TIME

China’s Tinder Plots IPO in the Shadow of Anti-Porn Crackdown

Chinese officials launch a ceremony to d
Chinese officials launch a ceremony to destroy thousands of pornographic books and video materials in Beijing on April 24, 2011. AFP/Getty Images

China's dating app has 120 million user profiles, some of which may be too hot for Beijing

China’s dating app Momo has 120 million users, a possible valuation of $2 billion, and an ongoing flirtation with U.S. banks, eager to get a piece of the action should the company go public on a U.S. stock exchange, but a few of the racier user profiles have investors on edge.

The Wall Street Journal reports that some of the photos could run afoul of China’s widening crackdown on internet pornography. A reporter from state news service Xinhua logged onto the app in a popular bar district of Beijing and reportedly found scantily clad women “wearing bikinis to show off their physiques” and profiles suggestive of escort services. The salacious details may not shock users of dating sites the world over, but in China, the pictures can trigger regulatory crackdowns. Web companies Sina and Sohu.com have seen their publishing licenses revoked for explicit content.

In an email to the Journal, a company spokesperson insisted the company supported the government’s crackdown and would expand its team of internal censors from 60 to 100 employees, saying its commercial interests were “totally incompatible with lewd and sexual content.”

[WSJ]

TIME Sex

Another Study Shows That ‘Hookup Culture’ Is a Myth

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Paul Bradbury—OJO Images RF/Getty Images

Parents had just as much sex in college as their kids are having now

A gaggle of sociologists and think-piece writers have been saying that young adults don’t have time to invest in relationships and therefore are treating their romantic lives with reckless abandon and having sex with random strangers. But despite pundits’ outcries that the moral fiber of America is decaying as college students ditch dating in favor of “hookup culture,” it turns out the sexual practices of millennials aren’t that different from those of their parents.

A new study published in the Journal of Sex Research compares a survey on sexual practices from 1988-1996 to one from 2004-2012. Researchers from the University of Portland found that respondents from the later survey did not report more sexual partners after the age 18, more frequent sex or more partners during the past year than respondents from the earlier survey. “We find no evidence of substantial changes in sexual behavior that would indicate a new or pervasive pattern of non-relational sex among contemporary college students,” the researchers conclude.

In fact, most people are still having sex with a regular partner rather than with random people. According to the new study, 78.2% of those recently surveyed reported that their sexual partner was either a spouse or a significant other, compared to 84.5% in the survey from the ’80s and ’90s. The researchers chalk up the differences in responses to the earlier set of people surveyed containing a higher proportion of married people. This isn’t surprising news since marriage rates are going down and people are getting married later.

We’ve known for a while now that the media hype surrounding hookup culture is overblown: Less than 15% of college students “hook up” more than twice per year—and that definition of “hook up” ranges from kissing to intercourse. Almost a year ago I wrote that the sex lives of college students today aren’t all that different from their parents and their grandparents, citing surveys from the 1960s and 70s that show students were having as much sex then as they are now. But despite all the evidence to the contrary, there’s been so much coverage of this nonexistent new hookup culture that some students are feeling left out if they are not having tons of casual sex.

So parents, don’t worry. Your kids aren’t doing anything you didn’t do in college…Well, except for maybe sending naked SnapChats.

TIME Dating

Here Are the 10 Best Prom-posals of Prom Season

Because a text message that says "yo, prom?" just doesn't cut it anymore

It’s the first week of May, which means it’s time for allergies, Cinco de Mayo sombreros, and elaborate romantic gestures by barely post-pubescent teenagers! That’s right, it’s prom-posal season, the most awkward time of the year.

If you don’t know already, prom-posals are when high schoolers ask each other to prom with the level of pomp and circumstance that rivals an actual engagement. Some high schools are gripped by prom-posal hysteria and some aren’t. For those who have found their high schools littered with rose petals and graffiti this week, you’re not alone.

