TIME Dating

These Are the 20 Best Cities for Singles

New York, NY
New York, NY Noe DeWitt

Here are the liveliest singles scenes, whether at bars, bookstores or bowling alleys

The singles scene in New York City is a little crazy, maybe even certifiably so.

“This is a city with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but only in the best ways,” says Rachel Harrison, a Brooklyn-based public relations exec. “You can dress a little wilder, slap on some fake eyelashes—you can do anything you want, at any age. There are no judgments.”

Unabashedly batting those faux lashes got the Big Apple more than a few second glances this year. New York City landed in the top 10 for the best cities for singles, according to Travel + Leisure readers. In this year’s America’s Favorite Places survey, readers ranked 38 cities on dozens of appealing qualities, including good-looking locals, cool shopping, and hipster-magnet coffee bars.

The winning cities in the singles-scene category excel in the off-hours, ranking highly for nightclubs, dive bars, and even great diners, where you might lock eyes with someone over a late-night order of fries.

But the most singles-friendly cities also put a creative spin on conventional meet-up spots. Plenty of big attractions—from the Brooklyn Museum to the San Diego Museum of Art—offer monthly happy hours, wooing artsy singles with cocktails and live music. In Boston, one of the coolest bookstores does Trivia Nights, while in downtown L.A. a popular bar stocks old-school video games.

Another strategy for uncovering a city’s best singles scene is exploring the activities that locals love most. “New Orleanians live and breathe festivals—like Jazz Fest, and even Creole Tomato Fest,” says native Stephen Schmitz. Just be warned: “The heat and humidity,” he says, “can make for a rough appearance.”

Read on for the full results. And make your point of view heard by voting in the America’s Favorite Places survey.

No. 1 Miami

Gorgeous locals, a wealth of nightclubs, and a wild streak as long as the beach: Miami climbed from second to first place this year, thanks to its flair for throwing a big party. Hot spots like Wall at the W South Beach or the Italian-restaurant-meets-cocktail-lounge Cavalli get a big boost when celebs grace the premises, whether it’s Bieber or the formerly single Clooney. Other trendy hangouts are a little more accessible to the non-red-carpet crowd: Tamarina, for one, features an oyster bar and alfresco champagne bar, plus a reasonably priced happy hour. You might meet other singles while strolling through galleries and past street art on the Wynwood Art Walks, held the second Saturday of the month. And in this otherwise well-dressed town, your best secret-weapon accessory may be a smile: readers found the locals to be a little aloof.

No. 2 Houston

Houston sashayed into the top five for singles this year, and why not—the locals ranked as both smart and stylish, and the city landed near the top for both its decadent barbecue and world-class art. Gallery Row, at the intersection of Colquitt and Lake streets, offers both great art and conversation starters: check out Hooks-Epstein for contemporary surrealists or Catherine Couturier Gallery for vintage photos. Houston also pulled off an upset by winning the wine bar category this year. Pull up a stool to chat at La Carafe—the city’s oldest bar, with a fabulous jukebox—or try the newbie, downtown’s Public Services Wine and Whisky, which is located in the old 1884 Cotton Exchange building and serves a wide range of global wines, sherries, and whiskeys.

No. 3 New Orleans

Last year’s No. 1 city for singles still knows how to whoop it up, ranking at the top of the survey for festivals, bars, and wild weekends. But a good singles experience in NOLA need not be limited to collecting beads: some cool places to meet a more local crowd, off the tourist grid, include the Saturday night dance party at the Hi-Ho Lounge in the Marigny; Bywater wine bar Bacchanal, with its live-music-filled courtyard; or Fulton Alley for late-night “boutique bowling,” with shareable, andouille-sausage tater tots.

No. 4 Austin, TX

The seat of Texas government is also the nation’s capital of hipsters, according to readers, who also ranked Austin No. 1 for cool locals. Given Austin’s high density of both college students and bearded Peter Pan types, the can’t-miss spots for meeting singles include dive bars and food trucks: you can find both at Wonderland on East 6th, a stylishly low-key bar that provides space outside for the Thai-flavored East Side King truck. To mingle with fellow foodies, check out The Picnic, a trailer park on Barton Springs Road, which is home to Turf N Surf Po’ Boy and Hey Cupcake! If you need an excuse to let down your emotional walls, consider that Austin also ranked well for feeling safe.

