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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.”

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.

“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.”

Love Affairs

How women and men forgive infidelity

If partners feel the relationship is threatened by the cheating, it’s harder for them to forgive – regardless of their gender.

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Infidelity is one of the most common reasons that heterosexual couples break up. Researchers who have studied 160 different cultures find this to be true worldwide.

However, men and women look at different types of infidelity differently.

Men usually regard physical infidelity – when the partner has sex with another person – more seriously than women do.

Women regard emotional infidelity – when the partner initiates a close relationship with another person – as more serious.

Despite experiencing the different types of infidelity differently, men and women are about equally willing to forgive their partner. And the new findings show that the degree of forgiveness is not related to the type of infidelity.

“We’re surprised that the differences between the sexes weren’t greater. The mechanisms underlying forgiveness are more or less identical between genders,” says Professor Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) Department of Psychology.

He has co-authored a new article – “Breakup Likelihood Following Hypothetical Sexual or Emotional Infidelity: Perceived Threat, Blame, and Forgiveness” – in the Journal of Relationships Research. The article addresses infidelity and the mechanisms behind forgiveness.

A research group at NTNU recruited 92 couples for the study. These couples independently completed a questionnaire related to issues described in hypothetical scenarios where the partner had been unfaithful in various ways.

One scenario describes the partner having sex with another person, but not falling in love.

In the other scenario, the partner falls in love with another person, but does not have sex.

So how willing are people to forgive their partner? It turns out that men and women both process  their partner’s infidelity almost identically.

Most people, regardless of gender and the type of infidelity, think it unlikely that they would forgive their partner’s infidelity.

Despite experiencing the different types of infidelity differently, men and women are about equally willing to forgive their partner. And the new findings show that the degree of forgiveness is not related to the type of infidelity.

“Whether or not the couple breaks up depends primarily on how threatening to the relationship they perceive the infidelity to be,” says first author Trond Viggo Grøntvedt, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology.

The more threatening the infidelity feels, the worse it is for the relationship.

Whether partners believe the relationship can continue also depends on how willing they are to forgive each other, especially in terms of avoiding distancing themselves from their partner.

Of course, great individual differences exist, even within each gender. People react differently to infidelity, according to their personality and the circumstances.

“A lot of people might think that couples who have a strong relationship would be better able to tolerate infidelity, but that wasn’t indicated in our study,” says Professor Mons Bendixen at NTNU’s Department of Psychology.

Another aspect plays a role in cases of emotional infidelity, where no sex has taken place. To what extent can the unfaithful partner be blamed for what happened?

If you willingly have sex with another person, it pretty much doesn’t matter whether you feel it’s your fault.

“The degree of blame attributed to the partner was linked to the willingness to forgive,” says Bendixen.

The relationship is at greater risk if the partner is required to bear a big part of the responsibility for ending up in an intimate relationship with someone else.

“The blame factor doesn’t come into play when the partner is physically unfaithful,” Grøntvedt says.

If you voluntarily have sex with someone other than your partner, it’s more or less irrelevant whether you think it was mostly your fault or not. Possible forgiveness does not depend on accepting blame.

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Love Affairs

Four dating rules to try

Here are some dating rules that you could consider in this modern world, where the world is your oyster. There is no right or wrong, you just have to find out what you prefer and what works best for you.

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If you’re single and ready to mingle, then the dating world can feel quite daunting for some, as well as overwhelming. If you have been with someone for a while and then broken up, you’re likely to be new to all of the apps and online dating scene, which is obviously rife at the moment due to coronavirus. You might also be thinking about what you do and don’t want, and what dating rules you want to have.

With that in mind, here are some dating rules that you could consider in this modern world, where the world is your oyster. There is no right or wrong, you just have to find out what you prefer and what works best for you. You do you, boo.

IMAGE SOURCE: PIXABAY.COM

Date multiple people

Even if you’re all for monogamy, there is no reason to be doing so in the early stages. Dating a few people at once helps you to see what is out there, and the things that you do or don’t like in a partner. If you find someone that you like, and it is mutual, then things can go from there. But to start with, it helps to not be so emotionally invested in one person, just in case things stop or you suddenly get ghosted. When you are even slightly attached to someone, then the sting from the disappointment is real. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket to start with, and it will do good things for your emotional well-being. 

