TIME relationships

This Is the Exact Number of Dates You Need to Go On Before Sex Is Acceptable

To two decimal places, no less

A global survey of the dating preferences of 11,000 people in 24 cities has come up with an answer to a frequent problem of modern etiquette: How many dates do you go on before it becomes reasonable to expect to sleep with someone?

The average answer, according to the Global Dating Survey 2015 by Time Out, is 3.53 dates — or “mid-fourth date, after the mains have been cleared and just before the crème brûlée arrives.”

Only 1 in 10 people feels that it’s O.K. to expect sex at the end of the first date.

Read the rest of the findings here.

MONEY gifts

6 Totally Unromantic Truths About Valentine’s Day Spending

Greeting cards to send to your loved ones for Valentine's Day
Richard Levine—Alamy

Sure, people celebrate Valentine's Day to show how much they love that very special someone in their lives. But that's not the only reason people spend big bucks for Valentine's Day.

You’ve probably seen the headlines about how Americans will spend $18.9 billion on Valentine’s Day this year, which would be an all-time high. Before you buy the idea that Americans are simply gaga over the big lovey-dovey holiday and eager to splurge to demonstrate their feelings, let’s take a closer look at how people are spending their Valentine’s dollars, how spending changes over time—and why we celebrate this day the way we do in the first place.

Here’s some research to consider regarding Valentine’s Day spending:

One-quarter of men spend because they feel obligated or are just trying to get lucky. According to an Offers.com poll, roughly half of men say they celebrate Valentine’s Day in order to “spend quality time with my partner.” However, nearly one-quarter of men admit that they mark Valentine’s Day out of a sense of obligation or “because they’re hoping to get lucky.” Meanwhile, 13% of women say they celebrate just “because everyone else does.”

The longer the relationship, and the older you get, the less you spend. Love may or may not fade over time, but the likelihood of going all out on Valentine’s gifts sure seems to die the longer couples are together. One poll shows that men spend an average of $154 on fiancés, versus $136 for wives, while another survey indicates those in the prime spouse-seeking and newlywed 25- to 34-year-old demographic outspend all other age groups. Unsurprisingly, couples with longer-lasting relationships are less likely to make Valentine’s Day plans far in advance. Roughly half of couples who have been together for less than five years say they prepare at least a month ahead for Valentine’s, compared with only one-third of people who have been a significant other for more than five years.

Americans will spend more than $700 million on Valentine’s gifts … for pets. That’s according to the National Retail Federation. And that’s roughly double what we spend on Halloween costumes for pets, which is probably good—surely your dog prefers a Valentine’s snack to being dressed up in a ludicrous Madonna outfit.

1 in 5 women buy Valentine’s gifts … for themselves. Data cited by the Society of American Florists indicates that while men are more likely to buy Valentine’s gifts for their spouses—63% of men versus 30% of women—the ladies are more inclined to buy for their moms (30% versus 11% of men), friends (19% versus 7%) and themselves (19% versus 1%).

Rose prices spike just in time for Valentine’s Day. It’s not just your imagination. Roses really do get more expensive around February 14. While wholesale prices vary depending on location, florists say they typically pay twice as much for roses in early February than they do at most other times of year. Increased transportation costs and extra labor are among the reasons often given for why rose prices are inflated around now, but overall it boils down to supply and demand: Roses cost more for Valentine’s Day because people are willing to pay more.

The two people most responsible for modern-day Valentine’s Day were entrepreneurs trying to make a buck. For centuries, Valentine’s Day was a mashup of a wild Roman pagan festival known as Lupercalia and the celebration of two Catholic saints (both named Valentine) who were executed on February 14. By the Middle Ages, it had become somewhat of a tradition to offer a handmade card or flowers to one’s beloved. It wasn’t until the mid-1800s, however, that it became popular to give mass-produced chocolates and Valentine’s messages, and we have two business-minded visionaries to thank for this.

First, there’s Richard Cadbury, a member of the famous chocolate-making family that been perfecting the bite-sized delectable then known as “eating chocolate.” Cadbury had the brilliant idea of packaging and selling these chocolates in heart-shaped boxes for Valentine’s Day, and the rest is history.

MORE 17 Memorable Kisses Throughout History

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, a Massachusetts woman named Esther Howland was building her reputation as the “Mother of the American Valentine” for designing and popularizing high-quality lace-paper Valentine cards featuring messages of love and devotion. It was unusual at the time for a woman to run a business, yet Howland set up an all-female assembly line and kept the New England Valentine Company thriving for decades. First and foremost, one museum curator said of Howland to NPR, “She’s a businesswoman … I mean it is lacy, beautiful, feminine material that she’s producing, but she’s producing it successfully and making money.”

