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Sex during the COVID-19 outbreak

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

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Photo by Cyrus Crossan from Unsplash.com

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

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

Is COVID-19 transmissible during sexual intercourse?

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

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

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

How is COVID-19 transmitted?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what now?

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

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

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

Love Affairs

Countries with most, least cheaters identified

Wanna know which countries have the most – and least – cheaters, and who they cheat with? Here’s a rundown.

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From sports legends to royal members and the average Joes, many people have been caught cheating in relationships. But instead of packing your bags and going to live with your parents, why not hop on a plane and move to the county with the least amount of infidelities? 

With that in mind, the experts at the online marketplace OnBuy.com sought to find out which countries had the most and least cheaters. To find out, they surveyed 30,000 people from 30 different countries around the globe to see how many respondents admitted to cheating on their partners. 

OnBuy.com was also curious to see who the person a cheater is most likely to cheat with in each country. 

Countries with most cheaters?

The US came on to among the countries with the most cheater with 71% of all respondents saying they have cheated at least once in their relationships. But who do Americans cheat with the most? The study revealed that the partner in crime of choice for most people in the US, when it comes to cheating, is the ex-partner.

In second place among the countries with the most cheaters is Germany, where 68% of people admitted to cheating on their partners at least once. When it comes to the person most Germans cheat with, friends topped the list.

The third country with the most cheaters is the UK, where 66% of British respondents admitted to cheating… also mostly with a friend.

Some people prefer one-night stands with strangers. In fact, most respondents from Thailand, France, Russia and Australia said they’ve slept with a stranger behind their partners’ backs. 

Countries with least cheaters? 

Not all apples are bad, but sometimes you need to travel far to find a good one.

Iceland topped the list of countries with least cheaters, with only 9% of the Icelandic respondents admitted to cheating; most did so with an ex-partner. 

Greenland is the second least cheating country with only 12% of people saying they’ve ever cheated. Friends topped the list of cheating partners.

The third country with the least number of cheaters is Ireland, where 15% of Celts said they did the dirty on their partners. Those who cheated did so with their ex-partners.

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How to have an intimate wedding

If you are having to rethink your wedding this year, or have always been attracted to the idea of a small and intimate wedding, here are some tips to help you pull it off.

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Unfortunately 2020 has meant that many couples have had to rearrange their original nuptial plans or cancel them altogether. For those that had been dreaming of their big days for months or even years, this was a devastating blow. While this kind of disappointment can be heart-breaking, changing big wedding plans to something more intimate does have its perks, and some couples would prefer this kind of celebration altogether. 

If you are having to rethink your wedding this year, or have always been attracted to the idea of a small and intimate wedding, here are some tips to help you pull it off.

Limit the Guest List

Deciding who to invite to your wedding can be one of the harder parts of the planning process. Of course, every bride and groom want their immediate family members present, as well as their closest friends, but then you need to think about aunties, uncles, cousins, colleagues, etc. Although you might be worried about offending people if you want an intimate wedding you need to cut the extended family members and colleagues from the list. Only those you have a close relationship with should be present at your wedding.

Choose a Personal Venue

Grand manor houses and fancy hotel ballrooms are all great options for wedding venues, but they don’t exactly scream ‘intimate’. If you want your wedding to feel truly personal to you and your partner, choose somewhere that means something to you both. Where did you go on your first date? Is there a cute B&B where you spent your first weekend away together? You could even get married at a family home in the gardens if you wanted to, and you could hire bartenders from a company such as eventbartenders.com and caterers, too.

Handmade Décor

For further personal touches to your intimate wedding (and to help you save some pennies!) consider handmaking some decorations for the special day. Simple candles and flowers always make gorgeous centerpieces for the tables, and you could spruce up a plain notebook or photo album to transform it into a pretty guestbook, or fill mason jars with twinkly lights and petals for some elegant, rustic lighting. It might take a little more effort on your part, but with the help of some friends and family, you can create pretty, unique decorations that will add to the romantic atmosphere.

Menu

A menu of simple yet delicious dishes is perfect for keeping things low-key on your big day. Italian cuisine is always popular and a great crowd-pleaser if you are opting for a sit-down meal rather than a buffet. If you want more of a festival vibe for your wedding, which seems to be a growing trend, hire a few different food trucks for your wedding instead, and give your guests a choice. 

Consider a Registry Office

If you want to save money and keep things small, marry at a registry office and head to a bar or restaurant for your reception. It might not sound very grand, but this is perfect for intimate weddings and allows couples to relax a little more on their big day. 

For the perfect intimate wedding, think about the points above and whether they could work for you.

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Love Affairs

Safety precautions to take on your first date

So, how do you stay safe when going out with someone for the first time? Here are some tips.

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We all have a perfect sequence of events lined up in our minds when going on a date. You definitely want to be sure you have made the right choice, but you also want your first date to be a memorable one for the right reasons. Unfortunately, dates can be a nightmare. Apart from dealing with an obnoxious or rude date, reports of date rape have risen by 450% since 2016. This means that without taking the right safety precautions, you may end up being assaulted or worse.

