TIME Dating

Whitney Wolfe Wants to Beat Tinder at Its Own Game

The woman who sued Tinder for sexual harassment is back. And her new app, Bumble, could change the dating game

On a sunny May morning in NYC, Whitney Wolfe smoothes her hair (golden) takes a sip of her iced coffee (black) and points across the leafy patio at a handsome guy sitting with a friend. “You swiped right in your head just now,” she says. “So did I.” Wouldn’t it be nice, she continues, if there were a bubble over his head listing his job and his education? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just get up and say ‘Hi?’ And wouldn’t it be nice if there was no way he would think you were desperate or weird if you did?

A year after she was ousted from Tinder and nine months after she sued the company for sexual harassment, Wolfe is back with a dating app of her own, dubbed Bumble. In essence, the app is an attempt to answer her train of questions above. It works just like other dating apps—users see pictures of other users, swipe right if they like what they see, and get matched if the interest is mutual. But there’s one essential difference: on Bumble, only women can send a message first.

For Wolfe, 25, that key difference is about “changing the landscape” of online dating by putting women in control of the experience. “He can’t say you’re desperate, because the app made you do it,” she says, adding that she tells her friends to make the first move and just “blame Bumble.” Matches expire after 24 hours, which provides an incentive for women to reach out before it’s too late (the women-message-first feature is only designed for straight couples—if you’re LGBTQ, either party can send the first message.)

Wolfe says she had always been comfortable making the first move, even though she felt the stigma around being too forward. “I would say ‘I’m just going to go up to him,’ and all my girlfriends were like ‘Oh no no no no, you can’t do that,'” she says. “Guys found it to be ‘desperate,’ when it wasn’t desperate, it was part of a broken system.”

Like many startup founders, Wolfe has big ambitions for the service: “It’s not a dating app, it’s a movement,” she says. “This could change the way women and men treat each other, women and men date, and women feel about themselves.”

Bumble launched about six months ago and seems to be catching on. With around half a million users sending 200,000 messages per day, it’s growing about 15% every week, Wolfe claims. Some 60% of matches turn into conversations. While Bumble has not yet monetized and won’t disclose the details of its funding, Wolfe’s partner and major funder is Andrey Andreev, founder of Badoo, the multi-billion dollar European social network. Their Austin-based office has only six employees—and five of them are women.

Wolfe was a co-founder at Tinder and widely credited with boosting that app’s popularity on college campuses. She was fired in the midst of a breakup with Justin Mateeen, the service’s chief marketer. Last year she filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the company, alleging that Mateeen had publicly called her a “whore,” that then-CEO Sean Rad had dismissed her complaints against Mateen’s harassment as “dramatic,” and that her male colleagues stripped her of her co-founder title because they said that having a woman on the founding team would “make the company seem like a joke.” The lawsuit was later settled out of court and Wolfe is reported to have walked away with over $1 million, with no admission of guilt by either party. Tinder is owned by IAC.

Wolfe won’t discuss the lawsuit, except to say that anyone who expected her to disappear afterwards probably didn’t know her very well. “It was never like I was going to go hide in the bushes,” she says. And while the whole messy incident has been held up to illustrate the challenges women face in a notoriously bro-friendly tech culture, Wolfe stops short of calling out sexism in tech. “This isn’t necessarily a tech problem, this is a society problem,” she says. “I don’t think it’s been socially acceptable for women to drop out of college and start a tech company.”

Wolfe is adamant that “Bumble has nothing to do with Tinder,” but the comparisons are inevitable—they have similar matching mechanisms (the swipe) similar designs (Tinder designers Chris Gulczynski and Sarah Mick also designed Bumble) and similar marketing on college campuses. Still, Wolfe insists she’s not trying to beat Tinder at its own game. “It’s important to me that nothing we do harms Tinder,” she says. “I still hold equity in the company. It’s my baby.”

But that doesn’t mean she’s not using similar tactics to get it off the ground. One of Wolfe’s major contributions to Tinder was her ability to get college students to download the app. A former member of Kappa at Southern Methodist University, Wolfe shows up at sororities with yellow balloons, cartons of yellow Hanky-Panky lacy underwear, and always, she says, “a cute purse.” Then she hands out a thong to each sorority sister who sends out 10 invitations to Bumble. “By the end, I’d show up and they’d be like ‘Go away, we’re already all on it!'” she says.

