TIME relationships

Sigh: Men Think Women Who Listen to Them Are Sexier

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Listening woman Image Source RF/Wonwoo Lee—Getty Images/Image Source

A new study shows that men think women who are aware of their feelings are attractive, but it didn't necessarily work the other way around

Dusty Springfield was right all those years ago when she said the best way to a man’s heart was to “show him that you care.” A new study shows that men are more sexually attracted to “responsive” women who tend to their needs, but the same can’t be said about what attracts women to men.

The study, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, found that after just meeting, men were more likely to be sexually attracted to a woman who was “responsive,” which meant “aware of what I’m thinking and feeling” or “listening to me.” Men perceived responsive women as more feminine, and therefore more sexually attractive.

Dr. Gurit Birnbaum, one of the authors of the study, said that “responsiveness” could also indicate which women would be viewed as long-term partners vs. short term hookups. “A responsive partner may be perceived as a warm and caring and therefore a desirable long-term partner,” she said in an email.

Unsurprisingly, the female attitude towards male “responsiveness” was more complicated. On the one hand, some women saw responsiveness as an indication that the man would be a desirable mate, while others suspiciously viewed it as a ploy to manipulate them into sex. Still others thought that “responsiveness” was un-masculine, and therefore not sexy.

So there might be actually some science behind the whole “nice guys finish last” thing.

What a bummer.

TIME Dating

OkCupid Relaunches OkTrends: A Beloved Blog That Tracks Online Daters’ Fascinating Habits

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OkCupid relaunched OkTrends after 3 years off Getty Images

After a three-year hiatus

In 2009, OkCupid gave the people of the Internet a beautiful gift. No, not eternal love. A peek into the its massive treasure trove of user data — exposing everything from strange overshares (How much do Twitter users masturbate?) to serious issues (How does race impact the messages you receive?).

The observations and statistics were catalogued in the blog OkTrends, written by OKC co-founder Christian Rudder, which started accumulating some 1 million unique views per post. But in April 2011, the web favorite went dormant, leaving its fans questioning, what’s REAL “stuff white people like” today?

Until now. Monday marked the relaunch of OkTrends.

“We always said we were going to relaunch the blog,” Rudder says. “I put it on pause because I was working on a book… but with that being finished and about to come out, it was time to restart.”

All hail.

Since the OkTrends lull occurred two months after Match.com bought OkCupid, Rudder says some people floated conspiracy theories that Match shut it down. “They absolutely did not,” he says. “In fact they were sad we had to take time off from it.”

But with his book Dataclysm: Who We Are set for a September release, Rudder says he’s back and ready to write a new OkTrends post once every four weeks.

This month’s post proudly declared “We Experiment on Human Beings!” — appropriate given the collective freakout over Facebook’s June emotional manipulation study — and chronicles times the dating network used its users as guinea pigs. For example, OkCupid once told people with a 30% compatibility rating that they were a 90% match, just to see what happened.

Even though Rudder says OkCupid only gets an estimated 1,000 people to sign up after a post goes live, “the effect is more simmering than that.”

For example, if a woman reads an OkTrend piece when she’s in a relationship, she might remember a particularly insightful post several months later when she’s single again and sign up for the service.

“It was more of a long game for us,” Rudder says. “It’s like a billboard in Times Square for Coke. I don’t think people walk past it and are like, ‘I’ve gotta go get a Coke right now.’ It just puts it in their mind and then, when they’re thirsty, they go get a Coke.”

 

TIME Dating

Is That a Look of Love, or Lust? Science Has the Answer

Smiling Couple Dating
A close-up of a smiling couple is shown. Sam Edwards—OJO Images RF/Getty Images

A wife and husband research team finds different eye movements for love and lust

Scientists may have found a way to answer a question so many people have when they’re dating: “Where is this going?” All you have to do, according to researchers at the University of Chicago, is watch a potential partner’s eyes.

A new study found that eye movements could reveal whether a person was in lust or in love. Their results, collected from male and female students at the University of Geneva, showed that participants fixated more on the face when they perceived an image to evoke romantic love but that their gaze shifted to the rest of the body when an image seemed indicative of sexual desire.

