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LOVE AFFAIRS

Justin and Art: Sharing LGBT love to the world

When Justin Francis Bionat met Art Leonil Defensor in 2014 via a dating app, things didn’t get off. But the following year, when they finally decided to try again, they’re proving that “love is sweeter the second time around,” Justin said. And now, after over a year of being together, they’ve become partners, so that their worlds – even if disparate – now blend.

ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF Justin Francis Bionat

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Justin Francis Bionat “met” Art Leonil Defensor in October 2014, via a dating app. “I was still going to school at University of San Carlo in Cebu City, and he was a student of West Visayas State University in Iloilo City,” recalled Justin.

One time, when Justin went back to Iloilo (where his family’s home is), they decided to meet in a computer shop. But “that first time didn’t work out because I obviously had to go back to Cebu City (for my schooling), and I also already had a boyfriend at that time.”

Art can also vividly recall that moment when they first physically met. “Well, in my part, I’ve been in love with him since the day he started chatting with me,” he smiled. “It may sound weird but that’s what I really feel. This feeling (was there on that) day I met him.”

It is perhaps not surprising that in hindsight, even considering going out on a date just to break the other person’s heart by telling him that one’s already in a relationship is a sore issue for Justin. “When he found out that I had a boyfriend and it broke his heart… that’s probably my biggest mistake,” he said.

But Justin returned to Iloilo in April 2015, and – dividing his time between Cebu and Iloilo – even started going to school in West Visayas State University. Art was a dance student while Justin was a political science student, and “since our school isn’t really that big, I got to see him a lot. His friends knew about our ‘love story’, and they teased us, doing the teasing in hallways, in the nearby restaurants where I had lunch and even when I passed by their classrooms. I didn’t mind, though I just walked faster,” Justin said.

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Pass forward almost a year later, when the two chatted again on February 2, 2016. By this time, Justin already settled in Iloilo City after deciding not to pursue his education in Cebu City. He saw Art carrying flowers in Jaro Plaza; and that night, the chatting happened. “I guess that’s when we decided to give it a try one more time,” Justin said, adding with a smile: “They say that love is sweeter the second time around. I guess we just knew we were in love… I know I was.”



Now, after over a year of being together, Justin can say that “the best thing in our relationship is that we act both as each other’s partner/significant other/boyfriend, but also each other’s best friend. We welcome each other’s support and criticisms. I’m an overly active LGBT rights advocate and he is a dancer… we have our own worlds but we try to make sure that we get to be part of the other’s endeavors.”

More particularly, “I watch each and every performance he has, and he supports me during my events or speaking engagements,” Justin beamed.

Their lives have also started to “blend”. For instance, in December 2016, during the Pantatan Festival in Zarraga, a municipality in Iloilo, Art joined a talent competition and he danced with his friends. “What made it special was that he choreographed a dance that was LGBT-themed,” Justin recalled. “They won 1st runner up; I was the loudest clap in the audience, and I was so proud of him. I – of course – lent my favorite rainbow flag to them.”

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Largely because both are in the LGBT advocacy in Iloilo City, “we don’t really get discriminated… maybe because we are both empowered,” Justin said.

He admitted, nonetheless, that “it took a long time before his family and my family accepted us as a couple. I guess that was our biggest challenge: We wanted our families to be part of our relationship and not keep our love hidden. But I guess since we’re both advocacy-minded, we face (this challenge). We insisted and persisted; and we enjoy fighting for our rights, especially our right to love.”

This finding of someone to share one’s life with is something that the couple savors.

“I love everything about him,” Art said. “I have Justin in my life, and it’s all I really want – to have a guy like him. A guy who can accept my flaws. A guy who loves to cuddle with me every day. A guy who always understands me. A guy who keeps me always safe every day. And a guy who I don’t want to lose in my life because with him, I have the best of everything. I’m still in love with every piece of him…”

“Every single day I get to bring him to Jaro Plaza, where he rides a jeepney to Zarrage, his home town (located an hour away from Jaro). I can’t bring him home all the way every day, but at least I get to bring him to Jaro everyday… where I saw him with flowers, which started our relationship again.”

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And even as Justin and Art continue to relish what they have, they also happily share this to the world, particularly via their LGBT advocacy, providing a face of – yes – young love in the LGBT community. But much like other couples (hetero or LGBT), “I guess it is normal to dream of one day building a family together and even get married,” Justin said, adding with a laugh that “of course we plan to graduate from the university first.”