No. 5 Atlanta

The Georgia hub scored well for its java, and Dancing Goats Coffee Bar, a single-origin coffee and donut bar in Ponce City Market, is a fine place for a pick-me-up (and perhaps a pick-up line). If you prefer snobs of the burger variety, head to Holeman and Finch, where every night at 10 p.m., you can line up for one of the 24 acclaimed double-patty (grass-fed chuck and brisket) cheeseburgers, served on house-made buns. Atlanta’s residents also made the top 20 for being smart.

Read the full list HERE.

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TIME relationships

Investors Are Putting Millions Into ‘Tinder For Elitists’

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Unemployed need not apply

There’s a Tinder for dogs, a Tinder for Jews, and now… a Tinder for elitists.

Or, as The League creator Amanda Bradford prefers to describe the dating app that only allows a selective cohort of singles to join, “curated.”

“The best universities curate students,” Bradford said to Business Insider. “Employers curate their employees. Work and school are the top places where 20-somethings meet each other. So it makes sense for a dating community [as well.]”

And even though the power couple-making app is only in beta with 4,500 San Francisco-based users, The League just announced $2.1 million in investor funding Thursday.

“I was just going to raise a small seed round, but we had a bunch of interest and we went from $500,000 to $2.1 million almost overnight,” Bradford told Tech Crunch.

What are investors putting their money into?

The League is all about selectivity. Singles apply to join, and then wait for approval by administrators. While apps like Tinder, Hinge and Coffee Meets Bagel pulls user data from Facebook, The League also goes to LinkedIn to curate its community — largely made up of lawyers, doctors and tech execs.

Business Insider reports:

The acceptance algorithm that The League uses scans the social networks to ensure applicants are in the right age group and that they are career-oriented. That doesn’t mean they have to be Ivy graduates or work for a big-name firm. But they should have accomplished something in their 20s.

Those accepted not only get to check their 5 p.m. “happy hour” matches, but they also get a pass to refer a friend.

TIME Sex/Relationships

10 Rules to Make Your Relationship Last

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'It’s always more work than you can possibly imagine. In my case, it was worth it.'

For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, what is it that makes a marriage last (and last)? To answer this age-old question, family sociologist Karl Pillemer, PhD, launched the largest in-depth survey of long-married couples ever conducted, interviewing 700 people who had been hitched an average of 43 years. Their sage advice is collected in his new book, 30 Lessons for Loving ($26, amazon.com).

Here, a few of our favorite practical relationship tips from husbands and wives who’ve discovered the true meaning of commitment.

Start the day with a small kindness

“When you wake up in the morning, think, What can I do to make his or her day just a little happier? The idea is you need to turn toward each other and focus on the other person, even just for that five minutes when you first wake up.”
—Antoinette Watkins*, 81

Remember that being close doesn’t mean you’re the same

“You have to be able to try—and sometimes this is very, very difficult—you have to try to understand what the other person is thinking in any given situation. The main thing is that everybody—including your partner—has their own ideas about their world. Even though you’re in a very intimate relationship, the other person is still another person.”
—Reuben Elliot, 72

HEALTH.COM: 10 Ways to Improve Your Relationship Instantly

Stop worrying about your wrinkles

“Somehow as you get older you kind of get blind to the infirmities that affect the other party. And you always see them the way they were. You don’t see aging. It’s a wonderful thing. I don’t know if the brain is wired for that, but that’s the way it is.”
—Alfredo Doyle, 77

Find your “fight number 17”

“This may sound like a flip thing, but it works for us. We came up with it at some point along the way: We call it jokingly ‘fight number 17.’ … It means we’ve had this one at least 16 times before. We’ve decided we don’t even bother to have it anymore. We see it coming and we just shut up and don’t even start with it. Because it’s not going to go anywhere. My theory is that in every marriage there is one of those issues.”
—Ralph Perkins

