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Love Affairs

And Ryan met Sebastian

“Hearing (negative) views comes with making a relationship public, especially when it’s between two men,” said Ryan Chua, who nonetheless noted that the observations were somewhat superficial, comparing him and his partner, Sebastian Castro, on “how we look.” “But we don’t let those comments affect our relationship. Most people see only the physical. Often, they don’t see the emotional and intellectual connection.”

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“He has been my crush since I saw ‘Bubble’ (Sebastian Castro’s music video),” Ryan Chua said.

But initially, there were no intentions for the two to have an actual face-to-face meet-up.

“I was (just) thrilled when he added me on Facebook and followed me on Twitter,” Ryan added.

As is common with online friends, the two chatted now and then.

But then fate had other plans for them.

In 2013, they finally met when Sebastian invited Ryan to his art exhibit. And that first time they met, “no one had to put his best foot forward or send chocolates and flowers just to please each other,” Ryan said to Outrage Magazine.

It was not an immediate “thing”; there wasn’t even any second meet-up. At that time, Sebastian had to fly to US and Ryan had to prepare to leave for the UK for his journalism scholarship.

But their communication continued. That is, while they were away from each other, they would Skype on a regular basis and talk about different things – from Philippine politics and entertainment gossips, to ideas for Sebastian’s new songs. And there were also surprise visits in between.

“We became best friends first even before any love confession was made,” Ryan said.

When Ryan finished his scholarship, he returned to the Philippines. The two started living together.

As a couple, they were almost always present in LGBT-related events. But as their relationship grew stronger, it also attracted bashers, many even from within the LGBT community.

“Hearing (negative) views comes with making a relationship public, especially when it’s between two men,” said Ryan, who nonetheless noted that the observations were somewhat superficial, comparing Ryan and Sebastian on “how we look.” “But we don’t let those comments affect our relationship. Most people see only the physical. Often, they don’t see the emotional and intellectual connection.”

But just as they’ve started establishing a life together in Manila, an opportunity came up for Ryan to work for a media outlet in Beijing, China.

Being apart from each other is not new to them; after all, they started out as online friends. Now, social media has become a tool for them to constantly communicate with each other.

“It is not always easy. Being away from each other always has challenges. I miss him every day. Nothing beats physical contact and intimacy,” Ryan said. “But we’re both mature enough to appreciate the joys of a one to three-hour Skype or Facetime call. When we don’t have time to call, short messages would do.”

Sometimes they would even watch movies or TV shows together while on a video call “because enjoying anything with him is always double the fun,” Ryan added.

Though they had not planned too far ahead into the future, they are currently focused on their own respective fields, so eventually, they could enjoy their successes together.

“I am very fortunate to have a partner who knows me more deeply than anyone does, who has big dreams like I do, and who understands that, sometimes, we need to be apart so that we could build a stable future,” Ryan ended.

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Living life a day at a time – and writing about it, is what Patrick King believes in. A media man, he does not only write (for print) and produce (for a credible show of a local giant network), but – on occasion – goes behind the camera for pride-worthy shots (hey, he helped make Bahaghari Center’s "I dare to care about equality" campaign happen!). He is the senior associate editor of OutrageMag, with his column, "Suspension of Disbelief", covering anything and everything. Whoever said business and pleasure couldn’t mix (that is, partying and working) has yet to meet Patrick King, that’s for sure! Patrick.King.Pascual@outragemag.com

Love Affairs

Same-gender couples interact better than heterosexual couples

In terms of the quality of interactions with their partners, the study found same-gendered relationships had better-quality interactions than found in different-gendered relationships.

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Photo by Radek Pestka from Unsplash.com

Same-gender couples have higher-quality interactions with one another than heterosexual couples.

This is according to a new UC Riverside study that also holds that couples with two men have the smallest social networks.

Researcher Megan Robbins says the recent study is the first to compare same- and different-sex couples’ social networks and daily interactions with one another.

