TIME

6 Weird Scientific Facts About Love

Bride and groom couple
Cultura RM/Mallon Industries—Getty Images/Collection Mix: Subjects RM

Sure, you know the basics about the birds and the bees, but how much do you really know about what goes on in your body—and your mind—while you’re falling head over heels or doing the deed? Here are some fascinating facts about love and sex that may surprise you.

Health.com: 15 Everyday Habits to Boost Your Libido

Spouses may have similar DNA

Scientists already knew that people tend to choose romantic partners with similar characteristics, such as age, race, religion, income, and upbringings. But a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that people also tend to marry others with similar DNA. When researchers studied the genetic material of 825 white American couples, they found fewer differences in the DNA between married people than between two randomly selected individuals within the same race. In fact, they calculated that the tendency to pair up with a genetically similar spouse is about one-third as strong as the tendency to do so with someone with a similar education.

Health.com: Best and Worst Foods for Your Sex Life

Watching rom-coms may help strengthen marriage

Watching movies may be one key to marital bliss, says Matthew Johnson, PhD, director of the Marriage and Family Studies Laboratory at Binghamton University. In his study, couples attended counseling or watched relationship-themed movies and completed discussion guides together. Both strategies cut the groups’ divorce rate in half after three years—but the movie-watching activity took 50% less time and took place almost entirely at home. “The key is to talk with your partner about your relationship in the context of a movie,” says Johnson.

Women can make their voice “sexier,” but men can’t

In a 2014 study, Albright University researchers found that women were able to deliberately manipulate their voices—while counting from one to 10—to sound more attractive. But, sorry guys: When men tried to be sexier, they were actually rated as sounding worse! When a woman intentionally drops her voice to make it sound low and breathy, she’s often perceived as more attractive—but not exactly for the reasons you might think. Men tend to prefer women with higher, more feminine voices, says co-author Susan Hughes, PhD, associate professor of psychology. But when a woman lowers her voice to “sound sexy,” she’s signaling her interest in a potential mate—a clue that men are able to pick up on.

Health.com: 8 Reasons Why Sex is Better After 50

You’re less likely to get grossed out when aroused

Sex can be a messy activity with lots of fluids and smells, but in the heat of the moment, none of that (usually) seems to matter. According to a study from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, that’s because sexual arousal overrides the body’s natural “disgust response.” When researchers asked women to watch either an erotic film, a sports video, or a “neutral” video of a train, and then perform a series of unpleasant acts (like drinking out of a cup with a bug in it), they found that those who’d watched the sexual acts rated the tasks as less disgusting—and were also able to complete more of them. Previous research has suggested that sexual arousal has a similar impact on men, as well.

Love is good for your bones

Marriage appears to strengthen men’s skeletons, according to a University of California Los Angeles study, especially if they wait until after age 25 to tie the knot. Researchers aren’t sure why, but they point out that it’s not the first time marriage has been linked to health. Other studies, for example, have suggested that married people live longer, are more likely to survive cancer, and have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Health.com: 10 Reasons You’re Not Having Sex

Old people do it, too

Sexual interest and sexual function do both decline with age—especially as adults begin to take more medications—but that doesn’t mean that senior citizens aren’t still getting it on. “Many people do continue to have sex into their old age, often until death,” Garcia says. And they’re not always careful: “Besides teenagers and young adults, the elderly is the biggest population for sexually-transmitted disease spikes,” he adds. “They’re not worried about getting pregnant, so they’re not using condoms.”

READ MORE: 20 Weird Facts About Sex and Love on Health.com

TIME

Like Gwyneth and Chris, My Husband and I Consciously Recoupled

Gwyneth Paltrow, left, and Chris Martin
Gwyneth Paltrow, left, and Chris Martin Colin Young-Wolff—Invision/AP

After I heard "I don't love you anymore," my marriage headed into a gray area—and it wasn't all bad

The concept of “conscious living” is a popular one—synonymous with “mindfulness,” we like to apply it to eating, building, working, whatever we are doing. Time even put it on the cover a few months ago. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin brought the revolution to more tabloid headlines when they announced their “conscious uncoupling.” More recent reports, however, note that the uncoupled pair has been publicly love-birding, so it’s natural to wonder if a “recoupling” is in the offing.

