relationships

Can we live without certainty?

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The next one on my list was Doris Devermont, an old flame of mine. With her I’d had the most honest relationship I’d ever had with a woman. The only thing I’d lied about was my name. I’d told her I was Teddy Novak… So she couldn’t track me down if I got her pregnant.

{ Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, 1982 }

art { “I Can’t Love Anyone!” from My Love #33, March 1975, originally published in My Love #19, September 1972 | Christian Marclay, Whomp, 2006 }

And then he’s drunk and never even told her that he cared

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Does a new partnership differ from its preceding one? […] This study sought to understand whether a new relationship differs from the one that preceded it.

[T]he answer to that question seems to be “mostly no.” One year into a new partnership (P2T2) our sample was no different from one year prior to the breakup of their previous union (P1T1) on relationship and sexual satisfaction, perceptions of relational instability, and the frequency of conflictual and intimate exchanges. While sexual frequency and perceived admiration did improve across unions in the full sample, there was no change for either in our follow-up analysis with the subgroup of participants where relationship duration at P1T1 corresponded to P2T2.

Given stability in the majority of constructs examined in this study, why does it seem as though a new partnership is different from those in the past?

Sandwiched between these points of stability are periods of change and upheaval: one partnership deteriorates and draws to a close and the bliss of new love is discovered before disillusionment pulls individuals back to old patterns. The deterioration prior to termination may be especially salient in perpetuating the belief that new unions are different.

{ Journal of Family Psychology | Continue reading }

photo { Fred Herzog, Man With Bandage, 1968 }

‘Ne nous prenons pas au sérieux, il n’y aura aucun survivant.’ –Alphonse Allais

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Contrary to the belief that happiness is hard to explain, or that it depends on having great wealth, researchers have identified the core factors in a happy life. The primary components are number of friends, closeness of friends, closeness of family, and relationships with co-workers and neighbors. Together these features explain about 70 percent of personal happiness.

{ Murray & Peacock, A model-free approach to the study of subjective well-being, 1996 }

related {  Having Poor Quality Relationships Is Associated With Greater Distress Than Having Too Few }

photo { Janice Guy }

I’ll take a rusty nail, and scratch your initials in my arm

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Leveraging popular social networking sites, individuals undertake certain forms of behavior to attract as many likes and followers as they can. One platform that symbolizes people’s love for strategic self-presentation to the utmost degree is Instagram. […]

Narcissism is characterized by grandiose exhibition of one’s beauty and pursuit of others’ admiration. Posting selfies/groupies is associated with narcissism and need for popularity. […]

Instagram selfies and groupies symbolize social media users’ public display of narcissism. From an evolutionary psychological perspective on the renovated hierarchy of fundamental human motives and needs, this study examined the interaction effects of Instagram photo types (selfies, group selfies, long-shot photos taken by others, and neutral photos) and Instagram peer viewers’ individual difference factors (intrasexual competition [ISC] for mates, need for popularity [NfP], loneliness, and need to belong [NtB]) on intersexual attraction. […]

The findings confirmed the assumption that a potential mate who posts selfies and groupies is perceived by opposite-sex viewers to be more narcissistic compared to a potential mate who posts neutral photos.

{ Evolutionary Psychology | Continue reading }

photo { Thierry Mugler, Monster Show, Elle US, November 1991 }

A word now against Kant as a moralist

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If a rat sees another rat drowning, for example, it will forgo a chunk of chocolate to save its imperiled friend. […]

Scientists at the University of Chicago […] found that a white rat raised among only white rats will do nothing to save a black rat from a trap. Rats, like humans, can be biased in how they act on, or don’t act on, their empathy.

In a variant of the experiment, a white rat raised among only black rats would save a black rat from a trap — but would fail to save other white rats.

And a white rat raised among black and white rats rescued rats of both colors. The researchers found that it is not the rat’s color that determines which type of rat it will show empathy for, but the social context in which it was raised.

{ Henry James Garrett/NY Times | Continue reading }

related { when given a choice, do people avoid empathy? And if so, why? }

linocut on transfer paper { Christian Waller, The spirit of light, 1932 }

‘There are some people who choose for whatever reason to handcuff themselves to the Titanic,’ said John Weaver, an adviser to Ohio Gov. John Kasich

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Ghosting, or avoiding technologically-mediated contact with a partner instead of providing an explanation for a breakup, has emerged as a relatively new breakup strategy in modern romantic relationships. […]

Distinct differences between ghosting and direct strategies suggest developments in technology have influenced traditional processes of relationship dissolution.