As for Art, the goal is to “conquer life together and to settle as a happy family.”

Exactly not unlike everyone’s goal when finding love…


"If someone asked you about me, about what I do for a living, it's to 'weave words'," says Kiki Tan, who has been a writer "for as long as I care to remember." With this, this one writes about... anything and everything.

LOVE AFFAIRS

Despite what you might think, sexting isn’t just about sex – research

Some people use sexting as foreplay for sexual behaviors later on; some sext for the relationship reassurance they receive from their partner; and some sext as a favor.

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Photo by Clique Images from Unsplash.com

Let’s talk about sext.

Sexting is extremely common among adults – but maybe not for the reasons you think.

New research from the Sexuality, Sexual Health & Sexual Behavior Lab in the Texas Tech University Department of Psychological Sciences shows that two-thirds of people who sext do so for non-sexual reasons.

In an analysis of the reasons people engage in sexting with their relationship partner, assistant professor Joseph M. Currin and doctoral student Kassidy Cox confirmed three main motivations found in previous research:

  • Some people use sexting as foreplay for sexual behaviors later on;
  • Some sext for the relationship reassurance they receive from their partner; and
  • Some sext their partner as a favor, with the expectation the favor will be returned later in a non-sexual way (such as a dinner date).

When they began the research, Currin and Cox were curious to see if one of these motivations was the most prevalent. Using data gathered online from 160 participants, ranging in age from 18-69, they performed a latent class analysis measuring sexting motivations, relationship attachments and sexual behaviors. To their surprise, they discovered three nearly equal clusters, suggesting no motivation is more common than another.

“It was intriguing that two-thirds of the individuals who engaged in sexting did so for non-sexual purposes,” Cox said. “This may actually be demonstrating some individuals engage in sexting, but would prefer not to, but do so as a means to either gain affirmation about their relationship, relieve anxiety or get something tangible – non-sexual – in return.”

Sexting is extremely common among adults – but maybe not for the reasons you think.
Photo by Leon Seibert from Unsplash.com

Also surprising to the researchers was there were no significant differences in motivation based on sexual orientation, gender or age.

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“This study highlighted the main reasons to date that individuals are motivated to sext, and it actually normalizes all three types of motivations,” said Cox.

“As it is becoming a more accepted method of communicating one’s sexual desires, we wanted to highlight how adults utilize this behavior in their relationships,” Currin added. “This tells us that sexting among adults is an evolution of how we have communicated our sexual desires to our partners in the past. People used to write love poems and steamy letters, then when photography became more common place, couples used to take boudoir photos for each other.”

Currin and Cox noted that their research focused on sexting between current partners in consensual relationships only.

“As with any sexual behavior, it is important and necessary to have consent to engage in sexting,” Currin said. “Individuals who send unsolicited sext messages – such as images of their genitalia – are not actually engaging in sexting; they are sexually harassing the recipient.”

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LOVE AFFAIRS

Kindness is a top priority in a long-term partner – study

22-26% of attention is given on kindness, though other qualities considered include physical attractiveness and good financial prospects. Traits like creativity and chastity received less than 10% of attention.

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Photo by Isabella Mariana from Unsplash.com

One of the top qualities that we look for in a long-term partner is kindness, according to new research by Swansea University.

In a paper published by the Journal of Personality, researchers had over 2,700 college students from across the globe build themselves an ideal lifelong partner by using a fixed budget to “buy” characteristics.

While traits like physical attractiveness and financial prospects were important, the one that was given the highest priority was kindness.

The study compared the dating preferences of students from Eastern countries, for example Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, and Western countries such as the UK, Norway and Australia.

Students were given eight attributes they could spend “mate dollars” on: physical attractiveness, good financial prospects, kindness, humour, chastity, religiosity, the desire for children, and creativity.

While there were some differences in behaviour between Eastern and Western students – there were also some remarkable similarities.

People typically spent 22-26% of their total budget on kindness, and large parts of their budget on physical attractiveness and good financial prospects, while traits like creativity and chastity received less than 10%.

The research team also found some interesting sex differences – both Eastern and Western men allocated more of their budget to physical attractiveness than women (22% vs 16%) while women allocated more to good financial prospects than men (18% vs 12%).

The principle researcher, Dr Andrew G. Thomas, believes that studying mate preferences across cultures is important for understanding human behaviour.

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“Looking at very different culture groups allows us to test the idea that some behaviours are human universals.

