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Unhealthy and unhappy – The mental toll of troubled relationships

A study found many victims of intimate partner violence at 21 showed signs of mental illness at the age of 30, with women more likely to develop depression and men varying anxiety disorders.

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Some forms of domestic violence double victims’ risk of depression and anxiety disorders later in life, according to University of Queensland research published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.

The UQ School of Public Health study found many victims of intimate partner violence at 21 showed signs of mental illness at the age of 30, with women more likely to develop depression and men varying anxiety disorders.

Intimate partner violence classifies physical abuse as pushing, shoving and smacking.

UQ researcher Emeritus Professor Jake Najman said the team also found equal levels of abuse by men and women.

“The number of men and women who experience intimate partner violence is very similar, leading us to believe couples are more likely to abuse each other,” Professor Najman said.

“People generally don’t end up in the hospital or a shelter, but there is a serious mental burden from this type of abuse.”

The research showed defacto couples and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds were more likely to be involved in these types of abusive relationships.

Emotional abuse involves comments that make the person feel worthless.

Then there is harassment – a constant and distressing nagging that may have long-term consequences for those on the receiving end.

“It also raises the question, to what extent is this type of violent behaviour not just a characteristic of the relationship the couple has with each other, but with other people around them and possibly their children,” Professor Najman said.

“There is a range of treatment and counseling programs available for couples and families to try and improve the way they relate to one another.”

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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“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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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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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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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

When it comes to happiness, what’s love got to do with it?

People often think that they need to be married to be happy, so we asked the questions: Do people need to be in a relationship to be happy? Does living single your whole life translate to unhappiness? What about if you were married at some point but it didn’t work out?

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How accurate was William Shakespeare when he said, “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”?

Researchers from Michigan State University conducted one of the first studies of its kind to quantify the happiness of married, formerly married and single people at the end of their lives to find out just how much love and marriage played into overall well-being.

The study – published in the Journal of Positive Psychology – examined the relationship histories of 7,532 people followed from ages 18 to 60 to determine who reported to be happiest at the end of their lives.

“People often think that they need to be married to be happy, so we asked the questions, ‘Do people need to be in a relationship to be happy? Does living single your whole life translate to unhappiness? What about if you were married at some point but it didn’t work out?,'” said William Chopik, MSU assistant professor of psychology and co-author of the paper. “Turns out, staking your happiness on being married isn’t a sure bet.”

Chopik and Mariah Purol, MSU psychology master’s student and co-author, found that participants fell into one of three groups: 79% were consistently married, spending the majority of their lives in one marriage; 8% were consistently single, or, people who spent most of their lives unmarried; and 13% had varied histories, or, a history of moving in and out of relationships, divorce, remarrying or becoming widowed. The researchers then asked participants to rate overall happiness when they were older adults and compared it with the group into which they fell.

“We were surprised to find that lifelong singles and those who had varied relationship histories didn’t differ in how happy they were,” said Purol. “This suggests that those who have ‘loved and lost’ are just as happy towards the end of life than those who ‘never loved at all.'”

People often think that they need to be married to be happy, so we asked the questions: Do people need to be in a relationship to be happy? Does living single your whole life translate to unhappiness? What about if you were married at some point but it didn’t work out?

While married people showed a slight uptick in happiness, Purol said the margin was not substantial — nor what many may expect. If the consistently married group answered a 4 out of 5 on how happy they were, consistently single people answered a 3.82 and those with varied history answered a 3.7.

“When it comes to happiness, whether someone is in a relationship or not is rarely the whole story,” Chopik said. “People can certainly be in unhappy relationships, and single people derive enjoyment from all sorts of other parts of their lives, like their friendships, hobbies and work. In retrospect, if the goal is to find happiness, it seems a little silly that people put so much stock in being partnered.”

Photo by @rdslav from Unsplash.com

If someone longs for a lifelong partner to start a family and build a happy life together, Chopik and Purol’s research suggests that if that individual isn’t completely happy to begin with, getting married won’t likely dramatically change it all.

“It seems like it may be less about the marriage and more about the mindset,” Purol said. “If you can find happiness and fulfillment as a single person, you’ll likely hold onto that happiness — whether there’s a ring on your finger or not.”

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