Past research shows that same-gender couples enjoy strengths including appreciation of individual differences, positive emotions, and effective communication. But research hasn’t compared the quality of their daily interactions – inside and outside the couple dynamic – to those of heterosexual couples. 

“The comparison is important because there is so much research linking the quality of romantic relationships and other social ties to health and well-being, yet it is unclear if this applies similarly or differently to people in same-gender romantic relationships because they have been historically excluded from past research,” said Robbins, who is an associate professor of psychology at UCR. Reasons for potential differences include the stigma sexual minorities face, and also their resilience.

For the study, Robbins and her team recruited same-gender and different-gender couples throughout Southern California. The couples had to be in a married or “married-like” committed relationship; living together for at least a year; and have no physical or mental health conditions that impeded their daily functioning.

Among those who applied to be in the study, 78 couples were found to be eligible, 77 of which provided enough data to be used. Twenty-four of the couples were woman-woman; 20 were man-man, and 33 were man-woman.

Participants met with the researchers on two separate Fridays, a month apart, completing surveys. They received text or email prompts several times in the days following the in-person meetings. In the text/email prompts, participants were asked whether they had an interaction with their partner, a family member, or a friend in the past 10 minutes, then asked to rate the quality of the social interaction using a five-point scale – one being unpleasant; three, neutral; five, pleasant.

In terms of social networks, the study found couples in man-man relationships had smaller social networks than woman-woman and man-woman couples. On the other end of the results spectrum, women in relationships with men were most likely to have the largest social networks.

Robbins said the finding is consistent with previous research showing men with men experience the least acceptance among family members.

“We hypothesized that one model for how the social life of people in same-gender couples might differ from those in different-gender couples was a honing model, where people in same-gender couples reduce their social networks down to only those people who are supportive. We found some support for this by learning that the men with men had the smallest social networks in our sample.,” Robbins said.

The quality of interactions with families was reported to be greatest by same-gender couples. There was no difference for interaction quality with friends.

In terms of the quality of interactions with their partners, the study found same-gendered relationships had better-quality interactions than found in different-gendered relationships.

Robbins said that may be due to greater similarity between partners when they share a gender identity, and greater equality within the couple, compared to people in different-sex couples.

“When male and female partners interact, they may do so from a culturally imposed frame wherein men and women are considered ‘opposites,’ which creates more potential for tension in interactions,” Robbins wrote in the paper, titled Social Compensation and Honing Frameworks, and published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

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Love Affairs

Virgos are discriminated against in dating and job recruitment – MIT research

Research found that “astrological stereotypes” about personalities formed without pre-existing social reality, yet are shaping social reality via discrimination, especially against Virgos.

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Photo by MabelAmber from Pixabay.com

Which comes first, stereotypes or social reality?

In a recent paper, MIT Sloan School of Management Prof. Jackson Lu studied a novel form of stereotyping and discrimination in China based on Western astrological signs. He found that “astrological stereotypes” about personalities formed without pre-existing social reality, yet are shaping social reality via discrimination, especially against Virgos.

“Because stereotypes and social reality are mutually reinforcing, it is often difficult to know whether a given stereotype has emerged from pre-existing social reality, or instead has shaped social reality over time to resemble the stereotype. It’s a chicken-or-egg problem that social scientists have struggled to answer,” says Lu.

To help disentangle stereotypes from social reality, Lu and his colleagues conducted the first systematic examination of astrological stereotyping and discrimination in China. Through globalization, these signs were introduced to China and translated from English into Chinese. With the aid of social media, astrological signs have become a mainstream cultural trend in China.

There is also ample anecdotal evidence that people use astrological signs to infer personality traits and to make decisions about dating and employment. Importantly, each astrological sign is associated with certain personalities based on how its name is translated into Chinese.

“For example, the word ‘Virgo’ is literally translated as ‘virgin’ in Chinese, and Virgos are stereotyped as having disagreeable personalities like being fussy, critical, and picky,” he says. “Some Chinese job postings state that Virgo candidates are not wanted, and some Chinese people avoid Virgos on dating apps.”