Because of the female-first messaging model, Bumble seems to be free of some of the sleaziness that plagues Tinder, at least for now. Men post pictures of themselves wearing button downs (not muscle tees) or hugging their moms (not endangered species.) And because they can’t message first, guys can’t hedge their bets by swiping right on every girl they see and messaging all of them to see who bites.

Female users say they’ve been impressed with the guys on Bumble. “I felt like I was being punked or something, because all the guys are really good looking and had really good jobs,” explains Lauren Garzon, a 32-year old hotel manager in NYC. “So I was like, ‘Ya, I do want to date all of you.'” She says she was disappointed that few of the guys she messaged wrote back, but Jen Stith, a spokeswoman for Bumble, says the company is considering adding a time limit to encourage guys to respond more quickly to messages.

Why do men use the app? “Because girls like it,” says Bryan Oltman, a 28-year old Bumble user and software engineer who used to work at OKCupid. “And girls like it because it gives them more control over the conversation than other dating apps.”

Besides, just as women are sick of waiting for men to make the first move, some guys are sick of always having to come up with a line. “It’s flattering when someone reaches out to you,” says Larry Mahl, a 32-year old New Yorker who works at Yelp. “It’s easier as a guy, you’re swiping and then just letting the girls take the next step.” Plus, he adds, “the women are so impressive.”

Wolfe pulls out her cell phone, which is hot pink with a bright yellow bumble-bee decal on the back, and shows me a guy she matched with in Costa Rica, of all places. “Hot, right?” she says. (Wolfe is dating someone, but still swipes and messages in order to get user feedback.) She had messaged him that she was the founder of the company, and asked him for his thoughts. He only had one thing to say: “This is going to be the next big thing.”

TIME Behind the Photos

These Photographers Make You Swipe Right on Tinder

Dating apps offer new business opportunities for portrait photographers

With over 50 million singles on Tinder, distinguishing yourself from the flock can prove laborious. No longer will the bathroom-mirror selfies of chiseled abs or the dog-loving-frank-smile combo be enough. That’s why some photographers are banking on the popularity of the impish dating app by offering their services to make users look their best.

“People have this tendency to create their dating profile in less than 10 minutes even though it could be the most important thing they do for their love life,” says British photographer Saskia Nelson. In May 2013, she set up Saturday Night’s Alright after spending eight years on online dating sites and growing tired of seeing the same blurry and dingy portraits. “My pet peeves are red eyes and messy bedrooms in the background. For one, people want to connect with your gaze. If they see two scarlet lasers coming out of your eyes, they’re going to move on. And, having a pile of dirty clothes behind you is not a great way to make an impression. Remember you’re trying to sell yourself and your lifestyle.”

To help her clients figure out what characteristics of theirs to put forward, Nelson sends them tips and a questionnaire ahead of the photo shoot. She advises them to treat the session as they would a date, and thus prep for it in a similar manner. Wear clothes (and underwear) that make you feel good, trim your beard, bring props that showcase your interests. She also has them thinking about who their current inspirations are or when they are at their happiest. “I go from photographing a senior to a 22-year-old.” she says. “With that kind of range, I like to know whom I’m meeting ahead of time so I can prepare.” Then, they go out for a stroll through a neighborhood of London that fits her customer’s personality. Battersea Park, Ladbroke Grove or Southbank for the even-tempered; Brick Lane, Shoreditch or London Fields for the edgier ones.

In New York, similar online dating experiences led Charlie Grosso, an advertising and editorial photographer, to launch Tinder Photography last October. She sees it as a way to supplement her income between assignments, have a bit of fun and elevate the standards of the images she comes across when perusing the app. “I wanted to apply my storytelling skills to creating dating profile pictures,” she says. Therefore, she spends a few hours with her clients wandering the city in hopes of uncovering their endearing idiosyncrasies and capturing them using both a single-lens reflex and an iPhone. The latter, she claims, helps make people look more relaxed. “The time I spend walking and talking with them is just as important as those when I point my camera at them. The goal is to make images look less staged, and more like snapshots,” she adds.

