Maybe the cutest thing you'll see today
Redditor bigbrainonb-rad recently posted a video that shows a man proposing to his girlfriend while pretending to take a selfie. And her reaction — caught by the smartphone’s video recorder — is pretty priceless.
In the last week, the video has been viewed more than 550,000 times.
We’re waiting for the proposal belfie.
Now that is true love
A devoted husband took romance to an ethereal level on Valentine’s Day by sending his wife a bouquet of flowers from beyond the grave.
Jim Golay, from Casper, Wyo., was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor almost exactly one year ago. He wanted to make Valentine’s Day special for his wife but he knew he wasn’t going to be around for much longer, reports KCWY13.
So before he died, Golay hatched a plan with the local florists to send Shelley Golay a bouquet of flowers each Valentine’s Day for the rest of her life, just to remind her how much he loved her.
“He’s such an amazing man and he just can love beyond boundaries,” Shelley Golay said. “There is no boundaries with him, even in death. He’s just amazing.”
The flowers arrived two days before Valentine’s Day. When Shelley saw they were from her deceased husband, she phoned the florists and found out about his eternal Valentine’s Day plan.
Who knew kissing could make you healthier in so many ways?
Romantic kissing happens in more than 90% of all cultures, and with good reason: “It helps us find a partner and stay with them,” says Laura Berman, PhD, assistant clinical professor of ob-gyn and psychiatry at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago and author of Loving Sex ($25, amazon.com). But it also has a slew of surprising functions, including some major health benefits. Pucker up to these fascinating facts.
It may be the most fun way to build immunity
Just 10 seconds of French kissing can transfer 80 million germs from one person’s mouth to the other, according to a Dutch study published this past November in the journal Microbiome. While that may sound gross, there’s a big potential benefit. “It’s a way to pass around bugs so your body develops immunity to them,” Berman explains. In fact, a 2010 paper in the journal Medical Hypotheses suggested that kissing between partners could help protect their babies from being infected in utero with cytomegalovirus, which can cause birth defects such as infant blindness.
Read more: 13 Reasons to Have More Sex
It really is ‘in his kiss’
Women rate romantic kissing as more important when they’re close to ovulation—in other words, when they’re more likely to get pregnant. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, researchers say: Kissing offers a way to assess a mate through taste or smell.
It may boost your libido
While both sexes enjoy French kissing with long-term partners, guys “preferred more tongue contact” than women with short-term mates, according to a study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology in 2007. (The study was done with college students, so you might want to take it with a grain of salt.) “One theory is that their saliva transfers testosterone to the woman, which in turn increases her sexual desire,” explains Berman.
Read more: 15 Everyday Habits to Boost Your Libido
It boosts happy hormones
“When you kiss, your brain releases this chemical that leaves you feeling connected and bonded to your mate,” explains Berman. It also releases endorphins, those same feel-good chemicals your body produces when you work out. Another relaxing bonus: kissing lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol, according to a 2009 study done at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania.
It may save your relationship
Both men and women who report frequent kissing in their relationship report more sexual satisfaction, according to a 2011 Kinsey Institute study. Guys who frequently smooched were also three times happier in their relationship than guys with limited snuggling. (Interestingly, frequent kissing didn’t predict relationship satisfaction for women.)
It can last for days—literally
The longest kiss award goes to Ekkachai Tiranarat and Laksana Tiranarat, who smooched for 58 hours, 35 minutes and 58 seconds in Pattaya, Thailand, on February 12-14, 2013. They beat out eight other couples who entered the competition. Wonder how much training they had to do to prepare for that one!
Read more: 20 Ways to Fall in Love All Over Again
These five gift ideas could be exactly what your very special someone wants for Valentine's Day. More likely, however, is that they'll come across as creepy, tacky, or otherwise ill-advised.
We’ve seen all of the ideas below promoted in earnestness as good gift options for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day this year. And sure, for the right recipient, these gifts could be seen as hilarious, romantic, charming, and perhaps even deeply thoughtful. But you better be 100% sure you know your significant other well enough to foresee her reaction, because these oddball ideas also come with the serous risk of misfiring, to put it mildly.
