TIME Apps & Web

There’s Now a Hookup App to Facilitate Threesomes

Tara Moore—Getty Images

Though we believe there's already a service for this called "Craigslist"

Have you grown tired of Tinder? No longer hooked on Hinge? Sick of gadding about on Grindr? Well, if you’re on the hunt for a new dating app with a new twist, say hello to 3nder, the service that promises to provide “threesomes made easy.”

Before you get too excited about all the ménage à trois that awaits you: this app is still in its funding stage. So you’ll have to be patient, but the upside here is that the developers still have time to come up with a less-confusing and easier-to-pronounce name. (Threender? Three-ender? Three-inder? Ender?)

Here’s the gist, according to the app’s website:

A service that works for singles and couples. It’s the easiest way to satisfy your human needs and spend some fun time with other people. You can easily hide yourself from friends and family so you can browse freely.

But 3nder doesn’t just seek to help individuals satisfy their needs and fulfill their fantasies. It also seeks to make society as a whole more open about sexual desires. “We need to evolve our social acceptance,” the website says. That’s all fine and good, but we still think the first step here is coming up with a better name.

TIME europe

E.U. to Debate Making Buying Sex Illegal

A prostitute waits for customers along a road of the Bois de Boulogne in Paris Aug. 28, 2013 Christian Hartmann / Reuters

This week, E.U. lawmakers will consider following the lead of some European nations and criminalizing the purchase of sex across the continent. But the critics of the proposals, including many sexworkers, are legion

Perched on high stools and tugging at tight uniforms of spandex, satin and lace, the women in the windows of Ghent’s red light district barely register the police patrolling outside. Bored eyes flicker up briefly before returning to the screens of mobile phones, the TV discreetly hidden in the corner, or the client trying to negotiate a knock-down price on the other side of the glass.

The Belgian police appear equally indifferent to the women sitting in the dim red glow of neon tubes, even if they are occasionally flouting a city rule specifying exactly how much skin can be on display from neck to navel. Of far more interest to the 40 officers fanning out across the area one windy Friday night are the license plates of cars crawling past the windows in the three streets that form the heart of Ghent’s regulated sex industry.

Nearby in France, buying sex usually means a hasty transaction on the street and the risk of a fine or public identification. So young men pack in their cars and drive 50km east for nights out that can turn rowdy. “There were complaints about criminality and disturbances in the neighborhood,” says Police Superintendent Johan Blom.

(MORE: Facing Crackdowns in the E.U., Hookers Find Sanctuary in Switzerland)

Ghent police now hold monthly operations to stop and search French cars. If they find drugs or weapons, the men pay a fine and police motorcycles escort them to the highway and point them towards the border. It’s a nuisance for the police, but for campaigners pushing for a more unified approach to prostitution across Europe, that border is nothing short of a battle line in the fight for a woman’s rights over her own body.

The politicians and feminists who consider prostitution a crime against women are hoping the European Union‘s 28 member states will follow the lead of France, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and criminalize the purchase of sex. A report recommending this approach is due before the European Parliament in the coming days.

On the other side of the debate are many social workers dealing directly with prostitutes, sex workers’ unions and at least seven European governments. They say any criminalization forces the trade underground, puts sex workers at greater risk and removes a woman’s right to choose a profession which some see as their route out of poverty. “It will exist somewhere in the dark, and then nobody is safe: not the client, and not the girl,” says Isabelle De Meyer, a social worker in Ghent.

In Belgium, the purchase and sale of sex is legal, but making a profit from prostitution is forbidden. Cities interpret the laws differently, and prostitutes in Ghent are officially hired as “servers” in “bars” – in reality a dimly-lit room with a bed behind the glass display window. The prostitutes must have a contract and social security number, meaning the city has a record of every woman working the sex industry, and social workers can make regular visits to check for abusive relationships or victims of human trafficking.

No one claims the system is perfect: police can only act if the women speak out about abuse or illegal pimps. But all the sex workers who agreed to speak to TIME said they felt safe in Ghent and opposed criminalization. “Once these kind of places exist, then everybody can relax and there is less violence than in the street,” says Gaby,a 25-year-old from Romania, who like other working women in Ghent’s red light district asked that TIME only use her first name to protect her identity.