Though photographer Max Schwartz is not one for deception when it comes to dating profile portraits, his start in the business came after he jokingly created a fake website called Tinder Headshots. It quickly went viral. As it took a life of its own, he felt compelled to follow through. Used to working with actors and male models, this new practice helped him hone in on his people skills. “It’s like speed dating,” he says. “I have thirty minutes to get to know the sitter and have them warm up to me enough that they relax in front of the camera. I found that when people talk about themselves and their passion, their expression changes. That’s often the sweet spot.”

Rather than try to recreate candid moments, Schwartz favors the traditional headshot. “It’s more straightforward and as engaging, especially if the person comes across as warm and approachable,” he says. “Guys often try to look too stoic or overly manly.” And, in keeping as close to the truth as possible, he refuses to retouch the resulting images. “There’s nothing worse than going on a date and realizing that the person looks nothing like their pictures. They should look like themselves, just the best version of themselves,” notes the Brooklynite with marketing acumen. He recently developed a spin-off, Look Like a Boss, headshots meant for LinkedIn.

No matter the style, online profile photo services are thriving. Nelson dedicates herself entirely to it now and has hired a second shooter. She has plans to expand to other cities, and perhaps other countries. “I have such an extensive experience of online dating,” she says, “that I want to share it with others.” She recommends trying to spend 20 minutes a day on dating website or apps and allocating no more than one hour to a first date. “The photographs are just the beginning.”

Laurence Butet-Roch is a freelance writer, photo editor and photographer based in Toronto, Canada. She is a member of the Boreal Collective.

TIME Dating

High School Couple With Disabilities Crowned Prom King and Queen

Schmid Family Hannah Schmid and Garrett Chaney at prom.

"The love they have for each other is unconditional"

When Hannah Schmid and Garrett Chaney met in preschool, they instantly gravitated toward each other without saying a word.

Hannah, who has cerebral palsy and is non-verbal, and Garrett, who suffers from a rare neurological disorder called Cohen’s syndrome, became instant friends – and over 13 years later, on April 11, they went to prom together and were crowned king and queen.

“The love they have for each other is unconditional,” Hannah’s mother, Brenda, who lives in Fargo, North Dakota, tells PEOPLE. “It’s so pure and real.”

The Beginning

Garrett, 20, who needs help with everything from bathing to eating and getting dressed in the morning, started to sit next to Hannah, 17, every day when they were children.

“He could hardly speak then, but he had this communication book and every day something about Hannah was in it,” his mother Lori tells PEOPLE. “We didn’t see this friendship start to form because they were at school, but their teachers started to tell us about it.”

Although Hannah couldn’t go home and talk about Garrett, Brenda started to hear that he was a big part of her daughters day.

“Her smile couldn’t have been bigger when she was around Garrett,” Brenda says. “And that has never changed.”

Throughout the years, Garrett and Hannah have spent almost every weekend together and most days in the summer.

She goes to all of his baseball games, they frequent the local zoo and a nearby lake, and they exchange gifts on Valentine’s Day. Last year, he bought her a butterfly ring on the special day because he knows how much she loves them. They hold hands, and Garrett plays with her hair when they watch movies together. They both look at each other during a funny scene to make sure the other didn’t miss it.

Despite their disabilities, very little can hold them back. Garrett goes to concerts, and they attend many school events together and always embrace life.

“Garrett asked her to marry him,” Lori says, laughing. “He said they were going to get married in Vegas.”

Even when they can’t be together, they’re never too far away from each other. Garrett sleeps with a picture of Hannah near his head every night.

Families Coming Together

As Hannah and Garrett became closer, so did their families.

Lori and Brenda are great friends and recently went on an overnight trip together. The continue to be amazed on a daily basis by their children.

“I don’t know how I can describe the way they look at each other,” Brenda says. “How do you put a relationship into words when it’s not based off of words?”
Although Hannah can’t speak, she is extremely expressive. She smiles the second she sees Garrett and laughs at almost everything he says. She is always looking around and understands everything.

He too laughs with her, but is also very protective. “Hannah is my girl,” he tells everyone at school. “She’s taken.”

Both Lori and Brenda say Garrett always knows what Hannah is thinking and even helps feed her at school, which is done through a feeding tube. Hannah has spent time in the hospital over the years because of her condition and Garrett, who understands how severe it can get, becomes extremely concerned.

“He feels responsible for her and wants to make sure she’s healthy,” Lori says. “He will even take my cellphone and call Brenda to make sure Hannah is feeling okay.”