“Although little is currently known about the science of love at first sight or how people fall in love, these patterns of response provide the first clues regarding how automatic attentional processes, such as eye gaze, may differentiate feelings of love from feelings of desire toward strangers,” said the study’s lead author Stephanie Cacioppo.

Cacioppo is becoming somewhat of an expert on the biology of love. Earlier this year, she conducted research finding that feelings of love and desires for sex were located in different parts of the brain. “This distinction has been interpreted to mean that desire is a relatively concrete representation of sensory experiences, while love is a more abstract representation of those experiences,” she said in February.

Cacioppo is joined in her findings by her real-life partner in love, her husband and University of Chicago researcher John Cacioppo. “By identifying eye patterns that are specific to love-related stimuli, the study may contribute to the development of a biomarker that differentiates feelings of romantic love versus sexual desire,” he said. “An eye-tracking paradigm may eventually offer a new avenue of diagnosis in clinicians’ daily practice or for routine clinical exams in psychiatry and/or couple therapy.”

We see an eye-tracking app in the making.

TIME Dating

Sorry, Google: Amazon’s Employees Are Hotter Than Yours

An employee seals a box at the Amazon.com Inc. fulfillment center in Phoenix, Arizona on Dec. 2, 2013.
An employee seals a box at the Amazon.com Inc. fulfillment center in Phoenix, Arizona on Dec. 2, 2013. Bloomberg—Getty Images

At least according to dating app Hinge

Amazon isn’t just a company with an attractive portfolio—CEO Jeff Bezos is worth a staggering $30 billion—it also possesses the most attractive employees, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Hinge, a dating app that matches young professionals in similar networks, found that users are 14.2% more likely to “swipe right” for Amazon employees than their counterparts at tech companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Apple. Microsoft comes in second with approval levels hitting 8.2% above average, while Apple ranks as the least attractive tech firm with a paltry percentage of 0.2.

Since 2013, Hinge has examined the most attractive firms in New York City, Washington D.C., Boston and San Francisco.Different industries are represented in the lists. Two media firms top New York’s list—Women at MediaVest USA and men at Facebook boast high scores.

But are Amazon employees really more attractive than their Googlers? Amazon reported having 117,300 employees as of January, including part-time workers, while Microsoft has 99,000, Apple 80,300, Google 47,756 and Facebook with 6,337. Hinge works to connect people within their career networks, meaning that more Amazon employees may be more likely to be on the dating app, just because of sheer size. Hinge also reported Amazon as the least “picky” of the tech companies—meaning they were more likely to say “swipe right” on a profile—which could also account for the high numbers.

Amazon employees could be ridiculously good looking, or maybe they just like to lovingly look at their colleagues’ profiles in hopes for a date.

 

 

MONEY Careers

How to Keep an Office Romance from Destroying Your Career

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Playing footsie in the staff meeting is a definite no-no. Getty Images

Q: I have a crush on a co-worker. Should I let him know? – Eva, Minneapolis

A: Give it careful thought first, since you could get into a situation that would jeopardize your professional reputation.

Inter-office romance is a tricky business. Some companies frown on it; others formally ban it. Even if your workplace has no problems with colleagues canoodling, you may wind up with a problem should things not work out between you and your flame.

Imagine having to get a pressing report out of an ex, who has a relationship’s worth of dirt on you to use as leverage. Uncomfortable? Yup.

Or, consider what it would be like to work on a team project with someone who has spurned you. Not fun.

On the other hand, if it’s true love you’re looking for, statistics are in your favor. Among U.S. workers who’ve dated someone from work—a hefty 40% of all employees—a third ended up marrying their office sweetheart, according to a CareerBuilder survey.

That makes sense, says Barbara Pachter, author of The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat, and Tweet Your Way to Success. “You may have similar interests if you work at the same organization,” she notes. “And you have a good sense of what someone is like when you spend hours each day in the same place.”

Your first step: Figure out the rules regarding dating officemates. (The employee handbook may offer clues, and if not, ask your HR rep.) No explicit rules? Evaluate whether it the practice is acceptable in your company’s culture by asking others in the office—in an off-handish way, of course—whether they’ve heard of others on staff dating or marrying colleagues.

