TIME relationships

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

Courtesy Three Day Rule

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

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

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

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

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

TIME Internet

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

Hot or Not screenshot on iOS Hot or Not

It's the circle of Internet life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MONEY Rentals

The Top 10 Cities for Singles Who Rent

If you're single and looking for a place to live, here are the 10 best cities for those ready to mingle.

Thinking of moving to a new city? Lots of lists will help you find places with the lowest (or most outrageous) housing prices and highest incomes, but for young people looking to meet someone, there are more things to consider than pure affordability.

Rent.com partnered with Onboard Informatics to rank cities based on factors like quality of nightlife, restaurants, lifestyle (what percentage of residents do things like attend concerts and cultural events), and, primarily, the percentage of single adults.

Here’s what they found.

Methodology: All indexes were ranked on a scale of 1-1000. This list is based on cities with more than 50,000 rental dwellings, a high concentration of single adults and an overall population greater than 100,000. More details here.

  • San Francisco, CA

    It may be expensive, but the City by the Bay is safe, ranks high on lifestyle, and the average income is off the charts. Best of all? 39% of town is single.

    The Good

    Single Adults: 39%

    Non-Family Households: 58%

    Average Household Income: $104,540

    Safety Index: 822

    Lifestyle Index: 736

    The Bad

    Median Rental Rate (1BR): $2,920

    Nightlife Options Index: 374

    Restaurant Option Index: 236

     

     

     

  • Manhattan, NY

    When it comes to nightlife, lifestyle, and great food, nobody tops the Big Apple. Like SF, cost is a (huge) factor, but if you can afford it, there’s nowhere better.

    The Good

    Single Adults: 38%

    Non-Family Households: 60%

    Average Household Income: $125,205

    Safety Index: 896

    Lifestyle Index: 781

    Nightlife Options Index: 1000

    Restaurant Option Index: 1000

    Frequent Coffee Shop Goers Index: 1000

    The Bad

    Median Rental Rate (1BR): $3,800

     

     

  • Washington, D.C.

    It’s a company town, but that town is very single and very safe. Average salaries are also high, but there isn’t much nightlife or fine dining to spend that disposable income on.

    The Good

    Single Adults: 38%

    Non-Family Households: 58%

    Average Household Income: $93,637

    Safety Index: 776

    Lifestyle Index: 652

    The Bad

    Median Rental Rate (1BR): $2,300

    Nightlife Options Index: 173

    Restaurant Option Index: 228

     

     

     

  • Boston, MA

    The Hub’s restaurant and nightlife options don’t exactly compare to New York, but it’s a safe, fun city where one-third of the adult population is single.

    The Good

    Single Adults: 33%

    Non-Family Households: 55%

    Average Household Income: $76,661

    Safety Index: 719

    Lifestyle Index: 671

    The Bad

    Median Rental Rate (1BR): $3,150

    Nightlife Options Index: 192

    Restaurant Option Index: 224

     

     

  • Seattle, WA

    The second West Coast city on the list boasts lots of restaurant goers, good cultural events, and rentals in the neighborhood of affordable—at least for a big city.

    The Good

    Single Adults: 30%

    Non-Family Households: 57%

    Average Household Income: $88,211

    Lifestyle Index: 732

    Frequent Restaurant Goers Index: 616

    The Bad

    Median Rental Rate (1BR): $1,584

    Nightlife Options Index: 302

    Restaurant Option Index: 199

  • Philadelphia, PA

    Philly can’t stand up to higher-ranked towns in most categories, but the rent isn’t too bad, more than a fourth of the population is single, and the nightlife is better than all but a few cities on this list.

    The Good

    Single Adults: 26%

    Median Rental Rate (1BR): $1,295

    Safety Index: 686

    Nightlife Options Index: 502

    The Bad

    Restaurant Option Index: 340

    Frequent Restaurant Goers Index: 439

  • Minneapolis, MN

    The most notable of the Twin Cities has lots of singles and lots of rental housing. Nothing too special as we approach the back of the list, but Minneapolis stands her ground in most categories.