Of course, kids have been asking each other out in elaborate ways ever since the romantic comedies of the ’80s and ’90s gave us all unrealistic expectations of prom (thank you, She’s All That.) The first official prom-posal of recorded history occurred in 2001, or at least that’s the first one to make the papers, but over-the-top prom-posals have become even more frequent in the age of social media. Because what’s the point of asking someone out if you can’t post pictures of it?

Here are the 10 best prom-posals of the internet, courtesy of the @ThePromposal Twitter feed.

The History Buff One:

The One from the Knight and His Noble Steed:

The Worst Pun One:

The One for Someone Who Loves Frozen:

The One that Kills Two Birds With One Stone:

The One That Says “Booty” Too Much:

The One That Was Delivered by Hedwig:

The Wishful Thinking One:

The One That Put Chicken Nuggets on a Car:

The Filthy Truck One:

Because nothing says ‘love’ like a dirt-encrusted truck.

TIME relationships

Why ‘I Have a Boyfriend’ Is Still the Best Way to Turn a Guy Down

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Getty Images

An argument for efficiency by a feminist

You’re out with your friends at a bar, and a guy comes over and starts talking to you. You exchange pleasantries and start chatting. But it soon becomes clear that you’re just not that into him. What’s the best way to turn him down without being a total jerk? A 2013 XOJane column that went viral over the weekend by Alecia Lynn Eberhardt makes the argument that the age-old excuse of “I have a boyfriend” (whether it’s true or not) undermines a woman’s autonomy by suggesting she’s unavailable because she’s “taken” by a man. Eberhardt pulls a popular quote from Tumblr to explain why this excuse deprives a woman of all agency:

Male privilege is “I have a boyfriend” being the only thing that can actually stop someone from hitting on you because they respect another male-bodied person more than they respect your rejection/lack of interest.

While in theory I agree with this sentiment, I’m going to still argue for the efficacy of the “I have a boyfriend” excuse. When I am out with my friends at a bar trying to enjoy myself, the last thing I want to do is take precious time away from my friends to explain to a stranger why I have no interest in him. Eberhardt’s sketch of how this debate might play out sounds exhausting:

“I’m not interested.” Don’t apologize and don’t excuse yourself. If they question your response (which is likely), persist — ”No, I said I’m not interested.”

“Oh, so you have a boyfriend?”

“I said, I’m not interested.”

“So you’re a lesbian, then?”

“Actually, I’m not interested.”

“You seem crazy.”

“Nope, just not interested.”

Et cetera. You could even, if you were feeling particularly outspoken, engage in a bit of debate with the man in question.

I don’t have the patience to get into debates with every man who hits on me. I’ve used the “I’m not interested” excuse before only to be regaled for 10 minutes with stories as to why I should be interested. I’ve seen men sit down at a table with a friend, put their arm around her even after she’s said, “I’m not interested.” I even had a man try this strategy while I was on a date with a boyfriend who was sitting across the table from me.

If, on the other hand, you say, “I have a boyfriend,”— even if that’s a bald-faced lie — guys will flee pretty quickly. Some will say, “So?” But that debate can be ended pretty quickly with “I don’t cheat” or “he just got out of prison.”

So yes, if you think you’re dealing with a rational person who will leave you alone after you utter “I’m not interested” or if you feel like spending your night engaged in spirited debate, do the empowered thing and don’t lie. But that’s often not the case, and while I consider myself a feminist, I’m also someone who cares about efficiency. It’s not my obligation to educate men in bars about society’s gender issues. I want to enjoy my evenings. So I’ll be sticking with “I have a boyfriend” and go home still believing in equal pay, leaning in and that a woman should win the presidency in 2016.

TIME relationships

Dating: Women Believe What They Hear About a Guy’s Reputation

New study shows that women reject men based on negative spin, even when the information is the same

When it comes to relationships, women tend to believe the hype about men they’re considering dating. Researchers found that women change their opinion of men when they’re presented with a negative or positive spin, even if the information is exactly the same.

Researchers at Concordia University in Montreal found that women were more highly attuned to information about potential mates when it was negatively framed, even if the facts were exactly the same as the positive framing. In other words, women are extremely susceptible to spin.

