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Corky and Sheila: Intensely in love since 2007

When Corky Hope Marañan and Sheila May Abucay first met in 2007, Corky only recently came out of the closet, while Sheila was still closeted. “For straight couples, there is no shame in declaring you love someone. But for same sex couples, some feel shame and some feel guilt,” Corky says. Sheila eventually came out, as the two helped establish UPLB Babaylan, which was “like finding a new family that shares and understands your personal journeys in life,” Sheila says.

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Corky Hope Marañan and Sheila May Abucay first met through a common friend.

Kinuha nya ang number ko; binigay niya kay Sheila tapos binigay din niya sa akin ang number ni Sheila. It was a perfect matchmaking (My friend got my number and gave it to Sheila and I got Sheila’s number),” Corky recalled.

After texting for more than a week, Corky and Sheila first met on August 19, 2007 at the University of the Philippines – Los Baños.

“We had dinner, tapos kuwentuhan (then sharing), and we dated for a month before we decided to be together. We saw each other almost everyday during the courting period kasi maliit lang naman ang campus at magkalapit ang college namin (because the campus is just small and our colleges were near to each other),” Corky said.

Corky and Sheila2Corky would say that three weeks into dating, she was already head over heels in love with Sheila.

“It was the kind of love that was so intense that you can barely contain it in your metaphorical closet. Kaka-out ko lang noon pero Sheila was still in the closet kasi mahirap sa kanyang mag-out lalo na at nasa student council siya (I recently came out then, but Sheila was still in the closet because she was in the student council). So we tried to be very discreet. Parang magkaibigan lang kami kapag nasa campus. Naging kami nung September 19 kasi doon na kami nag-declare ng pagmamahal sa isa’t isa (We acted like we’re just friends while on campus. We became a couple on September 19 when we declared our love to each other),” Corky said.

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As Corky and Sheila journeyed as a couple, they admit to always face different challenges.

“One of the challenges as new lovers was coming out as a couple. At that time, I just came out to my friends and family five months earlier, so I was bursting with pride of my sexuality. But Sheila has always been discreet in many things and it was difficult for me to grasp the idea of hiding our relationship. I felt like she was ashamed of the love that we both so passionately share. I did not quite get that before; but when I look back, I wish I could have been more supportive on her personal journey,” Corky said.

Corky and Sheila then spared nights to discuss the issue.

“For straight couples, there is no shame in declaring you love someone. But for same sex couples, some feel shame and some feel guilt. The guilt of breaking the hearts of your family who thinks it’s shameful and sinful to be with the same sex even though it feels so perfectly right,” Corky said.

It took some time but Sheila slowly came out of her closet. Corky and Sheila say that they were lucky to be one of the many founding members of UPLB Babaylan.

“We didn’t have a lot of LGBT friends then and we felt isolated for a long time.  But when we founded Babaylan, it was like finding a new family that shares and understands your personal journeys in life,” Sheila said.

READ:  Scent of a romantic partner can improve your quality of sleep

Three years into the relationship, Corky’s mother said that their relationship was “abnormal” and “it’s against the laws of God”. It took her mother another three years to finally turn around and accept their relationship.

“Although it was a painful experience, an emotional scar that would probably last forever, I understand now that as a mother and a devout Catholic, it was not easy for her to bend her religious morals that she was raised to believe all her life. Instead of hating her and burning bridges for three years, I could have helped her understand and accept me. As they say, intolerance cuts both ways. I was just lucky that it wasn’t too late for us,” Corky said.

Corky and Sheila cites their sharing of the same values and mutual respect as the best aspects of their relationship.

“I have loved many others before Sheila, but nothing compares to what we have. She makes me want to be a better version of me. We give ourselves enough room to grow as individuals and we communicate. Lesbians do a lot of communicating,” Corky smiled.

For the future, Corky and Sheila plan to travel and celebrate individual milestones together.

“We also plan to change how Filipinos see Pinoy LGBT people. We share the same advocacy, fighting for human rights,” Sheila said.

“And perhaps when we grow old we’ll get a house in a farm where we can grow vegetables, play with our dogs, and raise our children,” Corky ended.

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A registered nurse, John Ryan (or call him "Rye") Mendoza hails from Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao (where, no, it isn't always as "bloody", as the mainstream media claims it to be, he noted). He first moved to Metro Manila in 2010 (supposedly just to finish a health social science degree), but fell in love not necessarily with the (err, smoggy) place, but it's hustle and bustle. He now divides his time in Mindanao (where he still serves under-represented Indigenous Peoples), and elsewhere (Metro Manila included) to help push for equal rights for LGBT Filipinos. And, yes, he parties, too (see, activists need not be boring! - Ed).