    The Good

    Single Adults: 25%

    Non-Family Households: 57%

    Median Rental Rate (1BR): $1,395

    Lifestyle Index: 643

    Frequent Restaurant Goers Index: 555

    The Bad

    Nightlife Options Index: 149

    Restaurant Option Index: 108

     

     

  • Portland, OR

    Portlandia‘s home is safe, fun, and great for people who like to eat out. The rent is also relatively low compared to other listed cities.

    The Good

    Single Adults: 24%

    Median Rental Rate (1BR): $1,335

    Safety Index: 632

    Lifestyle Index: 668

    Frequent Restaurant Goers Index: 585

    The Bad

    Nightlife Options Index: 383

    Restaurant Option Index: 168

  • Jersey City, NJ

    Jersey is safe and good for restaurants and culture, but the price of rent might make you think twice.

    The Good

    Single Adults: 23%

    Average Household Income: $77,804

    Safety Index: 766

    Lifestyle Index: 623

    Restaurant Option Index: 512

    The Bad

    Median Rental Rate (1BR): $2,480

    Nightlife Options Index: 421

  • Chicago, IL

    Chi-Town has the cheapest median rent on the list, with high nightlife and lifestyle ratings to boot. It’s also safer (on the whole) than you probably think.

    The Good

    Single Adults: 23%

    Median Rental Rate (1BR): $1,150

    Safety Index: 665

    Lifestyle Index: 604

    Nightlife Options Index: 869

    Restaurant Option Index: 507

    The Bad

    Frequent Restaurant Goers Index: 475

TIME LGBT

Study Links Smartphone Apps for Gay and Bisexual Men to STI Risk

Smartphone app man
Tim Robberts—Getty Images

Apps like Grindr and SCRUFF can lead to riskier behavior, researchers say

Gay and bisexual men who use location-based smartphone apps like Grindr to meet sexual partners are at an increased risk for some sexually transmitted infections, according to a new study.

The study, published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, says that men who used the apps were more likely to be diagnosed with gonorrhea and chlamydia than men who met partners in person or on browser-based dating sites. Men who used apps to meet other men were about 25% more likely to be diagnosed with gonorrhea compared to men who first met their partners in person. App users were also 37% more likely to test positive for chlamydia.

The study showed no difference in the rate of HIV or syphilis among men who met partners through apps, online, or in person. However, the study’s lead author, Matthew Beymer, told Reuters there may not have been enough cases of HIV or syphilis diagnosed during the study to establish a correlation.

The study’s researchers interviewed 7,184 self-identifying gay and bi-curious men who were tested for sexually transmitted infections at the Los Angeles LGBT Center between 2011 and 2013. The men provided information about drug use and using social networking to find potential sexual partners. About 34% said they only met sexual partners in person, at places such as bars and clubs. Another 22% said they only connected with men on browser-based dating sites, while 17% said they met men only through apps. The rest used a combination of methods.

Apps such as Grindr and SCRUFF have become increasingly popular among LGBT communities since they were first introduced several years ago. The apps allow users to find potential sexual partners currently nearby who are using the same programs.

Beymer told Reuters that the researchers would like to see the apps used as education tools to teach users about safe sex practices.

“Technological advances which improve the efficiency of meeting anonymous sexual partners may have the unintended effect of creating networks of individuals where users may be more likely to have sexually transmissible infections than other, relatively less efficient social networking methods,” the study’s researchers wrote.

Some apps already make efforts to remind users about sexual health — Grindr has a website (www.grindr.com/health) with information about STI testing options and says that it partners with HIV-prevention organizations to raise awareness about safe sex. SCRUFF has included a link to public health resources since 2011.