S&M Teddy Bear
Falling somewhere along the spectrum of amusing to downright creepy, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company is selling a bear with “smoldering gray eyes, a suit and satin tie, mask – even mini handcuffs,” based on the erotic novel and movie Fifty Shades of Grey. “She can’t help but submit to loving him,” gushed the company’s description of the limited-edition bear, which retails for $89.99.
A warning at the bottom of the bear’s web page states “Contains small parts. Not suitable for children.” And, well, to state the obvious, the fact that it contains small parts is hardly the only reason this bear, made with “the silkiest fur we can get our paws on,” isn’t a good idea for kids.
Clearance Sale Lingerie
According to a survey conducted on the behalf of Offers.com, the top two items that women DON’T want to receive from their sweethearts are stuffed animals (presumably, especially not stuffed animals that come with handcuffs) and lingerie. In a separate survey, from BeFrugal.com, nearly 90% of women (and 79% of men) said it was OK to look for ways to save on Valentine’s Day gifts.
Still, buying lingerie is a risky proposition for guys, seeing as the recipient could be insulted if the article in question is deemed too slutty, too prudish, or the wrong size. And if the main reason the buyer decided to go with a certain article of lingerie is that it was 80% off, then you’ll certainly give the impression you’re too cheap. So let’s hope the only folks following the advice to buy deeply discounted lingerie for Valentine’s Day are women making the decisions for themselves.
Candle-Lit White Castle
In what has become an annual tradition, the blue-collar mini-burger chain White Castle is welcoming customers to “enjoy a romantic evening with tableside service” at select locations around the country on February 14. Reservations are required. Dozens of Waffle House locations are doing the same, with special Valentine’s Day dinners including normally unheard-of amenities such as candlelight and tablecloths.
On the one hand, with the right dinner partner it could be an absolute hoot to mock-celebrate Valentine’s Day at a down-and-dirty fast food joint, or perhaps a so-called “breastaurant” like Tilted Kilt. On the other, bringing an unsuspecting date expecting a fancy romantic Valentine’s dinner to such an establishment could be a recipe for getting a drink thrown in your face.
Animal Sex Lecture & Dinner
On February 14, the Detroit Zoo is hosting the fourth annual “Love Gone Wild,” a three-and-a-half-hour long adult-only event that includes a champagne welcome drink, passed hors d’oeuvres, a sit-down dinner, a commemorative gift, and, most interestingly, “a candid and entertaining look at how zoo animals do the ‘wild thing,'” according to promotional materials.
Yes, the $85 event’s focus is animal sex at the zoo, which ranges from “prolonged public bouts of coitus to brief clandestine assignations,” a press release explained. And yes, the lecture is quite detailed and graphic. “We not only talk about [sex], we name names, show pictures and critique performance.”
Vacant Lot in Newark, N.J.
Let’s just say it’s probably unwise to buy a vacant lot in Newark and promise to live on the property for five years without consulting your significant other. That goes even if the property is being sold for a mere $1,000, which is the special “lovebirds” Valentine’s Day offer on the table on February 14. Couples who are interested in any of the 1,000 available vacant lots should go to Newark City Hall on Saturday morning with a $500 down payment, as well as proof you and your partner can cover construction costs needed to make the property inhabitable within 18 months of closing.
Here's your chance to spend $93,000 on Valentine’s Day...or enjoy a thrifty romantic treat from Dairy Queen.
Kindle your sparks by the light of these romantic hotel fireplaces
After a day out in the snowy Adirondacks, you pull up two chairs and a bottle of Cognac by the crackling fireplace at New York’s Whiteface Lodge, where a golden glow suffuses the dining room.
If you’ve been stuck in the winter doldrums, nothing will change your outlook on the season faster than a dose of heartwarming fireside romance—and that doesn’t require booking a trip some place frigid. We’ve road-tested hotel fireplaces the world over, from the California coastline to Chile’s starkly beautiful Atacama Desert, and added irresistible newcomers in Newfoundland, Australia, and Argentina. The most bewitching include historic hearths whose stones could tell a thousand stories as well as contemporary fireplaces in urban boutique hotels.
