TIME animals

Man Sues Ex-Girlfriend Over Stuffed Animal Obsession 

(Not the actual couple) Emilio Labrador / Flickr

Dating is expensive, especially with stuffed animals involved

A man in China’s Hubei province is reportedly suing his ex-girlfriend for $6,450—all because she insisted on bringing her stuffed animal, Snoopy, on dates throughout their four-year relationship. According to a report from China’s Global Post, Snoopy was third-wheeling it all over the place: the boyfriend had to buy extra food and tickets to the movies just for the stuffed animal.

Eventually, the boyfriend snapped, throwing Snoopy in anger after refusing to take it (him, apparently) into the bathroom. He broke up with his girlfriend, but then decided the “mental anguish” caused by Snoopy deserved compensation.

This animal love triangle might be strange, but we’re guessing that the girlfriend had a not-so-secret case of plushophilia, a fetish for stuffed animals that’s well-documented on the Internet.

Plushophilia is different than being a furry—less than one percent of furries (anthropomorphized animal fetishists) are plushophiles, according to one study. The gentleman from Hubei probably would have been equally put off by either one, however.

TIME Dating

Forget Dating Sites, Try Facebook Instead To Find the One

Not only are more people meeting on social networks, but their relationships were happier than those that began offline in more traditional ways

Online dating can be so stressful – filling out the profile and keeping up with all the interactions can feel like a job – so it’s no surprise that sometimes digital romance blooms under more Facebook friend-ly circumstances.

Jeffrey Hall, associate professor of Communication Studies at University of Kansas, was surprised to learn that 7% of people who married after meeting online had met for the first time on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and ClassMates – not matchmaking chat rooms, or online dating sites or via other romance-centric cyber connections.

MORE: Inside Tinder: Meet the Guys Who Turned Dating Into an Addiction

“It was really, really astonishing, since [romantic relationships] aren’t the purpose of these sites,” he says of the data, which came from eHarmony, the online dating service.

Hall decided to investigate the connection, and learn more about who was meeting their significant other this way, and how well these marriages fared. The sample included 19,131 participants who had been married once between 2005 and 2012, and were asked where they met – was it online dating sites; email or instant messaging; online communities such as chat rooms or virtual reality games; or social networking sites.

Those who met on social networking sites were more likely to be younger, married more recently, and African American compared to those who met on other ways on the internet.

MORE: Online Dating Doesn’t Just Save You Time, It Saves You at Least $6,400

And when the participants were compared on marital satisfaction, the partners who met via social networking reported being just as happy as those who were introduced on online dating sites, which tout their compatibility benefits, and more satisfied than those who met on online communities, which nurture conversations among people with similar interests and beliefs. What surprised Hall even more, however, was that the social networking-based relationships were happier than those that began offline, in traditional ways such as being introduced by mutual friends.

“I was surprised by a lot of these results,” he says. “I think that social networking is the digital version of being introduced by friends.” For most of the 20th century, friend-based introductions were the primary way people met their spouse, he says, and social networks may simply be an extension of that pattern.

That could also explain why marriages that began on social networking sites were also no more likely to end in divorce than unions that were generated by online dating sites that involve algorithms and strangers trying to match people together, rather than acquaintances who know their friends’ likes and dislikes and personality best.

MORE: With Oculus, Facebook Can Reinvent Itself — and Its Reputation

Social networking sites also have another potential advantage over dating services – they aren’t burdened by the pressure of trying to find love and the anxiety of having to present yourself in the best possible light to catch a mate. While there’s no truth filter on sites like Facebook, and there is certainly some amount of self-promotion and exaggeration, having your circle of friends visit your page can keep you pretty honest, which means by and large, your social network version of you is relatively close to the real thing – at least that’s what the studies show.

The result? Conversations, observations and interactions on social networking sites may be more casual and low risk, relieved of the pressure and anticipation of a potential date (or rejection for a potential date) that shadow every picture, message and response on dating sites. “In part, social networking sites provide a low risk, high reward place to meet people,” says Hall. “It’s a good place to do some investigating and a good place to learn about people that doesn’t carry the self-presentational weight of creating an online dating profile.”

The fact that most of the marriages were among African-Americans could reflect the fact that at the time the data were collected, between 2005 and 2012, African-Americans and Latinos were over-represented on social networking sites compared to their proportions in the general population. For these groups, he says, such sites may have been a way to expand their already close-knit network of friends to include others like them, but not yet part of their local connections.

Of course, the data may also reflect more early social networking behavior than the way that people use the sites today. While it dominated the early days of cyber connecting, for example, MySpace was surpassed by Facebook in 2008 as the primary source of online interactions. And the rising age of Facebook users may also have an effect on the patterns that Hall found. While it’s possible that people who meet and marry via social networking sites may always be from a young demographic, it’s also possible that as more people join the site, including those who are looking for a second chance at love later in life, could drive that average age up.