IMAGE SOURCE: PEXELS.COM

So, how do you stay safe when going out with someone for the first time? Here are some tips.

1. Keep your friends and family informed

No matter how much you trust your date companion, it is best to keep your friends, family, and loved ones in the loop about where you’re planning to go and when. Ensure that they have necessary details like the location, contact number, name of your date, and the day and time of your date. If you make any sudden changes concerning your planned date location, let your loved ones know immediately. Also, ensure that your smartphone’s location services are always on.

2. Meet in a public place

First of all, pick your preferred location and ensure that it is in a public place. Also, make sure that your preferred location is as close to your home as possible. You may want to choose a romantic restaurant that meets your fancy, but it might not be the best option if it is too far away from home. Instead, you can go to a local restaurant, a cafe, or a park close to home. If you’re meeting someone for the first time, please avoid following them to their homes immediately. It would help if you also took time to research social distance date ideas to protect yourself during this pandemic. 

3. Provide your transportation 

It feels romantic to have someone pick you up right from home, open the doors for you, and hand you a rose. But that can wait for now, as your safety is the most important thing at the moment. If you’re planning on meeting someone you don’t know very well, go with your own transportation. There have been several instances of people being picked up by strange vehicles and not making it back home. If you own a car, drive yourself to the location. Alternatively, you can use an Uber. 

4. Leave when you’re uncomfortable

If your date makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, then it is time to leave without hesitation. There are times when you need to trust your intuition and instincts, and when it comes to your safety, one red flag is more than enough. Pay attention to signs like your date’s body language, demeanor, and the kind of things they say. For example, if they’re being too physical or trying to invade your personal space, then that’s a no-no. 

Finally, before setting off from home, put your investigative hat on and conduct a thorough background check.

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Same-gender couples interact better than heterosexual couples

In terms of the quality of interactions with their partners, the study found same-gendered relationships had better-quality interactions than found in different-gendered relationships.

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Photo by Radek Pestka from Unsplash.com

Same-gender couples have higher-quality interactions with one another than heterosexual couples.

This is according to a new UC Riverside study that also holds that couples with two men have the smallest social networks.

Researcher Megan Robbins says the recent study is the first to compare same- and different-sex couples’ social networks and daily interactions with one another.

Past research shows that same-gender couples enjoy strengths including appreciation of individual differences, positive emotions, and effective communication. But research hasn’t compared the quality of their daily interactions – inside and outside the couple dynamic – to those of heterosexual couples. 

“The comparison is important because there is so much research linking the quality of romantic relationships and other social ties to health and well-being, yet it is unclear if this applies similarly or differently to people in same-gender romantic relationships because they have been historically excluded from past research,” said Robbins, who is an associate professor of psychology at UCR. Reasons for potential differences include the stigma sexual minorities face, and also their resilience.

For the study, Robbins and her team recruited same-gender and different-gender couples throughout Southern California. The couples had to be in a married or “married-like” committed relationship; living together for at least a year; and have no physical or mental health conditions that impeded their daily functioning.

Among those who applied to be in the study, 78 couples were found to be eligible, 77 of which provided enough data to be used. Twenty-four of the couples were woman-woman; 20 were man-man, and 33 were man-woman.

Participants met with the researchers on two separate Fridays, a month apart, completing surveys. They received text or email prompts several times in the days following the in-person meetings. In the text/email prompts, participants were asked whether they had an interaction with their partner, a family member, or a friend in the past 10 minutes, then asked to rate the quality of the social interaction using a five-point scale – one being unpleasant; three, neutral; five, pleasant.

In terms of social networks, the study found couples in man-man relationships had smaller social networks than woman-woman and man-woman couples. On the other end of the results spectrum, women in relationships with men were most likely to have the largest social networks.

Robbins said the finding is consistent with previous research showing men with men experience the least acceptance among family members.

“We hypothesized that one model for how the social life of people in same-gender couples might differ from those in different-gender couples was a honing model, where people in same-gender couples reduce their social networks down to only those people who are supportive. We found some support for this by learning that the men with men had the smallest social networks in our sample.,” Robbins said.

The quality of interactions with families was reported to be greatest by same-gender couples. There was no difference for interaction quality with friends.

In terms of the quality of interactions with their partners, the study found same-gendered relationships had better-quality interactions than found in different-gendered relationships.

Robbins said that may be due to greater similarity between partners when they share a gender identity, and greater equality within the couple, compared to people in different-sex couples.

“When male and female partners interact, they may do so from a culturally imposed frame wherein men and women are considered ‘opposites,’ which creates more potential for tension in interactions,” Robbins wrote in the paper, titled Social Compensation and Honing Frameworks, and published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

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Virgos are discriminated against in dating and job recruitment – MIT research

Research found that “astrological stereotypes” about personalities formed without pre-existing social reality, yet are shaping social reality via discrimination, especially against Virgos.

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Photo by MabelAmber from Pixabay.com

Which comes first, stereotypes or social reality?

In a recent paper, MIT Sloan School of Management Prof. Jackson Lu studied a novel form of stereotyping and discrimination in China based on Western astrological signs. He found that “astrological stereotypes” about personalities formed without pre-existing social reality, yet are shaping social reality via discrimination, especially against Virgos.

