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Love Affairs

Jheq and Mike: Love knows no distance

Jheq Bacsal and Michael Ellis first “met” via the former’s Google+ post. But after that chance encounter, the two fell for each other and are now making plans to live as a happy couple in the Philippines, where Michael (an American) is finding happiness with both Jheq and a growing love for the Philippines.

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All about loveJheq Bacsal and Michael Ellis first “met” randomly, from half way across the world (8,400 miles between the Philippines and Chicago, Illinois in the US) from a Google+ post.

“It’s super amazing! It all started way back on June 26, 2013, when I randomly posted something on my Google+ wall. I was trying to create a blog about it too to tell everyone how fascinating my story was. It looks like it just came out of a love story book,” Jheq recalled.

Michael then visited the Philippines from Chicago after that first chat.

“After that chance encounter, we got engaged and busy planning our future dreams. Primarily, finding a way to live here in South Luzon as a married couple,” Mike said.

Jheq admits to immediately starting to like Michael and love him since that first day they chatted.

“We talked about a lot of personal stuff and really got to know each other. It’s not really hard to love a man like him. He’s so accepting, understanding and loving. All my flaws were invisible in his eyes. As we always say, ‘blinded by love’,” Jheq said.

For Michael, his first visit not only made him realize his love for Jheq, but as well as for the Philippines in general.

“After staying with my fiance, and being treated like a member of a loving family, not to mention the attitude and hospitality of the Filipino people, I know this is my place in the world and plan to move here permanently before the end of this year, perhaps working towards a small business with Jheq,” he said.

Michael admitted that “many challenges face us, but its truly an exciting time. Our love gives us faith, and somehow we’ll make it.”

After being engaged, Jheq and Michael now acknowledge the real struggles of being a same-sex couple in the Philippines.

“The biggest challenge that we are facing right now is the fact that gay marriage is not legal here in the Philippines. Yes there are priest or lawyers who conduct LGBT marriages, but it won’t be recognized anywhere legally. We are already engaged and have the blessings from our parents, but we must still live with the fear of not being recognized by the place we want to live in. Gay marriage is making breakthroughs all over the world, including the US,” Jheq said, adding that “the Filipino people are one of the most accepting of LGBT people in the world. It’s only natural to make it legally recognized here.”

For Michael, “Jheq and I wish to become active in the fight for LGBT legal recognition in the Philippines. Marriage was made for people like us. Something truly out of a story book. We so much deserve to make our own fairy tale, as anyone who falls in love.”

Despite the current challenges faced by their loving relationship, Jheq and Michael both mutually see the mutual growth that they have shared since they met.

Michael has struggled through two heterosexual marriages before finding Jheq. “Not understanding my sexuality due to lack of education and ignorance from the loved ones who raised me. This is often the case with people such as me who remain closeted for so long. With God’s help and Jheq’s love, I finally feel comfortable, open and proud of who I am,” he said.

Aside from being able to practice his English, Jheq added that “the best thing is that I am not afraid of what other people think about us. I learned to accept myself, not hesitate and became a more positive person. Both of us are really proud of what we have right now that makes me more confident to tell everyone about my story. Having him in my life made me take care of myself more. I quit smoking and drink less alcohol like my partner. Living healthy is what we both look forward to so we can grow old together. The most important thing though is that I am happy everyday and treat everyday as a blessing from God.”

Jheq and Michael plan to get married soon and establish a business in the Philippines like a photo booth since Michael is a photographer and has the basic starting equipment, and also maintain a US based business.

“We like to have a business here in Philippines so he can have his working visa. If not, he will look for a job here in Philippines so he can stay here with me. He wants to live in the Philippines, and that is something that we need help with. He likes it here more than the US. He had a wonderful time here and do not want to live as a tourist anymore. Yes we can earn more money in US, but he would like to stay in an environment where everyone is happy and live with my family. He is actually staying at our house and it was my Dad who initiated it, instead of him looking for an apartment,” Jheq said.