In one study, the researchers conducted surveys asking Chinese people about their impressions of the astrological signs. Participants clearly ranked Virgos as the worst sign, followed by Scorpio because its Chinese translation is associated with the poisonous scorpion.

Further studies examined two Chinese translations of the word “Virgo.” The researchers leveraged an interesting fact that Virgo can be translated in two ways: “Virgin” is the well-known translation in astrology, whereas “royal chamber lady” is the lesser-known translation in astronomy. Participants viewed a profile of a Virgo individual. The profiles were identical, except that Virgo was either translated as “virgin” or “royal chamber lady.” Participants perceived the “virgin” profile as a more disagreeable person compared to the “royal chamber lady” profile.

“This study shows that translation can play a critical role in creating stereotypes,” says Lu.

The researchers consistently found that hiring managers – at least in China – are less willing to hire Virgos because of their perceived disagreeable personalities.

In another study, the researchers experimented with a popular Chinese dating app, using an identical profile but with different astrological signs: Virgo, Leo, or Libra. The Virgo profile received a lot fewer “likes” than the Leo and Libra profiles, which suggests that people are discriminating against Virgos in dating.

They also conducted a similar experiment in the context of hiring, using the same resume but with different astrological signs. The researchers consistently found that hiring managers – at least in China – are less willing to hire Virgos because of their perceived disagreeable personalities.

As for whether there is any basis for such discrimination based on astrological signs, Lu says their studies found none. “We found no evidence that astrological signs predict personality or job performance.”

Lu notes, “Unlike race or gender, astrological signs are not a protected class, yet they form the basis for widespread discrimination in social contexts like dating and hiring. People need to be aware of this phenomenon.”

He adds, “In the case of astrological stereotypes in China, the chicken-and-egg question has a clear answer. The stereotypes came first because of language translations, and those stereotypes then shaped social reality via discrimination.”

Lu is the lead author of “Disentangling Stereotypes from Social Reality: Astrological Stereotypes and Discrimination in China,” with Xin Lucy Liu of Peking University, Hui Liao of the University of Maryland, and Lei Wang of Peking University. Their paper was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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Love Affairs

Romantic partners influence each other’s goals

Over the long-term, what one partner in a two-person relationship wishes to avoid, so too does the other partner – and what one wants to achieve, so does the other. These effects can be observed regardless of gender, age and length of the relationship.

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Choose your partner wisely.

Over the long-term, what one partner in a two-person relationship wishes to avoid, so too does the other partner – and what one wants to achieve, so does the other. These effects can be observed regardless of gender, age and length of the relationship, as researchers from the University of Basel report in a study of more than 450 couples.

The research team from the University of Basel’s Faculty of Psychology wanted to examine the short- and long-term interdependence of approach goals and avoidance goals within couples. The participants reported whether they had tried to avoid conflicts or share meaningful experiences with their partner that day. This was followed by an analysis of how the information affected the goals of the partner.

When one person within a couple avoids distress and conflicts, for example, the other tries to do the same. And conversely, when one person seeks personal growth and meaningful experiences, the other wants to achieve them too.

The goals of each person were recorded daily over the course of two 14-day measurement periods at an interval of 10 to 12 months; 456 male-female couples took part. The average age of the participants was just under 34 years old, and the average relationship length was almost 10 years. The study appeared in The Journal of Gerontology.

The study showed that when one person within a couple avoids distress and conflicts, for example, the other tries to do the same. And conversely, when one person seeks personal growth and meaningful experiences, the other wants to achieve them too. The team of psychologists, led by first author Professor Jana Nikitin, found significant delayed effects between the partners. These appeared regardless of gender, age or relationship length.

It was notable that the daily goals of one partner – which can change – mainly coincided with the medium- and longer-term goal trends of the other partner. It therefore takes several days to months for the long-term relationship goals of one partner to have an impact on the goals of the other.