Some hotels treat guests to a gas fireplace in the privacy of your room, while others use a roaring fire to make a bold design statement at the center of the lobby or restaurant. Then there’s the hip, art-filled Hotel Matilda in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It’s most famous for the spa, which sports its own apothecary—and its own fireplace.
“The fireplace area in the lounge is a favorite spot for couples, who enjoy quiet, private time together before and after a couples’ massage or a hammam experience for two,” says Alondra Saldarriaga, manager of Spa Matilda. “The ambience is so intimate and romantic, with many candles burning, that one guest proposed to his girlfriend there.” Her answer? Sí, of course.
The love stories date back centuries at Ireland’s Ashford Castle, which was once the Guinness family estate. “The Ingelnook wooden fireplace surround has two Irish mythology figures carved into the wood,” explains Paula Carroll, Ashford’s director of sales and marketing. “These two figures are Diarmuid and Grainne, who were involved in a love triangle with Fionn MacCumhaill.” The imposing fireplace has inspired modern-day lovers—and also witnessed many proposals.
Whether your idea of the perfect fireside tryst involves snowy slopes or the African savanna, there’s just something about snuggling up with your loved one while gazing into the flames and nursing hot chocolate—or something a wee bit stronger—that sets the mood, on Valentine’s Day and every day.
Read on for the hotel fireplaces that are heating things up.
This Napa Valley gem is a favorite among wine-country-touring lovebirds. Each of the 48 freestanding guest lodges centers around a double-sided, indoor-outdoor fireplace. That means you can snuggle from the plush comfort of the lounge room on one side to the private outdoor terrace on the other, below the canopy of stars and breathing in that pine-scented Napa air.
The activities at this high-design lodge in Chile’s Atacama Desert include exploring vast salt flats and bubbling geyser fields, climbing volcanoes, and hiking through some of the world’s most arresting and otherworldly terrain. So it’s thrilling to come home to a convivial lounge area where the waiters mix perfect pisco sours and there’s always a fire burning in the artful modern hearth—a long stone bench on which flaming twigs are piled. Even more gratifying: sitting fireside or on the terrace (which has its own fire pits) and watching the sun set behind the brooding Licancabur Volcano.
One of Boston’s hippest hotels, this boutique player in Beacon Hill sports modern gas fireplaces with brushed stainless steel in every room, along with other top-shelf luxuries like cashmere throws, private bars stocked with premium spirits, and Italian marble bathrooms with rain showers. Reluctant to leave the comforts of your room? The hotel can arrange an in-room massage fireside.
There’s nothing quite like a sundowner overlooking the savanna at dusk, as the African wilderness comes to life. That treat comes daily along with guided game drives at this lovely lodge at the edge of Kenya’s legendary Masai Mara game reserve. The camp meticulously re-creates the romance of the 1920s safari experience, down to individual tents filled with turn-of-the-century antique furnishings and liveried waiting staff. Four family-size tents come with crackling log fireplaces in the lounge area, an idyllic spot to gather for story swapping as night closes in on the Mara.
A relative newcomer to the artsy Spanish Colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, this boutique hotel is already renowned for its avant-garde contemporary art collection and a groundbreaking spa—guests can have locally sourced ingredients blended into customized formulas for treatments. The fireplace in the tranquil relaxation area is a favored spot for guests to bliss out before or after a couples massage or soak in the hammam.
More from Travel + Leisure:
Make sure that pursuing love won't cost you your career.
After firing CEO Dov Charney last month, American Apparel decided to update its company code of ethics with stricter guidelines regarding interoffice relationships. According to the new policy, “No management-level employee may make sexual advances, welcome or unwelcome, toward any subordinate.”
Considering Charney’s time with the company was riddled with allegations of sexual harassment, it’s no surprise that the company wants to take a more conservative approach to fraternization.
But here’s the thing: Whether or not there are policies forbidding them, office relationships happen.
A recent survey by CareerBuilder found that nearly 40% of employees admitted to having a romantic relationship with a co-worker. And a whopping 31% of office relationships result in marriage—meaning they can’t always be a bad idea, right?
Here’s how to make sure pursuing love won’t cost you your job:
Avoid Getting Involved with the Wrong Person
According to the CareerBuilder survey, 24% of intra-office relationships were with someone higher up in the organization.