Their Special Day

When it came time to ask someone to prom, there was no doubt in everyone’s mind that Hannah and Garett would go together.

“The fact that our children are even here to go to their prom is such a huge milestone for us,” Brenda says. “I never thought I would have the chance to buy Hannah a prom dress.”

Lori also admits how big this is.

“We have goals for our children but they’re different than parents who have healthy children,” she says. “While most teenagers at their high school are going off to college, our children will be with us forever.”

And Brenda and Lori are both impressed with Hannah and Garrett’s classmates.

“The fact that they were nominated says so much about their high school,” says Brenda. “But we were speechless when they were crowned king and queen.”

Garrett, who was wearing a brand new tuxedo, pushed Hannah’s wheelchair around as everyone took pictures of them and clapped.

“The crowd went crazy,” says Lori. “It was such a surreal moment.”

Before the prom, about 20 of their closest friends and family gathered at Brenda’s house for a pre-prom dinner. Hannah had her nails and hair done and wore a green sparkly dress.

Both moms admit that while it might be an unconventional relationship, it’s also the most genuine.

“There is nothing artificial about the love they have for each other. It’s honest. They don’t judge the other. They accept each other for who they are,” Brenda says.

Although only the only people who truly understand Hannah and Garrett’s relationship are the ones closest to them, their parents say everyone can understand one thing – true love.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re disabled or not. Everyone needs love, compassion and understanding from others. We can’t live without it,” says Lori.

This article originally appeared on People.com

 

TIME Dating

This Book Perfectly Captures All Your Insecurities About Dating

Dey Street Books

Written entirely in texts and emails, this novel seems like it's ripped right out of your own inbox

It’s rare to pick up a book that perfectly captures love in the digital age, but that’s exactly what Neel Shah and Skye Chatham’s all-too-realistic novel succeeds in doing.

Through the strings of email chains and forwarded texts that comprise Read Bottom Up, readers meet Madeline and Elliot, a couple whose meet cute at a restaurant spirals into an over-analytical relationship that any millennial will be able to relate to. Though the format may sound gimmicky, there are real insights here: anyone who has dated with technology will recognize themselves, or someone they’ve dated, in these pages.

TIME talked to Shah, 32, an LA-based screenwriter, to learn about his writing process and skeptical take on texting and romance.

TIME: Tell us how you decided on this medium—screenshots of texts and emails.

Neel Shah: I have a friend in New York, and every time we would be dating people, she would always forward me emails or texts from a guy, and I would do the same with her, and a lot of times we had different takes on what the texts or emails meant. One time specifically she forwarded me this email chain from a guy, and she was like “Isn’t this great, it looks like he wants to take this relationship to the next level,” and I read it and it almost seemed as if he was breaking up with her. Now so much of dating is done online—not even just via apps, but texting and emailing is such an important part of how people court, and I felt like it had not been captured in a way that felt real.

You’ve said you and your co-author both composed your parts totally separately, right?

We wanted to make it feel like people in a real relationship. And we realized the easiest way to do that that was for my co-author and I to pretend we were in a relationship. We set up our own email accounts for our characters and did the whole thing blindly. We figured out the rough beats of their relationship, but everything else we didn’t really plan. We wrote the whole thing as if we were conducting a relationship in real time, and I didn’t show her any of my responses with my friend, and she didn’t show me any of her responses to her friend until the very end. But generally all the responses and their micro-analysis was all done blindly.

Do you have a real male best friendship that resembles this one?

I actually do, his name is David. It’s weird—for me, those conversations that are real and vulnerable don’t really happen in person. But when it’s just a Gchat or a text I find it a lot easier to emote and talk about feelings in general. Digital makes that stuff a lot easier for guys. I would think girls generally do have those conversations a lot more in person. Even with my group of guy friends now, I’m on tons of text and Facebook message threads, talking about relationships and feelings.

Was part of your goal with this to create a kind of time capsule for how people conduct relationships?

When I was in New York I dated a girl for a few years and I remember so much of our initial courtship, and so many of our fights happened on email. I typed her name into my Gmail inbox now and I have this long, archived rundown of what exactly our relationship was, and it’s very accessible. I think most people probably have that in their inboxes. And it’s so acceptable. And I imagine that that won’t be the case as people get older, and those types of longer correspondences will move away from email. Especially now, after that Sony hack, people are more wary of putting things down on paper than they were before. This book feels specific to a place and time, but in a way that I am very fond of, and want to capture.