(MORE: Swiss City to Unveil Taxpayer-Funded “Sex Boxes” for Prostitutes)

For every woman like Gaby, however, there is the scared young Eastern European girl repeating “everything is fine, everything is fine” while keeping a wary eye out the window. It is the women who may have been coerced or trafficked into the sex industry who worry Mary Honeyball, a Member of the European Parliament representing Britain’s Labour Party.

Honeyball has drafted a report recommending E.U. member states adopt a system known as the Nordic Model, which is currently in place in Sweden, Norway and Iceland. The model criminalizes buying sex, but legalizes selling sex, in theory treating prostitutes as victims of a crime rather than perpetrators. “According to the information we have from Sweden it actually reduces demand for prostitution, and if you reduce demand the consequence is that you reduce human trafficking,” she says.

If the report passes, it would not be legally binding, but Honeyball hopes it would help steer the debate in member states. France’s Lower House adopted such laws in December, and politicians in Ireland and the United Kingdom have also raised it as a possible way forward.

To countries with more repressive laws on prostitution and large religious or socially conservative communities, it may be a politically palatable first step. But no European country which has introduced a regulated sex industry – including Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, and Switzerland – is seriously considering rolling back to the criminalization of the client, although they are looking at ways to improve the laws.

One country that may amend legislation is Norway, held up as an exemplar of the Nordic Model. The new Conservative-led government is waiting for the results of an independent review in June before deciding whether to repeal the 2009 law banning the purchase of sex.

While the number of women selling sex on the streets initially decreased, social workers say they did not simply disappear. Some traveled abroad, while others started selling their services over the Internet. Bjørg Norli, director of Pro Sentret, which works with prostitutes in Oslo, says street prostitution is re-emerging, and under the current laws women feel more vulnerable than ever. Clients rush transactions to avoid detection, meaning women have little time to assess whether the client poses a danger. If they do have problems, they are unlikely to go to police out of fear they will then be monitored by law enforcement looking to catch buyers.

Behind Ghent’s windows, the heaters are on full blast as the women in their skimpy outfits negotiate via hand gestures with men bundled up against the cold outside. The going rate is €50 for 15 minutes, but a client may want more time, a lower price, or a special service. If a woman has misgivings, she just leaves the door locked and turns away. Zorha, a former civil servant from the Netherlands, says in a good night she will have sex with 25 men. It is not a life she particularly enjoys – she wants to open a restaurant – but when she found herself in debt a few years ago she decided it was her best option. She and other established Ghent sex workers worry about the new influx of younger women from Eastern Europe, who they say work long hours for cut-down rates.

The link between a regulated sex industry and human trafficking is unclear. While the first E.U. report on human trafficking released last year shows a high number of victims detected in the Netherlands, countries like Italy and Romania, where prostitution is illegal, also fared badly. Belgium, meanwhile, reported relatively low levels. Norway – not in the E.U. but included in the study – shows barely any change in the year before and after the law banning the purchase of sex. Similarly conflicting statistics exist in Sweden.

With a lack of reliable data, the debate often focuses on the moral rights and wrongs of sex as a commodity, with Honeyball’s report equating prostitution with “sexual slavery.” For many women working in the industry, being labeled mute victims of male aggression simply means their voices are excluded.

“[Politicians] don’t inform us when they are seeking to make our lives more difficult and dangerous,” says Catherine Stephens, a British activist with the International Union of Sex Workers. “There is nothing feminist about the criminalization of our clients and disregarding our consent.”

TIME Lifestyle

How Long Does Your State Last?

Dorm beds: often sites of rebound sex.
Dorm beds: often sites of rebound sex. Qusai Al Shidi—Flickr

Americans don't exactly take their time in the sack

If New Mexico’s looking for a catchy tourism slogan, may we submit “New Mexico Does It Longer?”

The state, home to the fictional Walter White, contains the longest sex-havers in the nation, according to data collected by the Spreadsheets App and published in map-form by Nerve.com, a mobile app that helps people measure their time between the sheets. People in New Mexico do it for just over seven minutes on average.

Alaskans aren’t nearly so patient: the coldest state also has the shortest sex sessions, clocking in under two minutes. Two minutes is barely enough time to get every article of clothing off! Get it together, Alaska. Then again, maybe Alaskans aren’t even bothering to take their clothes off since the weather is so cold.