Keep dates short

Whether online or offline, it is a good idea to keep dates fairly short. Keeping them under two hours means that you have enough time to talk to someone and get to know them, as well as help you to feel a spark if there is one. At the same time, it helps you to not get carried away imagining different scenarios in your head. A dinner date that then turns into an all-night movie marathon can be fun, of course, but it can be confusing, as well as it being upsetting if nothing more comes from it. Take it easy on yourself and take your time with dates; there is no need to rush.

Get online

Online dating isn’t going to be for everyone. But for finding people and chatting to people, using dating apps and even things like gay chat lines can be a good way to dip your toe into the water, so to speak. If you are newly out then it can be a positive thing to do, as you embrace who you are and what dating is like. Even if nothing comes from it, talking, getting to know people, and having fun, is what it is all about. 

Know what you want

It is important to be clear with yourself to know what you want and what you are looking for. If you are looking for a long-term thing, then you need to be clear about that. Just looking for a fling? That’s fine too, but be honest with yourself and with who you are dating. Otherwise, you could get hurt, or could end up hurting someone else in the process.

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Love Affairs

How to comfort your partner when they are stressed

If there is anything worse than experiencing these emotions yourself, it is seeing your significant other struggling with copious amounts of stress, whether it is work-related or not. It can rub off on you, as people sometimes tend to absorb their partners’ feelings and emotions.

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Stress and anxiety are both completely normal parts of life. They’re annoying as hell, and they surely aren’t healthy, especially if you’re subject to those feelings on a daily basis. Not only does it tamper with your mental health, but it also has a very negative impact on your overall well-being. 

If there is anything worse than experiencing these emotions yourself, it is seeing your significant other struggling with copious amounts of stress, whether it is work-related or not. It can rub off on you, as people sometimes tend to absorb their partners’ feelings and emotions. The feeling of helplessness is also one that accompanies these moments – it seems like there is nothing you can do to help your loved one, especially since you’re not the cause of the problem. 

Prolonged periods of increased stress can be detrimental to your relationship. It can creep into your plans for the weekend or even your sex life. How are you going to be able to go on that city break to Vienna if all your partner can think about are their issues at work? Not to mention getting together to try out the “best penis extender” you’ve recently ordered online – it’s impossible to explore your mutual kinks if one of the minds is constantly preoccupied with something else. 

So what can you do to help your significant other relax and relieve some of their stress while being considerate of their thoughts and feelings? Follow this guide to find out what you should and shouldn’t be doing when trying to get your partner out of an emotional rut. 

Talk About It – Or Don’t 

The willingness to immediately discuss problems and crises as soon as they come up is a very personal and individual matter. Some people expect their life partner to come to the rescue and play the role of a therapist – talk everything out to find the root of the issue and come up with a solution. On the other hand, a lot of men and women prefer to sit on these things for a while and think everything through before opening up about them. Finally, there are those who simply don’t want to bother their partner about these issues – a lot of the time, and they are the ones that need help the most. 

Before you decide to confront your loved one about their feelings and offer a helping hand, probe them, and figure out whether it’s actually the best approach. Sometimes talking about stuff that triggers their anxiety is the last thing they want to do. In those cases, it’s better to simply avoid the topic and lend your support in the form of providing your boyfriend or girlfriend with a good time. 

Blow Off Some Steam 

Regardless of whether you’ve talked about the demons plaguing your stressed-out partner or decided to leave it be, for now, the next step towards comforting them is entertaining them with fun activities that will surely help them take the edge off and relax, even if just for a little while. 

Studies have shown that one of the best ways to overcome crippling stress and anxiety is physical activity. In order to help your significant other, you should come up with fun and creative ways to actively spend your free time. It can be anything from a long bike ride, going for a swim or getting together with your friends to play team sports. Another surefire method to physically exert yourselves is getting down and dirty in the bedroom – not only will it get the two of you to move around more, but it will also help your partner relax thanks to the most powerful, natural stress reliever known to mankind – the orgasm. 