TIME Sex/Relationships

Your IUD and Implant Last Much Longer Than They Claim, Study Says

IUD birthcontrol
Photo Illustration by Mia Tramz for TIME; Corbis

These long-acting contraceptives might last even longer than you think

Two highly effective contraceptives—the intrauterine device (IUD) and the implant—actually last much longer than they are currently recommended, according to new research.

In a new study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, researchers discovered that the hormonal IUD and the implant are highly effective a year after they are currently approved for use.

MORE: The IUD Answer: Why The Best Form of Birth Control is the One No One Uses

The researchers followed 237 women who were using an implant like Implanon and Nexplanon and 263 women using the Mirena hormonal IUD. The implants are currently approved for three years, and the hormonal IUD used in the study is approved for five. (There is also a non-hormonal IUD that is approved for 12 years, but it was not included in the current study.)

All the women were between the ages of 18 and 45 and their contraceptives were within six months of expiring before they enrolled in the study. The women were informed of the pregnancy risk associated with using their device longer than recommended, and the researchers called them for followup every 6 months for 36 months or until the women had their device removed.

By the end of the trial period, none of the women using the implant were pregnant and there was one pregnancy among the women using the IUD. Still, the failure rate was similar to the failure rate of the IUD when used during the five-year period (which is under 1%). The study is still ongoing, and the researchers plan to recruit up to 800 women and ultimately test whether the IUDs and implants were effective for up to three years after their current FDA-approved duration.

The benefit of being able to use the implant and IUD for a longer period of time is that it could reduce costs for individuals and insurance. The longer use also makes the IUD and implant more convenient for women, since maintenance is reduced.

Though the data is preliminary, the researchers say they believe that the hormonal IUD and the implant can both be used for an additional year longer than the FDA recommends. That doesn’t mean you should extend your own use of the contraceptives without talking to your doctor. The study is still continuing, and it could be quite a long time before any changes to clinical recommendations are considered.

TIME movies

Movie Theater Chain Bans Whips for 50 Shades of Grey Premiere

Universal Pictures

Leave your gear at home

Sorry, moviegoers: If you’re going to see 50 Shades of Grey on opening night next Friday in costume, you’ll have to leave your ties and whips at home.

At least one theater chain is banning props and other accoutrement in their theaters. “We do not permit weapons, real or fake, or items that would make other guests feel uncomfortable or detract from the movie-going experience,” said AMC spokesman Ryan Noonan. “If someone tries to bring in a bow and arrow for the next Hunger Games, we’ll ask them to leave it in the car. If someone shows up in a Bane mask, we’ll ask them to remove it. If someone starts tossing around a whip or pulls out handcuffs, we’ll ask them to put it away. We think common sense will prevail.”

Noon stressed that this policy was not specifically in response to 50 Shades of Grey, but would apply to any movie screened at an AMC theater. AMC has more than 300 theaters and 4,000 screens across the country.

So remember: popcorn is allowed, handcuffs are not.

 

TIME apps

Potheads Finally Have Their Dating App

File - In this May 5, 2011, an unidentified man is seen smoking medical marijuana during karaoke night at the Cannabis Café, in Portland, Ore
Rick Bowmer—AP A man is seen smoking medical marijuana during karaoke night at the Cannabis Café, in Portland, Ore. in 2011.

'Juana go on a date next Friday?

Attention love-seeking stoners. A Denver company has come up with a dating app that you need in your life.

It’s called High There! and designed like Tinder: users create profiles and swipe through the photos of potential dates, except this version is clearly aimed at fans of ganja.

“I hated dating on other sites and apps because as soon as the idea of my cannabis consumption came up—date over. I actually walked out of a date (after paying of course) and said to myself, that’s it,” CEO Todd Mitchem told the Fast Company blog Co.Exist.

The app takes the Tinder model one step further by actually optimizing possible matches according to consumption preferences. Are you a lazy stoner? Do you prefer to use a vaporizer? These preferences will be taken into consideration to find an ideal fit.

Right now, High There! is only available in states that have fully legalized cannabis or have medicinal marijuana laws.

TIME movies

Malaysia Bans Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Gray
Chuck Zlotnick—Universal Pictures Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan star in Fifty Shades of Grey

The head of the censorship board called the film “more pornography than a movie”

Malaysia will not allow the release of Fifty Shades of Grey after the country’s censorship board expressed concerns over its explicit sexual content.

The Malaysian Film Censorship Board denied a certificate to the much anticipated adaptation of the steamy novel, which is set for wide release in the U.S. on Feb. 13, Variety reports.

“The board made a decision in view of the film containing scenes that are not of natural sexual content,” said Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid, head of the Malaysian Film Censorship Board, according to Variety. The film “is more pornography than a movie,” he said.

The film, based on the erotic romantic best-seller by E.L. James, has already spawned boycott campaigns in the U.S. over its lengthy sex scenes.