“This could be an adaptive mechanism to maintain the stability of the relationship,” says Nikitin, “by not being influenced by every momentary shift made by the partner.”

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Love Affairs

Are you still waiting for the one?

If you feel like your time has come and you’re desperate to meet someone new, we’re here to help. If you keep on reading we’ll give you some great tips on how you can meet the love of your life.

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It can feel so disheartening to know that you’re the only one without a stable relationship. Even if you aren’t the only one, the single life just isn’t for some people. You could spend your days scrolling through dating apps, perhaps even messaging girls through different social media apps, and you might not find the one for you.

But we will reassure you of this, there is someone out there for everyone. Just because you haven’t found your ‘one’ yet, it doesn’t meant they aren’t right around the corner waiting to meet you. It also might be the case that you’re too nervous to meet new people, or you find it hard to maintain conversation long enough to do so.

If you feel like your time has come and you’re desperate to meet someone new, we’re here to help. If you keep on reading we’ll give you some great tips on how you can meet the love of your life. 

Be Less Particular 

This is one of the things that gets in the way with people the most when searching for someone new. You have to be prepared to compromise and to think about the bigger picture that someone has to offer. If you’re basing your search largely around looks, you’re never going to win. The personality plays such a big part, as cliche as it might sound. You need to know that you’re going to be able to talk to someone for hours and hours on end into the night and have an incredible time.

You also need to make sure that their life matches up to one that you’re going to want to live. If they don’t have the same drive and ambition as you, it’s likely that the pairing isn’t going to work. You might also like to consider their social life and what they get up to, and if they have any hobbies. A key component to a strong working relationship is each having your own life to live.

Broaden Your Horizons

Sometimes it might be worth thinking about where and how you’re looking. Some people spend their lives searching on dating apps, refreshing every day to see if someone new has come up. To really broaden your horizons, think about meeting somewhere everywhere that you go. You could meet them whilst eating lunch with a friend, or bump into them in the supermarket. You could meet the love of your life in another country, that happens so often. Dating someone that lives in another country is not difficult, nor is settling down. You can aquire a spouse visa application that makes it simple for them to be able to live with you.

There are tons of ways of getting around obstacles that means a relationship with someone outside of your town could easily work.

The Art Of Dating

Finally, you need to master the art of dating. The trick is to make sure you’re not being too overpowering, but also not too relaxed. You want to make sure that you’re complimenting, organizing dates, checking in on how they are, and generally being attentive and involved in all aspects of their life. The more interest you show, the more interested they’ll be.

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Love Affairs

Feeling frisky makes you see what you want to see

Sexual activation increased a participant’s romantic interest in the other participant, which, in turn, predicted perceiving the other as more interested in oneself. Having active sexual thoughts apparently arouses romantic interest in a prospective partner and encourages the adoption of an optimistic outlook on courting prospects with a partner.

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There’s something to rose-tinted glasses after all.

A group of psychologists at the University of Rochester and the Israeli-based Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya discovered that we see possible romantic partners as a lot more attractive if we have what the scientists call “a sexy mindset.” Under the same condition we also tend to overestimate our own chances of romantic success.

The researchers examined what would happen if a person’s sexual system is activated–think “feeling frisky”–by exposing test subjects to brief sexual cues that induced a “sexy mindset.” Such a mindset, the team found, reduced a person’s concerns about being rejected, while simultaneously inducing a sense of urgency to start a romantic relationship.

The US-Israeli team noticed that people often have overly optimistic views when it comes to a potential partner and their own chances of landing a date. Their latest research, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, sought to explain the biased perception. It’s precisely this bias, the team concluded, that may provide people with the necessary confidence to worry less about rejection and instead motivate them to take a leap of faith to pursue a desired romantic relationship without hesitation.