TIME App

Tinder’s New Photo Feature Is A Lot Like Snapchat

Tinder

The dating app added a "Moments" feature that allows users to share photos with matches that will disappear in 24 hours

Updated 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday

In a continued attempt to move away from its “just a hookup app” stereotype, Tinder added a new feature Thursday that turns it into more of a social sharing platform. “Moments” allows users to show their matches photos taken throughout the day that will disappear after 24 hours — longer than your average Tinder relationship.

“We’ve done a really good job of helping people form new relationships, so good in fact that we just reached 2 billion matches this week, but making the connection is just the start,” founder and CEO Sean Rad told TIME. “We wanted to give our users a better way to get to know their matches and communicate with them. And that’s what led to Moments.”

A user can click on a camera icon at the top of their “Matches” tab to take a photo that will be shared with all potential suitors and then get erased from existence in 24 hours. (But keep your pants on—literally—users can easily report and block inappropriate photo sharers).

While the “Moments feature certainly has some Snapchat-esque elements—people can draw, caption, and put filters on the ephemeral photos—it still stays true to the Tinder user experience.

“I think Tinder is different [from Snapchat],” Rad said. “Of course we’ve taken inspiration from other experiences out there, but the core user experience with moments is very Unique and familiar to our users in the way we present the content. The action of swiping is very unique to Tinder.”

Users have the ability to swipe through their potential suitors’ Moments, found on top of their “Matches” tab. A swipe right alerts the photo taker that you “Liked” their Moment, creating new opportunities for communication.

Rad said that Tinder decided to make the pictures self-destruct in a day to “take away that pressure of wanting to make it perfect and allow you to be more yourself.”

Tinder claims to produce 800 million swipes and 10 million matches a day. And the founders promise that it is adding more features that will expand on the dating functionality.

As Josh Stein, a partner at VC firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, told Bloomberg,”Tinder might end up competing with Snapchat or Facebook.”

This could be seen as the next step to making Tinder—which Rad says “is already about more than just dating”—a social platform.

“I think you could look at it as an evolution,” he said. “To us social means meeting new people and strengthening the bonds that you have with existing relationships. We’ve done the meeting people well, now it’s about giving unique and fun tools to people to connect with those matches.”

TIME human behavior

When Girls Use the Word ‘Slut’ to Bully Each Other

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MachineHeadz—Getty Images

A new study finds that girls police social hierarchies by slut-shaming one another

Though hashtag campaigns like #YesAllWomen remind us that women are often the victims of men’s misogyny and sexual aggression, men are not the only culprits. A new study finds that young women are guilty of bullying their peers using degrading sexual language.

Some college-age women maintain their social status by calling other girls “sluts,” according to a study published Wednesday in the Social Psychology Quarterly. Researchers tracked the social lives of 53 women who lived on the same college dorm floor at a Midwestern university during the 2004-05 academic year. The high-status women in that group were primarily from upper-middle class backgrounds and achieved peer status through their participation in the Greek scene.

Those well-off, high-status women were less likely to be “slut-shamed” by their lower-status peers, despite engaging in more sexual behavior than the low-status women, researchers found. “This finding made little sense until we realized that college women also used the term [slut] as a way to police class boundaries,” lead researcher Elizabeth Armstrong said. “One of the ways that high-status women signaled to those trying to break in to their social groups that they did not fit in was by engaging in public ‘slut shaming.'”

Slut-shaming can refer to a wide range of behaviors, from telling a woman her outfit is too revealing to accusing her of having sex with too many men to explicitly calling her a “slut” or “whore.” Slut-shaming is an easy way for women to bully each other and put one another down. Whether or not there’s truth to such accusations, publicly criticizing another woman can help a bully to distance herself from the stigma of sexuality while also lowering the status of the girl she’s bullying.

Researchers found that low-status women who tried to enter the high-status scene risked public slut-shaming. The result? The queen bees maintained their social dominance and were more free to participate in the campus “hookup scene.” (Hookups can range from kissing to sex.)