Jheq and Michael now want to be a part of the LGBT advocacy in the Philippines and be a good example to highlight that gender and distance are never issues to find true love.

“Love really is just love. It has nothing to do with shape, size, or gender. We are all part of the human condition, sharing ups and downs. And not least of which, looking for that special someone,” Michael ended.

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

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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Love Affairs

5 Top tips for a fantastic anniversary with your partner

From thinking of the small details to planning a grand gesture, here are some top tips to ensure that both you and your partner have an enjoyable anniversary that will rival your big day itself.

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Whether you love the thought of celebrating your anniversary or are dreading the attention, there are many ways that you can enjoy your special day and ensure that it is an unforgettable occasion. From thinking of the small details to planning a grand gesture, here are some top tips to ensure that both you and your partner have an enjoyable anniversary that will rival your big day itself. 

1. Get Your Loved One a Romantic Gift 

Gift-giving can be difficult at the best of times, especially if you feel that you are running out of unique presents to give your partner between birthdays and the holiday season. When you are planning your anniversary gift, it is the thought that counts rather than the price tag, and some of the best presents are those that can keep the romance going on your anniversary and beyond. For instance, Scent Magic offers a cologne subscription box that can make your partner feel loved every month of the year, and that can spruce up your date nights. You should also pair this gift with a beautiful card that contains a personal message affirming your love for them and your hopes for the future.

2. Choose a Romantic Anniversary Event 

Whether you are planning a big do or are simply trying to find a personal way to say, ‘thank you’, finding a celebration that is perfect for your relationship is important. One of the best ideas is returning to the place that you first met, trying something different, or traveling to a location, such as a restaurant or a bar, that you both loves. If you want to travel further afield to enjoy your anniversary away from the chaos of everyday life, why not plan to go on a vacation for your special occasion? Taking some time off work to spend together can help to cement your love and can allow you to remember what you originally saw in one another.

3. Celebrate with Family and Friends 

However, family and friends are an integral part of your relationship, and even the strongest couple will have needed their support throughout their partnership. Then, if possible, you should try to get your family and friends involved and show them that they are appreciated. You can do this by planning an anniversary party with an extensive guest list, or even just by hosting a meal at your favorite restaurant. 

4. Consider Staying In 

For all the fireworks and splashy, Instagram-worthy events that many couples decide upon, there is also something special about staying in for your anniversary and spending your day in absolute comfort. There is no reason why staying in cannot be perfect, though, and re-watching your wedding video or even cooking a candle-lit dinner can help to make the occasion stand out. 

5. Discuss the Occasion with Your Partner

Whatever you do, it is paramount that you can discuss the occasion with your partner. There is no point in simply planning something that you will enjoy or deciding to throw them a huge surprise if they are not likely to enjoy it. Then, you must sit down before your big day and discuss what you would both like to do for your anniversary until you reach a compromise that suits both of you.

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Lifestyle & Culture

How to choose a dating site that works for you

There are hundreds of sites to choose from and millions of people using them from all around the world. So, how do you choose the right dating site for you?

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Online dating can be a really easy and fun way to meet new singles and put yourself in with a chance of finding a great relationship. Today, online dating is one of the most popular ways to meet somebody new, and every year thousands of partners meet online. Whatever kind of relationship you’re looking for and no matter what stage you’re at in your life, online dating can be a great way to find what you want. However, online dating can also be quite overwhelming.

There are hundreds of sites to choose from and millions of people using them from all around the world. So, how do you choose the right dating site for you?

Be Clear on What You’re Looking For

Knowing what you’re looking for in a relationship before you get started will make it easier for you to find the right dating site for your needs. If you’re not sure what you want, this #1 trusted dating site in San Jose ticks all the boxes and offers a wide range of features to suit everybody. Whether you’re looking for a casual fling or want to eventually get married, find a site that caters to those needs and is likely to attract people who are looking for the same thing as you are. 