Be There For Them 

When your significant other is dealing with increased stress and anxiety levels, one of the worst things you can do is to detach yourself emotionally from them. Don’t get confused with the earlier advice about giving them their much-needed space – these two are very different. Emotional detachment is a way for you to escape the drama and worries related to your loved one’s problem, whereas giving them space is simply letting them be alone whenever they need it. 

Even when you decide that it’s best to leave your partner with their own thoughts for a while, you should be sure to let them know that you’re always available if they want to talk or even just sit in silence together. 

Staying emotionally available and offering up support for your significant other is an absolutely crucial element of comforting them when they’re most stressed. A large part of being in a relationship is knowing that you can rely on the other person when things get rough. 

Final Thoughts 

Dealing with your life partner’s elevated levels of stress is a very delicate matter. While you don’t want to invalidate their feelings by encouraging them to “get over it,” you shouldn’t let them sulk in their own worries indefinitely, either. If you really want to help them, stick around, observe their mood, offer up your time and, most importantly, your ears – if you can’t listen to each other, you can never hope to help each other deal with these kinds of issues. 

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4 Ways to build a strong intimate relationship

If you’re looking for ways to enhance your relationship with your partner, here are the best ways to build a strong intimate relationship.

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After the spark fades in a relationship, few things keep it going like, trust, respect, and most importantly, intimacy. Intimacy is about bonding with your partner, not only sexually, but emotionally as well. To build a strong relationship, both of you should understand, know, and accept each other for who you are. However, it all starts with you.

Many people ask for intimacy, but don’t understand how they can provide it to their partners as they were never taught how to do so. Intimacy is what provides the passion and warmth in a relationship, which is why it’s important to build a strong intimate relationship to ensure that you’re going to have a healthy life with your partner. 

If you’re looking for ways to enhance your relationship with your partner, here are the best ways to build a strong intimate relationship.

1. Create Quality Time 

Being able to open up and talk with your partner about any topic you want creates an unbreakable bond. Start with yourself and share your thoughts and feelings so your partner starts opening up as well. Sharing your thoughts at the end of the day with your partners is the most important aspect when you’re looking to build an intimate relationship.

You should be able to trust your partner and vice-versa. You can achieve that by creating some time at the end of each day where you two can talk about your feelings and thoughts without being judged. This will make your significant other trust you and open up to you about how they really feel. This way, if there’s anything that is upsetting them, they will communicate it right away.  

2. Get to Know Each Other 

Many people create assumptions when it comes to a relationship or knowing what their partner wants. You may assume that a certain act makes your partner happy, while in fact, it doesn’t. Such assumptions create boundaries between both of you and make it harder to communicate, which could destroy a relationship. No matter how long you’ve been with your partner, it’s never late to start asking questions to know them better. Don’t be shy to ask what your partner enjoys in bed and communicate with them what you enjoy as well. This men’s guide to become better in bed can also help you have a better understanding of what your partner might need and what you should do to improve yourself.

You should also work on enhancing emotional intimacy in the relationship. Ask your significant other questions about their life, past relationships, and their parents. This will help you know what makes them happy and what doesn’t, what they think about the relationship, and to know how you can create a safe space for them. You should avoid assuming anything about your partner or your relationship and ask as many questions as you want.  

3. Listen Carefully

A lot of people believe that they’re good listeners, while they’re not. There’s a huge difference between hearing the other person talking and actually listening to what they’re saying. When your partner is talking, listen carefully with the intention to understand and not the intention to reply.

By carefully listening to your significant other, you will be able to know them better, know their likes and dislike, and you’ll be able to avoid many fights

4. Love Yourself 

You will not be able to love your partner and build an intimate relationship if you don’t love yourself. You should understand yourself completely so you can know what you can provide and what you want in return. When you’re stressed, unhappy, or unhealthy, you will not be able to give your all in the relationship, and in return, you will not receive what you want. A healthy relationship starts with you. Each one of you should be happy on their own so you can build a strong relationship. To achieve that, you should set a weekly time when you don’t focus on anything but yourself. 