“If people anticipate that a partner shares their attraction, it is that much easier to initiate contact, because the fear of rejection is lessened,” said co-author Harry Reis, a professor of psychology and the Dean’s Professor in Arts, Sciences & Engineering at Rochester.

“People are more likely to desire potential partners and to project their desires onto them when sexually aroused,” said lead author Gurit Birnbaum, a social psychologist and associate professor of psychology at the IDC. “Our findings suggest that the sexual system prepares the ground for forming relationships by biasing interpersonal perceptions in a way that motivates human beings to connect. Clearly the sexual system does so by inspiring interest in potential partners, which, in turn, biases the perceptions of a potential partner’s interest in oneself.”

Evolutionary principles at play

Having evolved over millennia, the sexual behavioral system of humans ensures reproduction and survival of the species by arousing sexual urges that motivate us to pursue mates. Success depends on targeting the right potential partners who are not only perceived as desirable but also as likely to reciprocate our advances. In previous studies the researchers found that people often refrain from courting desirable possible partners because they fear rejection.

“Forming stable sexual relationships had, and continues to have, a great deal of evolutionary significance,” said study Reis, also a professor of psychology and the Dean’s Professor in Arts, Sciences & Engineering at Rochester. “If people anticipate that a partner shares their attraction, it is that much easier to initiate contact, because the fear of rejection is lessened.”

He added: “One of the main purposes of sexual attraction is to motivate people to initiate relationships with potentially valuable, and valued, partners.”

Testing the effects of a sexy mindset

Across three experiments the team discovered that sexual activation helps people initiate relationships by inducing them to project their own desires onto prospective partners. In other words–you see what you want to see if you’ve been sexually primed.

To test the effects of a sexy mindset, the team exposed participants across three separate studies either to sexual (but not pornographic) stimuli or to neutral stimuli. Next, the participants encountered a potential partner and rated this partner’s attractiveness and romantic interest in them. Participants’ interest in the partner was self-reported or evaluated by raters.

Sexual activation increased a participant’s romantic interest in the other participant, which, in turn, predicted perceiving the other as more interested in oneself.

In the first study, 112 heterosexual participants, aged 20 to 32, who were not in a romantic relationship, were randomly paired with an unacquainted participant of the other sex. First, participants introduced themselves to each other by talking about their hobbies, positive traits, and future career plans while being videotaped. Then the team coded the videotaped introductions for nonverbal expressions of so-called immediacy behavior–such as close physical proximity, frequent eye contact, and flashing smiles–that indicates interest in initiating romantic relationships. They discovered that those participants exposed to a sexual stimulus (versus those exposed to the neutral stimulus) exhibited more immediacy behaviors toward potential partners and perceived the partners as more attractive and interested in them.

For the second study, 150 heterosexual participants, aged 19 to 30, who were not in a romantic relationship, served as a control for the potential partner’s attractiveness and reactions. Here, all participants watched the same prerecorded video introduction of a potential partner of the other sex and then introduced themselves to the partner while being videotaped. The team coded the videotapes for attempts to induce a favorable impression. Just as in the first study, the researchers found that activation of the sexual system led participants to perceive potential partners as more attractive as well as more interested in a romantic relationship.

In the third study, the team investigated whether a participant’s romantic interest in the other participant might explain why sexual activation affects perceptions of others’ romantic interest in oneself. Here, 120 heterosexual participants, aged 21 to 31, who were not in a romantic relationship, interacted online with another participant, who in reality was an attractive opposite-sex member of the research team, in a get-to-know-each-other conversation. The participants rated their romantic interest in the other person as well as that person’s attractiveness and interest in them.

The researchers found again that sexual activation increased a participant’s romantic interest in the other participant, which, in turn, predicted perceiving the other as more interested in oneself. Having active sexual thoughts apparently arouses romantic interest in a prospective partner and encourages the adoption of an optimistic outlook on courting prospects with a partner, concluded the researchers.

“Sexual feelings do more than just motivate us to seek out partners. It also leads us to project our feelings onto the other person,” said Reis. “One important finding of the study is that the sexual feelings need not come from the other person; they can be aroused in any number of ways that have nothing to do with the other person.”

Yet, there’s also the obvious possible pitfall: when sexual feelings are present, people tend to assume that the other person shares their attraction, whether warranted or not, notes Reis. “Or you end up kissing a lot of frogs,” said Birnbaum, “because a sexy mood makes you mistake them for princes.”

Having active sexual thoughts apparently arouses romantic interest in a prospective partner and encourages the adoption of an optimistic outlook on courting prospects with a partner.

Birnbaum and Reis spent the last few decades studying the dynamics of human sexual attraction. In a 2019 study, the duo found that when people feel greater certainty that a prospective romantic partner reciprocates their interest, they will put more effort into seeing that person again. Furthermore, people will rate the possible date as more sexually attractive than they would if they were less certain about the prospective date’s romantic intentions.

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Love Affairs

New study explores if flirting is real and shows it can work

Although flirting is mentioned a lot in the general media, and examples are everywhere, there is relatively little scientific work on the topic of flirting, its underlying mechanisms and function.

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Photo by Dede Avez from Pexels.com

“She was totally flirting with you,” my friend told me after the hosts left our table.

“No, she wasn’t. She was just being polite,” said another friend.

Misunderstandings about flirting can potentially result in awkwardness or even accusations of sexual harassment. How can we figure out what other people mean when they smile at us? Is there a unique, identifiable facial expression representing flirting — and if there is, what does it convey, and how effective is it?

Although flirting is mentioned a lot in the general media, and examples are everywhere, there is relatively little scientific work on the topic of flirting, its underlying mechanisms and function.

Now, a new paper by researchers based at the University of Kansas has been published in the Journal of Sex Research examining if flirting has a particular facial cue effectively used by women to indicate interest in a man.

“There are very few scientific articles out there that have systematically studied this well-known phenomenon,” said Omri Gillath, professor of psychology at KU, who co-wrote the paper. “None of these studies have identified the flirting facial expression and tested its effects.”

Gillath’s collaborators were lead author Parnia Haj-Mohamadi, a doctoral student in psychology at KU, and Erika Rosenberg of the University of California-Davis.

The researchers found internal states — such as being romantically or sexually interested in someone — can be conveyed to others nonverbally through facial expression.

In other words — flirting works.

Some women are more effective than others in effectively conveying a flirtatious facial cue, while some men are better at recognizing this cue. Beyond these individual differences, a few expressions were identified by most (if not all) men as flirting.

“Across our six studies, we found most men were able to recognize a certain female facial expression as representing flirting,” Gillath said. “It has a unique morphology, and it’s different from expressions that have similar features — for example, smiling — but aren’t identified by men as flirting expression.”

In the studies, women — some professional actresses and some volunteers from the community — were asked either to spontaneously pose a flirting expression (similar to what they’d use at a bar to get attention from a potential mate) or to follow instructions based on existing anthropological literature for what researchers define as flirting.

The team found some women are more effective than others in effectively conveying a flirtatious facial cue, while some men are better at recognizing this cue. Beyond these individual differences, a few expressions were identified by most (if not all) men as flirting.

The researchers used the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) to classify the morphology of highly recognized flirtatious facial expressions. The coding showed the most effective flirting cues include a head turned to one side and tilted down slightly, a slight smile, and eyes turned forward toward the implied target.

After identifying these most recognized expressions of flirting, the researchers used them in experimental studies.

“Our findings support the role of flirtatious expression in communication and mating initiation,” Gillath said. “For the first time, not only were we able to isolate and identify the expressions that represent flirting, but we were also able to reveal their function — to activate associations related with relationships and sex.”

The new paper puts flirting in the same category as other well-studied emotions and provides researchers with tools to further study the functions of flirting. It can also give sometimes-clueless men, like the one in the example above, a more concrete way to figure out if a woman is truly flirting.

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