[Variety]

TIME movies

There’s Already a Campaign to Boycott Fifty Shades of Grey

Universal Pictures

Some say the movie glorifies violence against women

Not everyone is eagerly anticipating the release of Fifty Shades of Grey.

While some fans of E.L. James’ steamy novels are looking forward to seeing the graphic S&M scenes on the big screen, others are pre-emptively objecting to the glamorization of violence, especially violent sex. They’re trying to start a social-media movement to boycott the much anticipated movie, encouraging would-be moviegoers to donate money to domestic-violence victims instead.

MORE Here’s How The Shot the Sex Scenes in 50 Shades of Grey

Using the hashtags #50DollarsNot50Shades and #50ShadesIsAbuse, some protesters are calling for viewers to boycott the movie and donate the 50 bucks they would spend at the movie theater (on tickets, babysitter, drinks and popcorn, etc.) to help domestic-violence victims instead. Run by www.stoppornculture.org, the campaign’s Facebook page suggests making donations to domestic-violence shelters instead of going to see the movie, because “Hollywood doesn’t need your money; abused women do.”

“We realize it’s a movie, and we also realize it’s supported by many women,” says Ruth Glenn, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

“The thing that concerns us about Fifty Shades of Grey is that anytime people are operating in that lifestyle, it should be a choice,” she says.

MORE These Were the Hardest Scenes to Shoot for the Stars of 50 Shades of Grey

Is this the beginning of the backlash to the movie? The book had its own well-documented backlash when it came out in 2012, but that was before all the headlines about domestic violence and sexual assault that have come to the forefront since then, as has the debate over the definition of “consent” when it comes to sexual behavior.

Boycotts not withstanding, the film is expected to be a hit. So for those who do see it, Glenn has this advice: “Violence against women is one thing, choosing to operate in an alternative lifestyle where there are parameters and choice is another. For any young person who is seeing this movie, I hope someone is having a discussion with them about choice vs. coercion.”

TIME relationships

People Who Use Emojis Have More Sex

165556581
Getty Images

Match.com's annual dating survey found that people who use more emojis in text messages have more active sex lives

While this probably isn’t news to fans of the eggplant emoji, a new study found that single people who use emojis have more sex than those who abstain.

Match.com’s annual Singles in America survey — which polled 5,675 (non-Match using) singles whose demographics were representative of the national population according to the U.S. Census — found that people who have more sex, tend to use emojis more.

“It turns out that 54% of emoji users had sex in 2014 compared to 31% of singles who did not,” Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University who helped lead the study, tells TIME. And the more emojis singles used, the more sex they tended to have, as illustrated by Match’s handy emoji-to-intercourse graph:

Match.com's Singles in America Survey
Match.com’s Singles in America Survey

According to the data, released Wednesday, these statistics held true for men and women in the 20s, 30s and 40s.

And, food for thought, women who use kiss-related emojis have an easier time achieving orgasms with a familiar partner. That may be because emoji users cared more about finding partners who consider communication a desirable trait.

It’s notoriously difficult to read tone in texts and emails, but emojis can bridge the gap. “[Emoji users] want to give their texts more personality,” says Fisher. “Here we have a new technology that absolutely jeopardizes your ability to express your emotion… there is no more subtle inflection of the voice … and so we have created another way to express emotions and that is the emoji.”

Because it’s not all about that rocket ship/volcano/insert-other-suggestive-emoji here.

“Emoji users don’t just have more sex, they go on more dates and they are two times more likely to want to get married,” Fisher says. “Sixty-two percent of emoji users want to get married compared to 30% of people who never used an emoji… that’s pretty good.”

Thankfully there are appropriate diamond cartoons for your inevitable Instagram engagement announcement.

TIME Crime

Over 570 Arrested in Super Bowl Sex Traffic Sting

Hundreds busted for soliciting sex

Correction appended

A two-week nationwide sex trafficking sting that coincided with the Super Bowl snared several hundred men seeking to buy sex, and almost two dozen pimps.

A total of 570 would-be “johns”—men who hire prostitutes—and 23 pimps were arrested during the annual “National Day of Johns” sting orchestrated by Cook County, Ill. Sheriff Thomas Dart, which involved 37 law enforcement agencies in 17 states.

Around two-thirds (64%) of the “johns” arrested for soliciting prostitutes were answering fake Backpage.com ads, and 7% were responding to fake Craigslist ads. Almost 3,000 would-be purchasers of sex have been arrested in nine similar operations since the program was started in 2011, but Sheriffs said the 2015 sting was the largest and most successful yet.

“Law enforcement is beginning to realize that arresting the girls over and over again is never going to effectively address prostitution,” said Sheriff Dart. “If there were no johns, there would be no prostitution. It’s not a victimless crime and johns need to be held responsible for their role in exacerbating the sex trade.” 68 victims were recovered in this sting, including 14 juveniles.