Here’s the complete list:

1. New Mexico – (7:01)

2. West Virginia – (5:38)

3. Idaho – (5:11)

4. South Carolina – (4:48)

5. Missouri – (4:22)

6. Michigan -(4:14)

7. Utah – (3:55)

8. Oregon – (3:51)

9. Nebraska – (3:47)

10. Alabama – (3:38)

11. Delaware – (3:33)

12. Hawaii – (3:28)

13. Wisconsin – (3:22)

14. North Dakota – (3:18)

15. Arizona – (3:17)

16. Maryland – (3:15)

17. Mississippi – (3:10)

18. Rhode Island – (3:09)

19. Connecticut – (3:07)

20. Texas – (3:06)

21. New Hampshire – (3:04)

22. Wyoming – (3:03)

23. New York – (3:01)

24. Pennsylvania – (2:58)

25. Maine – (2:58)

26. Washington – (2:51)

27. Iowa – (2:50)

28. Illinois – (2:49)

29. North Carolina – (2:47)

30. Tennessee – (2:46)

31. Kansas – (2:38)

32. California – (2:38)

33. Massachusetts – (2:31)

34. Florida – (2:29)

35. New Jersey – (2:28)

36. Indiana – (2:26)

37. Virginia – (2:23)

38. Oklahoma – (2:21)

39. Colorado – (2:21)

40. Minnesota – (2:19)

41. Ohio – (2:18)

42. Louisiana – (2:17)

43. Kentucky – (2:14)

44. Arkansas – (2:08)

45. District of Columbia – (2:08)

46. Nevada – (2:07)

47. Georgia – (2:07)

48. Montana – (2:03)

49. Vermont – (1:48)

50. South Dakota – (1:30)

51. Alaska – (1:21)


Chore Wars: How the Division of Domestic Duties Really Affects a Couple’s Sex Life

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Don't drop the brooms yet men. It's childcare that's killing your sex life, not chores.

Are women less attracted to men who do more domestic chores? Or are men who share equally in the workload at home more appealing to a generation of stressed wives who are juggling family responsibilities and more work hours than ever?

It’s not a new debate, but it is one that has resurfaced recently thanks to a series of articles about stay-at-home fathers and a feature this month in the New York Times magazine by writer and psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb in which she suggests that that equality is turning us off. She writes: “In an attempt to become gender neutral, we may have become gender neutered.”

To support her point, Gottlieb cites an American Sociological Review study first released in 2012 that found women were less attracted to men who did tasks like laundry or cooking that are traditionally considered feminine. But the same was not true about women who watched their guys do ‘manlier’ chores like taking out the trash or mowing the lawn. The study prompted headlines like: “Guys Who Do Housework Get Less Sex.”

But don’t drop the mops yet, men.

The data on which the study is based was collected 20 years ago, and a lot has changed since the 1990s. New York University sociologist Kathleen Gerson found a sea change in what young couples are hoping for in marriage. In her 2010 book, The Unfinished Revolution: Coming of Age in a New Era of Gender, Work, and Family, she interviewed young couples and found that 80 percent of the women and 70 percent of the men aspired to an egalitarian relationship where men and women shared both breadwinning and childcare duties equally. In practice, this isn’t easy to achieve, but more young couples are hoping to enter into equal partnerships. And more recent studies have found that men who help out around the house are more likely to get lucky.

Neil Chethik, author of VoiceMale: What Husbands Really Think About Their Marriages, Their Wives, Sex, Housework and Commitment, conducted a survey of men in 2006 that found the more housework husbands did, the more sex they were having with their wives. After years of interviewing and counseling couples, Chethik has found that couples with egalitarian marriages tend to fight less and have sex more. He believes that women care more about having an equal partnership than they do about what kind of chores their husband takes on. “I don’t know that women get turned on by men in aprons, but they get turned on by men who see there is an equal need equal responsibility for housework,” he says.

One thing that hasn’t changed much in the past 20 years is the way in which childcare is distributed. As more women have entered the workforce, men have been slow to pick up the slack at home in terms of childcare. Though fathers have nearly tripled the amount of time they dedicate to childcare from 1965 to 2011, that number has gone up from 2.5 percent of their time to seven percent of their time — still only half a mother’s 14 percent, according to Pew Research. “Kids definitely reduce the amount of sexual frequency, but paid work and housework don’t,” says Constance Gager, a sociologist at Montclair State University, who has conducted many years worth of research about work-life balance. Gager found that a new generation of “go-getters,” working men and women found the time to complete all their chores and have sex in after-work hours. For both genders, the more chores they did, the more sex they were having. That is, until kids come along.

