Do Women Really Like Bad Boys?

06/23/2014

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Courtesy Stockton Police Department/Facebook

The nation’s heartthrob over the past few days has been this "hot mugshot guy," a handsome young man who was arrested for allegedly engaging in felony terrorism and weapons charges.

With piercing blue eyes and some pretty modelesque bone strucgture, social media exploded with jokes (kind of) from women asking whether this stunner was single or if there were ways to be his cellmate. This was all in good fun, but it brings up an interesting question. Could it be that some women are actually attracted to “bad boys?”

Spontaneous, fun, exciting, and naughty, are just a few ways to describe the bad boys who can come across as mysteriously irresistible, despite intuitions that they might be trouble in the long run. An important component of the bad boy personality is what researchers would call “sensation seeking,” which is a strong need for novelty, risk, and emotionally charged experiences. Researchers Jonathan Bassett and Brett Moss explored this question in a study that asked, “Do men and women differ in their preferences for mates who are high in sensation seeking?”

To assess whether singles have a preference for sensation seeking, the researchers asked over 300 young men and women to rate the desirability of various dating profiles that presented potential mates who varied in their degree of sensation seeking. What they found was that when it came to potential long-term relationship partners, only women showed a significant preference for high sensation seeking men, compared to those who were low or moderate in sensation seeking. Bottom line: Female participants were more attracted to the risky guys.

Sensation seeking partners can be full of excitement and fun -- for awhile. Numerous studies show that in general, bad boys stay bad boys, and so your mom was probably right when she said your motorcycle-driving high school boyfriend was bad news. Even though they can be mysteriously attractive, your intuition about possible trouble brewing with these types of guys is usually right.

More About Love and Relationships:

Why Women Find Ryan Lochte So Attractive

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Why Modern Dating Stresses Millennials Out

04/29/2014

One of the great anxieties of modern singles is the fear of missing an opportunity to get married and have children. In a recent article at TIME.com, I wrote about the general dissatisfaction singles have with modern dating and the common worry among millennials that their dating efforts will not culminate in finding the right partner.

If you are a millennial or the parent of a millennial, then the following research findings might help to clarify why finding the right marital partner feels more difficult these days.

The Hope for Marriage

A recent Pew survey found that most millennials want to marry (91%) and most of them hope to have children someday (94%). Another survey of college women found that 96% of single young adult women hope to marry before 30 years old and 79% hope to have their first child before 30 years old.  

The State of Marriage

However, there are big differences between young adults’ ideals and the modern reality of when people actually marry. A Pew survey, found large changes between generations when it comes to the rates of marriage at ages 18 to 32.

So, there’s a large disconnect between the hope of marrying before 30 years old (96%) and the reality of how many millennials are married by their early 30s (26%), which can leave singles feeling anxious about ever finding enduring love. However, I don’t think that this trend is necessarily bad news.

The Hopeful Future of Dating and Marriage

Millennials may be delaying marriage partly because they want to enjoy their independence for a little longer, but I also think it’s because they are being cautious after watching the two generations before them struggle to find satisfying and stable marriages.

Although millennials are far less likely to marry their high school or college sweetheart, and then have to struggle with figuring out how to navigate the mid-20s dating scene, I think that their patience and thoughtfulness will prove to be worthwhile. It seems to me that millennials are not lost, they are just looking for a better way.

More on Marriage:

The Best Age to Get Married

Can You Have "Too Much of a Good Thing" in Relationships?

Do Good Marriages Comes from Online Dating?

 

The Best Places to Meet Someone Special

03/27/2014

Flirting-laptopsPeople who are lucky in love often put themselves in the right places at the right time. So if you’re looking for love, one of the first questions to consider is whether you’re looking for love in all the wrong places.

Shared interests are key to initial attraction and so it’s important to figure out where people with your same interests are spending time. Jetpac City is a clever app that scans Instagram pictures to tell you where people with various interests are having fun. I’ve listed some examples of popular places to find intellectuals, jetsetters, and hipsters in the table below and you will see that it’s not surprising to find hipsters in coffee shops or pet lovers at pet stores.

City Intellectuals Jetsetters Hipsters Pet Lovers
New York Art Galleries Heliports Coffee Shops Pet Stores
San Francisco Art Galleries Airport Lounges Coffee Shops Pet Stores
Los Angeles Art Galleries Airport Lounges Coffee Shops Pet Stores
D.C. Museums Sandwich Shops Coffee Shops Pet Stores
Boston Museums Airport Lounges Coffee Shops Pet Stores

However, it gets interesting when you look at places that are off the beaten path, where love might serendipitously seem to spring up. For example, it’s somewhat unexpected that San Francisco intellectuals might find each other at Clancy’s Christmas Trees and that D.C. pet lovers could find love at the Marquis de Lafayette monument.