{ PsyArXiv | Continue reading }

Making the right choice does not always lead to a good outcome—sometimes there are only bad outcomes to choose from

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Albania is a country in the Balkans that has a long history of patriarchal traditions. Albania is traditionally a patricentric society, so having sons in the family is very important. When a family does not have sons, or loses their sons, then a sworn virgin can be a suitable replacement.

A sworn virgin is a woman who, either at birth, or by her own choice, decides to take on male gender roles. The sworn virgin makes a vow of chastity, does traditionally male labor, and usually wears male styled clothing. The vow of becoming a sworn virgin means that the woman no longer has marital obligations, the woman can become the head of her own household and would then have rights to inheritance. One of the main causes that make taking the vow necessary for Albanian families is the power of the Kanun. The Kanun is a medieval code of rules that are the foundation of Albanian culture. Many of the rules focus on honor and regulate the community life.

The Kanun regulates all aspects of Albanian life. The Kanun focuses on aspects of familial honor. A major part of this idea results in “blood feuds.” Blood feuds are deadly feuds between families. A blood feud can start from an insult or theft; they serve the purpose of righting a perceived wrong, honor being more important that a human life. When families become enemies “the enemy family’s honor can only be repaired with more blood. Any male member of the…family tall enough to lift a rifle is a legitimate target.” If a woman is murdered, according to the code, her death can be avenged by killing a woman in the enemy family of killing their dog.

The Kanun has specific rules for the role of women in Albania, perpetuating male dominance in a patriarchal society. Albania has roots as a peasant society where gender roles are very significant. The man is the head of the family, the owner and over seer of the land and the main decision maker. The importance of gender roles and the man’s position of power breed the desire for a passive and compliant woman. According to the article by Arsovska, the Kanun states, “a man has the right to beat and publicly humiliate his wife if she disobeys him. He is also allowed to cut her hair, strip her nude, expel her from the house and drive her with a whip through the village. The Kanun specifies that a man may kill his wife for two reasons: infidelity and betrayal of hospitality.” Further, a woman is considered half of a man, equivalent to a dog and always subservient to her husband or father before she is married.

[…]

In a situation where all the male family members are killed during a blood feud, the family would be destitute, or an unmarried daughter can take the vow to be a sworn virgin. The sworn virgin would then be the head of the household, have rights to the inheritance and be in charge of retaliation of the blood feud. Women are also forbidden from being an active participant in their engagements and marriages. If the woman does not want to marry the man she is arranged to be married to and runs away, her family would bring her back to the man with a single bullet. The meaning of the bullet is if the wife tries to leave again the husband can kill her with the bullet. Some women receive a locket with a bullet inside on their wedding day, the bullet being the bullet she would be killed with if she were to be unfaithful or try to leave her husband. The only honorable way for a woman to avoid an unwanted arranged marriage would be to take the vow. If a woman refuses an arranged marriage it could incite a blood feud between the two houses. Another reason some women take the vow to become a sworn virgin is if their parents do not produce a son. It is considered shameful if a family has no male offspring and some girls will be raised as boys from birth. All cases of a female becoming a sworn virgin have to do with familial honor.

The vow to become a sworn virgin is not to be taken lightly. The vow is considered sacred and is meant for life. The woman making the vow goes before twelve elders of the community and makes a vow of chastity. The traditional punishment for breaking the vow is death. If a sworn virgin is found to break her vow of celibacy she would traditionally be burned alive, although it is unrecorded how often this punishment gets carried out.

[…]

A sworn virgin is able to enjoy the status of being a man, they are able to interact freely with men, smoke cigarettes, carry guns and leave their houses without a male escort.

[…]

The role of the sworn virgin should not be considered lesbianism, as the traditional role of sexual intercourse in Albania is strictly for procreation. Homosexuality was illegal for men in Albania until 1995, and lesbians have never been mentioned in the Kanun or by the state, which would imply that it is a completely foreign or non existent concept to traditional Albanians.

