Couples

Careers and Dating: Can They Happily Mix?

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I know a lot of women who are attracted to men who have exciting careers. They envision dating someone successful, since they have achieved their own independence and success and want someone who strives towards the same goals. However, the men who have the exciting careers that they envision – chef, musician, studio executive, or city councilman, for instance – tend to be beholden to those careers and don’t put enough time into their relationships.

The problem isn't that most men and women have different priorities as far as career ambitions - but that their timing is not always in sync.

Many women, especially if they are interested in starting a family or getting married, crave more connection and time together with a partner, especially when men are trying to build their careers. They want to spend time with a new love interest. Men in demanding careers might crave chemistry and connection as well, but might not have the same priorities of starting a family or being so committed to a relationship. Instead, work might come first – even at the expense of a relationship.

This Is How Online Dating Has Changed The Way We Love, According To Science

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By now you've probably read – or at least heard about – Vanity Fair's recent takedown of online dating. The lengthy article is essentially an obituary for traditional courtship, which writer Nancy Jo Sales says is long gone thanks to online dating sites and mobile apps.

Tinder responded with a very public Twitter meltdown and tongues have been wagging about the state of modern dating ever since. Some agree with Sales, while others believe it's simply moral panic and anyone who hasn't jumped on the Tinder train is probably just too old to understand it.

The good news is, a growing body of scientific research is dedicated to online dating and the social change that comes along with it. The bad news is, even the scientists can't seem to agree with each other.

A 2012 study called “Searching for a Mate: The Rise of the Internet as a Social Intermediary” found no difference in relationship quality or strength between couples who met online and couples who met off. It also suggested that marriage and partnership rates may increase, as people with smaller pools of potential mates use dating services to cast wider nets.

Another 2012 study, headed up by Eli Finkel, concluded that most matching algorithms don't work. However, it also noted that “Online dating offers access to potential partners whom people would be unlikely to meet through other avenues, and this access yields new romantic possibilities.”

A 2013 study on marital satisfaction and breakups deemed online dating an unequivocally good thing. The research was sponsored by eHarmony, which rightfully has given some readers pause, but was reviewed by independent statisticians prior to publication.

A second study from 2013 examined sexual behavior and the “hookup culture” supposedly propagated by apps like Tinder. After examining a nationally representative sample of more than 1,800 18- to 25-year-olds, the study concluded that today's youth aren't substantially more promiscuous than previous generations. In fact, they may actually be having less sex than their predecessors.

Things got weird in 2014. Using the same data from 2012's “Searching for a Mate” study, a Ph.D. candidate at Michigan State came to the opposite conclusion about online dating and relationship quality. According to her findings, online daters are more likely to date than marry, more likely to break up faster, and more likely to break up more often.

How could two studies using the same statistics arrive at such different conclusions?

The answer is something we've always known: love is messy, contradictory, and confusing. Try quantifying that and you're bound to be disappointed.

New Study Finds 4 Out Of 5 Gay Men Meet Their Long-Term Partners Online

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Across the board, so-called “hookup apps” have a certain reputation. It's right there in the name. While plenty of singles use dating apps like Tinder to find actual relationships, popular perception skews in a much more sensationalized direction.

No group falls victim to that melodramatic media coverage more than the gay community, who constantly catch flack for the use of Grindr and similar apps. The common refrain is that these applications encourage risky sexual behavior and exist only for easy, no-strings-attached gratification, but a new study may have people rethinking that narrow-minded assumption.

Garrett Prestage, associate professor of sociology at the University of New South Wales’ Kirby Institute, says 80% of gay men now find their boyfriends through apps and dating websites.

According to his research, published in AIDS and Behaviour and backed by the National Health and Medical Research Council and LaTrobe University, showed that only 14% of gay men met their partners online in 2001. Fourteen years later, things are drastically different.

Today, the numbers of gay men who meet long-term partners at bars, at sex-on-premises venues, and through friends have dropped dramatically, and the changing landscape of gay dating is forcing safer-sex campaigners to rethink their strategies and assumptions.

It's long been said that men who using dating sites or mobile apps are at a higher risk than men who do not, but Prestage casts doubt upon any studies that seem to confirm that theory. “This data show that this is faulty logic because most gay men meet partners this way… be that romantic or sexual,” he says. “If they’re comparing it with men who don’t use apps they’re comparing men who are sexually active with those who are not.”

Prestage adds that “the myth that an online hook up is only just about sex” could mean that health organisations using apps and websites for HIV prevention outreach could be falling short of their goals.

“A more sensible approach is simply to accept that men are more likely to meet via online methods these days and make sure that there are appropriate online interventions and information,” he argues.

A more effective tactic would be to target specific users based on what they're looking for, providing different messaging for men looking for relationships and men looking for casual sex. Ultimately, while apps can certainly help increase awareness around sexual health campaigns, they aren't a sufficient strategy for serious engagement.

Health organizations must adapt to the changing landscape of gay dating if they want to remain relevant and engaging.

Most Couples Met IRL, Not Through a Dating App According to Recent Survey

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Think you’ll have a better chance of meeting a new love through friends rather than Tinder? According to a recent survey by website Mic, you’re probably right.

Mic, a news website catering specifically to Millennials, decided to get to the bottom of dating apps and online dating to figure out how people in relationships are actually meeting. As it turns out, for all the buzz of Tinder – (and good news for the online-dating averse) – more couples have met through friends, work and in real-life social situations as opposed to over the Internet.

