TIME relationships

Your Facebook Habits Can Help Predict If You’ll Get a Divorce

Couple arguing on sofa
Couple arguing on sofa Blend Images - Jose Luis Pelaez Inc&—Getty Images/Brand X

Because Facebook and other social media may not be harmless time-killers after all. Your love life may be on the line

This post originally appeared on Ozy.com.

Your wife comes to bed late — again — after spending hours on Facebook. Maybe you feel like your husband is more focused on Twitter than you. Here’s a pro tip: You’re not imagining it. Your relationship really could be headed for rocky shores, if not splitsville, according to a new study from Boston University.

Researchers found that, in general, 32 percent of heavy Facebook users consider leaving their spouse. Facebook in particular is “a positive, significant predictor of divorce rate and spousal troubles,” it notes.

(MORE: You’re Probably Never Going to Marry Your Soulmate. Here’s Why.)

Of course, there are some limits to this finding — it’s all about correlation. But the study’s authors feel they’re noticing something that’s genuinely statistically significant. As usage of the social media site rose across 43 states, they found that a 20 percent bump in Facebook use equated with a greater-than-2 percent bump in divorce rates between 2008 and 2010.

The authors of the study suggest men and women troubled by their marriage may turn to social media for emotional support.

Researchers looked at numbers from Texas, specifically, and found the larger correlation was true there, too. Among non-social media users, about 16 percent pondered leaving their mates at some point. Social media users doubled that number.

(MORE: When Flooded Basements Are a Good Thing)

While previous studies suggested that Facebook and its ilk make it easier for people to cheat on their spouses, the authors of the new study suggest that men and women troubled by their marriage may turn to social media for emotional support (as opposed to just looking for a little somethin’ on the side).

Data aside, the message is to trust your gut: If your sweetheart seems more attached to Instagram than to you, it’s probably time to take stock of your relationship — before one of you is tweeting that it’s over.

(MORE: Dip Your Toes In the American Dream)

TIME Dating

The Trick to Finding Your Soul Mate? Change Your Expectations

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Young couple ride bikes in neighborhood. Pamela Moore—Getty Images

Sometimes finding the mate of our dreams requires a more realistic view of our prospects

This post originally appeared on Ozy.com.

In case you missed the buzz on Facebook, scientists recently determined that “beer goggles” do in fact exist, though not precisely in the way we thought. Consuming alcohol, it seems, tends to elevate desire and reduce inhibitions more than alter our actual perception of another person’s attractiveness.

But there’s another type of virtual eyewear that many of us spend even more time donning — one that has the opposite effect of beer goggles. Call them “expectancy spectacles” if you’d like, because wearing them causes us to raise our standards and expectations, often unrealistically, of everything from potential mates to job prospects.

The primary culprit behind this altered vision is not booze but a potent concoction of Hollywood movies, social conditioning and wishful thinking. And fortunately, there are a few scientists on the case.

(MORE: If You Use Facebook, You’re 32 Percent More Likely to Leave Your Spouse)

One is Ty Tashiro, a psychologist and relationship expert at Discovery Health, whose recent book, The Science of Happily Ever After, explores what “advances in relationship science” can teach us about the partners we choose. Almost 9 in 10 Americans believe they have a soul mate, says Tashiro, but only 3 in 10 find enduring partnerships that do not end in divorce, separation or chronic unhappiness. Clearly something is going wrong — and it starts with our expectations.

That’s because in real life the pool of potential partners looks rather different from the cast of The Bachelorette something Tashiro hopes to address by putting some cold figures to the mating game, employing an approach similar to the one used by scientists who calculate the chances of life on other planets.

For example, say a bachelorette enters a room of 100 male bachelors who represent the broader U.S population. If she prefers a partner who’s tall (at least 6-foot), then her pool of possible prospects immediately shrinks to 20. If she would like him to be fairly attractive and earn a comfortable income (over $87,000 annually), then she’s down to a single prospect out of 100.

If you choose to specify further traits, such as kindness, intelligence or a particular religious or political affiliation, well, let’s just say we’re going to need a much bigger room. And then, of course, there’s the small matter of whether he actually likes you back.