LOVE AFFAIRS

Sex during the COVID-19 outbreak

What are the risks associated with intimacy in the time of coronavirus?

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Photo by Cyrus Crossan from Unsplash.com

The past days we’ve been introduced to the concept of “social distancing” (that is, maintaining at least a meter apart from one another). But the concept continues to escape many (e.g. there’s even a call to deal with the elitism of the terminology by using different languages, such as #LikayLuwas in the Visayas). Because truly, it’s nearly impossible to practice “social distancing” particularly when with people with whom we share homes with – e.g. and even our beds, in the case of partners.

Now… what are the risks associated with intimacy in the time of coronavirus?

Is COVID-19 transmissible during sexual intercourse?

To start, COVID-19 is not a sexually transmitted disease.

But – as stated by the Ministry of Health of Luxembourg on the European nation’s official website – “the virus being present in the respiratory secretions and being able to be transmitted by direct contact of person to person, sexual intercourse is favorable to a transmission of the virus, if one of the partners is infected.”

Other sex options may also include: sexting, video-calls, reading erotica and masturbation (not necessarily mutual when touching each other needs to be avoided).
Photo by Ava Sol from Unsplash.com

How is COVID-19 transmitted?

Canada’s B.C. Centre for Disease Control stated that the novel coronavirus is “transmitted via larger liquid droplets when a person coughs or sneezes” and that “the virus can enter through these droplets through the eyes, nose or throat if you are in close contact.”

There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted via either vaginal or anal intercourse.

So what are (some of) the modes of transmission (particularly related to sex)?

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Touching can spread COVID-19 – e.g. it can be spread by touch if a person used his/her hands to cover the mouth or nose when coughing or sneezing.

Kissing is a very common practice during sexual intercourse, and the virus can be transmitted via saliva. Meaning the virus can be transmitted by kissing.

There is evidence of oral-fecal transmission of COVID-19, implying that analingus may represent a risk for infection.

“If you live with a regular sexual partner and you don’t have any symptoms, or likely exposure, sex might actually be a really great way to have fun.”
Photo by Dainis Graveris on SexualAlpha

So what now?

Interviewed by The Guardian, Dr. Jessica Justman – a professor and attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center – stated: “If you or your partner is a COVID-19 case, the advice is to steer clear of each other as much as possible… If you’re a possible or confirmed case you should isolate yourself, ideally in a private residence until seven days after the illness began. You need to have had no fever for 72 hours, without using ibuprofen or anything that would mask your fever, and your respiratory symptoms should be improving.”

Added in the same article by Dr. Julia Marcus – an infectious disease epidemiologist and professor in the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School: “For people who don’t have symptoms and don’t have any recent likely exposure and have been staying close to home, I think that, if it’s within your own household, it’s a different story. If you live with a regular sexual partner and you don’t have any symptoms, or likely exposure, sex might actually be a really great way to have fun, stay connected and relieve anxiety during this potentially stressful time.”

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Other sex options may also include: sexting, video-calls, reading erotica and masturbation (not necessarily mutual when touching each other needs to be avoided).

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LOVE AFFAIRS

‘Financial infidelity’ can be as harmful as sexual infidelity

Consumers more prone to financial infidelity exhibited a stronger preference for secretive purchase options, such as using a personal credit card versus a jointly held card, and cash over credit.

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Photo by tswedensky from Pixabay.com

Romantic partners aren’t always honest about money in their relationships, but when does hiding purchases, debt and savings constitute “financial infidelity”? Research by professors at four universities, including Indiana University, defines the concept and provides a means for predicting its occurrence within relationships.

“Love, Lies and Money: Financial Infidelity in Romantic Relationships,” forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Research, is the first systematic investigation of financial infidelity in committed romantic relationships.

The professors define financial infidelity as “engaging in any financial behavior that is expected to be disapproved of by one’s romantic partner and intentionally failing to disclose this behavior to them.” It involves both the financial “act” and the subsequent concealment.

It differs from secret consumption and merely hiding spending because it involves a broader set of financial behaviors, including seemingly “positive” actions such as saving extra income in a personal bank account.