Nurture the friendship

“I think it’s hard when you’re young and hot on one another to back off and say, ‘Do I like what is behind these hands and these body parts?’ But that is the piece that doesn’t wear out, that grows and deepens. The sexual aspect deepens, too, in its own way, but it becomes less important and the friendship becomes more important as the years go by. It will be challenged by kids and hardships and losses of parents and changing interests and patterns, but an abiding friendship is at the base of a solid marriage.”
—Lydia Wade, 73

HEALTH.COM: 13 Reasons to Have More Sex

Surround yourself with happy couples

“If you’re hanging around with negative people, find some positive people and hang around with them instead. You know, success imitates success. So if you see people who seem to have a very successful happy marriage, well, you hang around with those types of people. It does rub off. Avoid the ones with a defeatist attitude—get out of there before they drag you down.”
—Jeremy Bennett, 80

Repeat back to each other

“We realized early on that disagreements often came about when we weren’t really understanding where the other person was coming from. So I will say, ‘Are you saying….?’ Or ‘Do you mean…?’ Because sometimes we really are in the moment and we say things that we really don’t believe. So I always repeat back to him what I think he’s saying and then he’ll either say yes or he’ll say, ‘No, where’d you get that idea?’”
—Lucia Waters, 75

HEALTH.COM: 15 Everyday Habits to Boost Your Libido

Divvy up chores based on your strengths

“You just need to share at home…It needs to be cooperative. And here’s the way to do it: Whatever needs to be done, the person who can do it best is the one who should do it.”
—Dixie Becker, 84

Take breaks

“If conflict occurs, well, there is the Chinese saying, ‘Take a step back, and you can see the whole sky.’ Just step away, a little bit. Just step back and then you see other things.”
—Chen Xiu

Know that there’s always more to learn

“It seems to me that marriage is a process. You never get there; you’re always in process. It’s always more work than you can possibly imagine. In my case, it was worth it.”
—Samantha Jones, 80

HEALTH.COM: 20 Weird Facts About Sex and Love

*All of the participants’ names have been changed.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

MONEY Office romance

4 Things You Need to Know Before You Start Dating a Coworker

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Make sure that pursuing love won't cost you your career.

After firing CEO Dov Charney last month, American Apparel decided to update its company code of ethics with stricter guidelines regarding interoffice relationships. According to the new policy, “No management-level employee may make sexual advances, welcome or unwelcome, toward any subordinate.”

Considering Charney’s time with the company was riddled with allegations of sexual harassment, it’s no surprise that the company wants to take a more conservative approach to fraternization.

But here’s the thing: Whether or not there are policies forbidding them, office relationships happen.

A recent survey by CareerBuilder found that nearly 40% of employees admitted to having a romantic relationship with a co-worker. And a whopping 31% of office relationships result in marriage—meaning they can’t always be a bad idea, right?

Here’s how to make sure pursuing love won’t cost you your job:

Avoid Getting Involved with the Wrong Person

According to the CareerBuilder survey, 24% of intra-office relationships were with someone higher up in the organization.

Dana Brownlee, president of professional training development company Professionalism Matters, advises against initiating a romance with your manager, or, likewise, with anyone who reports to you directly or indirectly.

“If you’re a manager, you should be held to a higher standard,” she says. “You’re creating a climate where people are going to see bias whether there really is bias or not.”

Relationships with your peers are generally more acceptable—assuming they’re unhitched. A stunning 20% of people who told CareerBuilder that they had dated someone at the office admitted that at least one person in the relationship was married.

Perhaps that makes sense given the amount of time we spend at work: In an office relationship, you can relate to the struggles someone faces from 9 to 5, says Brownlee. That’s not easy to do with a spouse or partner who works in a different field.

But getting involved with someone who’s married can end up damaging your personal reputation as well as your professional one—if people find out, you could lose integrity—not to mention the pain it could inflict on loved ones (yours or your partner’s).

For those of you considering an office relationship with a married coworker, here’s some sage advice: Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

Know Your Company’s Policy Before the First Date

Some companies have very strict rules about relationships, and you should understand those boundaries—and the possible consequences of crossing them.

“Of course we know those policies aren’t always adhered to,” says Jacqueline Whitmore, founder of etiquetteexpert.com, “but it certainly should be considered, especially if there’s a policy that says, ‘We won’t hire married couples.'”

