Nan Wise, Ph.D., is AASECT certified sex therapist, neuroscientist, certified relationship expert, and author. Follow her @AskDoctorNan. The following is adapted from her new book, Why Good Sex Matters: Understanding the Neuroscience of Pleasure for a Smarter, Happier, and More Purpose-Filled Life. -- Mark
Our society has had a long, challenging relationship with pleasure. A recent study indicates that American adults are having sex less often than before, with an especially steep decline since the year 2000. This decline is significant even when you control for factors such as age, gender, and marital status. And to top it off, in spite of the media’s portrayal of young people as freewheeling, casual sex-seeking, hookup artists, those born in the 1980s and 1990s are now the adults who are having less sex.
There is a clear paradox when it comes to our sexuality — a vexing approach/avoidance that I have come to characterize as a “lewd-prude” phenomenon. As much as we are reinforcing the need for mindful “sexual conduct,” scores of people are coming forth to report sexual harassment and sexual abuse that has long been in the shadows. Sex has become for many a place of pain rather than pleasure. Unfortunately, as movements like #MeToo have uncovered, there is quite a long-standing disconnect between the code of behavior we preach and its effectiveness in our society, creating a kind of shadow culture where people act out negatively and harmfully around sex. And even those who have not had a traumatic sexual experience are impacted by this social component that reinforces a disconnect from pleasure. Read the rest
A woman in Lincoln, Nebraska was burning love letters from her ex when she fell asleep. She was woken by the smoke alarms with her apartment on fire. Insert joke here about hot love affairs, burning passion, etc. From UPI
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Police said there were no injuries, but the fire caused about $4,000 worth of damage...
The woman was cited for negligent burning, police said.
Kottke spotted Olivia de Recat's curiously affecting illustrations of how relationships change over time and I can't help but signal boost. Hopefully she'll be taking orders for prints again soon: "In the meantime, you can take a look at some of her other cartoons (mostly for the New Yorker), peruse her shop, or follow her stuff on Insta." Read the rest
Even as an adult, I am entirely confused by cousin relationships beyond "first." This chart is very helpful though it lacks the category of "kissing cousin."
(via r/mildlyinteresting) Read the rest
Pro skateboarders Amelia Brodka and Alec Beck first met at the Vans Combi Bowl skatepark in Orange, California. Beck's recent marriage proposal to Brodka at that same skatepark is absolutely wonderful. Their joy is infectious. (via r/MadeMeSmile)
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Yehuda Devir and his wife Maya are both artists, so it was natural for him to create a charming illustrated blog of their relationship. Read the rest
New research from the University of Utah and Cornell University suggests that couples involved in egalitarian marriages, at least as chores are concerned, have more sex. (Note that the study is only about heterosexual marriages.) This new study appears to counter a 2014 New York Times Magazine article titled "Does Gender Equality Kill Sex Lives?." For this work, the Utah and Cornell researchers compared a 2006 marital satisfaction survey with data from 1992-1994. From a news release about the paper:
Turns out, the “rules” that govern sexual and marital satisfaction have been changing rapidly—and, like many generalizations about modern marriage, the 2013 study (that the NYT article reported on) was based on outdated data. As Cornell University Professor Sharon Sassler shows in her new paper, “A Reversal in Predictors of Sexual Frequency and Satisfaction in Marriage,” presented today to the Council on Contemporary Families, when couples share similar tasks rather than different, gender-stereotyped ones, this seems to deepen desire.
Sassler reports, “Contemporary couples who adhere to a more egalitarian division of labor are the only couples who have experienced an increase in sexual frequency compared to their counterparts of the past. Other groups – including those where the woman does the bulk of the housework – have experienced declines in sexual frequency. This finding is particularly notable given reports indicating that sexual frequency has generally declined worldwide over the past few decades.”
Quartz digs deeper into the new study:
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...Couples who reported sharing housework equally had sex 6.8 times per month, on average, or about once more per month than those where the woman does more “routine housework,” defined as: preparing and cooking meals, washing dishes, cleaning around the house, shopping for groceries, and doing laundry...
Seems obvious, but saying "thank you" more often may improve your marriage. New research shows that the amount of gratitude expressed by spouses toward each other is a very good predictor of marital happiness.
"We found that feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you directly influences how you feel about your marriage, how committed you are to it, and your belief that it will last," says University of Georgia researcher Ted Futris.
The study also found that higher levels of spousal gratitude expressions protected men's and women's divorce proneness as well as women's marital commitment from the negative effects of poor communication during conflict.