City Intellectuals Jetsetters Pet Lovers
New York Actor’s Playhouse Leffot Shoe Store Wolf Home Furniture
San Francisco Clancy’s Christmas Trees Shine Nightclub All at pet stores
Los Angeles Best Buy All at the airport Idea Lab (startup)
D.C. 9 ½ Gay Bar Samuel Gompers Park Marquis de Lafayette
Boston All at the museums Ghosts & Gravestones Tour So Good Jewelry Store

If any man or woman will do, regardless of interests, then here are some places where you can find a high proportion of men or women.

You can see more examples at my website or download the Jetpac app to explore more categories on your own.

City Men Women
New York Bars Gym
San Francisco Bike Stores Salons
Los Angeles Art Galleries Airport Lounges
D.C. Museums Sandwich Shops
Boston Museums Airport Lounges

More on Dating:

Is This What the Man of Your Dreams Looks Like?

5 Ways to Find the Perfect Dating Site

Wait, There's a Scientific Formula to Falling in Love?

How Many Minutes a Day Do Dads Help with Housework?

03/14/2014

In their most candid moments, mothers who are devoted and loving toward their children will tell you that they feel completely overwhelmed by the cascading pressures of work, household chores, logistics, and caregiving.  

The modern day mother is more likely to be in the workplace and women are still carrying most of the burden for household chores and child care. Although men are now more likely to say that household work should be shared equally, women still do the bulk of the household chores and childrearing activities in the United States.

A recent survey from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that although men are increasing the amount of work they do at home, there are still inequalities in child care and chores. The graphic below from the OECD’s National Time Use Survey shows how many minutes per day men and women from different countries spend doing unpaid labor. 

OECDNationalTimeUseSurvey_2014.jpg

From the OECD National Time Use Survey

The countries where men are more likely to contribute to household chores and child care also tend to be countries where men get the most support for paternity leave. It’s interesting that men in these egalitarian countries often continue to contribute household work once their paternity leave ends.

In a recent interview, parenting expert Bridget Schulte suggested that this might be attributable to paternity leave forcing new fathers to figure out household responsibilities and providing the opportunity to build confidence that they can effectively handle child care duties.

For more on this topic and others visit my website.

 More on Family Dynamics:

An Argument for Big Families

Why Marriage Is Actually Good for Your Health

Can a Pill Save Your Marriage?

Wait, There's a Scientific Formula to Falling in Love??

02/13/2014

Dr. Ty Tashiro discusses why we only get three wishes when it comes to finding a mate, the mistakes we often make while dating and why statistics can actually teach us a lot about relationships:

Why Happily Ever After Is So Hard to Find

01/28/2014

Below is an excerpt from Ty Tashiro's amazing new book The Science of Happily Ever After: What Really Matters in the Quest for Enduring Love

By the time I entered graduate school during the late 1990s, relationship science, the field devoted to the scientific study of relationships, was burgeoning after decades of researchers struggling against critics who argued that love was too complex to study or that love was an frivolous topic for scientific investigation. The University of Minnesota housed some of the best relationship researchers in the world, and under their guidance, I began to learn about the science of falling in love, staying in love and losing love.

 My early research was focused on the endings of relationships— specifically, whether relationship breakups or divorce could lead to personal growth that might improve future relationships. In one of our first studies, Patricia Frazier and I asked ninety-two undergraduates experiencing a recent breakup to “describe what positive life changes, if any, have happened as a result of your breakup that might serve to improve your future romantic relationships.” We found that the average participant reported five positive life changes, which included improved friendships, feeling more self-confident and learning how to better communicate. To our surprise, “will choose a better partner in the future” was one of the least cited types of growth.

Happily-ever-after-book-cover
Although supportive friends, self-confidence and communication skills contribute to healthy romantic relationships, a much stronger predictor of romantic success is the type of partner you choose in the first place. The traits that a partner possesses before you ever start dating, such as his or her personality and values, are among the strongest indicators of whether a romantic relationship will be happy and stable many years later. However, for people who say they will choose a better partner for the next relationship, the intention to choose a better partner does not guarantee that they will end up making better choices. How many times have you witnessed friends who are smart and effective people in most aspects of their lives repeatedly choose the same dysfunctional partners and then appear surprised when the relationship is a disaster a few months later?

Even if people do want to choose better partners, there is little sound guidance for this endeavor readily available from experts. For example, if I asked what you should do if you catch on fire or see a thief in your home, your response would be instantaneous. You would “stop, drop, and roll” to solve the first problem, and you would “call 9-1-1” to solve the second problem. Both responses are automatic and effective. Luckily, the chances of catching on fire are only .002 percent, and of encountering a robber just .004 percent. By comparison, the chances of divorcing in your lifetime (50 percent) are roughly twenty-five thousand times higher than the chances of catching on fire. So, it is unfortunate that there are few sound strategies readily available to singles who want to make wise decisions when it comes to choosing a partner.