Building a strong intimate relationship may not be an easy task, but it can be easily achieved when you communicate with your partner and understand what each one likes and dislikes. Know your significant other by asking many questions about their lives and create a safe zone where both of you can talk freely without being judged. Your safe zone will allow you to enhance the sexual and emotional intimacy in the relationship as both of you will have a better understanding of what the other person needs. However, you must avoid making assumptions about your partner or the relationship. An assumption could create unnecessary boundaries, which causes many problems.

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Love Affairs

How do you find the partner that’s right for you?

Many people are more than capable of spending time by themselves, but then run into problems when it comes to matters of the heart. And it’s not all that difficult to see why: love and relationships in general can be extremely tricky.

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Photo by Maico Pereira from Unsplash.com

Life can seem to be extremely easy in some ways, extremely difficult in others. Many people are more than capable of spending time by themselves, but then run into problems when it comes to matters of the heart. And it’s not all that difficult to see why: love and relationships in general can be extremely tricky.

Of course, it’s all much easier if you’re with the right person. But how can you find the partner that’s right for you? We’ll take a look at some useful tips below.

Put Yourself Out There

We don’t want to reduce love down to just being about numbers, but it does help. The more people you interact with and date, the more likely it is that you’ll find a person that’s right for you. It’s not realistic to think that the love of your life is just going to walk up to you while you’re in the supermarket. So look at putting yourself out there.

Going on dates, joining clubs, and all-around being a part of the social scene will put you in touch with many different people, one of whom might turn out to be the love of your life.

Figure Out What You Want

Sometimes, we can get into the habit of putting ourselves in a relationship with just anyone who shows an interest. Or perhaps we’re so eager to please that we don’t stop to think about what we really want from a partner. One of the most important steps towards finding the right partner is figuring out what you want. It’ll make the task so much easier.

This approach is multi-layered. First, you should figure out which gender you want to be with; straight and gay mobile chat services can help you to figure this out. From there, it’s about thinking up the values and interests that you admire, and going after people who share the same. This approach will help to narrow the search significantly.

IMAGE SOURCE: PEXELS.COM

Set Your Standards 

It’s generally considered a good thing to be looking for love, but it does have its downsides. For example, it can make it more likely that we’ll settle into something that we’re not entirely happy with. Some people end up with the wrong person because they didn’t know when to call it quits.

In order to prevent yourself from falling into a bad situation, be sure to set your standards. It’s easy to compromise or overlook obvious red flags, but you’ll only regret it further on down the line. 

Get In a Good Place

Finally, perhaps the best way to find a partner that’s perfect for you is to make sure that you’re in a good place. If you’re low in confidence or unhappy, you’ll be more likely to settle for, well, anyone who comes your way.

If you’re feeling secure in who you are, then you’ll be able to take a proactive approach and get what you want in life. It really will make all facets of your life easier.

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‘Playing hard to get’ really works; here’s why

Playing hard to get may work as long as potential partners feel that their efforts are likely to be successful… eventually.

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Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels.com

We tend to like people who like us – a basic human trait that psychologists have termed “reciprocity of attraction.” This principle generally works well to start relationships because it reduces the likelihood of rejection. Yet, making the chase harder also has its upsides. Which one then is the better strategy for finding a partner?

A team of researchers from the University of Rochester and the Israeli-based Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya examined the effects of playing hard to get, a mating strategy that is likely to instill a certain degree of uncertainty. In a new study, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, they show that making the chase harder increased a potential mate’s desirability.

The duo of Gurit Birnbaum, a social psychologist and associate professor of psychology at the IDC Herzliya, and Harry Reis, a professor of psychology and Dean’s Professor in Arts, Sciences & Engineering at the University of Rochester, discovered that immediately reciprocating another person’s interest may not be the smartest strategy for attracting mates.

“People who are too easy to attract may be perceived as more desperate,” says Birnbaum. “That makes them seem less valuable and appealing–than those who do not make their romantic interest apparent right away.”

While playing hard to get is a common strategy used to attract mates, past research has been unclear about whether, and if so, why this strategy works–which this study sought to clear up. Of course, some are reluctant to employ this strategy, worrying that it’ll backfire and drive prospective partners away out of fear of being rejected.

