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LOVE AFFAIRS

Do open relationships really work?

In a gist: Sexual activity with someone else besides the primary partner, without mutual consent, comfort, or communication can easily be understood as a form of betrayal or cheating. And that can seriously undermine or jeopardize the relationship.

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Photo by @nicotitto from Unsplash.com

Open relationships typically describe couples in which the partners have agreed on sexual activity with someone other than their primary romantic partner, while maintaining the couple bond. Can these open relationships work? It depends, concludes a team from the University of Rochester that focuses on couples research. Not surprisingly, the success of such relationships hinges on solid communication between all parties involved.

“We know that communication is helpful to all couples,” says Ronald Rogge, an associate professor of psychology and head of the Rogge Lab, where the research was conducted. “However, it is critical for couples in nonmonogamous relationships as they navigate the extra challenges of maintaining a nontraditional relationship in a monogamy-dominated culture. Secrecy surrounding sexual activity with others can all too easily become toxic and lead to feelings of neglect, insecurity, rejection, jealousy, and betrayal, even in nonmonogamous relationships.”

Past studies have attempted to gauge the success of nonmonogamous relationships. But the critical difference this time is that the Rochester team considered distinctions and nuances within various types of nonmonogamous relationships, and then assessed the success of each type independently. As a result, their findings draw no blanket conclusions about the prospects of nonmonogamous relationships; instead, the research, published in the Journal of Sex Research, suggests conditions under which nonmonogamous relationships tend to succeed, and those under which relationships become strained.

Rogge — together with his former undergraduate research assistant, Forrest Hangen ’19, now a graduate student at Northeastern University; and Dev Crasta ’18 (PhD), now a post-doctoral fellow at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center and the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry — analyzed responses from 1,658 online questionnaires. Among the respondents a majority (67.5 percent) was in their 20s and 30s, 78 percent of participants were white, nearly 70 percent identified as female, and most were in long-term relationships (on average nearly 4 ½ years). The team assessed three key dimensions for each relationship–applying what they call the “Triple-C Model” of mutual consent, communication, and comfort.

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Significantly, they divided study participants into five distinct classes of relationships:

  • Two monogamous groups, representing earlier- and later-stage monogamous relationships
  • Consensual nonmonogamous (CNM) relationships, marked by low interest in monogamy and high levels of mutual consent, comfort, and communication around commitment and sexual activity with a person other than the primary partner
  • Partially open relationships, with more mixed attitudes toward monogamy and lower consent, comfort, and communication
  • One-sided sexual relationships with a person besides the primary partner, in which one partner desires monogamy while the other partner engages in sex outside the existing relationship with low levels of mutual consent, comfort, and almost no communication between the couple about sex outside the relationship.

The team discovered that monogamous and consensual nonmonogamous (CNM) groups demonstrated high levels of functioning in their relationships and as individuals, whereas the partially open and one-sided nonmonogamous groups exhibited lower functioning.

People in both monogamous groups reported relatively healthy relationships, as well as some of the lowest levels of loneliness and psychological distress. Both monogamous groups and the consensual nonmonogamous group (CNM) reported similarly low levels of loneliness and distress, and similarly high satisfaction levels in regards to need, relationship, and sex.

Moreover, both monogamous groups reported the lowest levels of sexual sensation seeking, indicating fairly restrained and mainstream attitudes towards casual sex.

Overall, people in the three nonmonogamous relationships reported high levels of sexual sensation seeking, were more likely to actively look for new sexual partners, and to have contracted a sexually transmitted disease.

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Yet, each of the three nonmonogamous groups varied in significant ways.

People in the consensual nonmonogamous group (CNM) were in fairly long-term relationships (and had the highest proportion among all five groups of people living with their partner, followed closely by the monogamous group with minimal recent sex outside their relationship).

The consensual nonmonogamous group also had the highest number of heteroflexible (primarily heterosexual but open to sex with same-sex partners) and bisexual respondents, suggesting that individuals in the LGBT community might be more comfortable with non-traditional relationship structures.

By contrast, people in partially open and one-sided nonmonogamous relationships tended to be in younger relationships, reported lower levels of dedication to their relationships, and low levels of affection. Few reported high sexual satisfaction, and they had the highest rates of condomless sex with new partners.

The groups of partially open and one-sided nonmonogamous relationships also showed some of the highest levels of discomfort with emotional attachment (also called attachment avoidance), psychological distress, and loneliness.

Overall, the one-sided group fared worst of all, with the highest proportion of people significantly dissatisfied with their relationships: 60 percent–nearly three times as high as the monogamous or the consensual nonmonogamous group.

Rogge cautions that the authors looked at cross-sectional data only, which meant they were unable to directly track relationships failing over time.

While the data clearly show that not all nonmonogamous relationships are equal–one rule applies to all:

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“Sexual activity with someone else besides the primary partner, without mutual consent, comfort, or communication can easily be understood as a form of betrayal or cheating,” says Hangen. “And that, understandably, can seriously undermine or jeopardize the relationship.”

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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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.

READ:  'Financial infidelity' can be as harmful as sexual infidelity

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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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