[…]

Even as a sworn virgin, there are times when they are still discriminated against by men and still treated as less than a man. One sworn virgin was not able to become a member of a marksmen club, and another example is of a sworn virgin who, after their death, was buried as a man but did not receive the traditional mourning that men usually receive.

[…]

It is unknown how many sworn virgins are still in existence today, as the post communist Albanian government does not recognize tradition rules from the Kanun. A ‘cultural revolution’ took place in Albania in 1974, declaring all traditional customs as non-existent, so there is no new official records kept of women that take the vow.

{ Elizabeth Rush, The Cultural Role and Identity of Albanian Sworn Virgins | Continue reading }

oil on canvas { Picasso, Femme en bleu, 1944 }

quote { The lesser of two evils: Explaining a bad choice by revealing the choice set }

‘A happy memory is perhaps on this earth truer than happiness itself.’ –Alfred de Musset

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This research examined eroticism and nurturance among individuals in polyamorous and monogamous relationships.

As expected, polyamorous participants experienced less eroticism but more nurturance in their relationships with their primary partner compared to secondary.

Furthermore, people in polyamorous relationships reported more nurturance with primary partners and eroticism with secondary partners compared to people in monogamous relationships.

{ PsyArXiv | Continue reading }

Rolls-Royce radiator mascot { Charles Sykes, Spirit of Ecstasy, 1910 }

like a honeymoon we up in the hotel

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Evolutionarily minded researchers have hypothesized that women advertise their ovulatory status by wearing red or pink, but many of these studies have been based on relatively small samples of women who have self-reported their clothing choices, an unorthodox practice in the biological study of coloration. […] We found no evidence that women are particularly inclined to wear red or pink during peak fertility.

{ PsyArXiv | Continue reading }

related { our meta-analyses help synthesize the evidence that red enhances perceived attractiveness in romantic contexts }

“The Pleasure Principle” is an “independent woman” anthem about love gone wrong built around a dance beat

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Previous studies have shown that male attractiveness can be enhanced by manipulation of status through, for example, the medium of costume. The present study experimentally manipulated status by seating the same target model (male and female matched for attractiveness) expressing identical facial expressions and posture in either a ‘high status’ (Silver Bentley Continental GT) or a ‘neutral status’ (Red Ford Fiesta ST) motor-car. […]

Results showed that the male target model was rated as significantly more attractive on a rating scale of 1–10 when presented to female participants in the high compared to the neutral status context. Males were not influenced by status manipulation, as there was no significant difference between attractiveness ratings for the female seated in the high compared to the neutral condition.

{ The British Psychological Society | PDF }

unrelated { Sweden plans to make sex toys safer because so many people get them stuck in their rectum }

First we feel. Then we fall.

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50.43% of women considered it very important that the partner ejaculates during intercourse.

18.3% of women preferred that the partner ejaculates before they reach orgasm, whereas for 53.5% this did not matter.

22.6% of women stated that they experienced a more intense orgasm when their partner ejaculated during vaginal intercourse. […]

13.1% of women regarded the quantity of expelled ejaculate as an expression of their own sexual attractiveness.

{ The Journal of Sexual Medicine | Continue reading }

And yet life, Lucilius, is really a battle

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When scientists began tracking the health of 268 Harvard sophomores in 1938 during the Great Depression, they hoped the longitudinal study would reveal clues to leading healthy and happy lives. […] They eventually expanded their research to include the men’s offspring, who now number 1,300 and are in their 50s and 60s, to find out how early-life experiences affect health and aging over time. […]

Over the years, researchers have studied the participants’ health trajectories and their broader lives, including their triumphs and failures in careers and marriage. […]

“The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health,” said Robert Waldinger, director of the study. […] Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, the study revealed. […] Those who kept warm relationships got to live longer and happier, said Waldinger, and the loners often died earlier. “Loneliness kills,” he said. “It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.” […]

The study showed that the role of genetics and long-lived ancestors proved less important to longevity than the level of satisfaction with relationships in midlife.

