Couples

How Do You Know If You Should Break Up With Your Partner?

Couples
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I've talked about what to do after a break-up when your heart is hurting. It's a time for healing, finding yourself again, and learning how to move on.

Break-ups can be devastating, but what happens when you're on the other side of things - when you want to do the breaking up? Maybe a long-term relationship just isn't working for you anymore. But how do you know if breaking up is the right thing to do when the friendship is important? And how do you break up with someone you care about without looking like a jerk, or worse, wondering if your ex will hate you?

First, it's important to understand that not all relationships are meant to last. Sometimes they are learning experiences, which isn't a bad thing. They help us find ourselves - without hurt and loss, we don't realize how strong we can be. We don't grow.

But breaking off a long-term relationship is a difficult process. After all, you've spent holidays and birthdays together, you know your partner's family, you know intimate details about him, like how he has to wash his face three times before going to bed or that he leaves his socks in little piles around the house. You share the same friends. How do you even begin to separate from each other's lives?

These are difficult questions that only you can answer. All I can say is, if you don't wake up in the morning excited to be with your partner, or you'd rather spend time alone than have dinner together, you're probably not in the right relationship.

Many relationships start out with passion and romance, but these don't last. If you're constantly chasing passionate love, you might want to take a look at what you're doing and ask yourself if it's making you happy. The basis of a good relationship is very simple: if you enjoy being together despite your fights, your problems, and your differences, then you're probably in the right relationship. If you'd rather find the next plane out of town regardless of whether or not you hit a rough patch, then you're probably with the wrong person.

Don't stay in a relationship because you don't want to disappoint your partner. If you're not emotionally invested, then you're not doing yourself or her any favors, and you will both end up hurt and resentful.

Breaking up isn't the worst thing that can happen to a person. Sometimes it's the best thing. Let her move on and find someone else who is right for her. And allow yourself to move on, too.

Can Too Much Texting Ruin Your Relationship?

Couples
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Most of us have our phone with us at all times, and are texting the people in our lives on a regular basis. So it makes sense that we also use texting as a way to ask someone out or to make plans for a date. It's even a good way to flirt and keep the interest going.

But what about those who are already in relationships? Is it better to communicate with each other over text, or can it affect your relationship in a negative way?

According to a new study, too much texting can be a source of frustration and dissatisfaction when it comes to romantic relationships. Researchers from Brigham Young University who conducted the study found that, "couples that constantly text were more susceptible to miscommunication."

According to researchers, reaction to disappointment and other emotions occurs more quickly face-to-face. When you aren't able to gauge someone's reaction - like when you're texting instead of talking to each other - it leads to more miscommunication and hurt feelings.

The study looked at the habits of 276 men and women between the ages of 18 and 25 who were in serious relationships (including some married and engaged couples). Of the group, 82% said they traded messages back and forth with their partners multiple times per day.

Those who sent loving messages more often reported a higher degree of relationship satisfaction. But volume wasn't the main barometer in testing the relationships. It seems that men who texted more often typically felt less satisfied with the relationship. Researchers pointed out that this might be a way that men disconnect - by turning to their phones and decreasing face-to-face communication with their partners.

Female participants in the study felt differently. If they texted more often, they reported more satisfaction with the relationship. They also tended to use their smartphones when their relationships were in trouble. They took to texting to apologize, make a decision, or work out differences with their partners.

"Technology is more important to relationship formation than it was previously," BYU researcher Lori Schade said in a statement. "The way couples text is having an effect on the relationship as well."

Texting is shaping the way we communicate with each other, but it's also leaving us more confused about when to use our phones versus talking with each other in person, especially in our romantic lives.

It seems one thing is clear: if you need to discuss problems or have heavier relationship conversations, it's much better to do them face-to-face.

Bring Home Your (Invisible) Girlfriend To Meet Mom And Dad

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This might be the craziest thing I've ever seen. And with the complete insanity that makes up most of my life, that's saying a lot.