The researchers found that the higher social status you had, the more hookups you would participate in: Of the low-status girls, five had little or no sexual experience, eight had only been in monogamous relationships, one had primarily had relationships but also participated in hookups and seven had participated in both hookups and relationships. By contrast, all of the high-status girls had some sexual experience: One had had only monogamous relationships, three had primarily had relationships but also participated in hookups and 19 women had both hookups and relationships.

These high-status women with more sexual experience tended to define their lifestyle is “classy” rather than “trashy.” However, if lower-status girls tried to mimic that experience, they would immediately be called trashy. The bullying tactic has particularly stinging implications considering those women at the top tended to be upper-middle class white women, and the women with lower social status tended not to be.

Sadly, girl-on-girl fighting usually ends up empowering men. As Tina Fey’s character said in the movie Mean Girls: “You’ve got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it OK for guys to call you sluts and whores.”

 

TIME relationships

Dating Lessons Learned from Watching This Week’s Bachelorette with my Dad

ABC's "The Bachelorette" - Season 10
Fourteen men join Andi at a hip Hollywood nightclub, but they are in for a big surprise when they are met by members of a popular male exotic revue. Rick Rowell—ABC/Getty Images

"At this point, the only dating advice I have is don't"

Bachelorette Andi Dorfman’s dad has played a prominent role (if not roadblock) in her journey to love. So if he could crash a Bachelorette event — Andi’s People blog said he made a “surprise” flight to LA to suss out the guys at the first rose ceremony, which producers criminally edited out — then I figured that it was appropriate for my dad to crash my weekly, cheap white wine fueled Bachelorette watch and impart his words of wisdom:

Please date someone with a real job
My dad didn’t enter this week’s episode with high expectations. “This is a high powered DA and she got rid of the ER doctor and the lawyer in the first round?” he asked. “Is it just me or are some of these guys doofuses?” In Andi’s defense, the doctor used a pickup line that was almost as awkward as his haircut. In my dad’s defense, she kept a guy who says he’s a “Pantsapreneur” for a living and a professional hairstylist (pictured) who appears to be on the verge of a mullet.

ABC

When on dates, it’s good to have actual conversations
Eric Hill tragically died last month in a paragliding accident — and watching his one-on-one date with Andi was heartbreaking. The explorer, whose goal was to visit every country in the world, was curious, kind, and eloquent. While most suitors only initially have amorphous conversations about love-everlasting and how great it is that their grandparents still hold hands, Hill engaged in a deep and socially relevant conversation about the Syrian uprising. Conversations about current affairs are almost unheard of on the show. Dad’s conclusion: “You won’t get any snarky quotes about this guy from me.”

If I ever make guys put on a strip show for me on a first date — even if it’s for charity — I’m grounded
“This is a way to make a perfectly nice man look like an asshole.” And a perfectly gross man look like even more of an asshole.


Later in the group date, when a drunk suitor jumped into a pool with with his clothes on — and when given the opportunity to ask Andi anything went with “What’s the worst thing about your parents?” (huh?) — my dad shifted his counsel to a more sweeping: “At this point, the only dating advice I have is don’t.” Noted.

“Don’t kiss anyone until you’ve had a coherent conversation with him first”
Former professional baseball player Josh assured Andi that he wasn’t your stereotypical former pro-athlete. Unfortunately, he never clarified what he actually was — apart from reassuringly telling her he hasn’t had a girlfriend in five years (umm, was it because you were only hooking up with and then ghosting ladies?) We have no idea what Josh’s second conversation with Andi was about, as it mostly involved rapid fire, unblinking, breathless ramblings that made us wonder if he was a) really nervous or b) if producers were giving out more than just booze behind the scenes.