“Because stereotypes and social reality are mutually reinforcing, it is often difficult to know whether a given stereotype has emerged from pre-existing social reality, or instead has shaped social reality over time to resemble the stereotype. It’s a chicken-or-egg problem that social scientists have struggled to answer,” says Lu.

To help disentangle stereotypes from social reality, Lu and his colleagues conducted the first systematic examination of astrological stereotyping and discrimination in China. Through globalization, these signs were introduced to China and translated from English into Chinese. With the aid of social media, astrological signs have become a mainstream cultural trend in China.

There is also ample anecdotal evidence that people use astrological signs to infer personality traits and to make decisions about dating and employment. Importantly, each astrological sign is associated with certain personalities based on how its name is translated into Chinese.

“For example, the word ‘Virgo’ is literally translated as ‘virgin’ in Chinese, and Virgos are stereotyped as having disagreeable personalities like being fussy, critical, and picky,” he says. “Some Chinese job postings state that Virgo candidates are not wanted, and some Chinese people avoid Virgos on dating apps.”

In one study, the researchers conducted surveys asking Chinese people about their impressions of the astrological signs. Participants clearly ranked Virgos as the worst sign, followed by Scorpio because its Chinese translation is associated with the poisonous scorpion.

Further studies examined two Chinese translations of the word “Virgo.” The researchers leveraged an interesting fact that Virgo can be translated in two ways: “Virgin” is the well-known translation in astrology, whereas “royal chamber lady” is the lesser-known translation in astronomy. Participants viewed a profile of a Virgo individual. The profiles were identical, except that Virgo was either translated as “virgin” or “royal chamber lady.” Participants perceived the “virgin” profile as a more disagreeable person compared to the “royal chamber lady” profile.

“This study shows that translation can play a critical role in creating stereotypes,” says Lu.

The researchers consistently found that hiring managers – at least in China – are less willing to hire Virgos because of their perceived disagreeable personalities.

In another study, the researchers experimented with a popular Chinese dating app, using an identical profile but with different astrological signs: Virgo, Leo, or Libra. The Virgo profile received a lot fewer “likes” than the Leo and Libra profiles, which suggests that people are discriminating against Virgos in dating.

They also conducted a similar experiment in the context of hiring, using the same resume but with different astrological signs. The researchers consistently found that hiring managers – at least in China – are less willing to hire Virgos because of their perceived disagreeable personalities.

As for whether there is any basis for such discrimination based on astrological signs, Lu says their studies found none. “We found no evidence that astrological signs predict personality or job performance.”

Lu notes, “Unlike race or gender, astrological signs are not a protected class, yet they form the basis for widespread discrimination in social contexts like dating and hiring. People need to be aware of this phenomenon.”

He adds, “In the case of astrological stereotypes in China, the chicken-and-egg question has a clear answer. The stereotypes came first because of language translations, and those stereotypes then shaped social reality via discrimination.”

Lu is the lead author of “Disentangling Stereotypes from Social Reality: Astrological Stereotypes and Discrimination in China,” with Xin Lucy Liu of Peking University, Hui Liao of the University of Maryland, and Lei Wang of Peking University. Their paper was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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Love Affairs

Romantic partners influence each other’s goals

Over the long-term, what one partner in a two-person relationship wishes to avoid, so too does the other partner – and what one wants to achieve, so does the other. These effects can be observed regardless of gender, age and length of the relationship.

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Choose your partner wisely.

Over the long-term, what one partner in a two-person relationship wishes to avoid, so too does the other partner – and what one wants to achieve, so does the other. These effects can be observed regardless of gender, age and length of the relationship, as researchers from the University of Basel report in a study of more than 450 couples.

The research team from the University of Basel’s Faculty of Psychology wanted to examine the short- and long-term interdependence of approach goals and avoidance goals within couples. The participants reported whether they had tried to avoid conflicts or share meaningful experiences with their partner that day. This was followed by an analysis of how the information affected the goals of the partner.

When one person within a couple avoids distress and conflicts, for example, the other tries to do the same. And conversely, when one person seeks personal growth and meaningful experiences, the other wants to achieve them too.

The goals of each person were recorded daily over the course of two 14-day measurement periods at an interval of 10 to 12 months; 456 male-female couples took part. The average age of the participants was just under 34 years old, and the average relationship length was almost 10 years. The study appeared in The Journal of Gerontology.

The study showed that when one person within a couple avoids distress and conflicts, for example, the other tries to do the same. And conversely, when one person seeks personal growth and meaningful experiences, the other wants to achieve them too. The team of psychologists, led by first author Professor Jana Nikitin, found significant delayed effects between the partners. These appeared regardless of gender, age or relationship length.

It was notable that the daily goals of one partner – which can change – mainly coincided with the medium- and longer-term goal trends of the other partner. It therefore takes several days to months for the long-term relationship goals of one partner to have an impact on the goals of the other.

“This could be an adaptive mechanism to maintain the stability of the relationship,” says Nikitin, “by not being influenced by every momentary shift made by the partner.”

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