“Coupling” brings me back to the railroad yards of my youth, where my father, a train–parts salesman, would explain how the cars come apart and together using something called a coupler. With only a modicum of bashing and bravado, the trains would line up and be on their way. And with that in mind, “uncoupling” seems a much better word to use for the end of a relationship than the fraught, shameful “divorce.” I know, because in the last seven years, I have uncoupled, recoupled, and uncoupled for good from the person I coupled with in 1988. The Great Northern railroad runs through my small Montana town and I went to the train yard a lot in the last seven years.

Back in 2008, I was met with the words, “I don’t love you anymore. I’m not sure I ever did.” And an encore in 2011: “It’s not that I don’t love you. It’s that I’m not in love with you anymore.” The first time, I believed that the relationship was salvageable. The second time, I knew the marriage had to end. My reaction both times: to choose not to suffer by focusing on what I could own and what I could control, and letting go of the rest. Sounds hard. It was. But I did it as consciously as possible and I am better for having lived that way, even though the marriage is over. My strategy was never about staying together.

I wrote my way through both crises, in an essay for the New York Times and in my memoir, This is Not the Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness. Consequently, I heard from people all over the globe and I can tell you: they want to know that there is some freedom in not knowing what’s around the corner.

Because—usually—it’s not black and white. There’s so much at stake—families, children’s stability, loss of property, future dreams, self-identity, community orientation. They want to know that there is hope. That in the grey area they will they learn something profound about themselves, and even find themselves back in the relationship—only with new perspective and heightened respect. They want to believe in that poster we had on our college dorm-room wall: “If you love something set it free. If it returns, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it never was.”

When I was consciously uncoupling for the first time I was new at employing this practice of non-suffering. I had small kids, which meant that I couldn’t journey for great lengths of time to the Kripalu-Omega-Esalan institutes of the world, or to the top of Everest, or to an ashram. I had to practice mindfulness right there at my kitchen sink. And it worked.

Gwyneth and Chris and I are living proof that we can step outside the story that society spins during times of relationship re-invention—we don’t have to fight and throw plates to be powerful. In the first uncoupling, and even in our mediation sessions, there were times when I reached out and held my was-band’s hand (I can barely use the word “ex”) because we were used to navigating troubled times together. Uncoupling, and recoupling, and uncoupling, if you do that again, doesn’t need to be like the movies or TV dramas, or the war stories you hear from friends. You can find grace in the grey.

In those years of vacillation, I learned to live in the moment, responsible for my own happiness. Perhaps in so-doing, we found our way back to each other for a time. And why our mediator congratulated us in our last session, with the ink still drying on the divorce decree. “Good job, you guys. When you’re ready, I think you two would be excellent candidates for a divorce ceremony. They really help people deliberately and intentionally close this chapter of their lives.”

We’re not ready for that yet. There’s still a lot of grief. But for now we are able to co-parent and communicate with respect, and the kids are thriving. Did we all suffer less because of our conscious variations on coupling? I’d like to think so.

Laura Munson is the best-selling author of This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness, and founder of Haven Retreats.

TIME Dating

Geniuses in Love: Mensa and Match.com Partner For a New Dating Site

Heart in a petrie dish
Getty Images

Mensa, the society for people with high IQ, and Match.com are teaming up to create a new dating site for highly intelligent people, reports Match.com.

According to Match, smart is attractive: More than 80% of singles claim a partner’s equal or higher intelligence is a “must have” or “very important.”

“Why do we want a smart partner? Because intelligence is correlated with many benefits, including: higher income; sense of humor; creativity; social skills; coordination; and problem solving. These are sexy,” said Match’s Chief Scientific Advisor Dr. Helen Fisher in an online statement.

The new site only allows users that match Mensa’s requirement of an IQ in above the 98% of the general population. According to Mensa, there are plenty of brainy fish in the sea: an estimated 6 million Americans are eligible to become a part of the organization which now has 57,000 members.

Super smart singles are encouraged to put their best mind forward; through July 6th, Match is inviting them to take the Mensa Home Test for $1 to see if they qualify for this genius opportunity.