They presented participants with two statements about potential mates that said the exact same information in different ways. For example:

“Seven out of 10 people who know this person say he is kind”

vs.

“Three out of 10 people who know this person say he is unkind.”

The information is the same, but the framing is different, and the women were much more likely to reject mates who were framed negatively. The researchers concluded this is probably because of “parental investment theory,” or the notion that women have to be pickier about their mates because the consequences are higher for picking the wrong one.

So what does that mean for guys who get mixed reviews on apps like Lulu that rate men? It means they should clean up their act, because one negative comment could be enough to turn dates away.

TIME career

Leaning In at Work, Traditionalist at Home: Women Who Hide Their Success

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Retro housewife Bojan Kontrec—Getty Images/Vetta

Why we need to stop worrying about emasculating men

I once hid my raise from my live-in boyfriend for a full year before he found out. I was already the decision-maker in our relationship, and I didn’t want him to feel bad that he made less than I did.

It’s the kind of scenario we hear often: ambitious, hard-charging women purposely shaving off a couple digits when talking about money with their partners. Women who subtly downplay their accomplishments in order to protect their boyfriends’ egos. Those who play the damsel in distress to cater to some caveman-like need to save. Even toning down an online dating profile – deleting accolades and advanced degrees – to sound less “intimidating” to potential suitors.

“I would let him make the decisions even when I knew they weren’t the right ones,” one friend told me recently, of her (not coincidentally) now ex-husband.

“I never reveal where I got my PhD on a first date,” said another, who is an Ivy League grad.

“I think my biggest fear in a relationship,” a New York editor quipped over brunch recently, “is emasculating the guy and ending up alone.”

It’s a feminist by day, traditionalist by night way of life, and it would make our Second Wave mothers cringe. By day, these women are successful and self-assured – part of a cohort dominating the working world and outpacing their male peers in college and advanced degrees. The under 30 set are outearning their male counterparts in nearly every major city in America. And when it comes to married couples, the number of female breadwinners has been steadily rising: 24 percent of wives now make more than their husbands.

And yet when it comes to their romantic lives, these women are unabashedly shrinking violets, their behavior influenced by age-old stereotypes about men, women and power that have simply not shifted as quickly as the working world. They’re also being influenced by a bevy of advice books – including a new one, When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women, by financial advisor and journalist Farnoosh Torabi.

One part financial manual and two parts primer in retro-femininity, the book is a guide, she says, for single women whose success may intimidate potential suitors. Rule No. 1: Face the Facts. And the facts, she explains are clear. “When a woman makes more than her man, the odds are stacked against her in many ways: she’s less likely to get married, more likely to be unhappier in marriage, and there are many psychological and sexual costs,” writes Torabi.

Torabi is wrestling with the contradictions of a particular cultural moment: women are less dependent and passive than ever before. And yet, as Ronald Levant, the editor of the journal Psychology of Men and Masculinity, put it recently, “men are stuck” – caught between caveman-like desires to protect and provide, and the fact that more and more women are the ones doing the providing. One recent study found that men subconsciously suffer a bruised ego when their wives or girlfriends excel — regardless of whether they are in direct competition. Another survey, from Pew, found that 28 percent of Americans believe that it is “generally better for a marriage if the husband earns more than his wife.”

Where that leaves us? If you believe Torabi, with a complicated set of rules to follow – lest we end up, as the Princeton Mom warned, a “spinster with cats.” Not only must we achieve at work, we must stroke our partner’s ego. We can land the big deal, but we still must play the damsel in distress. We can go to Pilates, but might still consider asking him to lift that box – to make him feel like a man. Oh, and we may be the primary breadwinner, but we should still let him pay in public (as Torabi often does with her own husband) – even if it’s coming out of a joint checking account.

“Calling it stroking his ego can sound controversial, but money is a huge source of power and self worth for a lot of people,” she says. “So you have to understand that.”

Or better yet: you can reject it altogether.