What the results do show is that we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss social networks as an important tool for finding love in the 21st century. According to a Pew Research Center Internet Project poll, in 2013, 24% of internet users have flirted with someone online, compared to 15% in 2005. And Hall’s findings suggest that those flirtations, if they’re on social networking sites, are increasingly likely to lead to meaningful relationships, and even happy marriages.

TIME celebrities

Watch a Young Jon Hamm Get Brutally Rejected on ’90s Dating Show

Even though he promised her an "evening of total fabulosity."

Once upon a time, 25-year-old Jon Hamm got brutally rejected by some fool named Mary Carter on a cheesy 1996 dating show.

The doe-eyed future Mad Men star got his heart broken on The Big Date, hosted by a guy named Mark Walberg (no relation) who says he was “born to be a matchmaker.”

The lovely damsel Mary Carter said she needs a “sexy hot man” who “knows how to give a good foot massage” because she “has a foot fetish.”

The first guy was too creepy. He told Mary he was a stunt man, “so I have to take her home later and show her my flexibility. “

The second guy was too touchy-feely. He had frosted tips, and told Mary he wanted to “squeeze her like a little teddy bear.”

Jon Hamm was just right. He said he would take her on a date that would “start off with some fabulous food, add a little fabulous conversation, and end it with a fabulous foot massage for an evening of total fabulosity.”

But Mary Carter chose the stunt man guy, because he shook her hand when he met her. Choosing a handshake over a fabulous foot massage from Jon Hamm is a real rookie mistake.

Mary Carter, wherever you are, I hope you and your feet are happy with your choices.

TIME Media

James Franco: Horndog or Marketing Genius?

The actor said he "used bad judgement" in messaging a 17-year old Scottish girl on Instagram, but some think the awkward flap may be a bizarre publicity stunt for Franco’s upcoming movie about a soccer coach who has an affair with a teenage player

James Franco was mighty quick to admit that the sketchy Instagram messages he sent to an teenage girl were actually real during his Friday appearance on Live with Kelly and Michael.

“I used bad judgement and I learned my lesson,” said the This is The End star. “But unfortunately in my position, I mean I have a very good life, but not only do I have to go through the embarassing rituals of meeting someone, sometimes if I do that then it gets published for the world, so it’s like doubly embarrassing.”

That was easy.

The awkward flap with a 17-year old Scottish schoolgirl broke just as the first trailer was released for Franco’s movie Palo Alto, in which the actor plays an adult soccer coach who has an affair with one of his teenage players… sound familiar? The movie is also based on a book of short stories Franco wrote.

So is James Franco sketchy for hitting on a teenage girl through Instagram? Or is he sketchy for pretending to hit on a teenage girl in order to promote his new movie in which he plays a guy who hits on a teenage girl?

Either way, it’s icky.

 

TIME relationships

Man Who Really Cannot Handle Rejection Steals His OkCupid Date’s Phone

Online dating
Getty Images

And then he hacks her OkCupid account like a true gentleman

Anyone who’s ever used online dating site OkCupid knows it can be a convenient way to connect with somebody really interesting and worthwhile. Or, it can be a festering cesspool of awkwardness, crawling with weirdos and people who just can’t find it in them to stop talking about how study abroad changed their life.

But usually, the worst thing those weirdos ever do is talk way too much about Game of Thrones, and the worst thing the study abroad enthusiasts do is assure you that in Spain, they never would be eating dinner this early.

So really, they are all pretty harmless compared to the Brooklyn man who stole his date’s iPhone — and hacked her OkCupid account — after she rejected him. It all began when, after a few drinks, the 24-year-old suitor invited his 22-year-old companion back to his apartment, the New York Post reports. She declined, and he then followed her to the subway station and threw a water bottle at her. She got away from him, but he did manage to steal her phone.

The man, who police are still seeking, used the phone to text the woman’s friend and then log into her dating profile. He uploaded photos and then changed her profile to say “I’m available for threesomes,” she told the Post.

So, next time your OkCupid date tries to speak to you in Dothraki or talks too much about how much Kenya changed him, consider yourself lucky. Things could be way, way worse.

TIME

Watch A Really Awkward First Date Unfold in Real Time

Can't. Look. Away.

Get ready to watch the most awkward thing you’ve seen in your life. Vice is ensuring your Friday will be totally unproductive by livestreaming the first date between two strangers. The couple is currently having a drink at The Old Blue Last, a bar in London. It’s basically like if someone took that first kiss video that went viral last week but made it in color and swapped out the beautiful models for a dude wearing a Family Guy t-shirt and a beanie emblazoned with the word “dope” and a girl who seems kind of cool and stylish.

In fact, Vice did a remake of that kissing video with real strangers and the guy participating in this date is one of them. Guess Vice is a matchmaking service for Family Guy fans now.

You’d assume that these two love birds would be on their best behavior — a first date is basically a job interview for love, right? — but this winsome twosome can’t seem to make eye contact for more than 10 seconds at a time or talk about anything that isn’t a giant cliche. Topics so far include cheesy pick-up lines, the intersection of love and beauty and so much more. If this couple doesn’t make it, there’s no hope for the rest of us.