Consider Your Location

It’s a good idea to consider your area when choosing a dating site. The last thing that you want is to end up signing up to and potentially paying for a site that isn’t very popular with singles in your area. If you’re not sure then it’s a good idea to sign up to a site that’s popular in many different areas so that you can be sure you will meet local singles. You can sign up for Meetville here: https://meetville.com/catalog/us/ca/95631/woman

Check the Reputation

Don’t waste your money on a dating site that doesn’t have a good reputation. Before choosing the right site for you, take some time to research your options and find one that is well-known for bringing successful couples together. There are some other important considerations to make, too, such as the level of security on the site and how seriously any untoward messages or abuse towards members is taken. 

Try it Out

The good news is that many good dating sites and apps offer a free version or a limited free trial that you can take advantage of before you decide to commit to paying. Sign up for as many free trials as you can find so that you’ve got a good chance of finding a site or a couple of sites that work better for you than others. Remember, if you find a few different dating sites that you like there’s nothing wrong with using a few different once at the same time to get even more matches. 

The world of online dating can be a fun way to meet new people when you’re single and potentially find your perfect partner. Keep these tips in mind and find a dating site that works well for you. 

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Love Affairs

Interesting things to know about open relationships

Open relationships are becoming commonplace that even the elite in the entertainment business are opening up to what they believe in. Whatever makes the other party happy, that’s what we’ll roll with. That has been the motto of modern relationships.

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Gone are the days when everyone believed that relationships were between males and females. Well, you can thank the traditional upbringing for that. Today, you have relationships that to a naive eye, can seem kind of weird. But let’s face it, it’s not about what they think about you but it has everything to do with what makes you happy. You have all these types of relationships and to be honest, there has never been a better time like this day and age where you’ll never have to hide your sexuality. 

Open relationships are becoming commonplace that even the elite in the entertainment business are opening up to what they believe in. Whatever makes the other party happy, that’s what we’ll roll with. That has been the motto of modern relationships. 

What’s An Open Relationship

Whether you are gaslighting or bread crumbing, an open relationship could open you up to possibilities that you’ve never experienced before. But then again, you’ll still want to be careful about your safety by using protection whenever you are engaging in sexual activities with strange characters. 

An open relationship is one where a couple mutually agrees to involve and engage with other partners either sexually and/or romantically. Some of the reasons to get involved in an open relationship include:

  • Unparalleled libidos between you and your partner
  • The desire to have more sex
  • Exploring sexual fantasies
  • There’s lots of love to go around 

Enough said, here are interesting things that you need to know about an open relationship. They include: 

1. More Spice In Your Love Life 

Do you desire more intimacy, love, romance, and more orgasms? This shouldn’t be a question but a confirmation of what your love needs to be like. Unfortunately, the intimacy in your bedroom can become stale due to dwindling sex drive, time, or the fact that you’ve grown out of love with your partner. It’s time to get back your intimacy and spice your once romantic relationship by getting a partner with whom you can break that boredom. Having another partner can help you – as a couple – act out all those cuckold fantasies that you’ve always locked deep inside.

An open relationship could be the gateway through which you can revamp your sex life. But as earlier mentioned, ensure that you practice safe sexual interactions and it’s also wise to mention this to your partner. 

2. Honesty And Open-mindedness

Just like in any other relationship, honesty is an important pillar to help strengthen and grow your relationship. You should be honest with your partner – the one you are in a relationship with – especially before you decide to introduce the element of an open relationship. To avoid the aspect of cheating and ruin your existing bond, communicate early enough with your partner, and present them with all the info you might think is necessary. Equally, be open-minded if they don’t share your enthusiasm or your line of thinking. After all, open relationships aren’t for everyone.

3. It’s Not The Solution

An open relationship has its many perks such as spicing up your relationship, sharing love, and helping in communication. Be it as it may, an open relationship is not the solution to the many issues ailing your relationship. Spicing up your marriage by bringing in the extra partner will only spice things up but this should not be used to correct all those mistakes from the past. Instead, you may consider going to sex therapy or talk it out with your partner to get things straightened out. 

