TIME relationships

This Video Perfectly Describes How People Feel About Online Dating

To lie or not to lie?

Just because you’ve found a great relationship through online dating doesn’t mean you’re comfortable with admitting how you met. This video (which is actually made by underwear company Me Undies, so go figure) perfectly nails the embarrassment surrounding online dating, even if you’ve met someone great.

And even if you did meet online, do you tell your friends and family the real story of how you met? Or do you make up a “meet cute” story that resembles something out of an ’80s romantic comedy? Watch this underwear-clad couple duke it out over whether they should be embarrassed that they met online:

TIME Dating

The Trick to Finding Your Soul Mate? Change Your Expectations

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

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

This post originally appeared on Ozy.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(MORE: Three Tips to Improve Your Love Life)

TIME Dating

How Men and Women Should Behave on a First Date

woman-hands in lap-Refinery 29
Refinery 29

This post originally appeared on Refinery 29.

Does it pay to play nice in the dating game? It does if you’re a lady, according to a new study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Plenty has been written about what behavior men and women like to see on a first date or in the early stages of a relationship. While we’re inclined to recommend behaving like, well, yourself, this recent study sheds fascinating light on how different sexes perceive “responsiveness.” The researchers defined responsiveness as a trait “that may signal to potential partners that one understands, values, and supports important aspects of their self-concept and is willing to invest resources in the relationship.”

“Sexual desire thrives on rising intimacy, and being responsive is one of the best ways to instill this elusive sensation over time,” explains the study’s lead researcher, Gurit Birnbaum, PhD. She and her team of researchers from the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, the University of Rochester, and the University of Illinois hypothesized that responsiveness might be perceived differently by different sexes and in different contexts, and so they devised a series of scenarios to investigate.

(More From Refinery 29: Women Are Threatened By Women Wearing Red)

In their first study, designed to assess whether men and women tend to view a “responsive” person of the opposite sex as attractive, individuals were assigned partners and instructed to interact with them. (The study was limited to heterosexual singles — specifically, 112 undergraduate students.) Men, it turned out, evaluated conversation partners who had been coached to be “responsive” — to exhibit concern, understanding, and support — as the most “feminine” and sexually attractive. But, women did not associate responsiveness with “masculinity,” and even found more-responsive men (marginally) less desirable.

In a second study, participants chatted online with either responsive or non-responsive different-sex strangers. Beforehand, each participant viewed a photo of his or her partner. The catch: Each woman was given the same photo of a man, while each man was given the same photo of a woman. Participants were then instructed to share problems in their lives with their virtual-conversation partners via chat. The responses were predetermined: Non-responsive virtual dates glossed over their partners’ feelings (with replies such as “Doesn’t sound so bad to me”) while responsive partners offered more comfort and understanding (e.g. “You must have gone through a difficult time”).

(More From Refinery 29: Are You Settling In Love?)

After spilling their guts to online strangers, unwitting participants evaluated how sexually attractive they found those virtual dates. Again, while men rated responsive women as more desirable than non-responsive women, a significant number of women reacted negatively to responsive partners, viewing them as less-desirable than non-responsive men. “Some women may interpret responsiveness negatively and feel uncomfortable about a new acquaintance who seems to want to be close,” Dr. Birnbaum says. The researchers admitted that while the relationship between responsiveness and men’s sexual preferences appeared to be fairly straightforward, women’s desires seem to be more complicated. Are we surprised?

Trying to parse the reasons people find one another appealing is obviously difficult, since so many of our desires are culturally constructed. We’re used to media depictions of women as caring and nurturing, while men are far less often portrayed this way, and these representations influence our real-world expectations. What’s more, there are plenty of reasons why women might be skeptical of men who seem overly attentive. But, as long as it’s done without a hidden agenda, there’s nothing wrong with responding to others with empathy and encouragement — values that should have no gender.

(More From Refinery 29: Dating 101: The New Rules)

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”.

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