Dart says he hopes national sting operations can help raise awareness about sex trafficking and dissuade would-be-johns from buying sex. “Campaigns like this send such a strong message to these guys that the risk of solicitation is just not worth it,” he said.

The Super Bowl has long been a hub for trafficking and prostitution. In a separate incident, Hall of Famer and NFL Network Analyst Warren Sapp was arrested Monday morning after allegedly soliciting and assaulting a prostitute in Phoenix after the Super Bowl. He has been suspended indefinitely from the NFL Network.

Correction: This article originally misidentified the location of Cook County. It is in Illinois.

TIME Sex/Relationships

8 Ways Sex Affects Your Brain

It can boost your mood, relieve pain, and more

Understanding how sex affects your brain can improve your roll in the hay, and it may also shed light on other parts of your health, says Barry R. Komisaruk, PhD, distinguished professor of psychology at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. It’s not the easiest subject to study—test subjects might have to masturbate inside an MRI machine—so research is still developing. But scientists are starting to unravel the mystery. Here’s what we know so far about your brain on sex.

Sex is like a drug

Sex makes us feel good. That’s why we want it, like it, and spend so much time hunting for mates. The pleasure we get from sex is largely due to the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that activates the reward center of the brain. Dopamine is also one of the chemicals responsible for the high people get on certain drugs. “Taking cocaine and having sex don’t feel exactly the same, but they do involve the same [brain] regions as well as different regions of the brain,” says Timothy Fong, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. Caffeine, nicotine, and chocolate also tickle the reward center, says Komisaruk.

Sex can act like an antidepressant

A 2002 study out of the University at Albany looked at 300 women and found that those who had sex without a condom had fewer depressive symptoms than women who did use a condom. The researchers hypothesized that various compounds in semen, including estrogen and prostaglandin, have antidepressant properties, which are then absorbed into the body after sex. (They corrected for other things that might affect both mood and condom use, such as being in a serious relationship or use of oral contraceptives.) This is good news for anyone who is in a committed relationship, but if you’re still playing the field, then you shouldn’t give up condoms. There are other ways to boost mood, but really no other way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

Read more: 13 Reasons to Have More Sex

Sex can (sometimes) be a downer

Those feel-good chemicals may be going full blast during the act, but after? According to researchers, there is such a thing as post-sex blues (technical term: postcoital dysphoria). About one-third of the women participating in one study reported having experienced sadness after sex at some point in time. While it’s possible that regret or feeling coerced might be the reason why, researchers can’t explain the connection at this point for sure.

Sex relieves pain

Don’t skip sex when you have a headache. Research shows that doing the deed may relieve your symptoms. In a 2013 German study, 60% of participants who had migraines and 30% of cluster-headache sufferers who had sex during a headache episode reported partial or total relief. Other studies have found that women who stimulated an area of the G spot had an elevation in pain threshold. “It took greater pain stimulus for them to feel the pain,” says Beverly Whipple, PhD, a professor emerita at Rutgers University who has conducted some research on the topic. Whipple didn’t study why this was so, but other researchers have attributed the effect to oxytocin, the so-called bonding hormone that helps mothers and babies bond and which also has pain-relieving properties.

Read more: 20 Weird Facts About Sex and Love

Sex can wipe your memory clean

Each year, fewer than 7 people per 100,000 experience “global transient amnesia,” a sudden but temporary loss of memory that can’t be attributed to any other neurological condition. The condition can be brought on by vigorous sex, as well as emotional stress, pain, minor head injuries, medical procedures, and jumping into hot or cold water. The forgetfulness can last a few minutes or a few hours. During an episode, a person cannot form new memories or remember very recent events. Fortunately, there seem to be no lasting effects.

Sex may boost your memory

Or at least it might if you’re a rodent. A 2010 study found that, compared with rats who were allowed only one one-night stand, rodents who engaged in “chronic” sex (once a day for 14 consecutive days) grew more neurons in the hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with memory. The findings were backed up by a second study, also in mice. It remains to be seen if regular sex also has this effect in humans (but you can always tell yourself it does).

Read more: 10 Reasons You’re Not Having Sex

Sex calms you down

The same study that linked frequent sex to a brain boost in rats also found that the rats were less stressed. This works for humans, too. One study found that people who’d just had sexual intercourse had better responses to stressful situations like public speaking than people who had not, or who had engaged in other types of sexual activity. How did sex ease stress? In this case, by lowering blood pressure.

Sex makes you sleepy

Sex is more likely to make men sleepy than women, and scientists think they know why: The part of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex winds down after ejaculation. This, along with the release of oxytocin and serotonin, may account for the “rolling over and falling asleep” syndrome.

Read more: Best and Worst Foods for Sex

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

Read next: 5 Things You Need To Know About Kissing

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