Mic surveyed more than 2,300 people between 18 and 34 years old, and it turns out, the vast majority of them – almost 39% - met their SOs through mutual friends, despite being part of the Tinder/ dating app generation. The next largest group – 22% of respondents - met through real-life social situations, such as at parties or bars. Eighteen percent met at work. When it comes to online dating, less than 10% of respondents met this way, and less than six percent met through social media. (Although to be fair to social media, this is quite extraordinary, considering it hasn’t been around nearly as long as online dating has.)

The latest Pew study reveals that online dating is gaining acceptance among the masses - 59% of Americans now believe that this is a good way to meet someone. But apparently, the majority of folks still aren’t meeting their next relationships that way.

There is a reason most people still prefer to meet through friends. Having the endorsement of someone you like and trust goes a long way, especially in the dating market where bad behavior is part of the experience. It’s like a little insurance policy against meeting someone – a total stranger - who might end up being hurtful or even dangerous.

This is evident in the dating app world, where meeting strangers online is commonplace. However, the fact that most apps have some type of verification through social media – for instance, requiring users to have a legitimate Facebook profile before being able to use the app – shows that there is a desire for validation before agreeing to a date. Some apps have taken this process a step further, connecting people online only through mutual social media friends (as with Hinge), or being an invitation-only app, such as with The League.

So what does this mean for the next generation of online daters? Dating apps and online dating are definitely here to stay – but it looks like the technology will keep gravitating towards mutual connections, either through social media or in real life.

Dating in America Today, According to Match.com and Zoosk

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Now that Valentine’s Day is behind us, many will forget the flowers and pink hearts lining the stores. But they won’t stop dating.

In fact, there are more studies than ever about the state of dating today – starting with Match.com’s annual survey of singles across America. Match found that daters were pretty optimistic, especially guys. More men than women believe in love at first sight, (and more women than men are afraid of commitment). 

Match.com also reveal women prefer their independence, much more than men do. Ninety percent of women want more personal space, 93% want to pursue their own hobbies and interests, and 64% want more time with friends. Most women prefer to wait 1-2 years before moving in, whereas men prefer to move faster – 6-12 months of dating before shacking up.

Also, there is something Dr. Fisher calls “The Clooney Effect” taking place. That is, men are going for intelligent, powerful women. 87% of single men would date a woman who makes ‘considerably more’ money and who is considerably better-educated and more intellectual than themselves; 86% seek a woman who is confident and self-assured, and 39% would also make a long-term commitment to a woman who is 10 or more years older.

So what’s holding you back ladies? It seems like you are in the driver’s seat when it comes to establishing a new relationship. “Technology is dramatically changing how we court, but it can’t change the brain systems for romance and attachment. And today’s singles are setting a high bar for courtship and marriage,” said Dr. Helen Fisher, anthropologist and lead researcher for Match.com’s study.

Zoosk has also come out with a study about the habits and preferences of online daters, so we can get a better picture of what singles are looking for. According to its figures, women like outdoor types – guys who posted pictures hiking, biking and other outdoor activities received 19% more messages than those who didn’t.

Also, selfies aren’t a great thing to use, unless you are expert with the camera. Women who took selfies received 4% more messages, while guys who posted selfies took a hit – they received 8% fewer messages. But the women who took full-body selfies? They received a whopping 203% more messages.

In both studies, men and women both preferred people who had a grasp of good grammar and spelling. If you chose to answer messages with “cuz” “im” or “u” – on average, you received 13% fewer messages on Zoosk. Match.com revealed this was the number one turn-off for daters (even over text), with 54% of women and 36% of men agreeing.

So if you’re looking for love in 2015, put a little time and effort into your search, and keep a positive outlook – you are in good company!

 

Happy Couples Are Probably Just Tricking Themselves Into Believing They're Happy

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Here's a post-Valentine's Day reality check: happy couples may not be happy at all, just really good at deluding themselves.

Publications like Cosmo would have you believe that the secret to romantic success is seeing your partner as they truly are. And it does sound nice, but psychological research suggests it's the wrong approach. Instead, the key to a happy relationship is seeing your partner as you wish they were.

Just think about it for a second and suddenly it seems obvious: of course someone who believes their partner lives up to everything they've ever wanted is more satisfied with their relationship. How could they not be? Sure, they may be deceiving themselves, but can we say it's wrong if it works?

A study on the subject was published a few years back in the journal Psychological Science. A research team from the University at Buffalo and the University of British Columbia gathered together 200 couples who came to a courthouse in Buffalo, NY, to get marriage licenses. Then, twice a year for the next three years, the researchers questioned each person individually about themselves, their partners, and their visions of an ideal partner.

Afterwards, the answers were analyzed for certain patterns. The researchers sought out people who idealized their partners – those whose descriptions of their partner's traits matched their descriptions of their fictional perfect match (even if their partner did not self-report seeing those traits in him- or herself).

"If I see a pattern of traits that are more positive than what my partner says about themselves, that's what we mean by idealization," explains Dale Griffin, one of the study's co-authors. "That is, there is a correlation between my ideal set of traits and what I see in my partner that she does not see in herself."

Each time the researchers checked in with the couples, they also gave them a survey designed to measure relationship satisfaction. All couples reported a decline in happiness over time, but those who held positive illusions about their partners experienced significantly less of a decline.

The Psychological Science paper reports that “People in satisfying marital relationships see their own relationship as superior to other people's relationships” and that they also “see virtues in their partners that are not obvious to anyone else.” In fact, it gets even more extreme: “People in stable relationships even redefine what qualities they want in an ideal partner to match the qualities they perceive in their own partner.”

In other words, it's ok – and maybe even better – that love is a little blind.