{ Harvard Gazette | Continue reading }

‘Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it hundreds of times.’ –Mark Twain

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This paper examines the association between television ownership and coital frequency using data from nearly 4 million individuals in national household surveys in 80 countries from 5 continents. […]

Under our most conservative estimate, we find that television ownership is associated with approximately a 6% reduction in the likelihood of having had sex in the past week,

{ National Bureau of Economic Research | Continue reading }

photo { Matthew Casteel }

‘Time is a waste of money.’ –Oscar Wilde

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What happens when we unexpectedly see an attractive potential partner? Previous studies in laboratorial settings suggest that the visualization of attractive and unattractive photographs influences time. The major aim of this research is to study time perception and attraction in a realistic social scenario, by investigating if changes in subjective time measured during a speed dating are associated with attraction. […]

When there is a perception of the partner as being physically more attractive, women tend to overestimate the duration of that meeting, whereas men tend to underestimate its duration.

{ University of Minho | Continue reading }

And then one day, a magic day he passed my way

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This study utilized a sample population of married individuals specifically seeking extramarital sexual encounters (n = 1070) and investigated those factors which influence the individual’s overall perception of life satisfaction before, during, and after their affairs. Findings indicate that while affairs do tend to make respondents happy, a number of factors influence perception of life satisfaction during an affair, including a belief that an outside partner is required to remain in a primary partnership, a desire to remain in the primary partnership, at least biweekly sexual events with the outside partner, a belief that the individual loves their outside partner, and seeking out the partnership due to sexual dissatisfaction within the primary partnership. There was also a gender effect. A surprising finding was that even after the outside partnership ends, respondents reported a higher life satisfaction rating than before the outside partnership.

{ Sexuality & Culture | Continue reading }

Postcoital Dysphoria (PCD) is a counter-intuitive phenomenon characterized by inexplicable feelings of tearfulness, sadness, or irritability following otherwise satisfactory consensual sexual activity. Prevalence of PCD has been reported among females, but not among males. […]

The present study utilized an anonymous online questionnaire to examine the prevalence and correlates of PCD amongst an international sample including 1,208 male participants. Forty one percent reported experiencing PCD in their lifetime and 20% reported experiencing PCD in the previous four weeks. Between 3-4% of the sample reported experiencing PCD on a regular basis.

{ Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy | Continue reading }

The association between alcohol intake and male reproductive function is still controversial. […] we performed a cross‐sectional analysis of semen quality. […]

Moderate alcohol intake appears positively associated to semen quality in male partners of infertile couples undergoing assisted reproductive techniques.

{ Andrology | Continue reading }

We receive different kinds of information from your device, like how you tap and scroll, which can help distinguish humans from bots and detect fraud

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Women differ greatly from one another in terms of their tendency and capacity to experience orgasms. The improvements in gender equality and sexual education since the 1970s have not helped women to become more orgasmic. Neither has the major increase in masturbation habits (among women in general).

One challenge for future studies is to understand why women value their partner’s orgasms more than their own.

{ Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology | Continue reading }

related { A majority of women experienced a more intense orgasm given intravaginal ejaculation + Female ejaculation has a positive impact on women’s and their partners’ sexual lives }

art { Zbigniew Dlubak, Desymbolisations, 1978 }

I couldn’t even change my new white shoes all ruined with the saltwater and the hat I had with that feather all blowy and tossed on me how annoying and provoking

Why Women Wear High Heels: Evolution, Lumbar Curvature, and Attractiveness

…high-heeled footwear increased women’s attractiveness only when wearing heels altered their lumbar curvature to be closer to an evolutionarily optimal angle.

{ Frontiers in Psychology | Continue reading }

Ho hang! Hang ho! And the clash of our cries till we spring to be free.

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Why the Victorian era saw a surge in female births and war begets boys

There is empirical evidence that heavy sexual activity increases the chances that conception will occur before the most fertile time of the female cycle, as the woman may be pregnant by then. And the data also suggest that, possibly for hormonal reasons, such conceptions are slightly more likely to be boys. “It doesn’t take much imagination to suppose that the ends of wars, with servicemen home on leave or returning home, are associated with fairly intense sex – more babies were born in the UK in 1919 than any other year in history. Put all these together and you get the conclusion – frantic fornication breeds boys.”