Before making any moves, keep rank in mind. It’s better to avoid dating someone in a higher or lower position as this can cause an imbalance of power within the office and without. And know that you will draw extra scrutiny if you work closely with the person, even if you are peers.

Next step: Find out if feelings are mutual. Assuming you know your intended is available—which other colleagues should be able to tell you—test the waters by asking him to lunch or inviting him to an outside work event. If he doesn’t seem interested, drop it.

If you do hit it off and start dating, be discreet. “Keep your displays of affection out of the office and away from business social events,” says Pachter.

Mind your social networks too. The lines between one’s professional and personal life can get blurry when it comes to social media, so be careful about posting pictures or racy exchanges with your office sweetie.

Also, don’t let love goggles block your view your colleagues. “If you spend all your lunches and breaks with your partner, you may get disconnected from your co-workers,” says Pachter. “Your work relationships are important to your career. You don’t want to burn your network.”

Most important, be prepared to back off quickly the second trouble brews. In the CareerBuilder survey, 7% of workers who dated a colleague reported having to leave their jobs because their office romance soured.

Have a workplace etiquette question? Send it to careers@moneymail.com.

TIME Malaysia

Malaysia Is Becoming a Global Hub For Internet Scams Preying on the Lovelorn

IAC Will Turn Match Dating Service Into a Separate Business
The Match.com website is displayed on laptop computers arranged for a photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The ease of obtaining visas, opening bank accounts and arranging money transfers are all part of Malaysia's newfound criminal appeal.

Lax student visa regulations and a high-tech banking system has made Malaysia a global hub for Internet scams, according to U.S. officials, with money being swindled out of unwitting Americans and Europeans by racketeers prowling online dating sites.

The conmen typically hail from Nigeria or Ghana and dupe lonely, middle-aged men and women from the U.S. and Western Europe through matchmaking services like Match.com, reports Reuters. A dozen new cases are reported to the U.S. embassy in Kuala Lumpur every week, with scam complaints forming four-fifths of new work for duty officers.

“This is a serious issue hurting many Americans financially and emotionally,” said a U.S. embassy spokesperson. “We would hope that through publicity more Americans would be made aware of these scams.”

While most Internet users have received — only to swiftly mock and discard — some crude Nigerian scam emails, these tricksters are more sophisticated, and slowly build trust as a budding romance ripens. Then the request for money comes, normally a relatively small amount at first; but once the hooks are in, the victim struggles to turn down subsequent heftier demands without admitting to having been hoodwinked.

“Some victims find it very hard to break away from the relationship, even when they’ve been told it’s not real,” says Professor Monica Whitty, an expert on Internet fraud psychology. “So the criminal admits to scamming the victim but says that they also fell in love with them at the same time, and they get back into the same scam.”

But it is not just lovelorn Americans who are being swindled; other foreign embassies in Kuala Lumpur are dealing with similar complaints, reports Reuters. Whitty says that at least 500,000 U.K. citizens have fallen prey to such “sweetheart scams” since the phenomenon was first reported around 2007.

Slightly more men than women are duped by fraudulent lovers, but men are less likely to seek recompense out of embarrassment.

“Some people mortgage their houses to pay these criminals,” Whitty says, “but often the devastation they feel is more about the loss of the relationship than the money — of realizing they’ve been duped.”

And worryingly, such scams appear to be growing more common; last year, U.S.-based IT security developer SOPHOS ranked Malaysia as sixth globally in terms of cyber crime threat risks, as the total cyber crime bill topped $300 million. The ease of obtaining visas, opening bank accounts and arranging money transfers are all part of the nation’s criminal appeal.

“Scammers are increasingly using targeted social engineering attacks against their victims due to the extremely high success rate,” Ty Miller, an Australian security expert and founder of Threat Intelligence, tells TIME. “This not only affects individuals, but also organizations.”