Dana Brownlee, president of professional training development company Professionalism Matters, advises against initiating a romance with your manager, or, likewise, with anyone who reports to you directly or indirectly.
“If you’re a manager, you should be held to a higher standard,” she says. “You’re creating a climate where people are going to see bias whether there really is bias or not.”
Relationships with your peers are generally more acceptable—assuming they’re unhitched. A stunning 20% of people who told CareerBuilder that they had dated someone at the office admitted that at least one person in the relationship was married.
Perhaps that makes sense given the amount of time we spend at work: In an office relationship, you can relate to the struggles someone faces from 9 to 5, says Brownlee. That’s not easy to do with a spouse or partner who works in a different field.
But getting involved with someone who’s married can end up damaging your personal reputation as well as your professional one—if people find out, you could lose integrity—not to mention the pain it could inflict on loved ones (yours or your partner’s).
For those of you considering an office relationship with a married coworker, here’s some sage advice: Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.
Know Your Company’s Policy Before the First Date
Some companies have very strict rules about relationships, and you should understand those boundaries—and the possible consequences of crossing them.
“Of course we know those policies aren’t always adhered to,” says Jacqueline Whitmore, founder of etiquetteexpert.com, “but it certainly should be considered, especially if there’s a policy that says, ‘We won’t hire married couples.'”
In other words, assuming you think this relationship could get serious enough to get to the altar, you could end up having to choose between your lover and your livelihood. And that’s a tough choice. Of people surveyed by Workplace Options, 57% said they’d opt to protect their career, but 43% said they would lean towards leaving their jobs.
Does your company strictly prohibit relationships of any kind? Before deciding that you’d be willing to pack up your desk in some grand romantic gesture, Brownlee advises that you consider your skill set, resume and future goals.
“It might be smarter for your career development to consider smaller changes instead of radical shifts,” she says. Maybe there’s an opportunity to switch to a different team or project, or to get some needed experience in a different department.
Consider the Worst-Case Scenario
With 7% of respondents to the CareerBuilder survey saying they had to leave a job after a breakup, you’ll be glad you did some critical thinking before jumping into any new relationship with a colleague.
First of all, ask yourself how well you know your potential partner. If things turn south, the last thing you’ll want is someone gossiping about your private life or what you said about your boss after a particularly tough performance review.
Also, consider how much you’d continue having to work with the person after breaking up—or even how regularly you’re likely to run into him or her at work functions or around the water cooler. “It can make for a very uncomfortable situation,” she says Whitmore.
Plus, if the two of you are uncomfortable around each other while working on a common project, your performance may suffer—and that could in turn hurt your prospects for promotions or raises.
To avoid some of these consequences, Brownlee says you’re better off asking out someone in a different department vs. someone whom you work with on a regular basis.
Remember that During Business Hours, Work Comes First
If you decide to pursue the relationship, set up some ground rules before things get too serious, says Brownlee. Think of the discussion as “a prenup for dating,” she says.
Make sure you are both clear about who will know about the relationship and when. You’ve hopefully already looked into the company policy, so you understand which superiors need to know. But what about Amy in the next cubicle over?
“In the early, casual stages, it’s probably better to keep it quiet,” says Brownlee. “If it’s serious, it’s probably a little harder to play it close to the vest. The key is that you guys are on the same page.”
You’ll also want to make sure you set some boundaries about how much time you spend together in the office in order to actively manage your coworkers’ and managers’ perceptions. No one thought anything of a random chat you two had in your office before the relationship, but now it can be misconstrued as a social call or, even worse, a risky-business meeting.
“You can get a reputation, whether it’s earned or not,” Brownlee says.
Sometimes finding the mate of our dreams requires a more realistic view of our prospects
This post originally appeared on Ozy.com.
In case you missed the buzz on Facebook, scientists recently determined that “beer goggles” do in fact exist, though not precisely in the way we thought. Consuming alcohol, it seems, tends to elevate desire and reduce inhibitions more than alter our actual perception of another person’s attractiveness.
But there’s another type of virtual eyewear that many of us spend even more time donning — one that has the opposite effect of beer goggles. Call them “expectancy spectacles” if you’d like, because wearing them causes us to raise our standards and expectations, often unrealistically, of everything from potential mates to job prospects.