In other words, assuming you think this relationship could get serious enough to get to the altar, you could end up having to choose between your lover and your livelihood. And that’s a tough choice. Of people surveyed by Workplace Options, 57% said they’d opt to protect their career, but 43% said they would lean towards leaving their jobs.

Does your company strictly prohibit relationships of any kind? Before deciding that you’d be willing to pack up your desk in some grand romantic gesture, Brownlee advises that you consider your skill set, resume and future goals.

“It might be smarter for your career development to consider smaller changes instead of radical shifts,” she says. Maybe there’s an opportunity to switch to a different team or project, or to get some needed experience in a different department.

Consider the Worst-Case Scenario

With 7% of respondents to the CareerBuilder survey saying they had to leave a job after a breakup, you’ll be glad you did some critical thinking before jumping into any new relationship with a colleague.

First of all, ask yourself how well you know your potential partner. If things turn south, the last thing you’ll want is someone gossiping about your private life or what you said about your boss after a particularly tough performance review.

Also, consider how much you’d continue having to work with the person after breaking up—or even how regularly you’re likely to run into him or her at work functions or around the water cooler. “It can make for a very uncomfortable situation,” she says Whitmore.

Plus, if the two of you are uncomfortable around each other while working on a common project, your performance may suffer—and that could in turn hurt your prospects for promotions or raises.

To avoid some of these consequences, Brownlee says you’re better off asking out someone in a different department vs. someone whom you work with on a regular basis.

Remember that During Business Hours, Work Comes First

If you decide to pursue the relationship, set up some ground rules before things get too serious, says Brownlee. Think of the discussion as “a prenup for dating,” she says.

Make sure you are both clear about who will know about the relationship and when. You’ve hopefully already looked into the company policy, so you understand which superiors need to know. But what about Amy in the next cubicle over?

“In the early, casual stages, it’s probably better to keep it quiet,” says Brownlee. “If it’s serious, it’s probably a little harder to play it close to the vest. The key is that you guys are on the same page.”

You’ll also want to make sure you set some boundaries about how much time you spend together in the office in order to actively manage your coworkers’ and managers’ perceptions. No one thought anything of a random chat you two had in your office before the relationship, but now it can be misconstrued as a social call or, even worse, a risky-business meeting.

“You can get a reputation, whether it’s earned or not,” Brownlee says.

TIME Dating

Lena Dunham Thinks Tinder Is for Murderers

The cast of Girls discusses the dating app

The girls of Girls had a conversation about Tinder on People TV, and the actress’ personal reactions to the dating app are pretty in line with what their characters might think.

Zosia Mamet, who plays the curious yet naive Shoshanna, didn’t know what it was—but wanted it explained. Jemima Kirke, who plays the sexually liberated Jessa, thinks it’s a sex site. Allison Williams, the overachieving Marni, knows all about Tinder and was quick to clarify that it is “a dating app… if you’re talented at it, you can have sex eventually.”

And, finally, Lena Dunham, who plays the neurotic Hannah Horvath, sincerely believes that Tinder is a place people go when they want to be murdered.

“It’s not about being famous, it’s not about being anything, it’s not even about being in a committed relationship,” Dunham said. “I believe Tinder is a tool for murder.”

See the video at People

MORE: There’s Now a Tinder for Dogs

TIME relationships

The Moving-On Manual: How to Get Over Anything

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The idea of ‘letting go’ is so crucial to our mental — and physical — health

This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

In a perfect world, all would go just as we wanted — from the outcome of our relationships to our career moves and everything else in-between. But, of course, real life can totally eff with what is important to us, from a quick fling to a long-term love, the perfect job, and the delicate balance of our friendships. As a result, sometimes anything emotional — from anger to resentment and low self-esteem — can infiltrate all unrelated aspects of our lives, too.

“When it comes to the idea of ‘getting over’ something, people often think of it as the equivalent of forgive and forget,” says Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of A Happy You. “But, really, while there is the forgive aspect, it’s not about forgetting — it doesn’t mean that you condone what has happened or that it doesn’t hurt — it means that you are releasing the anger, sadness, and resentment that goes along with it.” And you know what else comes out of letting go of a grudge? The negative health aftermath — including legit muscle pain, stomach issues, even migraine headaches — that is sure to be only a few baby steps behind it.