TIME Sex

15 Everyday Habits to Boost Your Libido

Lying in Bed Together
SolStock/Getty Images

Easy lifestyle tweaks to crank up your sex drive

If you’ve lost that frisky feeling, you’re not alone. Research shows that nearly a third of women and 15% of men lack the desire to have sex regularly. But there are things you can do to put the sizzle back into your sex life. Jumpstart your libido with these expert-approved lifestyle changes.
Plan more date nights

If a fun Saturday night with your hubby means watching Showtime in sweatpants, it could be killing your sex drive. Rekindle your romance by getting out of the house for an old-fashioned date. Your dates don’t need to be grand romantic evenings; just going to the movies or out to dinner can reignite the spark you felt when you first met. “If it’s too expensive to hire a nanny, ask your friends with kids to watch yours for the night and offer to return the favor,” says Leah Millheiser, MD, director of the Female Sexual Medicine Program at Stanford Hospital & Clinics. Chances are, they’ll need a night out at some point too!

Health.com: 10 Reasons You’re Not Having Sex
Pop a different birth control pill

Hormonal changes take a big toll on your sex drive. Birth control pills can be one of the biggest perpetrators: they can reduce your body’s production of testosterone, and in turn, your desire to get down. Certain varieties may even cause pain during sex.

And even if you’re not on birth control, being aware of your hormonal status can help you dial in your libido. Prolactin, the nursing hormone, decreases estrogen and testosterone in breastfeeding women, which can wreak hormonal havoc. Additionally, Dr. Millheiser warns that menopause can bring a decrease in testosterone and estradiol, a type of estrogen.

Check other meds, too

Take a look at your medicine cabinet—your prescriptions could be behind your lower libido. Aside from birth control pills, common offenders include drugs for high blood pressure, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), anxiety, and depression. “If a medication is the most likely culprit, discuss your concern with the prescribing doctor,” says Dr. Millheiser. “It’s possible that another treatment may be used with fewer side effects.”

Divide household chores equally

After a long day of work, you may head home for your other full-time job: being a parent. “After the kids go to bed, there’s often cleanup followed by work that you’ve brought home,” says Dr. Millheiser. “As a result, intimacy gets pushed to the background.” If you and your partner are both working full-time, keeping the division of household labor equal and ensuring one partner doesn’t shoulder the whole burden will make both of you happier in the bedroom and out.

Health.com: The 10 Biggest Myths About Sex
Set your room up for romance

It’s easy to get in the habit of letting your kids crawl into bed with you after they’ve had a bad dream, or sharing cuddle time with your cat or dog. These are major mood killers, says Dr. Millheiser, who suggests keeping the kiddos and pets out by simply locking the bedroom door at night. It may take some time to break these habits, but making the bed sexy again will make you more relaxed and ready for romance.

Add sex to your to-dos

We schedule doctor’s appointments, work meetings, and drinks with friends—so why not sex? It’s not the most romantic approach, but setting aside a specific time with your significant other means you’re making a commitment to having an active sex life. This way, you’ll feel compelled to keep the appointment and be less likely to make excuses.

Use a lubricant

Getting in the mood can be almost impossible if sex is painful for you—but it doesn’t have to be. One of the leading causes is dryness. “If vaginal dryness is causing pain during intercourse, try using a silicone-based sexual lubricant or a vaginal moisturizer,” suggests Dr. Millheiser. “Silicone lubricants are longer-lasting and more moisturizing than the water-based alternatives. If this doesn’t improve the situation, you may want to check with a gynecologist to see if vaginal estrogen therapy is appropriate.”

De-stress before sex

Everyday stressors—your job, your kids’ grades, the leaky bathroom faucet—have a more powerful effect on your sex life than you may realize. Being stressed causes your body to produce more of the “fight or flight” hormone cortisol, which your body needs in small doses but can suppresses the libido when the body produces an excess. Before you hit the sheets, find an easy way to clear your mind, whether it’s taking a long bath or curling up with a good book.

Eat clean

Following a heart-healthy diet could help you turn up the heat between the sheets. A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found a link between high cholesterol and women who have difficulty with arousal and orgasm. When cholesterol builds up in the arteries, it makes it harder for blood to flow; in the pelvic area, that can lead to less sensation in the genitals, making it harder to achieve orgasm. Slash your cholesterol levels by loading up on fruits and veggies and cutting down on animal fats and whole-milk products.

Eat aphrodisiacs

A growing body of research shows that certain vitamins and components can enhance sexual function and desire. Avocados, almonds, strawberries, and oysters are just a few foods that may set the mood.