Coming home for the holidays is a drag for plenty of single people. Some of us are lucky enough to have families who don't demand that we settle down, but for the rest of us, holiday singlehood comes along with a whole lot of disapproving looks from family members who can't believe we've chosen to focus on our careers instead of our hearts.

Enter Invisible Girlfriend, a site that does exactly what its name suggests: creates a virtual relationship with the (nonexistent) girl of your dreams. Subscribers to the nascent online service receive text messages, real voicemails, random gifts, a Facebook relationship status change, and even "emergency interactions" (whatever that means!) with their faux SOs.

In an interview, Invisible Girlfriend creator Matt Homann said "Our audience might come from a variety of situations: maybe they're in a same-sex relationship they're hiding from disapproving relatives, are trying to avoid the unwelcome advances from a coworker, or have chosen to focus on their work instead of romance."

Here's how it works:

  • Step One: choose a plan that includes both virtual and real-world relationship "proof" to create a believable Invisible Girlfriend.
  • Step Two: customize your new Invisible Girlfriend's personality and specify how the two of you will interact.
  • Step Three: get back to living life on your own terms, and not on others'.

Right now, the company (which is still pre-launch) offers three monthly subscription packages to choose from: "Just Talking," "Getting Serious," and "Almost Engaged." For as low as $9.99 a month, you can create a significant other through texts, automated phone calls, and simple gifts. For $29.99 per month, you can receive premium gifts, real voicemails, and a Facebook relationship status. And for the highest price point, $49.99 per month, you can get custom girlfriend characterization, live phone calls, and the ability to personalize your own story.

"We're not trying to build a girlfriend they can believe in - that's a whole other level of technology," Homann told Riverfront Times. "We're giving them a better story to tell, even if the story isn't true."

The story of the company is itself a good story to tell. Invisible Girlfriend was pitched for the first time at Startup Weekend as a joke, but the idea quickly caught hold and a team created a rough product in just 54 hours. "It went from, 'Let's have some fun. Let's make everyone laugh,' to, 'We have the making and talent to build something that works,'" said Homann. They ended up walking away with first place in the competition, $3,000, and plans to launch an Invisible Boyfriend version.

How About We offers Service for Couples

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How About We may be the first online dating site that offers a service especially for couples. Their latest venture, How About We For Couples, aims to plan, book, and arrange dates for people who are looking to spice up their relationships. They launched in New York and San Francisco and are planning other cities in the near future. So far, they have 130,000 couples signed up.

The founders noticed a trend among couples of relying on Netflix and take-out meals for entertainment, losing the magic that comes with the headiness and excitement of a new relationship. So instead of sitting on the couch, How About We for Couples provides ideas to get you both inspired and to cultivate relationships instead of letting them go stale.

How About We have been innovators from the beginning. When its founders Brian Schechter and Aaron Schildkrout first started researching the online dating industry, they noticed a fundamental problem: online dating sites don't push people to meet offline and build relationships from there. In fact, the industry's success depends on members sitting in front of their laptops scrolling through endless profiles rather than forming real life relationships.

With this in mind, the founders created an innovative new way to date online - by taking it offline quickly. Members post and view first date ideas, rather than scrolling through dating profiles. An example might be, "How about we...go for a picnic in the park, followed by live music at North Bar?" If someone found that idea enticing, they'd connect with each other and set something up. The focus is not on the dating profiles, but on the real-life meeting.

The problem? It became too successful. Many users of How About We started to couple up, and the company started to lose members. But instead of messing with its success, the founders extended the basic premise of great date ideas to those who are already in relationships.

The How About We editorial team comes up with the date plan, which centers on fun new places to go and creating opportunities for the couples to really connect. If you want to upgrade, you can purchase their concierge service to have How About We plan your date down to the smallest detail, like delivering flowers or hiring car service for the night.

"We're curating the dates for our couple members. The concept is still the same, but we've become the experts," Schildkrout told news magazine Business Insider. "This really filled out the whole vision of the company, which isn't only about helping people fall in love, but also about helping people stay in love."

Déjàmor Keeps The Spark Alive

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Keeping things fresh after years together is a challenge for any couple. How do you keep the spark alive when you're more interested in catching some extra shuteye than spending quality time with your partner?