Men and women are not sharing the burden of childcare equally after office hours (whether women worked outside the home or not). Fathers are spending their free time after work relaxing or doing chores like cooking or the laundry. Mothers are still the ones on duty for tasks that involve direct interaction with children like driving to soccer practice or getting the kids to bed. And mothers are more likely to be on 24 hour alert for kid-related issues. According to the American Time Use survey, mothers in dual earning households are three times more likely to report interrupted sleep (to go check on the crying toddlers) than fathers are. And when Gager interviewed full-time working couples, she found that men disproportionately had time to exercise and read the newspaper every day, but women did not.

“All the data that I’ve seen shows that men are picking up a greater percentage of the household and child-raising duties, but they’re still lagging behind compared to how much work women are doing both in and out of the office,” VoiceMale author Chethik says. “I still think we’re struggling with it.”

That extra time spent with kids forces women to multitask, and all that busywork puts extra stress on mothers. Researchers at UCLA tested cortisol, the stress hormone, levels in mothers’ and fathers’ saliva at the end of each day once both had a chance to wind down. Whereas men’s cortisol levels dropped significantly with a little leisure time, women’s did not. Biologically speaking, women trying to have it all are more stressed than men trying to have it all — and they stay that way constantly, which can’t be promising for their sex life.

Mothers’ stress level only fell when their husbands made more of an effort helping out with kids and chores — an effort at equality. And less stress is generally associated with a higher libido for women.

On the dad’s side, there may be a biological reason for the drop in the frequency of intercourse after kids. A 2011 study found that new fathers experience a 33-34 percent drop in testosterone for a year after their baby is born. And those who spend more than three hours a day doing childcare see another 20 percent drop beyond that. Men with less testosterone tend to be less aggressive and more caring, and past research has shown men with less testosterone feel a greater impulse to respond to a baby cry.

Researchers believe this drop in testosterone is biology’s way of encouraging fathers to care for their children. Unfortunately, it also means less sex. New fathers who took part in the study reported having less sex after their baby was born: the lower the testosterone level, the less sex they were having. Researchers suggest that may be partly because women are less attracted to their baby-daddies after their hormonal change.

Call it a lose-lose situation for new parents, but don’t blame the chore wars.


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.


A Brief History of Sex at the Olympics

New Zealand v United States
Hope Solo Stephen Lam—Getty Images

Are we really that surprised?

Tuesday the internet erupted in a wave of Sochi shock that had nothing to do with dangerous half pipes, packs of wild dogs, or atrocious hotel accommodations.

Can you believe that Olympic athletes are all using Tinder—a DATING APP—at the Olympic village? So much so that “Tinder hook-ups [are] off the hook”? This is completely unexpected. Why would the world’s best athletes, in their physical prime, with endorphins to kill and calories to burn, and who are all compressed in a small living space be so interested in this particular extracurricular activity?

Tinder-gate of Sochi 2014 is just the most recent round of faux-surprise that Olympians might, in fact, be having sex. (Because while it’s ok to allude to the deed by sexifying female athletes, the idea that anyone’s having any actual sex is a different thing completely.)

We’ve rounded up a history of how sex at Olympic village has been covered over the last few decades. And judging by the florid prose in the dispatches below, the journalists seem to be pretty overheated as well.

Sochi 2014:

The games have just begun, but it’s already the year of Tinder and talk of 100,000 condoms circulating around the Olympic Village.

London 2012:

The London Olympics probably saw the most headlines regarding athlete-on-athlete sexcapades. “Gay app Grindr crashes as Olympic athletes arrive in London,” read the Mirror. “Could London 2012 be the raunchiest games ever?” asked the Daily Mail. “Steamy London Olympics: A Condom-a-Day, Per Athlete,” wrote Businessweek of the 150,000 condoms distributed. “Who Will Win the Sex Olympics?” questioned Forbes — Durex was the right answer.

Althletes were particularly candid about their sex lives, as well. “I’ve seen people having sex right out in the open,” U.S. soccer star Hope Solo told ESPN in a long expose of Olympians’ sexual encounters. “On the grass, between buildings, people are getting down and dirty.”

Ryan Lochte said: “My last Olympics, I had a girlfriend — big mistake. Now I’m single, so London should be really good. I’m excited.”

We’ll reveal other athlete sex secrets exposed to ESPN as our timeline continues.

Vancouver 2010:

Snowboarder Scotty Lago, 22, went home earlier than anticipate after TMZ leaked a photo showing a fan biting on his bronze medal when it was hanging from his belt buckle. (He had no events left to compete in.)