Health.com: 7 Foods for Better Sex
Examine your relationship

A slow sex drive may be a sign of broader relationship problems outside the bedroom. It could be bottled-up resentment over lots of minor issues (he left his toothbrush on the counter again?) or something bigger, like a lack of communication (like too much texting and not enough actual talking, as a recent study examined). “If the relationship quality needs professional help, find a licensed marriage and family therapist in your area,” advises Dr. Millheiser. “If the relationship issue pertains only to sex, look for a certified sex therapist.”

Go for a hike together

Or a run, gym class, cooking seminar—any hobby or interest that you and your partner can do together, suggests Dr. Millheiser. “This can strengthen your emotional connection, and feelings of support boost desire.” In one study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, couples that engaged in new and exciting activities had greater satisfaction in their relationships. “New and exciting” is all relative, so depending on how adventurous you are, that could mean anything from trying out mountain biking to skydiving.

Exercise often

Less stress, an improved mood, and higher self-esteem are all health benefits of exercise—and together they can rev up your sex drive. In fact, a recent study found that women who were taking antidepressants and were experiencing a dulled libido (a common side effect) improved sexual satisfaction by doing three 30-minute sweat sessions per week.

Health.com: 10 Best Workouts For Your Sex Life
Listen to your body

Sometimes, a slow sex drive winds up being one symptom of a larger medical problem. So if along with your low libido you begin noticing weight gain, dry skin, hair loss, and fatigue, don’t ignore it—you may be among the 15 million Americans unknowingly suffering from a thyroid problem. A simple blood test will confirm a diagnosis, and it can be treated with medication. Dr. Millheiser warns that low libido is also linked to other medical disorders, including depression and chronic fatigue.

No dice? Visit your doc

If your engine’s still stalled after these lifestyle tweaks, prescription drugs may help. “Certain medications, such as testosterone or Wellbutrin, can be used on an off-label basis for the treatment of low libido and are only available with a prescription,” Dr. Millheiser says.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Love & Relationships

How Being Good Parents Can Make You a Lousy Couple

couple
Getty Images

The author recounts how she almost lost her solid, happy marriage to neglect—and what she did about it

Twenty-two years into our marriage, my husband and I hit a rough patch. There were no knockdown, drag-out fights; it was more of a slow withering.

When it started, or how long it had gone on before we noticed, neither of us could say. We just looked up one day and realized that our solid, happy, even enviable marriage was in trouble.

Like countless long-married couples before us, we had somehow let our day-to-day routine—managing the business and boredom of running our household; juggling careers; parenting two kids with their own over-scheduled lives—suck us dry. With our son and daughter, we were still a great family, a great four. As a husband and wife, we’d become a lousy pair.

I was recently reminded of all this—of the pain and sadness that came with recognizing that we’d fallen into such a hole, and the pleasure and happiness that have come from climbing back out again—after reading Love Illuminated, the new book by Daniel Jones.

After 10 years as the editor of the popular New York Times column “Modern Love,” and sifting through some 50,000 submissions, Jones says that two questions about the vagaries of love surface most often: “First, from the young: ‘How do I find love?’ And second, from those struggling through the marital malaise of midlife: ‘How do I get it back?’”

Of course, after my own yearlong journey to find the answer to that second question, I was more than a little curious to see what wisdom Jones had to offer. But I was more than a little disappointed at what he concludes in this particular area.

He suggests that there are really only three choices for long-married parents who don’t what to see their unions end in divorce: quashing, sneaking or restoring.

Quashing one’s desires, he says, is for those who’ve decided to accept their marriage for what it is, though he allows that this “runs the gamut from the bitterly resigned to the appreciatively so.” And while Jones shows little tolerance for those on the bitter end of the spectrum, he deems the “appreciatively resigned . . . among the healthiest and happiest married people alive.”

Those who sneak, meanwhile, are not content to suppress their unfulfilled desires, but try instead to figure out how to get them met elsewhere. They are not cheaters, but rather those who “redirect their passion away from their marriage, into pursuits and distractions and flirtations that entertain and titillate but fall short of all-out betrayal.” Think Facebook dalliances with old flames or Internet porn.

It is, however, with Jones’ third option, the restorers—the category in which my husband and I undoubtedly belong—that I take issue.