And, while it’s easy to get all hung up on whatever it is that has you bummed — a breakup, the job you didn’t get, a fight with a friend — Lombardo says that once these things happen, really, they aren’t what’s got you feeling down. “What hurts after the fact is not the event itself,” she says. “It’s the present interpretation of the event — ‘I didn’t get the job I wanted last year, so I took a job I hate, and now I’m miserable because I didn’t get the job in the past.’ It’s the perception of what that event meant at the time, but also what it means right now.” This blame game could hold us back from actually getting what we want. “We put a lot of blame on events, but really, how do we know that that’s true? We make this assumption and we can’t change the past, so then we remain stuck in an emotional pattern caused by that event.”

(MORE: Go On, Get Mad! How Anger Can Be Healthy)

So, how do you break the can’t-get-past-it BS that could be the actual thing standing in your emotional way? “Ask yourself: How helpful is feeling this way for me?” says Lombardo. “Instead of thinking that you didn’t get that job because you aren’t any good, really look at the situation and what happened. Maybe you and the interviewer had bad chemistry, or you went in unprepared, or you didn’t really understand the position — really look into the ingredients that contributed to the outcome.”

Seems easy, right? Well, not if you suffer from what most people do — a love of what Lombardo refers to as global generalization. “Instinctually, we want to make sense of stuff, and that can lead us to making sweeping generalizations that act as a defense mechanism,” she says. If you think “I’m never going to meet anyone now that we broke up,” then may be you don’t go out or meet new people, and make it so that is, in fact, the result. “Sometimes, it’s easier to think negatively, and then when that negativity manifests, say, ‘See, I was right!’” she says. “But if you’re going to make an assumption, why not let it be positive?”

Kathy Andersen, a well-being coach and author of Change Your Shoes, Live Your Greatest Life, suggests coming up with replacement feelings. “If you don’t have anything to replace the grief, anger, abandonment with, then you might hold onto them longer than you need or want to,” she says. Whatever negative emotion you have, think about the opposite emotion that you want to have, and one thing that you can do to feel it. So, for example, if you’re lonely, may be you could go for a walk in the park, volunteer, or call a friend. “Once you start with one experience and one feeling, you can bring it into your life more fully and more consistently, and let go of the emotions tied to the event that you don’t want in your life any longer,” says Andersen, who notes that aiming for 15 minutes every day for a month is enough. “The transformation this brings about automatically brings you to the next step.”

(MORE: What Shame & Guilt Can Do To Your Wallet)

And, it turns out, not being able to ‘get over it’ is what can actually lead to guilt, too. “When we can’t move on, we often feel disheartened, because the concept feels like you need to forget about it — but it remains with you, and then you start to wonder what is wrong with you,” says Andersen. “So, many people say, ‘Oh, move on!’ and then we hear that and it doesn’t compute.”

Yet, the idea of ‘letting go’ is so crucial to our mental — and physical — health. “It can affect our psychological health, how we view ourselves, and behavior,” says Lombardo. “If, after a breakup, you feel like you’ll never meet anyone, then you don’t even try to put yourself out there to meet anyone; plus, research shows that holding on to negative feelings can put a huge stress on our bodies, leading to chronic pain and aches, insomnia, and even weight gain.”

While it might sound all new-age-y, experts agree that it all comes down to your view and current perception. This is known as the Law of Attraction, when thoughts come to fruition because your behavior (even unconsciously) reflects that belief (good or bad), causing us to behave differently toward people and vice versa. One of the best ways to move on, according to Lombardo, is to ask yourself what you can learn from this. “We can learn from every single thing — be objective, instead of personalizing,” she says.

(MORE: Stop Telling Women They’re Crazy)

Experts also say that visualizing what you do want is essential. “We are so focused on what we don’t want, and then that’s what we often get,” says Lombardo. “Your brain literally thinks, ‘I guess being miserable for the rest of her life is what she wants, because she says she will be!’” So, basically, mind trick yourself: Andersen suggests first closing your eyes and picturing the perfect job, significant other, apartment, or whatever it is, and experience the positive emotions you feel from that — over time, that can help be the catalyst to get what you do want.