TIME celebrities

VIDEO: George Clooney’s Hot New Lady Friend’s Resume Is Way More Impressive Than His

This rumored relationship already looks different from the rest

+ READ ARTICLE

Any woman who dates George Clooney is subject to scrutiny and judgement — and for the most part, the general sentiment has been that Clooney strategically dates down.

Until now, that is. Clooney has been spotted on numerous occasions with the highly accomplished Amal Alamuddin, who’s rumored to be his new girlfriend. According to Jezebel, he’s now dating out of his league.

Alamuddin was educated at Oxford and NYU, and specializes in international law. She is advising Kofi Annan on the U.N.’s Syria talks, served as the co-editor of a law book from Oxford University Press and previously represented Julian Assange in extradition proceedings.

Looks like Hollywood’s Hottest Bachelor got together with London’s Hottest Barrister—leaving the rest of us extra jealous.

TIME apps

Tinder Is Making It Easier for Celebrities to Hook Up with Normals

Actress Lindsay Lohan speaks at a press conference on Jan. 20, 2014 in Park City, Utah.
Actress Lindsay Lohan speaks at a press conference on Jan. 20, 2014 in Park City, Utah. George Pimentel—Getty Images

Say hello to the verified account

People rarely find themselves looking at a picture of an objectively attractive celebrity and think, Wow, it must be really hard for you to find a date. But lo and behold: It turns out that Tinder, the dating app that has made it significantly easier for the normals to get some, has actually posed problems for famous people.

“We’ve had celebrities reach out to us frequently throughout the last year, sort of calling out various frustrations convincing users that they were actually who they are,” co-founder Sean Rad tells TIME. “One impediment is that sometimes their Facebook accounts, which we pull information from, includes different names than their actual likeness… So [celebrities] were asking for the ability to modify their Tinder name and maybe have a verified badge.”

Thus, like Facebook and Twitter, Tinder is adopting verification badges to help the famous and the plebes intermingle.

Rad had his first concerned celebrity reach out about having difficulty convincing matches of his real identity two months after the app launched in Fall of 2012. “It was awesome [to know celebrities are on Tinder] because it sort of validated our theories that everyone, even people of influence, need help forming relationships,” Rad says. “It’s important to us that our users know we are committed to authenticity on every level.”

On a much smaller scale, Rad and his co-founder Justin Mateen know how difficult it can be to convince Tinder matches of their real identities. For a period of time, the two men listed themselves as the app’s co-founders in their Tinder profile tagline.

“No one believed us, they thought it was lying and say ‘funny joke loser,'” Mateen said in a past interview.

Mateen wants a verification — the honor might not only be bestowed to Hollywood A-listers but also recognizable leaders in other arenas — but, “we haven’t decided if he qualifies yet; his account is in review,” Rad says. “This isn’t something that we are going to loosely hand out.”

Even though Rad won’t disclose which celebrities are having dating app issues due to Tinder/Tindee confidentiality, he assures TIME, “These are A-listers.” Sochi athletes admitted to using Tinder during the Olympics, and other celebrities have opened up about the app to the public. Lindsay Lohan, for example, let her Instagram followers know that she found her brother on Tinder:

So now you’ll know that that Lindsay lookalike is actually Lindsay. Whether you swipe left or right is up to you.

TIME

This Dating App Lets You Snag a Hottie Using Your Voice, Not Your Face

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Getty Images

Good news for the non-photogenic

If you’re looking for a new dating app — which, let’s be honest, you’re probably not, because there are already about 12 billion out there — here’s a fun one. It’s called Revealr, and rather than relying on photos of users’ faces, it relies on recordings of their voices.

Available now for iPhone, the app requires users to log in through Facebook and then record 20-second audio introductions. That recording, along with the user’s name, age, location and a very pixelated photo, are shared with potential matches. Once two users both swipe right for “like,” they are matched up and their photos are revealed.

From there, it’s pretty much the same as Tinder or any other non-voice based dating apps. That 20-second audio bit could be pretty helpful, though. What if someone has the face of an angel but the voice of drunk Gilbert Gottfried? Better to find that out early.

TIME relationships

Want a European Lover? Find a Brit

Among denizens of the Old World, the British are the most faithful, while the French finish last, according to a new survey.

If you’re looking for love with a European, and fidelity is a must, you might cast your lot with the Brits. According to a study by Gleeden, a European dating site for extramarital affairs, the British are the most faithful among all Europeans, with 40% of men and 29% of women reporting cheating on their partner.

Not so surprisingly, the French and Italians are the least faithful among residents of the E.U. (President François Hollande, anyone?) Over half of French and Italian men and a third of the women reported cheating on their partner, according to the Telegraph.

Gleeden’s survey polled 5,000 Europeans and found that the British were also less likely to cheat compared to polled Belgians, Spanish and Germans. Overall, women were less likely to cheat compared to men in every country.

The British were also the most likely to feel regret after cheating on their partner, with about half of them saying they felt bad afterward. Only 28% of the French said they regretted their infidelities.

[The Telegraph]

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