CNN ran the headline, “Vancouver medals in condom distribution”

ESPN reported that six athletes had an orgy in a hot tub right outside the Village.

Beijing 2008:

Former Olympic table tennis player Matthew Syed wrote an article for the Times of London noting that there was a “sex fest… right here in Beijing. Olympic athletes have to display an unnatural… level of self-discipline in the build-up to big competitions. How else is this going to manifest itself than with a volcanic release of pent-up hedonism.” This led to a headlines asserting that the Olympic Village hosted “More Sex than Woodstock.”

Page Six discussed Michael Phelps “celebrated his record-breaking eight gold medals in Beijing by sneaking off for a sizzling game of tonsil hockey with one of Australia’s hottest Olympians.” (She was his girlfriend.)

Oh, and Beijing authorities distributed 400,000 condoms to more than 400 hotels in the Olympic city, said the AFP. Although other sources reported only 100,000 were provided for athletes.

Solo told ESPN in 2012 that she slept with a celebrity in Beijing, but she wouldn’t say who it was.

Salt Lake City 2002:

The conservative city hosted some protests against Olympic policies to distribute free condoms to athletes.

Sydney 2000:

Officials thought that 70,000 (rainbow) condoms would be enough. They had to send out for 20,000 more after a week.

Javelin thrower Breaux Greer told ESPN that he had relations with three women every day of the Olympics — two were other Olympians and another was a tourist. He had to leave the games due to a knee injury. But as a consolation prize, he did end up with a famous (unnamed) Olympian in the airplane bathroom on the flight back to Los Angeles.

Norway 1994:

Skier Carrie Sheinberg told ESPN that two German bobsledders “made it clear that they’d trade me their gold for all kinds of other favors. I said jokingly, ‘Thanks, but Tommy Moe has a medal. I’ll play with his.'”

Barcelona 1992:

Even though he played ping pong, Matthew Syed said he “got laid more often in those two and a half weeks than the rest of my life up to that point.”

This is when condoms began getting offered to Olympians to encourage safe sex during the games.

Seoul 1988

There were reports of so many condoms found on the roofs of Olympic residences that the Olympic Association banned outdoor sex.

TIME technology

‘Wingman’ App Wants to Help You Join the Mile High Club

Man Sits Texting on Airplane
Getty Images

Introducing the Tinder of the skies

Forget about boring old dating apps like Hinge and Tinder that limit you to sexual encounters at sea level. It’s all about Wingman, a new app that promises to connect you “with attractive people on your flight, all before you touch down.”

It’s still in its beta stage, but its creator, 24-year-old Gabe Whaley, says development is well underway, the Daily Beast reports. It works much like Tinder: users scroll through photos of potential “travel buddies” aboard their flight and swipe right or left to indicate “yes” or “no.” The idea is that most planes nowadays offer in-flight wi-fi, but the app will also be bluetooth-ready. In the meantime, you can sign up for notifications to stay informed about Wingman’s process.

This could actually be a good idea in theory, but we do sense some problems. For one, users will be drawing from a pretty small pool, right? A lot of the people aboard any given flight are children. Or married. And then the other “eligible” bachelors and bachelorettes might simply be opposed to getting it on in a smelly shoe box-sized airplane bathroom with a perfect stranger. Indeed, Whaley seems to realize that the whole concept is a bit far-fetched.

“I think it will make people curious, and you never know: someone might use it, and it might start a conversation that they might not have otherwise had,” Whaley told ANIMAL New York. “It could turn out to be really good, or really bad. Either way, I think it’s really funny.”

TIME Japan

Women Are Starting a Sex Strike in Tokyo Because of This Guy

Yoichi Masuzoe
Yoichi Masuzoe AP

A modern day Lysistrata

Women in Tokyo have been brushing up on their Greek theater. To protest conservative Yoichi Masuzoe’s gubernatorial bid, women are threatening a sex strike against any man who gives the candidate a vote.

One reason for the boycott stems from a Masuzoe’s 1989 declaration that women shouldn’t hold high governmental decisions because they have periods.

“Women are not normal when they are having a period,” he told a men’s magazine.”You can’t possibly let them make critical decisions about the country (during their period) such as whether or not to go to war.”

A Twitter handle which describes itself as “The association of women who will not have sex with men who vote for Masuzeo” gained more than 3,000 since its launch last week. A separate website to prevent his success has been pulling in 75,000 hits a day. That’s a lot more action than Masuzeo supporters are going to be getting.