Jones argues that in marriages where passion and love have waned due to “the deadening weight of its routines,” restorers eagerly pile on even more routine: “date nights, couples counseling, dance classes, scheduled sex . . . Fresh Flower Fridays. . . required kisses on parting, lunchtime exchanges of erotic texts or e-mails, and possibly some creative midday play at the local Holiday Inn involving nipple clamps, silk scarves and an eye patch.”

He cheekily dismisses such efforts at reconnection as merely checking off a series of boxes until “overachieving” restorer couples “eventually pull back on all the improvement techniques and join the ranks of the appreciatively resigned”—an idea my husband and I had explicitly rejected

While nipple clamps and eye patches were not our thing (or required kisses or scheduled sex or mandatory fresh flowers, for that matter), we were lost and eager to find our way back to each other. We sought counseling as a way to begin the process and were grateful to have the seasoned guidance of someone who could help show us the way.

We took long afternoon hikes in the canyons—in fact, we still do—and made time to go out for dinner, just the two of us, rather than our usual Saturday night out with friends. Instead of always splitting chores, we made a point of doing some of them together, like shopping at the Sunday morning farmers market or taking the dog for a long evening walk.

For us, these have not been merely check-the-box activities but, rather, a conscious effort to reconnect and remember why we were drawn together in the first place.

Like many couples after they’ve had children, we’d found ourselves spending less and less time together. Some of this was practical, a matter of convenience—one of us running our son to basketball practice while the other took our daughter to a friend’s. By the time we’d gotten done with our respective household tasks, we’d often vie for a little “me” time—a trip to the gym for my husband or a quiet spell with a book for me. At that point, conversations had a way of feeling like interruptions.

It wasn’t “work” that our marriage needed so much as attention, and we made a pointed decision to tend to it, to care for it, to nurture it back to health and keep it healthy.

Alone time doesn’t guarantee a great marriage. But, according to a 2012 study from the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, couples who spend more one-on-one time together are less prone to divorce and report higher levels of sexual satisfaction, communication and commitment. “Husbands and wives who engaged in couple time with their mates at least once a week were approximately 3.5 times more likely to report being ‘very happy’ in their marriages,” the study added.

I am not so naïve as to misunderstand why Jones celebrates the “appreciatively resigned.” Sometimes, it’s tempting to feel like “good enough” in a long marriage is actually pretty great. But I believe that deliberately not settling, and actively wanting more from each other and from one’s marriage, is what keeps it truly great.

At the beginning and end of his book, Jones asks a seemingly simple question: “Is love a feeling or a choice?” My answer is that it’s both.

Love is the heart-stopping, passionate, adrenalin-producing feeling that makes people want to rip off each other’s clothes when they first meet. But nearly a quarter of a century in—and two kids and a mortgage later—it’s clear to me that love is also a choice you have to make every single day.

TIME Love & Relationships

What Men Share on Social Media But Not With You

Couple on sofa watching television together
Blend Images—Hill Street Studios/Getty Images/Vetta

They won't express their thoughts to you in person, but they'll shout it to their hundreds of Facebook friends and Twitter followers

Here’s a scenario you might recognize if you’re a woman dating a social media butterfly: You’re sitting on the couch together silently watching TV. When you take a moment to peek at your Twitter feed, you see your significant other has been sharing a stream of personal thoughts about House of Cards with the Twitterverse—even though he hasn’t uttered a word to you.

It’s no surprise that men tend to be more tight-lipped than women about their thoughts and feelings, but social media is creating a haven for some men to express themselves online in ways they don’t in person—and never would have before. From a relationship perspective, that can be a good and bad thing. Women can now turn to social media to get more insight into what their partners think, but where’s the intimacy in that when those feelings are also being broadcast to hundreds of Facebook friends and thousands of Twitter followers?

Recent data from Pew Research Center suggests that social media is making its way into relationships more than ever, with 74% of couples surveyed saying the Internet has impacted their relationship in a good way. Women are more likely than men to use social media, with 71% of women participating compared with 62% of men, according to the latest report from Women’s Media Center. However, what psychologists and researchers find especially interesting is that, while women are equally willing to share the the thoughts they spew out into the digital ether with someone face to face, men are much less likely to do the same.