Never discount a man with a bow tie.
Bow ties were worn both by the clearly planted old man who spontaneously told Andi that he and his wife still love each other after 100 years of marriage, and Chris, the Iowa farmer who’s so sweet he says “darnit” to swear:

ABC's "The Bachelorette" - Season 10
Chris the farmer in a bowtie

While dad warns Chris might be “a little too smooth, I want to check his farmer bona fides,” he approves of his accessorizing. “That’s how we did it in the 70’s”:

Rick Stampler
TIME relationships

The Worst Questions Women Get When Online Dating

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Keyboard with red heart on button, close-up Vstock—Getty Images/Tetra images RF

I was having brunch with some girlfriends the other day, and we got on the subject of first dates. While we all had different experiences, there was one thing we all agreed on: There are a few questions we are absolutely tired of hearing from guys on a first date. Here they are, in no particular order.

What do you do for fun?
It’s a generic question that breeds generic answers, and doesn’t really give you additional insight into who I am. Asking me what I “do for fun” kind of makes me feel like I’m on an interview, not a date. Some of you may be thinking that this question means the guy is trying to plan a future date for us. I really wish you were right, but that’s what makes this question extra annoying: The same guys who ask me what I to do for fun will turn around in two weeks, and ask me what I would like to do for our first date, even though I’ve given them a list of things I do for fun. It makes no sense to me!

So, why are you single?
There is no faster way to make me feel like I’m failing at life than to ask me why I’m single. I mean, what is the right answer to a question like this? Should I say, “Well, I don’t hook up right away, so most guys get bored with me, and that’s why I’m single!” Or should I say, “I get really clingy around month three and it scares guys off, so here I am, solo!” The world already gives single girls the side-eye; there really is no need to bring up singledom on dates.

You’re so pretty, I’m surprised someone hasn’t taken you off the market! (aka, “Why are you single: The Remix)
This is one of those backhanded compliments that really has no response. When men say this to me, it makes me feel like something is wrong with me — especially because 99% of the men who use corny lines like this will not make any moves to take me off the market.

What kind of guys/girls do you like?
This question is tough, because I understand it. As a Plus-Size Princess, I often wonder if the guys asking me out have dated big girls before (not that it matters, but I do wonder), and I’ve learned that the answer is rarely helpful. If his last three girlfriends looked like Jennifer Lopez, I may feel insecure, but if his last three girlfriends looked like Rebel Wilson, I might wonder if he’s a chubby chaser. On the flip side, when a guy asks me what kind of guys I like, I might feel uncomfortable, especially if he doesn’t fit my normal boyfriend mold. I don’t want to have to tell Kevin Hart that my last three boyfriends were NBA players. That’s awkward, and irrelevant. In the end, knowing a person’s “type” really doesn’t matter as long as they’re attracted to you.

So, do you like (adjective here) guys/girls?
This question is a little different from “what kind of guys/girls do you like?” As a plus-size woman of color, I hear this question in two scenarios. Either the guy is trying to see if I’m cool with him not being black, or the guy is trying to see if I’m cool with him being skinny. For me, the answer is always the same: “I like all types of guys.” I mean, if I’m on a date with you, it’s because I’m open to dating you, no matter what you look like.

Why did your last relationship end?
So, are you trying to make me to cry on our first date? This is information you’ll get eventually, but maybe we can keep it light and positive on the first few dates, please?

Do you live alone?
Seriously, why does a man need to know if I live alone? In my opinion, this question just shows that he’s calculating how soon we’ll be hooking up, which is just tacky.

If you’re someone who has trouble making small talk on dates, one of my tricks is to start with current things, and go from there. Meaning: Instead of asking “What do you do for fun?” I’ll ask “What did you do this weekend?” and from there, I’ll get to learn what the person enjoys doing in their free time.

Instead of being in the moment and asking about things based on the person we’re with, people come with these dating interview questions that they use on everyone they’ve ever met, and expect sparks to fly with generic inquisitions. Meh. I call these annoying dating questions, but they might just be lazy dating questions.

Have you had any of these questions on dates? How did you respond?

RELATED: What If Your SO Didn’t Like Your Body?

On her blog, Plus Size Princess, CeCe Olisa has detailed everything from what it’s like to be the only big black girl in a yoga class (fine, thanks!), to her adventures in plus-size dating in the Big Apple. Now, the New York City transplant is lending her poignant, often-hilarious voice to R29.