What do you think this book says about dating, and how we communicate in general?

I can almost tell immediately whether I’m going to like a girl or not based on how we text. Sometimes there’s this definite disconnect between the person you can pretend to be and the person you actually are, which makes dating a little difficult. What this says about dating in general, I can’t tell if it’s a really a good thing or bad thing ultimately.

The fact that it becomes so easy to date people, multiple people, to fire off a text and email, to literally dozens of people a day, that type of stuff is a little unseemlier and it’s harder to tell whether it’s a good thing or not. To me it feels easier in a way that is probably not good.

Did you notice certain male tendencies or flaws? Was this a chance at self-improvement for you?

It does make you aware of your own behavior. This book is only going to be successful if it feels relatable and real. I think Elliot in a lot of places is a doofus: he’s a very specific type of guy, he’s not an outright liar but he can be a little bit unseemly and slippery in a way that I certainly have been guilty of. But for sure, I do think that getting older, you feel like you don’t have to put on a pony show for every girl you meet because sometimes that can lead to people feeling like you really like them, even if you don’t, and that’ll lead to people’s feelings getting hurt. Just trying to be more honest with yourself, if that makes sense.

Can you boil all this down to three tips for dating?

1. Sometime people you have the best text chemistry with are horrible matches in real life. Kind of a bummer, but true.

2. Girls like plans. Like with time and location and stuff. (“Yeah we should totally do something!” isn’t a plan, unfortunately.)

3. Don’t ever lie about anything that happens at a wedding because you will be found out because everything that happens at weddings is now on Instagram. Also don’t ever lie. But definitely don’t at weddings.

What do you think about friends who want to stalk people you’re going out with?

You don’t need to be doing that so early. Just calm down, everyone just take a breather. There are definitely benefits. It’s very easy to go on someone’s Facebook or Instagram page and you can tell pretty soon if that’s someone you’re going to like or not, or at least whether that persona is someone you’d like.

Sometimes not being so stalkery and parsing every single thing you can find on every single social media platform is really good. Sometimes even people who are now dating who I know, initially they were like, “Oh yeah you know, we didn’t have great chemistry on text or email and then we went out and it was actually really good.” Sometimes, you have to go meet them to figure out if you’re going to like them. That’s something I’m so bad at doing. I will discount someone if I don’t feel like we have good banter chemistry, but I’m also single and there’s a reason for it.

TIME Dating

This Is The Most Popular Place to Have a First Date

You probably won't be surprised

It turns out that your dating life is just as predictable as you thought it was.

According to a recent study by mobile dating app Clover, the most popular place to have a first date is none other than Starbucks. (Hopefully one that serves alcohol.)

The app offers an on-demand dating option that allows its users to select a nearby location to meet up with a date. After analyzing data from its 200,000 users (between the ages of 18 and 65), Clover tracked the most popular first date spots. Note: Olive Garden is very high on the list.

Clover

Here’s how favorite date spots differed based on age. Unsurprisingly, Chipotle reigned supreme for the 18-to-24 demographic.

Clover

Clover also found that men prefer restaurants for a first date while women opt for coffee shops.

Clover

Starbucks might seem like a pretty basic first date meetup, but look on the bright side: If it goes well, at least we already know that the chain hosts weddings!

 

TIME relationships

Here’s What The Millionaire Matchmaker Thinks About 7 Viral Proposals

Patti Stanger judges 7 viral engagements for National Proposal Day

Getty Images

For those who narrowly escaped the crushing romantic pressure that Valentine’s Day puts on relationships, the worst is still to come. March 20 marks not only the first day of Spring, but also National Proposal Day, which, yes, is a real thing.

Of course, on the Internet, it always feels like it’s National Proposal Day. There’s a new viral engagement video almost every week — and whether it involve flashmobs of professional Broadway dancers or flashmobs of pugs, each new one seems to top the last.

“If you’re a private person, then it’s going to scare the crap out of you,” says relationship guru Patti Stanger, star of Bravo’s The Millionaire Matchmaker. “But if you’re a person who’s over the top, then go for it.”