Then, pick up a piece of paper and literally write down how or why you would benefit from getting over x, y, or z. And, accept that the thing you want to get over happened. “Again, it doesn’t mean that you agree, or that you’re necessarily happy with the situation that occurred, but it means that you are accepting that these are the cards that you were dealt, and you can either be pissed about it or decide that you are going to play the best darn game that I can with them.”

How do you know when you may need a pro to help you talk through it? First, simple enough, if that is what comes to mind that you might need, well, then you probably should. But there are other I-could-cope-better red flags: “If you aren’t functioning the way that you used to; if the situation has affected your physical health, like you aren’t sleeping well; or you’re argumentative with friends or loved ones, then you should seek out a professional’s help,” says Lombardo. “Mourn the loss, but if negative behavior after is consistent, then seek out a professional to talk it out.”

TIME Dating

So Online Dating King Sam Yagan Has Never Been on an Online Date

2013 Time 100 Gala - Arrivals
Chief Executive Officer of Match Sam Yagan attends the 2013 Time 100 Gala at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 23, 2013 in New York City. Jennifer Graylock—Getty Images

We're talking about the entrepreneur who cofounded OkCupid and now heads up the company that owns Tinder

Sam Yagan, the CEO of online dating juggernaut Match Group (which owns Tinder and Match.com), and the cofounder of OkCupid, revealed during a Reddit AMA session on Monday that he has never been on an online date.

Yagan, who was listed in the 2013 TIME 100, admitted that the other three co-founders of OkCupid (OkC) had never been on an online date, either.

He explained: “We were all dating our future wives when we started OkC. And before that, we were basically in college where online dating wasn’t really pervasive.”

Dissatisfied with this answer, one Redditor quipped: “Sounds like a ringing endorsement!”

Nonetheless, Yagan reiterated his belief that online dating was “the most effective tool ever created” for finding “affection or companionship.” He also offered guidance to one frustrated Redditor, going by the name “Warlizard,” who wondered why he had yet to find “true love” on an online dating site.

Yagan ventured: “Maybe have a more inviting username than ‘warlizard’? :).”

The king of the “swipe right” universe declined to confirm if a paid version of Tinder was in the works, nor was he able to satisfy everyone with a question to ask in the limited time available.

As one put it: “So, just like on OkCupid, you respond a couple times and disappear?”

TIME Sex/Relationships

5 Weird Ways Love Affects Your Personality

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If you feel like you’re “addicted” to being in love, you might be onto something

Beyoncé may be a musical genius, but can you really be “drunk in love”? According to science, yes, you can. In fact, feeling head-over-heels does more than just make you feel a little warm and fuzzy; it can actually transform the way you think and act.

Check out some of the freaky ways love can affect your mind and body, and prepare to feel (mostly) exonerated from your past in-the-name-of-love behavior.

1. It can make you feel high

There’s a scientific explanation for why you feel so blissfully overjoyed during a new relationship, and it has nothing to do with romantic dates. Scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City studied the MRI scans of college students and found that falling in love activates the same neural system in your brain that lights up when you take cocaine, giving you an intense feeling of euphoria. So if you feel like you’re “addicted” to your new beau, you may not be as crazy as you think.

HEALTH.COM: 20 Weird Facts About Sex and Love

2. It can make you dumber

Or at least really, really spacey. Research published in the journal Motivation and Emotion in 2013 found that people who are in love are less able to focus and perform tasks that require attention than people who aren’t enamored. In addition, the more in love the participants in the study were, the more difficult it was for them to concentrate on assignments. The study authors aren’t quite sure why exactly love makes your brain go fuzzy, but they do theorize that a balance between focus and fantasy is crucial for a successful relationship (and probably a productive day!)

3. It can make you meaner

Think back to every rom-com where two guys duke it out over a girl or a pair of best friends become scheming enemies because of a man. What causes such intense hostility in the name of love? According to a recent study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, the answer lies in neurological hormones that are linked to aggression and empathy. Researchers at the University of Buffalo asked participants to describe a time when someone close to them was threatened and how they reacted, and they found that caring for someone predicted aggressive behavior. So when you’re with someone you love, these hormones can turn your brain’s warm, compassionate empathy into protective aggression, readying you to defend your mate against attackers, stressful events, and even sadness. Cute, huh?