TIME Dating

Millennials in Love: Why They’re Not So Different From Their Parents After All

Couple holding hands outside in thick fog.
Couple holding hands outside in thick fog. -Rekha Garton-—Getty Images/Flickr Select

Technology might be rewriting the rules of dating, but the game itself is a very old pursuit

There’s nothing quite like a new generation setting out to breed. It’s an exercise in feverishness and fretfulness, in urgency and appetite, a sweet and simpleminded leave-taking of the senses in the pursuit of, well, a lot. Sex, certainly—plenty of that. Then there’s companionship, and security and the esteem of your friends—to say nothing of yourself—and the basic thrill of thinking that maybe, just maybe, you’re in love. Only a handful of years earlier, the same demographic was nothing but a swarm of pre-sexual children. Then the mating software booted up, but it was constrained by bodies and minds way too young to do much about it. And to the extent that anyone tried, there were parents, teachers and society as a whole policing their behavior.

Then all at once the limits are gone—the young breeders jump the traces and are set free to have at it. Soon enough, their sexuality will be back in harness—they’ll be married, with children, their primal impulses constrained again by commitment and culture. But for now, they’re a cohort of sexually electric young adults, and romance is one big, heaping helping of yes.

And oh, the kind of sex they’re going to enjoy. Their parents and grandparents had their turn at it, but theirs was sex within limits, sex by the rules, sex—let’s be honest—as intercourse. The new generation has sex with a wink, sex with awareness—sex as an exercise in bonding and socializing, experimentation, even irony, sex as a complex act that can mean anything at all or nothing at all, and you know what? That’s just fine. This is a whole new breed of breeders.

( MORE:The New Dating Game: How Smartphone Apps Have Changed Courtship)

Except it’s not. The popular trope of the Millennial age is that sex and love might not be any different now from what they’ve always been, but the way they’re practiced and pursued has changed meaningfully, in large part because of the technology that enables it. The school dance gave way to the singles bar which gave way to the personal ad, which gave way to the Internet which gave way to the smartphone—your handheld, in-pocket, 24-hour police scanner for love. OKCupid and Match.com have always-with-you apps; Grinder and a host of other new apps trump that by swapping compatibility for geography: who’s nearby and who’s available—right now? Tinder gamifies it all—dating and mating as a portable match game, with an unending succession of faces appearing on your screen, all dispatched with a swipe one way to pick the winners and a swipe the other to designate losers—and somewhere out there, your face is being swiped too.

“Curation has been a lifestyle trend for a while now,” says consumer anthropologist and consultant Jamie Gordon. “There are services and apps that help you access and consume products. Tools like Tinder are just about accessing and consuming humans.”

By any measure, that does seem like a sea change. But the thing is, the sea is always changing, in big ways and small, from generation to generation and even year to year. When it comes to romance, the last century alone has seen multiple transformations, all of which felt like never-before force multipliers for human sexuality. There was feminism in the 1970s—which freed women to heed both the urges of their bodies and the imperatives of their dignity, allowing them to make the kinds of choices they never could before. There was the Pill in the 1960s and the back seat of the Chevy in the 1950s. There was the exquisite collision of illegal gin, hot jazz and the forbidden lure of the speakeasy in the 1920s. That same car with the big back seat was a “struggle buggy” back then, something you’d share with a snuggle pup you met at a petting party. Laugh now, but the sex was just the same.

“Technology is changing rapidly but human beings are not,” says clinical psychologist Elizabeth Churchill, currently director of human-computer interactions for eBay research labs and formerly with Yahoo, where she analyzed blog profiles for the company’s personal and dating services. “Dating apps just let you collapse space and time in ways you couldn’t in the past. Back then, if I wanted to know if there was someone around the corner I could have sex with I had to get up and have a look. Now I can do it all online.” That’s different—a little—but only in the way that going out to a movie is different from streaming one at home.

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

The gamification element may be less than it seems too. There’s no way to deny that Tinder has reframed the win-lose quality of mate selection like nothing ever before. But gamification has always been a big part of the mating mix. It’s what mid-century makeout games like spin the bottle and pass the grapefruit were about. It’s strip poker and suburban key parties —whose spouse are you going home with tonight? It’s half the point of the game Twister, with its left-hand-red, right-foot-blue, and who knows what other body parts will bump up against each other in the process? Arm wrestling in a bar gamifies which man’s fitness display will best catch the eye of a woman. Four-inch heels ain’t worn for comfort; they’re worn because they give a woman an advantage over her friend who can barely totter around on three-inchers.