This article was written by Cece Olisa and originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

 

 

TIME Sex

Why the ‘Hookup Generation’ Does Not Need to Learn How to Date

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Hero Images—Getty Images/Hero Images

Exploring the absurdity of a Boston College class that requires students to go on dates

Over the weekend, an article in the Boston Globe highlighted a class at Boston College in which the professor offers extra credit to students if they ask another student out on a date. (The date is mandatory in another one of her seminars.) The rules: it must be a legitimate love interest; they must ask in person (not via text, etc.); the love interest cannot know the date is an assignment; and the date must last 45-90 minutes and cannot involve any sexual contact. Professor Kerry Cronin argues that the exercise will teach college kids ingrained in the so-called “hookup culture” the lost art of dating.

Well I’m here to inform that professor that we 20-somethings don’t need help, thank you very much.

It’s true that dating has probably become less common on college campuses since the 1950s—or at least the Archie Comics version of dating where a boy and a girl sip a milkshake together through two straws. Instead college kids have discovered an even better way to find a significant other.

Professor Cronin has three main concerns: college students no longer have the confidence to ask one another out on dates; so they instead resort to group hangouts, which erodes the dating culture; and hookups have supplanted relationships. Let me address these concerns one at a time.

I’ll concede that the number of college kids asking each other out on dates in person has probably dropped significantly. According to a 2012 Pew Research poll, 63 percent of teens exchange texts with their friends every day while only 35 percent engage in face-to-face socializations with those same people outside of school. Asking a boy or girl out via text is safer: the rejection feels less harsh on the screen than in person.

And yet despite the fact that we like to hide behind our screens, we don’t need Cronin’s lesson in “doing something courageous,” as one of Cronin’s student describes it. Two college kids may be much more likely to kiss before one of them ever asks the other out on an actual date. But I would argue that it takes as much—if not more—courage to lean in for the first kiss as it does to ask someone out.

So how do we find these mates to kiss? Often, college kids meet potential love interests hanging out in groups with friends and friends of friends or at parties. I often felt in college that hanging out with someone I liked among friends allowed me to get to know him better than going on a 45-minute date alone ever would. Spending time in extracurriculars or in social situations with a crush always made me feel much more comfortable with him once we actually began to go out and a lot more sure that I wanted to be with him.

Parties, too, felt like a much more natural venue to talk to someone than a crowded Starbucks. Dates can feel contrived, whereas a party feels organic. Being surrounded by people, music and activities gives you something to talk about. Your friends could always help you or bail you out of a bad situation. And of course there’s the liquid courage.

Before addressing the myth of hookup culture, I’ll point out that dating isn’t dead on college campuses. An informal survey of my female friends found that each had been asked out at least one time by a boy she’d never even kissed before in college. These dates, if accepted, succeeded or failed at about the same rate as a random-hookup-turned-consistent-relationship did.

But what is really at the root of my informal dating tutorial is the mass panic about college hookup culture, which is way overblown. Every few months there seems to be a renewed hysteria surrounding Generation X’s inability to commit to relationships, and every few months I endeavor to debunk this hookup culture myth. So here are the facts again:

1. “Hookup culture” refers from anything from kissing to sex

So don’t freak out, parents. “Random hookups” can often mean just kissing.

2. A very small percentage of college kids are participating in this hookup culture

Less than 15 percent of students “hookup”—meaning anything ranging from kissing to sex—more than twice per year.

3. That very small percentage is about the same as the number of people who were having uncommitted sex in past generations

A 1967 study by the Institute for Sex Research found that 68% of college men and 44% of college women reported having engaged in premarital sex—around the same as the 64 percent reported at my alma mater. Another study that compared a survey on sexual practices from 1988-1996 to one from 2004-2012 found that respondents from the later survey did not report more sexual partners, more frequent sex or more partners during the past year than respondents from the earlier survey.