The primary culprit behind this altered vision is not booze but a potent concoction of Hollywood movies, social conditioning and wishful thinking. And fortunately, there are a few scientists on the case.
One is Ty Tashiro, a psychologist and relationship expert at Discovery Health, whose recent book, The Science of Happily Ever After, explores what “advances in relationship science” can teach us about the partners we choose. Almost 9 in 10 Americans believe they have a soul mate, says Tashiro, but only 3 in 10 find enduring partnerships that do not end in divorce, separation or chronic unhappiness. Clearly something is going wrong — and it starts with our expectations.
That’s because in real life the pool of potential partners looks rather different from the cast of The Bachelorette — something Tashiro hopes to address by putting some cold figures to the mating game, employing an approach similar to the one used by scientists who calculate the chances of life on other planets.
For example, say a bachelorette enters a room of 100 male bachelors who represent the broader U.S population. If she prefers a partner who’s tall (at least 6-foot), then her pool of possible prospects immediately shrinks to 20. If she would like him to be fairly attractive and earn a comfortable income (over $87,000 annually), then she’s down to a single prospect out of 100.
If you choose to specify further traits, such as kindness, intelligence or a particular religious or political affiliation, well, let’s just say we’re going to need a much bigger room. And then, of course, there’s the small matter of whether he actually likes you back.
Such long odds are the product of misplaced priorities, says Tashiro, but it’s not strictly our fault. Our mate preferences have been shaped by natural selection’s obsession with physical attractiveness and resources as well as the messages our friends, families and favorite shows transmit about sweethearts and soul mates. And it is at the start of relationships, when we need to make smart long-term decisions, that we are least likely to do so because we’re in the throes of lust, passion and romance.
Or, as Tashiro puts it, returning to our alcohol analogy: “It would seem wise to hand off the keys to someone with more lucidity until your better sensibilities return.”
Which is why Tashiro advocates a new approach to dating, one that is not so much about lowering standards as giving yourself better ones. Call it “Moneyballing” relationships (Tashiro does); it’s all about finding undervalued traits and assets in the dating market. And, just like with baseball, it starts with trying to ignore the superficial indices of value — attractiveness, wealth — in favor of hidden attributes with a stronger correlation to long-term relationship success.
Citing research that finds no reliable link between income level or physical attractiveness and relationship satisfaction, Tashiro steers his readers towards traits such as agreeableness. With married couples, he points out, “liking declines at a rate of 3 percent a year, whereas lust declines at a rate of 8 percent per year,” so the smarter long-term investment is finding someone you genuinely like. Plus, he adds, studies also suggest that agreeable partners are in fact “better in bed” and less likely to cheat over the long haul.
But can nice guys and gals really finish first? And is it possible to make thoughtful, strategic choices when it comes to relationships?
Perhaps you agree with Crash Davis, Kevin Costner’s character in Bull Durham, who doesn’t “believe in quantum physics when it comes to matters of the heart.” But that shouldn’t mean you ignore the science altogether, especially when it can improve your chances of hitting a home run.
Where should they meet that special someone? Bars? Online? Through friends? Book clubs? Terrorist cells? Religious cults…?
Yes, science has info.
But the answers depend on what you’re looking for.
Looking For Love
Want to settle down? Ask a family member if they know anyone.
People meet all kinds of partners through friends. But you’re far more likely to meet your future spouse via a family member.
While friends were a source of introduction for all kinds of sexual partnerships at roughly the same rate (35– 40%), family members were much more likely to introduce people to their future spouses than to future one-night stands.
In fact, any sort of organized group is a good bet. 60% of those surveyed met their future spouse through school, work, church, etc.
…the Chicago Sex Survey also collected data on where Americans met their partners. Sixty percent of the people in the study met their spouses at places like school, work, a private party, church, or a social club— all of which tend to involve people who share characteristics.
But you probably don’t want to meet a serious partner at work – those relationships don’t seem to last:
The vast majority of these relationships have not lasted, especially for older workers. For workers who are over 50, 77% of those sexual relationships have ended. Younger people appear to have had more luck with 58% of people in the 18-24 age group reporting that they are still in their relationship. But perhaps that is just because they have been in the workplace such a short period of time the relationships are still new.