HEALTH.COM: 13 Reasons to Have More Sex

4. It can make you obsessive

If you’ve ever fallen in love, you know how the infatuation that occurs in the early stages of a relationship can feel all-encompassing and exhausting. Researchers at the University of Pisa in Italy set out to find the reason why and discovered that the biochemical effects of romantic love can be indistinguishable from having obsessive-compulsive disorder. The scientists found that people who fell in love in the previous six months had similar low levels of serotonin (a calm-producing hormone) as individuals with OCD, which might explain why you can’t stop thinking about your baby all day and night.

5. It can make you feel invincible

Ever wonder why all your aches seem to disappear when you’re cuddling with your partner? No, it’s not a coincidence. According to researchers at Stanford University, the areas of the brain that are affected by feelings of intense love are the same areas that painkillers target. Participants brought in photos of their significant other plus an equally attractive friend and the photos were flashed in front of them while researchers heated up a thermal simulator on their palms. Brain scans showed that the “love” photos reduced pain more than the friend photos, possibly by activating reward centers that block pain at a spinal level, like opioid painkillers do. Of course, a passionate romance isn’t a good alternative for chronic pain meds, but, hey, it could help.

HEALTH.COM: 15 Natural Back Pain Remedies

This article originally appeared on Health.com

TIME celebrities

Jennifer Lopez: Dating Younger Men is ‘No Big Deal’

Singer Jennifer Lopez at "American Idol XIV" Red Carpet Event in Los Angeles, Ca. on Dec. 9, 2014.
Singer Jennifer Lopez at "American Idol XIV" Red Carpet Event in Los Angeles, Ca. on Dec. 9, 2014. Jason Merritt—Getty Images

The singer finds "comfort" in relationships, despite the hardships her love life has repeatedly faced

In her words, Jennifer Lopez is a “love addict.”

The artist, who considers herself a dancer first and foremost, admits in Self‘s January cover story that she finds “comfort” in relationships, despite the hardships her love life has repeatedly faced.

Lopez, whose Benjamin Button-like condition continues to run rampant, looks fairly incredible in the magazine, her toned body on athletic and age-defying display. In one photo, she bares all – and mid pull-up, to boot – in a pair of white briefs and a white, long-sleeved crop top.

“I’ve been through divorce. I’ve been cheated on, just like every other girl in the world,” Lopez, 45, told the mag of the similarities between herself and her character in The Boy Next Door, an upcoming psychological thriller that features her as a separated woman who falls in love with the high school-aged boy next door.

“So you sympathize, you understand the emotions. And I’ve dated a younger guy once in my life,” she added, referencing her 2½ year relationship with choreographer and dancer Casper Smart, who is nearly 20 years her junior. The couple split in June, and Lopez is currently single.

“I could definitely understand that part, too – the attraction.”

“All the old clichés about women need to be undone. Enough already,” Lopez added. “We’re in the other position now. We are desirable older, we can date younger guys and it’s not this big taboo. Men have been doing this for years, and it’s no big deal.”

On her many high-profile relationships, breakups and makeups, Lopez revealed to Self: “When you have that much pain, you have to anesthetize yourself in some ways. People do different things. Some go out and party and sleep around, but that’s just not my way. I found the comfort in someone else.”

Lopez will appear at PEOPLE’s first ever PEOPLE Magazine Awards on Thursday, airing at 9 p.m. ET on NBC. The Boy Next Door hits theaters Jan. 23.

This article originally appeared on People.com

MONEY Love and Money

The Most Important Talk You Need to Have Before Marriage

wedding rings tied to roll of $100 bills
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A frank conversation about finances early on will prevent relationship land mines later on, says love and money expert Farnoosh Torabi.

It’s not exactly first-date material, but at some point early on couples ought to start talking about money.

Best if the first discussion happens before the relationship takes a turn for the serious—like moving in together, getting engaged or married, or cosigning a loan. You’d want to know if your steady’s trying to pay off a six-figure law school loan or hasn’t saved a dime towards retirement yet, right?