[…]

Which brings us back to the mysterious surge of female births in the late Victorian period. Could it be that, in the same vein in which heavy sexual activity increases the sex ratio, a  trend towards sexual inactivity lowers it? “Victorian morality” distinguished itself through a set of values that espoused sexual restraint, with an increased condemnation of masturbation and sexual activity in general, repressing any form of sexuality other than penetrative intercourse. And indeed, statistics reflect a steady decline of sexual activity throughout the Victorian period, reaching its lowest point in the year 1898. But as there was less sex going on, conception tended to occur around the most fertile time of the months, bestowing a (relative) excess of baby girls on the Victorians.

{ Rolf Degen | Continue reading }

Hypothesis 1

Up to circa two decades age, it was generally supposed – but without hard supporting evidence – that pregnant women exposed to adverse environmental circumstances were at increased risk of foetal loss, and that male foetuses were at greater risk than female foetuses; and that therefore the liveborn infants produced by stressed women contained a higher proportion of daughters. That hard evidence has now been accumulated in a series of papers by Catalano and colleagues, and others.

Using time-series analysis, it has been shown that the Sex ratios at birth (SRB) briefly declined, slightly but significantly, some three to five months after many catastrophic and other adverse events e.g. the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001; the Troubles in Northern Ireland (1969–1998), the Breivik shooting in 2011 in Norway, the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 in Connecticut; the assassination of President Kennedy [though the effect in this case was more marked in non-White than White births]. […]

Thus there is overwhelming evidence that sex ratios at birth are partially controlled by maternal stress-induced selective culling of frail males in utero, resulting in a conception cohort with a low sex ratio at birth. It has also been postulated that the ratio may be skewed because of fertilization of non-optimally matured oocytes under these circumstances. Moreover, it has also been hypothesized that higher coital rates will lead to ejaculation of newly formed spermatozoa cells, possibly leading to a preponderance of Y-sperm since it is also hypothesized that X-sperm age faster and are eliminated earlier.

However, it will be appreciated that selective culling of frail males during pregnancy cannot explain some of the established variations of SRB. First, it cannot explain why some reported sex ratios are higher than prevailing norms. Second, it cannot explain why these norms almost always exceed 0.5 (equal numbers of males and females).

Hypothesis 2

It has been hypothesized that human sex ratios at birth are partially controlled by the parental hormone levels of both parents around the time of conception. Ex hypothesi, high levels of testosterone (in either parent) and/or of oestrogen (in the mother), are associated with subsequent male births. And high levels of gonadotrophins (in either parent) are associated with subsequent female births. Most of this evidence is observational and correlational, and is in accordance with the hypothesis of Trivers & Willard.

{ Early Human Development | Continue reading }

lithograph { Ellsworth Kelly, Small Blue Curve, 2013 }

wetting with the bimblebeaks, drikking with nautonects, bilking with durrydunglecks and horing after ladybirdies

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Sperm competition theory can be used to generate the hypothesis that men alter the quality of their ejaculates as a function of sperm competition risk.

We investigated whether men produce a higher-quality ejaculate when primed with cues to sperm competition (i.e., imagined partner infidelity), relative to a control prime. Men (n = 45) submitted two masturbatory ejaculates—one ejaculate sample for each condition (i.e., sperm competition and control conditions). Ejaculates were assessed on 17 clinical parameters. The results did not support the hypothesis: Men did not produce higher-quality ejaculates in the sperm competition condition relative to the control condition.

{ Evolutionary Psychology | Continue reading }

C-print { Trevor Paglen, PAN (Unknown, USA-207), 2010 }

After infusion of glucose, men’s VTA activity was higher for clothed than for nude female stimuli

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Energetic vampirism is the process whereby one person, through manipulation, essentially steals some life energy from another. […]

Vampirism is all around you.  In fact, most of us have done it a little, at least.  […]

According to Roy Masters and some other authorities on this subject, women who are not well enough developed spiritually vampirize others more than men.  This may occur because such women, whom Roy Masters calls “females”, have their energy centers reversed, and they tend to absorb energy rather than radiate energy.  Also, they may steal some energy from others, particularly men, in an effort to correct their energy centers. […]

We find that most successful vampires are fast oxidizers on hair tests. This is a higher amperage state, electrically speaking, and this may be necessary to extract energy from another person. It could also just be a result of the vampirism, but it is an interesting observation.

{ Dr. Lawrence Wilson | Continue reading }