Yes, men have been breadwinners for 10,000 years. They’ve been conditioned to be dominant. Hunters, gatherers … you know the drill. But let’s give dudes some credit.

College-aged men and women almost universally say they desire unions in which housework, child-rearing, ambition and moneymaking will be respectfully negotiated and shared. There are plenty of men – as a recent Cosmo survey on the topic helped made clear — who would happily date a woman who made more money than they did (and like it). (Of more than 1,000 straight men ages 18 to 35, nearly half say they’ve dated a woman who made more money than they did. Fifty seven percent say they are “more attracted” to a woman who is ambitious at work.)

We are, as the biological anthropologist Helen Fisher recently told me, “in a time of tremendous transformation.”

So here’s a rule for when you make more than your male partner: Don’t believe everything you read.

TIME apps

New Messaging App for Couples: Share Selfies with Your True Love

Just in case you thought the world didn’t yet have enough messaging apps, dating website HowAboutWe has introduced a new one made just for couples. You&Me, launching today for iOS (and coming soon to Android), is a bit like a private Snapchat for you and your beloved. Users can share not only text, photos and stickers, but also music pulled in from Spotify or Rdio. The app also has a unique twist on selfies called “Halfies,” which allows a couple to combine two halves of two different photos to form a single image (example below). For more intimate (or explicit) exchanges, users can send “secret” photos that are obscured by steam until the user rubs it away. This is supposed to make the image sexier—or at least make it less awkward if you unknowingly open a raunchy photo in public.

You&Me
HowAboutWe

“We realized that there weren’t any messaging apps that fully support how couples communicate today — through text, music and rich media — so we built one,” HowAboutWe co-founder Aaron Schildkrout said in a press release. “We created You&Me as the ideal communication resource for people in love.”

Of course, there’s no hard and fast rule that you have to find The One before you download this app. Some early reviews indicate that it might be more fun to use with a best friend. For now, it’s only a one-on-one experience, though, so you’ll have to choose your You&Me partner carefully.

HowAboutWe is hardly the first company to make a messaging app for lovebirds. We’ve written previously about Pair, now called Couple, which offers similar features and boasts more than 2 million downloads. Relationship app Between has 5 million downloads. You&Me has a bold visual flair, though. If you’re into halfsies, this may be the app for you.

TIME relationships

The Science of Happily Ever After: How Millennials Beat the Odds to Find Love

Millennials know that living happily ever after is a long shot, but they're not giving up. Here are some of the strategies young people are using to find love.

Like generations before them, millennials were told bedtime stories that ended happily ever after, but they have grown up to find a new technology-driven dating scene that has lost the plot. I’ve spoken with many millennials while touring for my new book, The Science of Happily Ever After, and the question I hear over and over is: “Does happily ever after even exist?”

It’s a fair question from a group of young people who watched almost 50% of their parents’ generation divorce, another 10% permanently separate and another 7% remain in unhappy marriages. Maybe it’s because I’m from Gen X, but a one-in-three chance of finding enduring love sounds a little depressing to me. But millennials are an optimistic bunch, so they’re usually relieved to hear that enduring love exists, even if they know that the odds are not in their favor.

Although singles of all ages yearn to find enduring love, many are uncertain about how to navigate the thousands of dating partners that are now available through online dating sites and mobile apps. Technology has given singles far more choice than previous generations, which sounds good in theory, but people are finding that the sheer volume and speed produced by dating technologies quickly becomes overwhelming.

It’s what social psychologist Barry Schwartz calls the “tyranny of freedom”: a feeling of being overwhelmed, uncertain and anxious when we are given too many choices and no updated framework for managing those choices. Singles of all ages feel dizzied from the carousel of Tinder photos, resigned to the hundreds of online dating messages sitting in their inboxes and weary from serial hookups that eventually give one’s love life an unbearable lightness. Collectively, these changes can give single young people a feeling of derealization, far away from the days of getting to know the girls next door over a milkshake at the soda fountain.