Awareness and technology are key to tackling this scourge, says Miller, who is running a fraud-prevention course in Kuala Lumpur in October. “Techniques can be deployed that allow malicious individuals to be tracked,” he says, “which as time goes on will build intelligence to unveil the identity of the perpetrators.”

Amirudin Abdul Wahab, CEO of CyberSecurity Malaysia, an agency under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, says all involved nations must share information and jointly investigate cases according to agreed procedures and technical processes.

“Various authorities from the various countries involved should work together rather than blaming each other,” he said by email. “These countries need to synergize their efforts, in order to effectively address this scam problem.”

TIME relationships

How to Dump a Cheater: Say It With a Freeway Banner

Why get mad, when you can publicly humiliate the jerk instead?

Revenge fantasies can be fun, but are often illegal, immoral or just too complicated. But two women in the United Kingdom appear to have found a simple way to get back at their lothario — who was allegedly dating both of them at the same time — with maximum impact.

On Wednesday, a banner appeared on a bridge above a busy freeway near the cities of Newcastle and Gateshead, which read: “Steve Frazer You’re Dumped! By Both of Your Girlfriends.” A joint selfie of the two women and a photo of the (alleged) cheater were emblazoned on the banner as well.

To be clear, we have no idea what the backstory is behind the banner — nor does anyone else who’s gone public, anyway. The most obvious scenario would be that the ladies, who bare a disturbing resemblance to each other, found out that their man was dating both of them and were pissed. (Wait, wasn’t there a movie about this?)

Whatever the case, we’re pretty sure Steve was squirming in his car seat when he saw the banner, which was taken down later in the day. As one tweep noted, “Not a great day for Steve Frazer”.

TIME Dating

Geniuses in Love: Mensa and Match.com Partner For a New Dating Site

Heart in a petrie dish
Getty Images

Mensa, the society for people with high IQ, and Match.com are teaming up to create a new dating site for highly intelligent people, reports Match.com.

According to Match, smart is attractive: More than 80% of singles claim a partner’s equal or higher intelligence is a “must have” or “very important.”

“Why do we want a smart partner? Because intelligence is correlated with many benefits, including: higher income; sense of humor; creativity; social skills; coordination; and problem solving. These are sexy,” said Match’s Chief Scientific Advisor Dr. Helen Fisher in an online statement.

The new site only allows users that match Mensa’s requirement of an IQ in above the 98% of the general population. According to Mensa, there are plenty of brainy fish in the sea: an estimated 6 million Americans are eligible to become a part of the organization which now has 57,000 members.

Super smart singles are encouraged to put their best mind forward; through July 6th, Match is inviting them to take the Mensa Home Test for $1 to see if they qualify for this genius opportunity.

TIME relationships

For Just $5,000, Match.com Will Find You a Date Who Looks Just Like Your Ex

Courtesy Three Day Rule

Match.com is teaming up with a matchmaking startup that uses facial recognition to help you meet someone new -- sort of

If you think you can never move on from the love of your life — who recently informed you that the feeling is anything but mutual — signing up for an online dating service is probably the last thing on your mind. The parade of weirdos and just plain ugly people is enough to get you to swear off dating forever. All you want is your ex back, and nothing else will do.

So here’s a thought: what if you could date someone who looks just like your ex? That’s the idea behind a new “white-glove” dating service offered by Three Day Rule in conjunction with Match.com. For a mere $5000, you can send in photos of your ex, which Three Day Rule will use to help you find a more suitable suitor. Starting June 25, Match.com will send an email to targeted Match users inviting them to try the new approach. Initially emails will only go out to users in cities where Three Day Rule currently operates, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, but the offer will be extended as Three Day Rule expands to other cities.

“If you like one facial structure, you will probably like someone with a similar facial structure,” explains Three Day Rule founder Talia Goldstein, who notes that women are just as visually-oriented as men these days. Her high-end service doesn’t stop at scanning for lookalikes either: coaches will interview you in person and even go on pre-dates with potential matches to help weed out the bozos.

