. On the cover, heart-shaped jewelry reminded me that Valentine’s Day was quickly approaching. I was tempted to strategically place this little blue reminder from Tiffany’s in my husband’s view -- on his dresser, in his briefcase, or perhaps on the kitchen island. But then, I found myself realizing I did not actually desire expensive jewelry for Valentine’s Day. Perhaps I was ill? Wasn’t I supposed to want something fancy?
Do you enjoy giving Valentine’s Day gifts? Or is it an unpleasant obligation? Your feelings about giving presents depends on your attachment style. Across two studies, secure people reported that giving gifts to partners was more pleasurable and not done out of obligation. Conversely, people high in avoidance experienced less pleasure, whereas those high in anxiety felt more obligated to give gifts, possibly because they feared losing their partners when their relationships weren’t going well.
Nguyen, H. P., & Munch, J. M. (2011). Romantic gift giving as a chore or pleasure: The effects of attachment orientations on gift giving perceptions. Journal of Business Research, 64, 113-118.
It is customary to do something special with your partner on Valentine’s Day to celebrate your relationship. Have you planned what you are going to do? You can go with the standard commercialized gifts like chocolates, lingerie, or overpriced roses. Or, perhaps you plan on simply spending some time with each other. If you go that route, rather than the trite dinner and a movie, you may want to consider doing something together that will actually make you and your relationship better.
As a diligent reader of Science of Relationships, you’ve read our past articles on how wearing the color red is more than just a fashion choice. For example, you know that men find women more attractive in red because red is seen as an indication of more sexual receptivity. Women also find men who wear red sexually exciting. These findings make it sound like everyone’s date-night wardrobe is set for life – just pick out something red! But anything that easy has to have a catch, right? Before you slip into that new red shirt or dress for your next hot date, you might want to keep reading...
Editor's note: We are privileged to be able to share an excerpt from Dr. Bella DePaulo's book Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. Ten of the chapters in Singled Out debunk myths about single people. This send-up of Valentine’s Day advice is from Chapter 5, which mocks the myth of “the dark aura of singlehood,” which dopily proclaims that if you are single, “you are miserable and lonely and your life is tragic.”
If you want to see fools rush in to provide well-meaning advice to hapless single people, buy a ticket for Valentine’s Day. One of my favorite examples appeared in USA Weekend in 2003, under the title How to survive Valentine’s Day without a sweetie.
It’s that time of year again. I’ve barely recovered from Christmas, and yet the stores have pulled out all the Valentine’s Day decorations and cards. When I spot the shades of red and pink at my local Target, I find myself silently groaning. Another gift to buy. Already. Again. Really?
If you plan on getting someone a gift for Valentine’s Day, chances are that a card is part of the package. Whether the card is the only thing you get your Valentine, or if it accompanies jewelry, roses, or chocolates, you probably will spend some time thinking about the card’s message.
But what do these cards really say? And more importantly, are they saying things that are scientifically factual? To answer these questions, I went out to the local supermarket to see what I could find.
In case you missed any of them, here are links to our articles from the last week:
- After the Breakup: Who’s Through and Who Pursues
- Pucker Up: What Women’s Lips Say About Their Orgasm
- Support in Developing Friendships: Why We Give More Than We Receive
- Mother Knows Best: Fleeting Passion or Romantic Love?
Here's what we've been reading:
- Did Penicillin, Rather Than The Pill, Usher In Age Of Love? (npr.com)
- When Taking Multiple Husbands Makes Sense (theatlantic.com)
- I Love You. Now Text Me. (slate.com)
- Does Internet Porn Really "Cause Memory Loss?" (lehmiller.com)
- How to improve your relationship this Valentine's Day
- Are Valentine's Day card messages supported by science?
- Why you should keep your Valentine's Day date warm and heavy
- Should you dress in red on Valentine's Day?
- How to make the most of your senses on Valentine's Day
- Why are people motivated to give gifts to their partners on Valentine's Day? (hint: it's not just to get sex)
- Get your Facebook profile ready for Valentine's Day
- Valentine's Day gifts: He said/she said
- How is Valentine's Day celebrated in China?
- Need a Tip For a Sexual Position This Valentine's Day? You've come to the right place.
- Is candy a good Valentine's Day present?
- Tips for single people on Valentine's Day
- Does buying a crappy Valentine's Day gift for your partner hurt (or help) your relationship?
- Is your relationship at risk this Valentine's Day?
- How do same-sex couples view Valentine's Day?