It’s best to know if your intended public proposal is “adorable” or “ew” before you pop the question. So TIME had Stanger judge seven different types, although she doesn’t think a viral proposal is necessary.

The Millionaire Matchmaker airs Sunday on BRAVO at 9/8c.

  • Pug on Pugs on Pugs

    Proposal: A man enlisted the help of 16 pugs, donning heart-shaped balloons, to propose to his dog-loving girlfriend in late 2013.

    Stanger: “As long as PETA was OK with it, I’m OK with it. It was a cute proposal, but should he have given her a pug? That would have made sense. It should have been all the pugs in a row and the last one’s yours. Maybe that one says, ‘Will you marry me?’ Maybe it should have been holding the ring.”

  • 99 Too Many iPhone 6s

    Proposal: A man in China reportedly spent 2 years of savings on 99 iPhones 6s, costing an estimated $85k. He then arranged them into a heart and publicly proposed to his girlfriend on China’s National Singles Day. (She reportedly said no.)

    Stanger: “This is stupid. That’s 85 grand you should have put into the ring.”

  • The Home Depot Dance Flashmob

    Proposal: A man unsuspectingly went to Home Depot with his roommate and was surprised when his boyfriend (and friends and family) did a choreographed dance to Betty Who’s Somebody Loves You before proposing.

    Stanger: “I don’t know… It was kind of cute, but I’ve seen this kind of proposal before. It’s not an original idea. I also thought it was creepy that the family was involved with that, it was overwhelming and a little over the top. I think proposals should maybe be a little more personal.”

     

  • Photo Booth

    Proposal: A guy took his high school sweetheart into a photo booth to pop the question in between pictures.

    Stanger: “Boring. That seemed, to me, very high school.”

  • The Jumbotron and Gender Norms

    Proposal: Last year, a Maryland woman took her boyfriend to a Miami Heat game and proposed to him on the Jumbotron. “I thought this would make me the best wife-to-be ever to do it in front of his favorite team,” she told a local FOX affiliate. He said yes, and that he would have proposed “eventually.”

    Stanger: “Ew. Yuck. Creepy.” On top of thinking that Jumbotron proposals are overdone in general, Stanger had a big problem with the woman proposing to her boyfriend — rather than the other way around. “That was like, OK listen, I know the only way to get your attention is at the Miami Heat game, so here’s what I’m going to do and I’m going to put it on the screen? What if he said no? Men are used to rejection; women are not. She will always have the pants on in the relationship… Lesbians can propose, straight girls cannot.”

  • The Year-Long Secret

    Proposal: A man “secretly” proposed to his girlfriend every day for a year by writing different variations of “will you marry me” on a whiteboard when she was distracted doing everyday tasks like brushing her teeth or folding laundry. He videotaped his effort and showed her the video in Aruba, where he actually proposed.

    Stanger: “Also a little creepy. After a while it’s going to get older than old, baby.” Does she think the woman would have rather had her now-fiance just propose a year ago, when he was ready? “Um, yeah no sh**.”

  • A Little Help From My (Celebrity) Friends

    Proposal: In the above video, a man recorded eight different celebrities (including John Stamos) convincing his girlfriend to marry him. Other people have proposed via the Old Spice Man and Mariah Carey.

    Stanger: “This is my favorite. I love it. I get calls about this all the time, too. Find your favorite celebrity that she loves and you surprise her with that. That’s adorable.”

    Stanger Sidenote: “John Stamos was really cute in that. I was just thinking about how single he is and how I need to fix him up.”

     

TIME marketing

Next Time You Swipe Right, It Could Be a Marketing Stunt

Tinder users at SXSW duped by marketing stunt for movie

All’s fair in love and marketing: a movie debuting at SXSW in Austin used the dating app Tinder as a marketing tool over the weekend, and some users were accidentally catfished.

According to Adweek, Tinder users have been falling for another user called “Ava.” The only problem? “Ava” is actually a fake account to promote Ex Machina, a movie about robots debuting at SXSW last weekend.

“Ava” told one would-be-Tinder-hookup to check out her Instagram, which was packed with promotional materials for Ex Machina. And her photo is actually of Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, who plays a bot in the movie.

So think before you swipe: you could be flirting with an ad.