Conception itself is the biggest, most existential game of all. If a woman ovulates for 35 years, she’ll release 420 eggs, and conception requires just one. The rest? Thanks for playing. And as for sperm? In a single sex act, perhaps 250 million of them go racing for the same irresistible target. If a sperm could spike a football, don’t you think the winner would?

Global events—which are by definition unique to a particular point in time —don’t make any one generation as special as it seems either. Gordon cites 9/11 and the global recession as formative experiences for Millennials—and they surely were, piling burdens of loss and economic hardship on the shoulders of young people who might not be equipped to bear them. In the process, diversions like steamlined dating, enabled by game-like apps became all the more appealing. “It makes the work of finding a mate more lightweight,” she says.

Maybe, but listen to all the recent sociological jawboning about the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance on Ed Sullivan. In this case, it was the assassination of President Kennedy that was the traumatic experience, feeding the need to cut loose with new, faintly outlaw music, and leading in turn to the freedom of the sexual revolution. Before that it was Pearl Harbor and before that the Depression. Crises are episodic, but human sexuality is eternal, and it’s a certainty that the two will line up now and again.

Even the image-curation power that apps provide—posting your most flattering pictures, with your best-looking friends, and advertising only your good points—is just the digital version of ancient analogue behavior: leaving your glasses at home when you go on a date, or choosing a dimly lit restaurant because who doesn’t look better in candlelight? Yes, it’s all more sophisticated when an app is involved, but that’s a difference of degree, not of kind.

“When I was at Yahoo, we interviewed people and watched them as they filled out their profiles,” says Churchill. “People are were smart and they knew there was an algorithm out there, so they were forever changing what they wrote to game the system—saying they’re 39, for example, because they weren’t getting enough hits with 41. They’d admit that that felt like lying, but it’s all just impression management.”

None of this is to say that new technologies and circumstances don’t present situational challenges that didn’t exist before. The condomless era that the Pill ushered in meant dealing with the rise of STDs—including, eventually, AIDS. Key parties and mate-swapping led to long-term affairs and broken marriages. Single secretaries and predatory Mad Men were just obeying ancient seduction rituals, but those rituals had a new impact in a suburban-centric era in which wives and children were parked a train commute away and the randy dad got to spend his days in the city. What happens on Madison Avenue stays on Madison Avenue—until it doesn’t and the family busts up.

So too is it with Tinder, Grindr and the whole new world of app-potentiated dating. Easy technology in the hands of young, hormonally charged singles is undeniably a mutually reinforcing match, especially since the apps are designed with all the psych-savvy bells, whistles and reinforcement signals that make games like Candy Crush and Angry Birds so addictive.The thing is, we didn’t come from the factory pre-loaded with a primal need to line up jelly beans or launch birds at pigs, but we did come with a powerful suite of sexual needs and behaviors. Millennials must admittedly wrestle with all that in ways no other generation did. Still, it’s a very old struggle—even if it’s being fought by very new rules.

Click here to join TIME for as little as $2.99 to read more about The New Dating Game and how apps like Tinder have changed courtship.


These Graphs Show the Changing Popularity of Porn

Charting the world's most popular genres

Sexualitics is a big data project by a group of sociologists, demographic experts, computer scientists and math experts based in France that seeks to parse human sexuality by studying huge datasets and tracking how popular different genres of porn video uploads are.

Using every video uploaded to the popular adult site xHamster from its creation in 2007 to February 2013, the Sexualitics team built Porngram, a tool that maps porn tags people search for and shows you the terms’ rate of popularity since 2007.

The result is a whole lot of information about the world’s sexual preferences placed into pretty little charts. And really, if we’re being honest, aren’t graphs their own kind of porn?

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Films tagged “teen” dropped at the same rate as though with an older theme.

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Meanwhile, uploaders seem to be a whole lot more into threesomes recently.

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After a brief dip in popularity in 2007, “secretary” and “boss” are on the upswing.

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Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we have the adorable statistic that people want the lovey dovey stuff more than the other stuff. Aww.

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Blame it on the increased popularity of “revenge porn,” but the tag “revenge” appears to be skyrocketing.

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Despite the stagnation of “mature,” “MILF” is on its way up.

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