But here’s another thought: if the only way you can stomach online dating is by trying to find someone just like your ex, maybe what you really need is a time out instead. “Sometimes you need a little bit of time in between rather than jumping right back in,” says online dating coach Julie Spira. Once you do, consider dating against your type. “I’m always encouraging [daters] to jump out of their comfort zone,” says Spira. After all, changing things up may be what you really need to snap out of your dating funk.

TIME Internet

How ‘Hot or Not’ Created the Internet We Know Today

Hot or Not screenshot on iOS Hot or Not

It's the circle of Internet life

“Hot or Not,” the site that lets you rate other people’s attractiveness, relaunched in the U.S. Tuesday as an app 14 years after it tapped into our baser selves. But did it ever really go away?

Here’s how the original site worked: Users voluntarily submit photos of themselves, and visitors to the site would rate the attractiveness of said photos on a scale of one to 10. The people with the highest ratings were deemed the “hottest.” The judgmental site inspired many of the dating apps that we have today where a potential match’s first picture determines whether he or she makes the cut. But unlike Tinder or OkCupid where swiping left or right theoretically serves a purpose—finding a date—”Hot or Not” was originally just for fun. (If you consider it amusing to find out what hundreds of strangers think of your looks in a particular photo.)

Two Berkeley grads thought of the idea in 2000 as they debated the attractiveness of a passing woman on the street. They decided to let the masses vote. Within a week of launching, the site has two million page views per day.

Sound familiar? A scene in The Social Network shows Mark Zuckerberg creating a similar “hot or not” conceit using pictures of Harvard students. The site, Facemash, really did exist (three years after Hot or Not launched) and really was a Facebook predecessor. It allowed two visitors to compare two students pictures side-by-side and vote who was more attractive. In short, Hot or Not had a part in inspiring what’s now the world’s top social networking site.

The concept also spawned a short-lived reality television show, Are You Hot?: The Search for America’s Sexiest People. The show, which premiered the same year as FaceMash in 2003, featured a panel of judges who would rate contestant’s physical attractiveness. The Hot or Not site had no association with the show, but it certainly created an appetite for such media.

But Hot or Not’s biggest contribution to the way we live our lives today was the gamification of attractiveness. Hot or Not was a fun pastime like online games at the time. As my colleague Laura Stampler has written for TIME before, smartphone apps have similarly made dating into a game—a very addictive game. Even the interface is game-like: the stacked photos on Tinder look like a deck of cards. The swiping is so easy, people play without even thinking about it—like 2048 or Candy Crush.

But none of these dating apps would exist if it weren’t for Hot or Not’s original invention.

Hot or Not has passed through many hands since its original conception, but is now owned by Andrey Andreev, a 40-year-old Russian who describes himself as a serial entrepreneur. He founded Badoo, a billion-dollar social networking site in Europe that hasn’t been able to break into the U.S. Hot or Not, he believes, will provide him that access to the states.

But somehow even though Hot or Not invented the addicting game of judging other people’s looks, it found itself late to the party once mobile computing took over our lives. Dating apps have already flooded the market with ways to rate people, and now Hot or Not is trying to look more like them. In the new app version, the 10-point system has been replaced by “hot” or “not” buttons (similar to the right and left swipe). And if two people rate each other as “hot” a connection is made, and they can chat one another.

Unlike most dating apps, though, you can see how popular you are as measured by the number of “hot” votes you get by others. The makers believe that people will want come back to check their rating and compare their “hotness” to others, much in the way kids compete for followers on Instagram. But this version is a little bit horrifying because while it might be fun to rate other people, it’s never fun to see what strangers really think of you. If finding out how anonymous people judge your attractiveness sounds disheartening, remember Hot or Not was never meant to be monetized or serve a purpose. It was meant to be slightly-malicious fun.

And now it’s entering an already-flooded market of dating apps which have capitalized on that fun by making the process more private. Getting so many matches on dating apps like Tinder or Hinge or OkCupid takes away the sting of being rejected by a few you liked. On those apps, only you know how many people liked you back; it’s not public knowledge (salvaging your integrity). Hot or Not plans to blow all that up in order to find the “hottest people in America.”

Fourteen years after Hot or Not was invented, it’s trying to beat everyone else at its own vapid game. Welcome to the circle of life on the Internet.

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