[Adweek]

TIME mating

Why Women Like War Heroes More than Any Other Kind of Guy

A stock image of a man in a military uniform lifting up a woman
Getty Images

And why men don't find brave women attractive

In a study that could explain so much about the Brian Williams thing, it has been found that women are more sexually attracted to men who have been deemed heroic during conflict than men who have merely served in the armed forces. And—sorry, humanitarians—men who were deemed heroic during a non-war-related crisis didn’t have nearly the same game.

Meanwhile, women who were considered heroic for any reason were found to be less attractive to men than regular women. (You read that right. Less attractive.)

The findings are the result of three studies done by researchers in England and the Netherlands. First, the researchers established from archives that World War II veterans who were Medal of Honor winners had more kids on average (3.18) than other returned servicemen (2.72).

The number of offspring is not completely correlated with the frequency of springing into bed, however. So the researchers asked 92 female British students to rate how attracted they were to various profiles and the war hero came out as the No. 1 most dateworthy type. Military service was attractive to women generally, but interestingly, if the guy had no war honors, whether he had served overseas or never left home base made no difference to his magnetism. In other words, men who see more action don’t necessarily see more action.

In the third study, 159 women and 181 men studying in Holland were given various profiles to rate and again the decorated war veteran was the female favorite. Soldiers who had been honored for their work in disaster zones or humanitarian crises got no spike in interest. And, depressingly, guys were less interested in women who had done something amazingly brave than women who hadn’t, even though the participants in the study were the supposedly gender equal Dutch.

The researchers were looking at the impact of medals not to enhance the dating resumes of veterans, but to examine the effect of conflict and bravery on evolution. (Those who attract the most mating partners have the highest chance of passing on their genes.)

So why are women drawn to guys who are demonstrably willing to engage in life threatening behavior? Because they’ve proved their genetic hardiness, suggest the researchers.

“Raids, battles, and ambushes in ancestral environments, and wars in modern environments, may provide an arena for men to signal their physical and psychological strengths,” says Joost Leunissen, a psychologist at the University of Southampton and co-author of the study. The thinking is that those who have the clarity of thought to try something life-saving and the physical prowess to pull it off must be built to survive, and are therefore a good evolutionary bet.

Leunissen also seems to offer, perhaps unintentionally, some eggheady advice on whether women should be on the front lines. “In light of the physical dangers and reproductive risks involved,” he says, “participating in intergroup aggression might not generally be a viable reproductive strategy for women.” Translation: not if they want to have kids.

TIME Dating

This Is Exactly How Much You Need to Drink to Seem More Attractive, Backed by Science

healthiest foods, health food, diet, nutrition, time.com stock, red wine, alcohol
Photograph by Danny Kim for TIME; Gif by Mia Tramz for TIME

No more, no less

Want to seem more attractive to the opposite sex? Drink one — exactly one — very large glass of wine.

That’s what a recent study by a group of researchers at the University of Bristol’s School of Psychology, published in Science Daily, suggests.

The researchers asked 40 heterosexual men and women, divided equally between both genders, to complete an attractiveness-rating exercise. The volunteers were then shown two images of a person, one taken while the subject was sober, one after the subject had consumed 250 ml of wine (equivalent to a very large glass), and one after 500 ml of wine (two-thirds of a bottle) had been consumed.

The photos of those who drank 250 ml wine were rated as more attractive, followed by images of sober subjects. The photos of those who had drank 500 ml were considered least attractive.

The researchers attributed this to the increased facial flushing that comes with consuming low amounts of alcohol, along with additional muscle relaxation and subtle smiles that portray a heightened positive mood.

One more good reason to drink in moderation.

[Science Daily]

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Emma Watson Shoots Down Those Prince Harry Rumors

'Remember that little talk we had about not believing everything written in the media?!'

It looks like Emma Watson is squashing rumors that she has been secretly dating Prince Harry.

“Remember that little talk we had about not believing everything written in the media?!” Watson wrote on Twitter Sunday morning.

Watson was apparently referring to rumors about her and Harry, which were first reported by Australian magazine Woman’s Day. The magazine provided a number of details about how Prince Harry approached the 24-year-old Harry Potter actress.

Representatives for the royal family haven’t addressed the rumors, according to PEOPLE magazine.

Read next: Read What Amy Poehler Had to Say About the First Episode of Parks and Rec

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