Eva Buechel, a PhD candidate at the University of Miami who has studied why people share content online, has found that men and women who experience social anxiety, and therefore have a greater need to express their negative emotions and seek support, are equally likely to maintain a blog or social media account. However, “while socially apprehensive females share equally across different communication channels—face to face or microblog—males seem to show a very strong preference for microblog,” Buechel says. Introverts also find it easier to share their thoughts online than in person.

Other research from Northwestern University shows that men are increasingly more likely to share their creative work, like writing, music, or art, online. Nearly two-thirds of men in a 2008 study said they post their work online, compared with only half of the women who reported posting.

Females, of course, are well versed at expressing their feelings. “Women usually have close and intimate friendships, which might make it easy to approach a friend when they need to talk to someone,” says Buechel. “Men have different relationships with their friends, and they might find it more difficult to approach someone in particular to talk to when they need someone to listen or comfort them.”

Such friendship dynamics can contribute to men feeling more apprehensive about expressing themselves when it comes to real, rather than digital, life. “When men are texting, emailing, or communicating through another technological channel, they feel less threatened and are more likely to share their thoughts and feelings because they don’t have to deal with the reaction from the other person in-person, in real-time,” says Dr. Seth Meyers, a Los Angeles psychologist.

That’s one reason Avidan Ackerson, 28, a software engineer in New York with three different Twitter accounts, tends to share more personal things on Twitter than he does on Facebook. “I don’t necessarily always want someone who knows me well to know things about me, but I want someone to know these things,” he says.

Ben*, 28, who works in commercial real estate finance in New York City and tweets as much as 50 times a day, has yet to reveal his Twitter handle to the woman he’s been dating for a month, even though he tweeted about their first date shortly after it happened. “It’s not something I am embarrassed to share, but it’s a level of intimacy we have not yet achieved in real life,” he says. And it will probably be months before they become Facebook friends.

“Connecting online offers men the illusion of security, even though it often causes frustration later among their dates who are wondering, ‘Why is he different and more closed when we’re actually together?’” Meyers says.

Though frustrating for women who prefer face to face communication with their mates, social media may offer a halfway point. “Men are not very good communicators,” says Michael Busby, 47, a system programmer and lecturer at Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky, and an avid blogger. “When we get frustrated, we really start to break down. There are times when [I get overwhelmed in the classroom], I start to stutter. I have to calm down. But a controlled environment encourages us to have more confidence.”

Jessica Riches, 23, a social media consultant in London says her boyfriend, who tweets constantly, is pretty good at communicating. But visiting his Twitter page and seeing everything from his day-to-day activities to his thoughts and feelings can make her feel closer to him as well. “I look at it more regularly [when] I miss him and wonder what he’s up to.”

Still, for a woman from Venus and a man from Mars, there’s something frustrating about a man’s willingness to communicate with thousands of people—some friends, some strangers—in a way he can’t seem to do with the person lying right next to him in bed.

*Name has been changed for privacy.

TIME Sex

QUIZ: Are You a One-Night-Stander or the Commitment Type?

Man in tuxedo talking on cell phone
Getty Images

Your dating habits, from booty call to boyfriend

Trying to define a sexual relationship these days can sometimes seem to require a degree in linguistics. You might be spending this Valentine with anyone from a one-night stand to a booty call, a friend with benefits, a full-blown girlfriend or boyfriend–or someone who falls somewhere in the 50-plus shades of gray. A recent survey found that 69% of people out with a love interest didn’t know whether they were on a date or just “hanging out.” Blame texting and hook-up culture for the confusion.

TIME asked a number of psychologists—including Justin Garcia, an assistant research scientist at The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction and a professor at Indiana University, and Peter Jonason, a psychologist and sex researcher at the University of Western Sydney—about what makes one person more prone to having one-night stands while another tends to find herself in committed relationships. Dating habits are influenced by various factors, from how competitive you are to even genetics. In one study, Garcia found that individuals with a specific gene variant were more likely to have a history of uncommitted sex, like one-night stands. Not to mention, men and women have major differences in attitudes toward casual sex (sexual orientation was not taken into account in either Garcia of Jonason’s studies). In Jonason’s research, college women were more likely to avoid contact, intimacy, and ignore a partner on social media in order to keep things casual. “Women have the power when it comes to relationships,” Jonason says. “They decide when it becomes sexual or not,” likely because women have the more at risk when it comes casual sex, and more limited resources (eggs).