“Financial infidelity has the potential to be as harmful for relationship health and longevity as sexual infidelity, as conflicts over money are also a primary reason for divorce,” said co-author Jenny Olson, assistant professor of marketing at the IU Kelley School of Business. “Given the role that finances play in the health of relationships, consumers benefit from being aware of financial infidelity and its consequences.”

Growing in popularity is financial therapy, which combines finance with emotional support to help individuals and couples think, feel and behave with money to improve their overall well-being, make logical spending decisions and face financial challenges.

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“An understanding of financial infidelity can benefit financial services companies and advisors, clinical therapists and relationship counselors, all of whom play a role in promoting consumer well-being,” Olson said. “If couples seek professional financial advice, they must be willing to openly discuss their spending and savings habits, debts and financial goals. It is clear that financial infidelity is a barrier to effective planning, as well as to a healthy relationship.”

The researchers developed a “financial infidelity scale (FI-Scale)” using a dozen lab and field tests. Key findings included:

  • Whether the financial act is expected to elicit any level of disapproval was more important than the degree of disapproval.
  • Consumers more prone to financial infidelity exhibited a stronger preference for secretive purchase options, such as using a personal credit card versus a jointly held card, and cash over credit.
  • A preference for ambiguous packaging and shopping at inconspicuous stores.
  • A greater likelihood of concealing financial information from their partner in a mobile banking app.

Each choice is relevant to marketers. The prevalence of financial infidelity among consumers and variations along the FI-Scale affect purchasing decisions. It is important that companies be aware of certain consumer segments that may be prone to financial infidelity and thus affect their bottom lines.

For example, the trend of businesses going “cash-free” may affect retailers such as beauty salons and gift shops because of the use of cash to disguise purchases. Consumers strategically using cash may be less willing to make purchases only for their pleasure or personal wants.

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Other authors on the study are Emily Garbinsky, assistant professor of marketing at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame; Joe J. Gladstone, assistant professor of consumer behavior at the School of Management at University College London; and Hristina Nikolova, the Diane Harkins Coughlin and Christopher J. Coughlin Sesquicentennial assistant professor at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College.

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LOVE AFFAIRS

Sex facts nobody tells you about

If you don’t go to the right sources, you’ll find that there’s a lot about sex that you still don’t know. Sex is beautiful, but it’s also one topic that requires anyone to become educated.

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Sex. This word is possibly one of the most controversial in the English Language and for good reason. Sex sells, sex is racy, and sex is also amazing. But sex is also one topic that is still considered taboo in many cultures, which births so many ignorant theories that leave many people baffled. From basic quips to advanced theories, here are some facts about sex nobody tells you about.

The Myth Surrounding Sex Toys 

Many people think that only kinky or sex-crazed couples get to use sex toys, or that only middle-aged single women use vibrators. On the contrary, sex toys have been growing increasingly popular among many couples of all ages. For starters, sex toys have proven to spice up the bedroom and bring you closer to your partner. It does not remove intimacy, but rather enhances it. 

Sex toys like vibrators or even assistive devices like penis pumps can aid pleasure more than you know. Penis pumps creators at Penomet.com claim that it’s a revolutionary device set to help you keep your erection in an effortless manner, thus making you focus on one thing: getting the deed done pleasurably. These devices aid erectile dysfunction as well. Many vibrators also help women orgasm faster to enhance their sexual experience. Needless to say, some of these toys and devices might actually help elevate your sexual journey. 

Sex is Messy 

Remember those sex scenes in a movie where they’ve just had sex and lie in bed or get up effortlessly as if there was no romp in the sheets? In the real world, sex is quite messy and isn’t followed by an immediate cuddle session each time. Many people have failed to mention that after sex, you’re required to clean up your business. Whether you keep a towel next to you or you shower immediately, cleaning yourself up is the most sanitary thing to do. 

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Speaking of messes, one thing many ladies should know is that what comes up, must come down. If your partner ejaculated inside of you without a condom, then eventually his semen will come out a few minutes after; your body doesn’t magically absorb it. 

All About the Big O 

There’s still looming mystery surrounding the female orgasm. Believe it or not, studies have shown that orgasms get better as you age. There isn’t the kind of pressure to perform as you once had in your 20s; you’re more confident, you understand your body more, and you know exactly what you want. With women, their sexual prime lasts well beyond their 30s and 40s. 