However, millennials are accustomed to a postmodern world that does not always provide genuine experiences. They didn’t have to put worms on their fishing lines, but instead were fed genetically modified fish, raised in a fake stream on a fish farm, that was colored to look more fish-like. They watched the economy almost collapse after Wall Street sold loans of loans, packaged in algorithmically complex securities, which led everyone to forget what the loans were worth in the first place. Millennials watched what happens when life becomes representations of representations and they decided that this is no way to live.

Now they are finding that the convenience of Tinder geolocation or algorithmic online matches can insert a layer of artifice, which makes it harder to really get to know someone. Like other aspects of their lives, millennials want to find a process that is more organic, a method of dating that is more real. Maybe that’s why millennials seem less inclined than previous generations to fall in love with the idea of marriage and instead are determined to find the right person for marriage.

I decided to write The Science of Happily Ever After based on the premise that good relationships come from choosing good partners. I do not promise love in ten days or the one secret to finding your soulmate, but instead provide a framework and methods for assessing the traits that really matter while choosing a partner. As I have talked about the book with university students around the country, I have realized that millennials have certain tendencies that are already changing the way we date and that there are a few things we can learn from them. Here are a few valuable lessons from the way millennials search for love:

  • Be Clear About Your Goal: It sounds obvious that singles need a goal, but previous generations often felt trapped by narrow societal views of marriage. Millennials are generally more open to diversity, which has broadened our views of what can be a happy marriage, including changes in beliefs about gender roles, support of gay marriage and more favorable attitudes about interracial marriage.
  • Be Smart: Millennials are generally optimistic, but they delight in smart, contrarian views of cultural standards. They eagerly latch onto research findings that demonstrate how holding onto fairy tale notions of the beautiful princess, powerful princes, and fate delivering a soulmate, actually make it less likely that one’s love story will end happily ever after.
  • Find Undervalued Traits: Millennials do not want fate to provide the answer, they want to find an answer through their resourcefulness. They love the Moneyball aspect of the book, the idea that just as there were undervalued traits in baseball players that were key to winning, there are also undervalued traits in romantic partners that are key to happy relationships.
  • Take Action: Although millennials deliberate before acting, they don’t ruminate, which makes them amenable to solution focused psychological approaches. They want to create dating habits that create creating congruence between what they know are the right decisions in relationships and how they actually act.
  • Keep The Faith: Millennials may be dissatisfied with modern dating, but they are not giving up. They know that who you choose as a marital partner is one of the most important decisions you make in your lifetime and they are powered by an optimism that they will find a better way to do it.

Ty Tashiro, Ph.D. is a relationship expert and author of The Science of Happily Ever After: What Really Matters in the Quest for Enduring Love. Visit him online at www.tytashiro.net.

TIME celebrities

VIDEO: Katy Perry’s New Man

Katy Perry has reportedly snagged yet another musician: this time, it's Diplo

+ READ ARTICLE

Looks like Katy Perry has a thing for musicians, but who could blame her?

Just two months after splitting with beau John Mayer, the Birthday singer was spotted snuggling up with DJ Diplo (whose real name is Wesley Pentz) at various New York locations, including a Amazing Spider-Man 2 afterparty last week.

“They were very affectionate, very lovey-dovey,” a source told People.

TIME society

College Students Found a New, Better Way To Use Tinder

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Hungry Man Eating Fruit Pastilles Getty Images

FREE FOOD

College students have begun using Tinder to pursue the greatest thing in the world. No, not love. Free food.

American University junior Julia Reinstein realized that the dating/hookup app could be used for more practical means than finding makeout partners. People could identify if they had or were in need of a spare meal swipe at the school’s cafeteria. By limiting your search distance to a mile, meal matches would proliferate. Think of all the food babies yet to be born.

“That’s symbiosis, folks,” Reinstein wrote on Swipe for Swipes’ Tumblr.

I had friends who, while in grad school, used to joke about using OKCupid as their meal plan, but this endeavor is much more direct. As long as the salad bar doesn’t come with a side of expectations, everybody wins.

[Washington Post]

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