"Importantly, we found that when couples are engaging in a negative conflict pattern like demand/withdrawal, expressions of gratitude and appreciation can counteract or buffer the negative effects of this type of interaction on marital stability," Futris said.
"The power of thank you: UGA research links gratitude to positive marital outcomes" Read the rest
Author Sarah Mirk never tells readers what they should do in bed, writes Glenn Fleishman, only what they might do.
Why do human beings experience jealousy, what is its function, and what are the warning signs that signal this powerful emotion may lead to violence?
Once reserved for the contemplation of poets and playwrights, jealousy is now the subject of intense scientific scrutiny. "Mate poachers abound," explains this week's guest, psychologist David Buss, who says that his research supports his hypothesis that human jealousy is an adaptation forged by evolutionary forces to deal with the problems of infidelity. Moderate jealousy, he says, is healthy and signals commitment, but there is a dark and corrosive side as well that follows a clear, predictable pattern before it destroys lives.
David Buss is a professor of psychology who studies human mating at The University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of The Evolution Of Desire: Strategies Of Human Mating, The Dangerous Passion: Why Jealousy Is As Necessary As Love and Sex, The Murderer Next Door: Why the Mind Is Designed to Kill, and Why Women Have Sex: Understanding Sexual Motivations from Adventure to Revenge. You can learn more about him and his work at DavidBuss.com. Read the rest
More than a quarter of primate species form male-female pair bonds that scientists describe as "monogamous". That's much higher than the overall mammal average of 9 percent. But those statistics don't mean that humans are somehow "meant" to be monogamous. In fact, scientists are still debating — and publishing conflicting theories — on why monogamy would have evolved at all. Carl Zimmer has an interesting column at The New York Times looking at two recent papers, and how they fit into an ongoing scientific fascination with our own sex lives. Read the rest
The correct answer is that Brian and Angela just need to break up, already.
From Thanks, Textbooks — a fantastic Tumblr of supremely weird and hilarious textbook examples and questions. Read the rest
Over at the Bold Italic, my friend Debbie Hampton wrote a heartfelt, no-nonsense, funny, and informative essay titled "How To Survive A Divorce":
...California is a no-fault state, meaning the dissolution of our marriage didn’t require a showing of wrongdoing by either person. Thank. God. Because I did some serious wrongdoing. There were addiction issues (mine) and excessive career demands (his). I got lost for a while. There are an endless amount of bad choices to be made if one wants to focus their attention away from a divorce. I drank. I started smoking again. I became a crappy friend. These choices caused a shit-ton of wreckage that I now have to work through as well. So don’t do that. Look at the divorce as an opportunity to grow, not an excuse to go backwards.
The legality of splitting up is absolutely overwhelming. California is a community property state, meaning all the crap you acquire during your marriage is equally owned. So there’s the potentially nail-biting adventure of dividing up furniture, plates, art, and everything else. We didn’t have this problem. Neither of us cared much for stuff.
"How To Survive A Divorce" Read the rest
Back in 2002, psychologists studying how couples argued found four different behaviors that correlated strongly with future divorce. In fact, in a small sample of 80 couples, the combination of those behaviors could be used to predict who would divorce over the next 14 years with 93% accuracy. The good news: While these behaviors are all things that people probably do sometimes, it's the frequency of behaviors that matters ... and, better yet, they're all things that you can change. At PsySociety, Melanie Tannenbaum uses the amazingly spot-on example of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries to illustrate how unhealthy arguments can lead to relationship collapse. Read the rest
At the Wall Street Journal, Eric Simmons writes about the psychology of March Madness, which is really the psychology of relationships and the deep emotional bonds underlying communities and tribes. When you cheer on the Wichita State Shockers in the Final Four, what you're really doing is introducing other people (and other groups) into your definition of self. Read the rest
Last week, "Inspiration Mars" announced its search for a male and female couple to do a Mars flyby mission, requiring the pair to spend 501 days alone together. Sailors/adventurers Deborah Shapiro and Rolf Bjelke have some experience doing just that, at least terrestrially. More than twenty years ago, Shapiro and Bielke had 9 months of alone time on the Antarctic Peninsula. By choice. Shapiro wrote about their experience in a book called Time On Ice. Over at BBC News, Shapiro answers the question: "Why didn't you two kill each other?"
One has to be able to give the other person mental elbow room. During our winter, when a person settled into the sofa in the salon with a book and started reading, he or she was not interrupted.
Keeping quiet when the person is close enough to practically read one's thoughts, is a matter of self-discipline, fuelled by caring.
The only exception to our silence rule was for boat-related safety issues. The boat, for obvious reasons of survival, always came first.
"How to get along for 500 days alone together" Read the rest