One of the many misconceptions is that women orgasm from penetration. Believe it or not, that isn’t always the case. Many men (and women) believe that women can only orgasm with penetration, and if they don’t, then they’re super disappointed and claim sex isn’t that enjoyable. When, in fact, all that woman needs is a good old clitoral stimulation doing the trick. Around 80% of women in a study have claimed to the only orgasm from clitoris stimulation as opposed to 18% percent who claimed penetration does the trick. 

Sexual Drive Differs

While other studies also claim that sexual desire and drives change over the years, it can still depend on a number of factors. For starters, sexual drive differs from one person to the other. The supposed frequency of sex that many studies claim a mature couple goes through doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen to you.

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Yes, you might find that physical changes are inevitable such as vaginal dryness or problems with erections, but that doesn’t mean your drive is lost. There are many ways to keep the pleasure going and keep the intimacy alive. 

Your First Time Isn’t Always Magical 

Thanks to pop culture, they have always portrayed the first time someone loses their V card as a magical experience. While there’s no doubt that the first time you have sex is magical, that’s not always the case with every single person on earth.

Sex is different from one person to the other, and the first time can be a very painful and joyless experience, especially if you don’t really know what you’re doing. Another misconception is that if it hurts, then it’s working. Sadly, no, if it hurts too much then something is clearly wrong and you should stop what you’re doing to avoid any damage to your genitals. Over time, sex becomes an enjoyable experience and soon enough you’ll forget about how awkward your first time was and see fireworks.

To this day, sex can remain a mystery; there are many things that no one tells you about sex growing up, and sex education could possibly use some revamping to provide anyone with the necessary knowledge. If you don’t go to the right sources, you’ll find that there’s a lot about sex that you still don’t know. Sex is beautiful, but it’s also one topic that requires anyone to become educated. 

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LOVE AFFAIRS

Scent of a romantic partner can improve your quality of sleep

New research accepted for publication in the journal Psychological Science suggests that the scent of a romantic partner can improve your quality of sleep. This is true regardless of whether or not you are consciously aware that the scent is even present.

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Photo by Thiago Barletta from Unsplash.com

Forget counting sheep. If you really want a good night’s sleep, all you may need is your romantic partner’s favorite T-shirt wrapped around your pillow.

New research accepted for publication in the journal Psychological Science suggests that the scent of a romantic partner can improve your quality of sleep. This is true regardless of whether or not you are consciously aware that the scent is even present.

“A growing body of evidence has shown that close relationships are essential to our health and well being,” said Frances Chen, a researcher at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and co-author on the paper. “But far less is known about the role of scent in relationships and social support processes. The current study provides new evidence that the mere scent of a romantic partner improves sleep efficiency.”

Previous research has shown that romantic relationships and close physical contact can provide many physical and mental benefits, including aiding in a good night’s sleep. Other research has shown that scents can have profound and evocative effects on the brain. What has not yet been clearly demonstrated is a direct connection between the two.

Chen and graduate student Marlise Hofer set out to investigate this intersection and to understand how romance, scent, and sleep interact.

Chen and Hofer began their research by asking one member of a heterosexual couple in a long-term (three or more months) relationship to wear a plain cotton T-shirt for 24 hours. During this time, the wearer was to avoid typical scent-producing behaviors, like eating spicy food or doing vigorous exercise. They were also told to avoid perfume, cologne, and antiperspirants. The T-shirt was then hermetically sealed and frozen.

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Afterward, the second member of the couple was given two identical shirts, one previously worn by their partner and another that either had been previously worn by a stranger or was scent free.

When a participant used their partner’s worn, scent-bearing T-shirt as a pillowcase, they experienced an average of over nine additional minutes of sleep per night. This equates to more than one hour of additional sleep per week, achieved without spending any more time in bed. The increase was due to participants sleeping more efficiently, meaning they spent less time tossing and turning. Sleep efficiency was measured using a wrist-worn sleep monitor that tracked movement throughout the night.

Participants also gave self-reported measures of sleep quality each morning, which increased on nights they thought they were sleeping with their partner’s scent.

“The effect we observed in our study was similar in magnitude to that reported for melatonin supplements–a commonly used sleep aid. The findings suggest that the scent of our loved ones can affect our health in powerful ways,” noted Hofer.

This research suggests that simple strategies such as taking a partner’s scarf or shirt along when traveling may have measurable effects on our sleep. Future research might determine if the scent of a romantic partner has additional health benefits beyond the domains of stress and sleep.

“These findings reveal that–whether or not we are aware of it–a fascinating world of communication is happening right under our noses,” concludes Hofer.