4. Get Ready To Be Jealous

Jealousy and fear are all-natural and understandable human emotions. On date nights, your partner could be going on a date that can probably end up in hot steamy sessions of lovemaking in the shower. It’s okay for you to be jealous of them. But then again, think of them having fun. The best thing is to communicate your feelings openly before they get the best of you. 

An open relationship can be great when done right. While you are at it, its imperative to always practice safe sex to prevent and protect yourself and your partner from infections and unwanted pregnancies. If you think you are up for it, have a sit down with your partner and come up with ground rules. It’s about time you brought your sexy back!

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Love Affairs

Small towns have highest risk of intimate partner violence

“We tend to think in a continuum from urban to suburban to rural, but for intimate partner violence, it’s actually the suburban areas that are the safest, and small towns that have the highest risk.”

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Photo by Sydney Sims from Unsplash.com

Despite common perceptions that big cities have more violence, women living in small towns are most at risk of violence from current or former spouses and partners, according to a recent study by Washington State University criminologist Kathryn DuBois.

For the study, published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, DuBois analyzed the responses of more than 570,000 women from the National Crime Victimization Survey from 1994 to 2015. She found that women from small towns were 27% more likely to be victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) than women from the center of big cities and 42% more likely than suburban women.

“In criminology, we often have this urban bias. We assume big cities are the worst and paint other places as idyllic,” said DuBois, associate professor at WSU Vancouver. “We tend to think in a continuum from urban to suburban to rural, but for intimate partner violence, it’s actually the suburban areas that are the safest, and small towns that have the highest risk.”

The National Crime Victimization Survey collects information through a large sample of interviews about a range of personal crimes committed every year. Part of the intent of the survey is to uncover the “dark figure” of crime, DuBois said, those crimes that may not be reported to police.

While the survey defines many locations as simply urban or rural, DuBois analyzed the data by population density to delineate urban, suburban, small town and rural areas. Small towns were defined as urbanized portions of non-metropolitan counties with populations up to 50,000. They are distinct from suburban areas that exist just outside of big cities.

“Many surveys assume that everyone in those nonmetropolitan counties are the same, but there’s a lot more heterogeneity across them,” Dubois said.

DuBois originally undertook the study to try and reconcile the inconsistency between national surveys, which typically find rural areas have less or similar rates of IPV to urban areas – and ethnographic research, in-depth qualitative studies that have indicated that rural isolation can exacerbate gender-based violence.

Many community members held the view that relationships between LGBTQIA people could avoid the inherent sexism and patriarchal values of heterosexual, cisgender relationships, and, by implication, avoid DFV/IPV.

While the study data cannot reveal the reasons behind the violence, the finding about the high rate of IPV in small towns indicates that there may be a different set of factors at play, DuBois said.

“Small towns have populations large enough to have the difficult problems of a big city, while at the same time these are some of the hardest hit areas economically, so they don’t have specialized services and policing needed to deal with family violence,” DuBois said.

IPV is also a big issue in the LGBTQIA community, even if this doesn’t particularly get as much attention.

In June 2020, for instance, a study found that domestic and family violence (DFV) and IPV were perceived by community members and professional stakeholders to be a “heterosexual issue that did not easily apply to LGBTQIA relationships.” In particular, many community members held the view that relationships between LGBTQIA people could avoid the inherent sexism and patriarchal values of heterosexual, cisgender relationships, and, by implication, avoid DFV/IPV.

Earlier, in July 2018, another study noted that abuse among gay couples stems from stress factors that also apply to heterosexual couples, such as money issues, unemployment, and drug abuse. However, gay couples are said to face additional stress from internalized homophobia, which may also contribute to IPV.

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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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Photo by @thoughtcatalog from Unsplash.com

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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