4. Most college students are actually looking for a committed relationship

A study by the American Psychological Association in February 2013 found that 63 percent of college men and 83 percent of college women would prefer a traditional relationship to uncommitted sex.

5. Most students having sex are doing so with one partner consistently

The same study that compared sex practices in the 80s and 90s to now found that 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.

So yes, some college students will make out with one another at a party—maybe more—and then arrange to see one another again via text message. But many of those encounters result in dates and, eventually, relationships. As Richard McAnulty, an associate professor in psychology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte points out in the Globe article, the majority of college students actually practice “serial monogamy,” in which they have consecutive, exclusive relationships. The dates are still there, they just come later—after college kids are sure they’re interested in someone else and that there’s a possibility of a longer commitment. After all, aren’t dates more enjoyable when they’re with someone you already know that you like and are sexually attracted to?

And besides, there will be plenty of time post-graduation for awkward first dates arranged by mutual friends or a myriad of dating apps (OKCupid, Coffee Meets Bagel, Tinder and Hinge to name a few). They’ll sit and explain their jobs and their majors and what they like to do for fun. It will be always uncomfortable, sometimes pleasant, occasionally horrifying. But they’ll learn how to date in the way Cronin wants.

For now, college students, enjoy four years of choosing your boyfriends and girlfriends from a group of like-minded peers whose full name and interests you’ll already know by your first date.

TIME Dating

Looking for Single Guys? Try the Great Plains

Cavan Images ;Getty Images

Small towns are losing more women than men, says a new study.

Small rural towns are losing young women faster than they’re losing young men, a new study of the population of Kansas and Nebraska shows. For some of the really tiny places, the ratio of men to women doubled in the 10 years.

But before checking the Nebraska real estate listings, women should realize the imbalance might be because there’s not as much for women to do work wise out there.

Robert Shepard, a doctoral researcher at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, who did the study, says rural communities need to think about opportunities for young women as they make their development plans. “There’s a lot of awareness that younger people are leaving rural communities,” said Shepard. “Where some of the men come back, because there are a lot of traditionally male jobs like agriculture and industry to return to, many rural communities don’t often provide the same opportunities to women.”

In more than half the of 1,627 places with fewer than 800 residents that Shepard looked at, the ratio of young men to young women increased between 2000 and 2010. Census data showed that the median increase wasn’t that huge: just 7%, but some very small communities saw very big gaps opening up between the number of men and women. The average increase was about 40%.

Shepard looked at the ratio of boys to girls aged between 12 and 17 in 2000 and then looked at the ratio of young men and women aged between 22 and 27 in 2010. He found a significant drop off in young women. The years between 17 and 27 are when people go off to college. Since more women are becoming more educated with every decade, it could be that the small town women are not coming back, although Shepard isn’t so sure. “Industrial and agricultural jobs still heavily favor women,” he says. “I’m not sure if that’s institutional or because women don’t choose to work in those fields.”

The numbers would certainly accord with other data that suggests there are many more women than men in metropolitan areas. Washington DC, Boston and New York skew paricularly female with some reports saying the Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick area of Maryland has 20% more women. This is also true of metro areas in the plains like Topeka, Kansas and Scottsbluff, Neb. where there are more women than male peers. Genderwise, “even middle sized communities are more stable,” says Shepard.

Why aren’t women making their little homes on the prairies? In previous studies, women have cited the low level of career opportunities and high level of patriarchy. “Anecdotally, I hear both stories from people,” says Shepard. “A lot just feel women don’t have a very big place. But they might not say so right away. No-one wants to say their hometown is sexist. “

One thing Shepard noticed, however, was that the imbalance wasn’t universal. Some places that had a high ratio of guys bordered counties with a higher proportion of women. Because the numbers are so small it’s hard to get funding to study the root causes of the female-drain from small towns, so it may be a while until that’s sorted out. Probably wise to postpone booking the U-Haul until then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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