“If men and women act in a similar way across the globe, then this adds weight to the idea that some behaviours develop in spite of culture rather than because of it.”

The results also showed a difference in a partner’s desire for children, which was a priority only for Western women.

“We think this may have something to do with family planning,” said Thomas. “In cultures where contraception is widespread, a partner’s desire for children may predict the likelihood of starting a family.

“In contrast, in cultures where contraception use is less widespread, having children may be a natural consequence of sex within a relationship, making actual desire for children less relevant.”

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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.”

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LOVE AFFAIRS

Bad break-ups may not trigger weight gain from emotional eating

It has been well documented that people sometimes use food as a way to cope with negative feelings and that emotional eating can lead to unhealthy food choices. A study says this isn’t really true.

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Photo from Pixabay.com

That pint of ice cream after a nasty breakup may not do as much damage as you think. Despite the emotional turmoil, people on average do not report gaining weight after a relationship dissolution, according to new research.

The study, which included researchers from Penn State, were investigating the German concept of “kummerspeck” — excess weight gain due to emotional eating — which literally translates to “grief bacon.”

Marissa Harrison, associate professor of psychology at Penn State Harrisburg, said that while hoarding food after a breakup may have made sense for humans thousands of years ago, modern humans may have grown out of the habit.

“Food was much scarcer in the ancestral environment, so if your partner abandoned you, it could have made gathering food much harder,” Harrison said. “It may have made sense if our ancestors hoarded food after a breakup. But our research showed that while it’s possible people may drown their sorrows in ice cream for a day or two, modern humans do not tend to gain weight after a breakup.”

According to the researchers, it has been well documented that people sometimes use food as a way to cope with negative feelings and that emotional eating can lead to unhealthy food choices. Because breakups can be stressful and emotional, it could potentially trigger emotional eating.

Additionally, ancient relationship dynamics may have made packing on the pounds after a breakup evolutionary advantageous.

“Modern women of course have jobs and access to resources now, but back then, it was likely that women were smaller and needed more protection and help with resources,” Harrison said. “If their partner left or abandoned them, they would be in trouble. And the same could have gone for men. With food not as plentiful in the ancestral world, it may have made sense for people to gorge to pack on the pounds.”

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Harrison also noted that the existence of the word “kummerspeck” itself suggested that the phenomenon existed.

The researchers completed two studies to test the theory that people may be more likely to gain weight after a relationship breakup. In the first one, the researchers recruited 581 people to complete an online survey about whether they had recently gone through a breakup and whether they gained or lost weight within a year of that breakup.

Most of the participants — 62.7 percent — reported no weight change. According to Harrison, she and the other researchers were surprised by this result and decided to perform an additional study.

For the second study, the researchers recruited 261 new participants to take a different, more extensive survey than the one used in the first study. The new survey asked whether participants had ever experienced the dissolution of a long-term relationship, and whether they gained or lost weight as a result. The survey also asked about participants’ attitudes toward their ex-partner, how committed the relationship was, who initiated the breakup, whether the participants tended to eat emotionally, and how much participants enjoy food in general.

While all participants reported experiencing a break up at some point in their lives, the majority of participants — 65.13 percent — reported no change in weight after relationship dissolution.

“We were surprised that in both studies, which included large community samples, we found no evidence of ‘kummerspeck’,” Harrison said. “The only thing we found was in the second study, women who already had a proclivity for emotional eating did gain weight after a relationship breakup. But it wasn’t common.”

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Harrison added that the results — recently published in the Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium — may have clinical implications.

“It could be helpful information for clinicians or counselors with patients who tend to eat emotionally,” Harrison said. “If your client is going through a breakup and already engages in emotional eating, this may be a time where they need some extra support.”

Victoria Warner, a Penn State Harrisburg graduate student, was the lead author of this study. Samantha Horn from Penn State Harrisburg and Susan Hughes from Albright College also participated in this work.

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LOVE AFFAIRS

Be fierce, not forlorn: Bouncing back from a bad breakup

You don’t have to feign a complete recovery. If you need time to mourn, even a really crappy relationship, then give yourself time to do it. You have your own pace, so long as you’re working at it, you’re on the way to a healthier future and a wiser, more confident view of future relationships, too.