(And about half of people who cheat on their spouse met their lover at work.)
Only 10% of people found wedded bliss in a bar.
Ten percent met their spouses at a bar, through a personal ad, or at a vacation spot, where there is more diversity but still a limited range of types of people who might be available to become future spouses.
Online dating is probably a better choice than the booze hall.
17% of people who have dated online met a spouse or long-term relationship partner there.
And these stats are from 2006 — that number is likely to have grown and will probably continue to grow.
Of these “online daters,” 43 percent— or nearly seven million adults— have gone on actual, real-life dates with people they met online, and 17 percent of them— nearly three million adults— have entered long-term relationships or married their online dating partners, according to a systematic national survey.
So once you’re talking to prospective partners, what do you want to be looking for?
Conscientiousness is the personality trait correlated with happy marriages:
…our findings suggest that conscientiousness is the trait most broadly associated with marital satisfaction in this sample of long-wed couples.
In fact, it’s correlated with a lot of good things including better health, longer lives, and greater success.
More often than not you can get a feeling for how conscientious someone is just by looking at their face.
Looking For Lust
Some of the answers here should be a bit more obvious now.
Bars and clubs are good. Friends are fine and meeting through family members is probably a bad idea.
In fact, you’re also more likely to have sex with someone sooner if you met through friends or at a club and not through a family member.
Meet through a family member and there’s only a 24% chance you’ll have sex within a month. Meeting at a nightclub doubles that.
And how people meet is also relevant to how quickly they have sex. In the Chicago study, those who met their partners through their friends were slightly more likely to have sex within a month of meeting than those who met through family members. A similar study conducted in France found that couples who met at a nightclub were much more likely to have sex within a month (45 percent) than those who met at, say, a family gathering (24 percent), which is not surprising since one typically does not have sex in mind at family events.
College is generally a good place for a fling — unless you go to Harvard.
Based on my study of Harvard undergraduates, the average number of romantic relationships over four years is less than one. The average number of sexual partners, if you’re curious, is 0.5 per student. (I have no idea what 0.5 sexual partners means, but it sounds like the scientific equivalent of second base.) In my survey, I found that among these brilliant Harvard students, 24 percent are unaware if they are currently involved in any romantic relationship.
While online dating gives you a better than average chance of meeting a future spouse, it’s also good for just getting it on.
30% of women using online dating have had sex on the first date:
Thirty percent of respondents engaged in sexual activity on their first encounter. Seventy-seven percent of respondents who met an online partner did not use condoms for their first sexual encounter.
Why is this?
Researchers believe having all that profile info up front along with email flirting leads to “accelerated intimacy” upon first meeting:
“Online dating can lead to feelings of accelerated intimacy,” says Paige Padgett, PhD, the author of the study and a research associate in the UT School of Public Health’s Division of Epidemiology and Disease Control. “You are able to disclose deeply personal information faster than you would if you were just meeting face to face for the first time,” she explains… Because all of the nitty-gritty preliminaries are out of the way before you actually meet the person, Padgett believes that this may foster a sense of relationship before there is an actual relationship.
(And if you’re going to go the online route, here’s how to make yourself most appealing.)
So the dual use of online dating sites raises a question:
What should you talk about if you’re on the hunt for something less-than-serious and want to see if your partner’s on the same page?
OkCupid found that a “yes” answer to “Do you like the taste of beer?” is the best indicator of who has sex on the first date.
Or simply joke about sex. Research shows the people who laugh are less likely to be focused on long-term relationships.
…in one observational study at a bar where male humorous sexual remarks ran rampant, it was noted that the women who laughed at such jokes did indeed seem sexually interested in the men, whereas (obviously) the women who didn’t laugh were not sexually interested. These humorous sexually loaded attempts could be conceptualized as a test to gauge interest and receptivity to a sexual encounter.
So alcohol and double entendres work for James Bond and they can work for you.
(And one might note that 007 never ended up with one of the Bond Girls because he asked his aunt if she could set him up with someone nice.)
Other posts you should read on sex, marriage, and love:
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This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.