While we know it’s important, many of us shy away from asking our partners key questions related to savings, investments, debt and credit. More than 40% of couples surveyed by Country Financial recently said they didn’t discuss how they’d manage their money together ahead of tying the knot.

As a society, we’re not especially conditioned to speak intimately about our finances. One report found money to be a tougher topic for Americans to talk about than politics and religion. Plus, if you’re not particularly proud of your financial state, a no-holds-barred discussion may stir up anxiety, embarrassment and fear of rejection.

Here’s how to calmly—and, dare I say, pleasantly—enter this critical conversation into the record in the early stages of your relationship:

Set a Date

My now-husband and I had a money powwow about two years into dating.

Don’t get me wrong: By then, we’d fully observed each other’s spending behaviors and discussed goals (thankfully, with no red flags). But we’d yet to really share specific numbers.

With plans to move in together and cosign a lease just a few months down the road, we figured this was a natural and important time to get into the nitty-gritty.

If you and your mate haven’t come anywhere near this conversation yet, my recommendation is to schedule a time to talk so that your partner doesn’t feel blindsided and so that you can each do a little homework beforehand if need be.

One way to frame your request for a money summit: “I know it’s not the most exciting thing to talk about, but it would make me a lot more comfortable if we could go over our finances together since things are getting more serious. I’m not worried at all; I just think it’s helpful if we share the basics so that we’re both on the same page and can work toward common goals. And I want you to feel like you can ask me anything you want about my finances. I want to be an open book about this stuff because I’ve seen how it can unnecessarily complicate things in relationships.”

Then ask: “What do you think?”

Make an Even Exchange of Information…

To ease any potential tension, my future husband and I decided to meet at a familiar and fun setting: our favorite bar.

We ordered a round (one round only) of margaritas and proceeded to jot down the following on a piece of paper: annual income, bank balances, outstanding loans and credit card balances and approximate credit score.

Then we swapped papers, revealing our details at the same time.

This exercise gave us a simple, quick apples-to-apples comparison and helped us understand our relative strengths and weaknesses.

We discovered that while I had more retirement savings, he had a better credit score. (I was still dealing with the consequences of a late payment on my Banana Republic Card five years prior when I was younger and less vigilant. Sigh.)

You and your partner could try this tactic if you both are straight shooters. But if your sweetie could use some help coming out of his or her financial shell, you might need a softer approach.

…Or, Ease Gently into the Interrogation

Revealing a bit about yourself first may encourage your significant other to talk money.

“Share your feelings and see how he or she reacts,” says Barbara Stanny, author of Sacred Success: A Course in Financial Miracles.

For example, you could start by saying, “I really hate having credit card debt.” From there, you can talk about your personal experience and then ask for your partner’s take.

Or, try the following softball conversation starters which can help you get at hardball answers:

What you really want to ask: “How much do you have in savings?”
Start with: “Would you say you’re more of a saver or spender? Why?”

This helps you figure out habits and behavior, which can be just as telling as actual figures. “Most important, you want to know what are their spending and saving personality is like. For example, how impulsive are they?” says Kate Northrup, author of Money: A Love Story. You can follow up with a question like, “Are you trying to save up for anything major?” This approach can also help you figure out if you share similar goals.

What you really want to ask: “What’s your credit score?”
Start with: “When did you first open a credit card?”

Go down memory lane together to ease into your credit technicals. Talk about how you might have signed up for your first card in college just to score that free t-shirt. And admit a personal rookie misstep you might have made with said credit card.

Then gradually you can warm up to: “Have you ever looked up your credit score?”

If neither of you know, take a few minutes to get free estimates using mobile apps from Credit Karma, Credit Sesame or Credit.com.

What you really want to ask is: Do you have a lot of student loan debt?
Start with: How did you pay for college?

This is the question many dating couples probably want answered, as towering student loan debt is a sobering reality for many.

A conversation about how you afforded school—via scholarships, working and/or student loans—will help engage your partner. And along the way you may gain some insights into each other’s financial values or work ethic, too.

Once when you’ve gotten all these basics out of the way, treat yourselves to another margarita. Your first money talk out of the way! Now that’s a relationship milestone to be celebrated.

Farnoosh Torabi is a contributing editor at MONEY and the author of the book When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women. More of her columns and videos for MONEY.com:

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