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Photo by @thoughtcatalog from Unsplash.com

We’ve all been there. Whether it’s the sudden end to a seemingly perfect relationship, the long untangling of a messy pairing doomed to fail, or the righteous indignation that comes after infidelity, breakups can hit hard. Worst of all, they can hurt you in ways that can take a long time to heal without the right self-care.

If an ex seemingly won’t let you move on, then you need to be firm, stand your ground, and cut your ties, even if you didn’t want the relationship to end in the first place.
Photo from Pixabay.com

Here, we’re going to look at ways you can make sure you’re not stuck wallowing and get back to the you that you want to be.

Cut the cord

“We can still be friends.” It’s something many of us will say or hear after a painful breakup and it’s almost always a bad idea. If an ex seemingly won’t let you move on, then you need to be firm, stand your ground, and cut your ties, even if you didn’t want the relationship to end in the first place. You’re not going to be able to move on if you’re still spending time and energy on maintaining some sort of relationship after the breakup.

Say “Bye, Felicia”

Every relationship needs some closure for us to be able to focus our energies elsewhere. Rarely do you get that closure in the breakup. The suddenness of it, the emotionality of it all, can make it hard to actually reflect on it. That’s why you should, instead, consider writing a letter to your ex. Take the time to put your thoughts in place, think about all the things you wanted to say, and say them. Then burn it. What’s important is that you got the chance to say them, not whatever they might have thought when hearing them.

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Work on yourself

It’s all “me, myself, and I” after a breakup. Surrounding yourself with friends, family, and your positive support group can be helpful, but proactively spending time on yourself in a way you may have been unable to can be greatly rewarding. Getting into some new workouts, chasing a professional goal, or simply updating your style can help you refocus your efforts somewhere other than a relationship. Achieving something for you and yourself alone will give you plenty more reasons to be confident again.

Date yourself, too

Want to see if you still got it or simply want a little fun after getting out of a heavy relationship? Fine. However, following a breakup with another immediate attempt to start a relationship rarely goes well. Spend time on self-care, on friendships around you, and on indulging a little in ways you haven’t been able to. Take some time to yourself and give the scars of the relationship some time to heal so that they don’t sabotage your future potential for happiness.

You don’t have to feign a complete recovery. If you need time to mourn, even a really crappy relationship, then give yourself time to do it. You have your own pace, so long as you’re working at it, you’re on the way to a healthier future and a wiser, more confident view of future relationships, too.


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Love Guides

How you can add fresh excitement to your relationship

It is important that you take the state of your physical relationship into consideration, as letting things slide in this department can result in other areas and aspects of your relationship being affected.

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When it comes to relationships, it can be very difficult to keep things magical and fresh all the time. While your physical relationship may have been really exciting to begin with, once you have other commitments to think about, things can start to slide. Most people are busy with commitments such as work, family, and financial worries, which can all take their toll on your physical relationship.

It is important that you take the state of your physical relationship into consideration, as letting things slide in this department can result in other areas and aspects of your relationship being affected. The good news is that there are simple methods you can use to add fresh excitement to your love life, and if you are open-minded you can have great fun at the same time. In this article, we will look at some of these methods.

Methods You Can Use

Are you and your partner open-minded and up for some adventure and excitement in the bedroom? If so, using adult toys could be the perfect way to try new and exciting experiences together. You may be one of those people who has never used these products before, and you may find yourself wondering ‘what are anal beads?’ and other products you are unfamiliar with. Well, the good news is that there are so many adult toy products available these days, you are certain to find something that you and your partner can experiment with in the bedroom.

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Another thing that the two of you may find exciting and thrilling is to act out your fantasies in the bedroom. Just because your partner has never mentioned anything about fantasies to you before, this doesn’t mean they don’t have any.

Likewise, you may harbor your own fantasies but have never mentioned them to your partner. Well, now is the time to stop being coy and communicate with your partner about your fantasies. You can then enjoy reliving these in the bedroom by dressing up sexily, creating scenarios, and more.

There are couples who feel far more at ease when they are not at home, such as while away on vacation. Well, you can’t go on a vacation every time you want to get intimate. However, one thing you can do is book a couple of nights away somewhere from time to time so you can get away from it all, feel less stress, and feel more relaxed. You can enjoy spending some quality time together by doing this, and you can use some of that time to get things moving in the bedroom department.

Making an Effort Makes a Difference

When you make this type of effort and open up your mind, you can both look forward to exciting new experiences as well as a more satisfying physical relationship. This is something that can then have a positive impact on your overall relationship so it is well worth making time to work on your love life. 

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