Indeed, in previous research the duo had shown that those who feel greater certainty that a prospective romantic partner reciprocates their interest will put more effort into seeing that person again, while rating the possible date as more sexually attractive than they would if they were less certain about the prospective date’s romantic intentions.

However, in their latest undertaking the team tested tactics across three interrelated studies, which gave the impression that potential partners were hard to get, signaling their “mate value” by being, for example, selective in their partner choices. Participants interacted with what they believed to be another research participant of the opposite-sex, but who was in reality an insider–a member of the research team. Next, participants rated the extent to which they felt the insider was hard to get, their perceptions of the insider’s mate value (e.g., “I perceive the other participant as a valued mate”), and their desire to engage in various sexual activities with the insider.

In study 1, participants interacted with study insiders whose online profile indicated that they were either hard to get or easy to attract. The researchers discovered that participants who interacted with the more selective profile perceived the insider as more valued and therefore more desirable as a partner, compared to participants who interacted with less selective insiders (who seemed easier to attract).

In study 2, the researchers looked at the efforts invested in pursuing a potential partner and whether such efforts would inspire heightened sexual interest. Here participants were led to exert (or not) real efforts to attract the insider during face-to-face interactions. During the experiment, participants engaged in a conversation with another participant (who was in reality a study insider). The experimenter instructed participants and insiders to discuss their preferences in various life situations and presented a list of 10 questions (e.g., “To what extent do you prefer intimate recreation over mass entertainment?”; “To what extent do you like to cuddle with your partner while sleeping?”). The insider expressed a different preference from the participants to seven out of the 10 questions.

Participants in the hard-to-get group were told to try and resolve their disagreements. Using a fixed script, the insiders gradually allowed themselves “to be convinced” by the participants and eventually expressed agreement with the participant’s position. That way, the researchers tried to make participants feel that they had invested efforts and that their efforts were eventually successful.

In the no-effort group, participants were instructed only to express their preferences and explain their point of view without trying to resolve the differences. That way participants didn’t feel that the discussion involved exerting efforts to convince the insider. The team found that not only selectiveness but also efforts invested in the pursuit of a mate rendered potential partners more valuable and sexually desirable than those were little effort was exerted.

In study 3, interactions unfolded spontaneously and were coded for efforts undertaken by participants to see the insider again. Here the researchers examined whether being hard to get would increase not only prospective partners’ sexual desirability but also the efforts devoted to seeing them in the future. To do so, participants conversed with the insider via Instant Messenger in a chat. At the end, participants were asked to leave one final message for the insider.

Next, the research team coded these messages for efforts made to interact again with the insider by counting in each message participants’ expressions of romantic interest and desire for future interaction–for example, complimenting the insider, flirting with him/her, asking him/her for a date. The team found that interacting with prospective partners who were perceived as hard to get not only enhanced their mate value and desirability but was also translated into investment of concrete efforts to see them again.

Findings:

  • A person who is perceived as hard to get is associated with a greater mate value
  • Study participants made greater efforts on/and found more sexually desirable those potential dates they perceived as hard to get
  • Study participants made greater efforts to see those again for whom they had made efforts in the first place

Says Reis, “We all want to date people with higher mate value. We’re trying to make the best deal we can.”

Of course, some may be reluctant to employ this scarcity strategy, worrying that it’ll drive prospective partners away out of fear of being rejected.

Reis acknowledges the strategy doesn’t work for everyone, all the time. “If playing hard to get makes you seem disinterested or arrogant,” he says, “it will backfire.”

So, how then do you reconcile these two approaches – playing hard to get on one hand and removing uncertainty on the other?

Show initial interest in potential partners so as not to alienate them, advises Birnbaum. Yet, don’t reveal too much about yourself. People are “less likely to desire what they already have,” she explains. Instead, build a connection with a potential partner gradually, thereby creating “a sense of anticipation and a desire to learn more about the other person.”

Playing hard to get may work as long as potential partners feel that their efforts are likely to be successful… eventually.

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