(MORE: The Future of Sex Looks Awesome/Terrifying)

Such long odds are the product of misplaced priorities, says Tashiro, but it’s not strictly our fault. Our mate preferences have been shaped by natural selection’s obsession with physical attractiveness and resources as well as the messages our friends, families and favorite shows transmit about sweethearts and soul mates. And it is at the start of relationships, when we need to make smart long-term decisions, that we are least likely to do so because we’re in the throes of lust, passion and romance.

Or, as Tashiro puts it, returning to our alcohol analogy: “It would seem wise to hand off the keys to someone with more lucidity until your better sensibilities return.”

Which is why Tashiro advocates a new approach to dating, one that is not so much about lowering standards as giving yourself better ones. Call it “Moneyballing” relationships (Tashiro does); it’s all about finding undervalued traits and assets in the dating market. And, just like with baseball, it starts with trying to ignore the superficial indices of value — attractiveness, wealth — in favor of hidden attributes with a stronger correlation to long-term relationship success.

Citing research that finds no reliable link between income level or physical attractiveness and relationship satisfaction, Tashiro steers his readers towards traits such as agreeableness. With married couples, he points out, “liking declines at a rate of 3 percent a year, whereas lust declines at a rate of 8 percent per year,” so the smarter long-term investment is finding someone you genuinely like. Plus, he adds, studies also suggest that agreeable partners are in fact “better in bed” and less likely to cheat over the long haul.

But can nice guys and gals really finish first? And is it possible to make thoughtful, strategic choices when it comes to relationships?

Perhaps you agree with Crash Davis, Kevin Costner’s character in Bull Durham, who doesn’t “believe in quantum physics when it comes to matters of the heart.” But that shouldn’t mean you ignore the science altogether, especially when it can improve your chances of hitting a home run.

(MORE: Three Tips to Improve Your Love Life)

TIME Food & Drink

The Science Behind Baking the Most Delicious Cookie Ever

Different types of chocolate chip cookies
HANDLE THE HEAT

Because, c’mon, we’re talking chocolate chip cookies here

This post originally appeared on Ozy.com.

You like soft and chewy. He likes thin and crispy. If only there were a chocolate chip cookie recipe that pleased everyone…

There is! And, no, it’s not Martha Stewart’s. It’s science.

We’ve taken our cues from a few spots: a bioengineering grad student named Kendra Nyberg, who co-taught a class at UCLA called Science and Food, and chef and cookbook author Tessa Arias, who writes about cookie science on her site, Handle the Heat.

There’s also an illuminating Ted Talk animation on cookie science. And if you really want to go nuts (or no nuts, your call), Serious Eats offers 21 painstakingly tested steps for the Perfect Cookie, including kneading times and chocolate prep techniques.

“Even though I can describe what I like,” says Nyberg, “I didn’t know the role of each ingredient in the texture and shape of cookies.” So she looked into it — as only a scientist can.

(MORE: His Grandfather Invented Doritos But Tim West Prefers Kale)

Here, relying on the experts’ help and based on the classic Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, OZY presents no-fail tips for baking your perfect cookie. (You’re welcome.)

Ooey-gooey: Add 2 cups more flour.

A nice tan: Set the oven higher than 350 degrees (maybe 360). Caramelization, which gives cookies their nice brown tops, occurs above 356 degrees, says the Ted video.

Crispy with a soft center: Use 1/4 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.

Chewy: Substitute bread flour for all-purpose flour.

(MORE: Food Waste – There’s (Finally) An App For That)

Just like store-bought: Trade the butter for shortening. Arias notes that this ups the texture but reduces some flavor; her suggestion is to use half butter and half shortening.

Thick (and less crispy): Freeze the batter for 30 to 60 minutes before baking. This solidifies the butter, which will spread less while baking.

Cakey: Use more baking soda because, according to Nyberg, it “releases carbon dioxide when heated, which makes cookies puff up.”

Butterscotch flavored: Use 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (instead of the same amount of combined granulated sugar and light brown sugar).

Uniformity: If looks count, add one ounce corn syrup and one ounce granulated sugar.

More. Just, more: Chilling the dough for at least 24 hours before baking deepens all the flavors, Arias found.

(MORE: Table for One? This Question Will Never Terrify You Again.)

Read next: Watch Sir Ian McKellen Teach Cookie Monster About Self-Control

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