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LOVE AFFAIRS

Same-sex wedding held in British Embassy Manila

British Ambassador Daniel Pruce officiated a same-sex wedding in the British embassy in Manila, marking not only Valentine’s Day but the 87th same-sex marriage conducted in the premises.

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Screencap from the British Embassy Manila FB page

#LoveWins

British Ambassador Daniel Pruce officiated a same-sex wedding in the British embassy in Manila, marking not only Valentine’s Day but the 87th same-sex marriage conducted in the premises.

In a Facebook post, British Embassy Manila claimed: “Love is in the air! Congratulations to Mark and Richard who were married by Ambassador Daniel Pruce on #ValentinesDay. We wish you a lifetime of love and happiness.”

It is worth noting that while same-sex marriage is not outright banned by the Philippine Constitution, the country’s Family Code limits marriage as a sacrament between one man and one woman.

However, foreign embassies are given extraterritorial privileges under the Geneva Convention. These include immunity from intrusion, damage and disturbance by the host countries.

Same-sex marriage was legalized in Great Britain in 2014; and so the embassy said the UK “continues to champion the rights and equal treatment of all regardless of gender.”

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Love Guides

How social media makes breakups that much worse

Before social media, break-ups still sucked, but it was much easier to get distance from the person.

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Photo by Nick Fewings from Unsplash.com

Imagine flipping through your Facebook News Feed first thing in the morning and spotting a notification that your ex is now “in a relationship.”

Or maybe the Memories feature shows a photo from that beach vacation you took together last year. Or your ex-lover’s new lover’s mom shows up under People You May Know.

Scenarios like these are real and not uncommon, according to a new University of Colorado Boulder study exploring how breaking up is even harder to do in the digital age.

“Before social media, break-ups still sucked, but it was much easier to get distance from the person,” said Anthony Pinter, a doctoral student in the information science department and lead author of the study published in the journal Proceedings of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery).”It can make it almost impossible to move on if you are constantly being bombarded with reminders in different places online.”

The research team recruited participants who had experienced an upsetting encounter online involving a break-up within the past 18 months and interviewed them for over an hour.

Among 19 who underwent in-depth interviews, a disturbing trend emerged: Even when people took every measure they saw possible to remove their exes from their online lives, social media returned them – often multiple times a day.

“A lot of people make the assumption that they can just unfriend their ex or unfollow them and they are not going to have to deal with this anymore,” said Pinter. “Our work shows that this is not the case.”

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News Feed, the primary interface that opens when one launches Facebook, was a major source of distress, delivering news of ex-lovers announcing they were in a new relationship. In one case, a participant noticed his roommate had already “liked” his ex’s post. He was the last of his friends to know.

Memories, which revives posts from years’ past, was equally heart-rending, with one participant recalling how a sweet years-old message from his ex-wife popped up out of nowhere delivering an “emotional wallop.”

Many shared stories of encountering exes via their comments in shared spaces, such as groups or mutual friends’ pictures.

“In real life, you get to decide who gets the cat and who gets the couch, but online it’s a lot harder to determine who gets this picture or who gets this group,” said Pinter.

Take A Break works – for some

In 2015, Facebook launched the Take A Break feature, which detects when a user switches from “in a relationship” to “single” and asks if they want the platform to hide that person’s activities. But people like Pinter, who don’t use the Relationship Status tool, never get such an offer.

“Facebook doesn’t know we broke up because Facebook never knew we were in a relationship,” he said.

Even when someone unfriends their ex, if a mutual friend posts a picture without tagging them in it, that picture may still flow through their feed.

And even when they blocked their exes entirely some reported that the ex’s friends and family would still show up on Facebook as suggestions under People You May Know.

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“Am I never going to be free of all this crap online?” asked one exasperated participant.

The research stems from a larger National Science Foundation grant award called Humanizing Algorithms, aimed at identifying and offering solutions for “algorithmic insensitivity.”

“Algorithms are really good at seeing patterns in clicks, likes and when things are posted, but there is a whole lot of nuance in how we interact with people socially that they haven’t been designed to pick up,” said Brubaker.

The authors suggest that such encounters could be minimized if platform designers paid more attention to the “social periphery” – all those people, groups, photos and events that spring up around a connection between two users.

For those wanting to rid their online lives from reminders of love lost, they recommend unfriending, untagging, using Take a Break and blocking while understanding they may not be foolproof.

Your best bet, said Pinter: “Take a break from social media for a while until you are in a better place.”

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