In the spectrum of relationships, are you in it for the long haul or are you more of a hit-it-and-quit-it dater? Take our quiz and find out.

TIME Love & Relationships

Let’s Fire St. Valentine: 5 Saints for the Married

St. Dymphna's Day, anyone? Getty Images

Long-term relationships need a different kind of divine assistance

Of all the Saints to whom we could grant a special day to celebrate love, why did we choose Valentine, a dude who never even had a girlfriend, let alone a long term monogamous relationship? He was a priest who died young, after curing some blind girl of her sight and writing her a note, signed “your Valentine.” This is the guy who’s supposed to inspire tokens of enduring love? A guy who left a note before his abrupt departure?

First of all, let’s just address with this whole “Valentine helped young lovers” nonsense. Saints are supposed to help people in need or difficulty. Is this a global crisis of some sort: young people needing help being attracted to each other? Has this ever been a problem? It’s called falling in love, not hefting in love or solving-for-x in love, or doing-a-mountain-of-ironing in love. Falling. Easy.

Married people on the other hand, or the long-partnered, they need the help with that loving feeling. Sometimes, say after the 45th time of hearing the same story mangled the same way, or 44th time of explaining where the envelopes are kept, miracles might be called for. And not to be all Bah, Lovebug about it, but Valentine’s a bit of a wimpy role model. He wrote a note. Not exactly what we call doing the hard yards.

I’ve done some research, and I’d like to suggest some alternate saints, some hallowed individuals who might be more apt figurehead for those lucky enough to be in a long term monogamous relationship.

St. Genevieve, Patron Saint of Disasters: Genevieve brought food to the people of Paris when it was under siege and cupboards were bare. When the barbarians were approaching her home, she persuaded folks to stay and protect their city. This day could be celebrated by somebody else doing the grocery shopping. Or by family members looking after their own living quarters. For a change.

Saint Dymphna, Patron Saint of the Emotionally Disturbed: Dymphna’s father became unhinged after her mother died and fell in love with his daughter. After Dymphna fled to Belgium with her priest to avoid him, he followed her and in his rage, cut her head off. So this day could be celebrated by taking an overseas holiday without in-laws, even perfectly lovely and well-adjusted ones. Or, for that matter, without kids. (Bonus: Dymphna is the go-to Saint for problem-drinking, in case anyone’s parents insist on tagging along.)

St Blandina, Patron Saint of the Falsely Accused: Blandina was accused of murdering children and eating their flesh because she was a christian. This day could be celebrated by just taking a breath, for goodness sake, before asking why someone let the kids go outside without their coats or a snack or the same shoe on each foot. That was how they wanted to go out. They’re fine. And no they didn’t just have ice cream for dinner. They had McDonald’s first.

Saint Swithun, Patron Saint of Rain: Swithun, who was bishop of Winchester, was much given to the building up of church and civic infrastructure. This day could be celebrated by spontaneous acts of home improvement, made by either spouse. Vacuuming will not count, although since Swithun is the patron saint of rain, fixing a leaky faucet might. Putting up shelves definitely would.

Saint Odilo: Patron Saint of Poor Souls in Purgatory. Odilo persuaded the warring barons of his era to cease hostilities during Lent, Easter, Advent and Christmas. His day could be marked by going a whole day without disagreeing with your spouse. Or if that’s too ambitious, no fighting in the car. Or at least, no arguing at mealtimes. Or maybe no fighting in any carpeted areas between 7:30 and 7:55 a.m. Come to think of it, the Patron Saint of Purgatory is pretty appropriate for marriage: unbearable, but better than the other option. (Note to St. Odilo card manufacturers. Be careful with that spelling. Not Odildo…)

Any of these five would trump Saint Val for long-term relationships. Although to give him his due, he did get executed for his commitment to getting people married in the first place. (The authorities at the time were of the belief that unencumbered men made better soldiers.) This has to count for something. So let’s let him be the patron saint of the engaged or newlyweds or christianmingle.com. And let’s have two holidays for love, one named after St. Valentine, and one after one of these more hardy icons. Instead of chocolate or flowers, which are perishable, spouses could exchange chewing gum as a tribute to each others’ longevity, flexibility and tendency to get in their hair. Or cigarettes, a fitting token for someone who is probably going to be the death of you, but whom you can’t give up.

Also, both are really easy to buy at the gas station on the way home in case you forget.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser