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New Study Shows Confusion Among Young Daters About What is a Date

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Do you know when you're on a date and when you're just hanging out? If you're confused about the difference - you're not alone. It's getting harder and harder to tell for a lot of singles.

According to a new study by Christian Mingle and JDate, there is a lot of ambiguity. Their online survey of 2,647 singles of varying ages (18-59) shows that 69% of respondents are confused about whether an outing with someone they're interested in is a date or not.

Maybe the confusion comes in with the definition of a date. According to the data, only 22% agree that "if they ask me out, it's a date," whereas 24% think it's a "planned evening with a group of friends."

So why all the ambiguity? According to the study, technology might have something to do with it. Fifty-seven percent of 18- to 24-year-olds say texting has made it more difficult to determine whether an outing is an actual date. But among older daters, that isn't necessarily true. Only 36% of 35-44 year-olds think that texting has made it more difficult.

The ambiguity isn't gender-specific either - both men and women generally agree. Mostly, opinions vary by age. The younger the dater, the less likely he or she is certain whether or not it's a date.

"In today's modern world there are so many factors contributing to blurred lines and mixed messages when it comes to dating and relationships," says Rachel Sussman, Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who analyzed the results of the study. "I see clients every day who are struggling with how to navigate muddled waters in a new or long-term relationship, and this study by ChristianMingle and JDate confirms these issues exist across the country."

Expectations for men to pay on a date seem to be declining, too. Only 69 percent of men say the man should foot the bill for a date (vs. last year's study of 78 percent). This might be part of the dating ambiguity issue, too, because if the outing isn't clearly defined, there's no need to offer to pay as a gesture of affection or chivalry.

While singles might not agree on what constitutes a date, they do overwhelmingly agree (by 85%) that online dating is a socially acceptable way to meet people. Also, two out of three know couples who have met through online dating sites. Ninety-four percent believe that online dating expands their dating pool.

While the definition of a date might be more and more ambiguous, it seems that online dating is gaining more and more acceptance as time goes on. We'll see what the results say next year.

A Healthy Body Image is Linked to Good Relationships, Study Shows

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Does having a healthy body image contribute to a better relationship?

According to a new study by Tallinn University, women who were satisfied with their body image were found to maintain happier relationships, too.

The study was based on survey data drawn from 256 women between the ages of 20 and 45. Nearly 72% of respondents were cohabitating with their partners and 28% were married.

After studying the responses, lead researcher Sabina Vatter noticed that women who were satisfied with their relationships were more likely to be satisfied with their body weight regardless of whether or not they had an ideal body type or weight. She also discovered that these findings corresponded to higher levels of self-esteem and low self-consciousness.

"This shows that body and body weight can create general satisfaction, which would be forwarded to feelings for a romantic partner," Vatter said.

Additionally, those participants who were dieting or who just came off a diet were more likely to be self-conscious about their bodies. They were less satisfied with their body weight, weighed themselves more often and had higher BMIs than those who had not been on a diet. They also reported lower satisfaction with their relationships.

Women who were most critical of their body image were found to have less satisfaction in their relationship, including their sexual relationship with a partner.

According to Vatter, "These findings suggest that our satisfaction with body size, shape and weight has more to do with how happy we are in important areas of our lives, like our romantic relationships, than it does with what the bathroom scales say."

The study didn't mention any other factors related to body image as part of the survey, but focused specifically on the connection between body image and relationship satisfaction. Many women compare themselves to an ideal body type they can't duplicate but perhaps see in magazines, causing more feelings of anxiety which can also impact relationships.

According to the study, those women who have greater levels of acceptance and more self-esteem about their bodies (and less inhibition) are able to have happier and more fulfilling relationships, including the sexual component. But it goes both ways - happier relationships can help create happier feelings about your body.

"When a woman was satisfied with her relationship, she was also satisfied with her body weight, which also applies vice versa," said Vatter. "Higher body-weight satisfaction results in higher satisfaction with a relationship."

15% of Americans Prefer Drinks Over Dinner for a First Date

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Americans are gravitating away from meeting for dinner as a first date option, preferring to meet for cocktails instead. Maybe it's the promise of a social lubricant for those who are more reserved or nervous, or it's a more efficient way to get to know someone, or perhaps it's just a more casual approach than taking someone to dinner. Whatever the reason, singles are meeting each other more and more often over a glass of wine or a gin and tonic rather than a bowl of pasta.

A new study by DatingAdvice.com surveyed 1,080 respondents and found that 15% preferred drinks over dinner for a first date. Gay men and women were more than twice as likely as heterosexuals to prefer meeting for cocktails instead of dinner, at 32%.

Interestingly, income plays a role in how people prefer to meet. It seems the more you make, the less invested you want to be in a first date (at least financially). Those earning between $100,000 and $124,999 were 57% more likely than those earning less than $25,000 to choose drinks over dinner.

Divorced men and women were also more likely to choose drinks over dinner, maybe in an effort to keep things more casual at the beginning of a potential relationship. One in four divorcees preferred to meet for drinks rather than dinner, compared to one in ten of singles who had never been married.

DatingAdvice.com expert Gina Stewart attributes the trend of meeting for drinks to the increasing rate at which our work lives tend to spill over into our personal lives.

"The benefits of cocktails on a first date mean social lubrication. Someone can break out of the first date jitters much faster. Drinks don't take as long as dinner, so if the date isn't going well, you're not forced to endure it more than the length of the drink," she said. "Nice cocktails are cheaper than nice dinners, and you have no worries about having embarrassing stuff get on your face or stuck in your teeth."

Race and age both play a factor, too. Both African-Americans and seniors aged 65 and older were half as likely as the general population to prefer meeting for cocktails instead of dinner (both at only 9%). Southerners were less likely to go for drinks on a first date too, with only 13% responding affirmatively.

The study was conducted based on accurately representing the U.S. census data in terms of consideration for age, gender, income, race, sexuality and other factors.

Can Too Much Texting Ruin Your Relationship?

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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.

When Does a Date become a Relationship?

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There is a murky time in almost every relationship where you wonder, "are we still just dating, or are we officially a couple?" And while you might want to know where you stand, it can be difficult to bring it up in conversation. After all, things have been moving along so well. Why ruin it with such a serious topic?

But then again, you don't want to waste time. You want to know where the relationship is headed.

So, how do you judge for yourself? How long do you date each other before you have the conversation about making it exclusive?

A recent poll conducted by DatingSitesReviews.com found that most people (54%) consider how long you've been dating the most important factor in determining your relationship status. In other words, the longer you've been dating, the more you can consider yourself an item. The majority of respondents (26%) felt that if you were dating for more than two months, you were in an official relationship. Nineteen percent felt that dating one to two months granted you the right to call it an exclusive relationship. Only 9% felt that two to four weeks constituted some kind of commitment.

When a Date becomes a Relationship

1/1: When does dating someone become a relationship?

Less than 2 weeks 0.00%
2 - 4 weeks 9.00%
1- 2 months 19.00%
More than 2 months 26.00%
When you give or receive a gift 1.00%
Once you say I love you 19.00%
Once sex is involved 15.00%
When you move in together 1.00%
When you meet the parents 1.00%
When you go on vacation 9.00%

Another important factor besides how long you've been dating: saying those magical three words: "I love you." Nineteen percent of respondents felt that when you said these words to each other, your relationship was official.

One interesting finding was that people don't necessarily view sexual activity while dating as a casual thing. Fifteen percent of respondents felt that a relationship was official once they'd had sex. Nine percent felt a relationship turned serious when you went away on a trip together.

Surprisingly, a traditional gage like meeting your date's parents didn't really factor in to most people's opinion of when you become a couple. Only one percent felt that this was proof that your relationship was official.

And for those who date a bit more casually, only one percent felt that the defining mark of an "official relationship" was when you move in together. So, don't keep dating lots of people until you find someone you can share a bathroom with - most of the men or women you date will think you're an item well before that point.

Bottom line: most people felt that the length of time you've been dating is the gage by which to determine whether or not you're in a relationship. So if you've been dating someone for a while without discussing what you both want, then you might want to talk sooner rather than later.

Zoosk: What Your Brew Says About You

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The yearly German festival of drinking and debauchery known as Oktoberfest arrived last month again. For most revelers, that means giant pretzels, women in dirndls, liter-sized mugs of beer, and nights they will never remember. For Zoosk, that means an opportunity for another study.

Zoosk surveyed more than 2,800 single beer drinkers in hopes of discovering what their beer choices say about their dating preferences and personalities. As it turns out, the types of beer you and your date prefer might actually offer clues about your compatibility:

  • If you're looking to settle down soon, hope your date orders a domestic beer. Domestic beer drinkers are most likely to be looking for marriage (20%). They are also more likely to be traditional when it comes to dating, so expect them to go the dinner-and-a-movie route and don't overwhelm them with public displays of affection.
  • If you're not ready to settle down, look for a date who is into microbrews. 31% of men who opt for microbrews say they're in the market for fun, but nothing long-term. Unsurprisingly, then, microbrew drinkers are the most likely to have had a one night stand (74%) and to want physical intimacy every day (54%). They're also the most likely to prefer an outdoor adventure for a first date.
  • If stability is what you're looking for, find an ultra-light beer drinker. Singles who count their calories prefer romantic evenings spent sharing their hopes, dreams, and goals for the future. They have the highest percentage of long-term relationships on average, at 75%. They are also the most likely to refer to themselves as homebodies (37%).
  • If you'd like an introvert in your life, choose an import drinker. They're the least likely to have a one night stand and the most likely, on average, to be a virgin (4%). Reserved import drinkers prefer dogs to cats where pets are concerned and say they often spend time daydreaming about their next vacation.
  • If you need a family-friendly date, a light beer drinker is the one for you. 92% of light beer fans say they're open to dating someone with kids, and 64% say they like to spend their free time with family and friends. Light beer drinkers are second only to ultra-light drinkers when it comes to success in lasting relationships.

I guess your brew of choice says a whole lot more about you than just your taste in beer. No word on what happens if your date orders wine instead...