The answer may be Déjàmor, a new website designed to help couples reconnect through romantic and intimate experiences. The founders of Déjàmor researched books, conducted focus groups, and consulted with therapists, coaches, and sexologists to develop a comprehensive strategy to bring couples closer together.

Each month, Déjàmor delivers a package to subscribers with two boxes inside: one for "his eyes only" and one for "her eyes only." The boxes contain a sensual adventure guide and goodies to enhance the experience that Déjàmor promises are "always sexy and never sleazy."

What exactly is inside the mystery boxes? "Recipes for a happy, fulfilled, and sensual life," says Déjàmor, "complete with ingredients [that] are meant to surprise and delight you and your partner." The exact contents are meant to be a surprise, but the site's testimonials hint at what might be in store for you.

One customer received a package containing rose petals, "arousing" bubble bath, a vial with a blank note, and an illustrated booklet. The booklet laid out a plan for an at-home sensual spa retreat to spoil his wife. Another customer received a sash of lace, blank cards, and list of suggested notes to leave for her lucky husband.

Once they have the ingredients for a special night, it's up to the couples to make it happen. "We thought instead of telling people what to do, it would be delivering a recipe of what to do, plus the ingredients for that recipe," CEO Rodrigo Fuentes told Mashable. "The box arrives every month. Each partner in the relationship knows they are going to receive some fun surprise from their lover."

Déjàmor's monthly packages are completely customizable. New subscribers are asked a series of questions, including their sex, their partner's sex, how long they've been together. All answers are kept confidential and are used to create a personalized Déjàmor experience.

"We are all about rebuilding the bridges of communication, intimacy and romance," Fuentes says. "Once our advisors approve of experiences we go into sources and illustrations to get the experience ready. We ensure our experiences will hit home with people."

With so many people now turning to online dating services to find love, it seems only natural that couples will now use the Internet to keep that love alive.

Facebook Introduces New Pages For Couples

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You know that annoying couple you're friends with on Facebook? The one who's always putting up soppy status updates, cutesy pictures, and stomach-churningly sweet wall posts?

Prepare yourself: they're about to get even more annoying.

Facebook has recently launched a digital version of relationships at Facebook.com/us. If you're in a relationship on Facebook, the new page collects all posts, events, and photos that both you and your significant other are tagged in. It's a one stop shop for all the details of your digital romance.

Reviews are...mixed, to say the least.

"I want to vomit," wrote blogger Jennifer Wright on TheGloss.

Emma Barnett, an editor at The Telegraph, wrote that she's considering breaking up with her husband on Facebook just so she can get rid of the couple's page. "Mr. Zuckerberg: by all means keep giving people new tools -- as you did when you created Facebook," she wrote. "But when you start doing things for us -- the experience is anything but social or remotely positive. You have infantilised my relationship for me with the creation of www.facebook.com/us. Only I should get to do that."

Ouch.

Others aren't feeling quite so harsh about the new development. "There's nothing creepy here, that I can see, just more out of proportion reactions to something new, different and innovative," wrote Justin McLachlan in response to The Telegraph's article. "It's no different, really, than typing your name into Google and seeing your face and other personal details from social networks mashed up in sidebar."

In fact, the new Relationship pages aren't really much different from the Friendship pages that have existed on the site for more than two years. Both are getting a makeover to look like Facebook's more visual Timeline profile. Both show your history with someone else on the site. The only real difference is that there is a direct Internet address - Facebook.com/us - to access the Relationship page.

If you don't like the page, you're out of luck. It can't be deactivated, but you can control the info that appears on your page using the privacy settings on each post.

"The friendship page respects the privacy setting of each post," Facebook's Jessie Baker told CNN. "This means the person viewing the friendship page may see each post elsewhere on Facebook, like on either friend's timeline or in news feed. You can curate your friendship page by hiding stories you do not want to appear."

What do you think of Facebook's new Relationship pages? Are they a step forward or a step back?

If you are single and are looking for a relationship on a social network, then you should read about how to use Facebook as a dating tool.