This lack of a clear and effective strategy for choosing romantic partners was made apparent to me by Meagan, a precocious sophomore in my Interpersonal Relationships course at the University of Maryland. She wanted me to distill the vast academic research on mate selection into some practical advice that she could use in her love life. Her whimsical framing belied the incisive nature of the question. “Let’s imagine you are single and looking for Mr. Right when a fairy godmother appears and grants one wish for your love life,” she said to me. “What would be the best way to spend that wish so that you live happily ever after?”

Admittedly, my response sounded remarkably unscientific. “The best thing to wish for,” I said, “would be a crystal ball.”

I was perplexed by the mystical nature of my response, but upon more reflection later that day, on my metro ride home, I realized that the concept of a crystal ball is exactly what singles need before embarking on the long journey to happily ever after. Imagine how much heartache could be averted if you could look into a crystal ball after every first date. Instead of having to go through months of painful trial and error in the middle of the process, while trying to find out whether a partner would provide misery or happiness, with a crystal ball you would know from the beginning whether a partner was good for you or not.

Fortunately, advances in relationship science can make this wish for a crystal ball come true. Researchers are discovering how to predict what a relationship will be like years into the future by assessing the traits of the partners, such as personality, values and interests. Furthermore, these traits can be decoded in the early stages of dating, which can permit singles to predict with more accuracy which relationships will end up happily ever after.

However, the materials needed to construct this crystal ball are dispersed in a sea of thousands of scientific papers spanning a range of academic disciplines, including psychology, anthropology, demography and medical science. In the chapters to come, I will distill this massive research literature into a manageable framework for choosing better partners and will put you on the path to a lifetime of love.

This is not a prescriptive self-help book promising a soul mate in three easy steps. Love is too complex and too personal for a stranger to tell a unique individual like you precisely what to do with your love life. Instead, my goal is to help you clarify your version of “happily ever after” and then to provide you with the information needed to make wise decisions when choosing a partner. To achieve this, we will answer the following questions in the chapters to come:

• What does “happily ever after” really mean, and why do only three in ten people find it?

• Why do we get only three wishes for an ideal partner, and why do most people wish for the wrong things?

• What three traits should you look for in a partner if you want to improve significantly the odds of finding enduring love?

The Science of Happily Ever After is about making smarter choices. It’s about learning to weed out the undesirable traits and rethinking our views about what really matters in a romantic partner. First, we need to take a closer look at the ultimate goal and determine what it really means to be happily in love and why being in love can become so complicated.

You can buy Ty's book on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble or at your local bookstore.

5 Ways to Find the Right Dating Site for You

01/14/2014

First-date-midlle-ageMany people resolve to do something about their dating life for the New Year, but if you’re looking to online date (as one in 10 Americans do), choosing the right site can be overwhelming. There are literally hundreds -- maybe even thousands -- to choose from! I spoke with online dating expert Jess Carbino, PhD and host of UCLA Radio's show Hook up With Dr. Jess, to get some answers that can help you find the right site. Ask yourself these questions before you sign up from the wrong site.

1. Do You Want Something Serious or Casual?

  • Casual: In general, mobile apps such as Tindr and Grindr are for people looking to hookup with someone nearby.
  • Serious: Websites like eHarmony or Match are better for people looking for serious relationships. OkCupid seems fall somewhere between casual and serious.

2. How Much Do You Want to Spend?

  • Free - Tindr, Grindr, and OkCupid.
  • Pay - Match costs $42/month and eHarmony costs $60/month.

3. How Much Effort Do You Want to Put In?

  • I’ll Put In Effort –eHarmony requires that you complete 256 question and Match asks a dozens of questions.
  • Let’s Keep It Easy - OkCupid asks for basic demographic information and suggests answering 25 questions to start. I downloaded Tindr to see how easy it was to start. It took less than 45 seconds.

4. Are You a Control Freak?

  • I Want To Drive- In general, mobile apps, OkCupid, and Match rely on you choosing who you want to contact.
  • Someone Else Can Drive- eHarmony sends you suggested partners, which means that you have to wait for the algorithms to deliver your options.

5. Do You Choose Good or Bad Partners?

  • Good at Choosing –You can probably trust your judgments to freely choose partners on OkCupid or Match.
  • Bad at Choosing –You might want to let go of the reigns and see where an autopilot like eHarmony takes you.

In the end, it really comes down to what you want. If your resolution is to find a quality partner and a lasting relationship, then platforms like eHarmony or Match are your best bets. Like most things, the more effort and patience you are willing to put into online dating, the more likely you are to find something worthwhile.

More on Online Dating:

Is eHarmony or Match Better?

Do Good Marriages Come Out of Online Dating?

Dating Site Finds "Perfect" Profiles

How to Be a More Supportive Partner

12/17/2013

Some of the most important moments in romantic relationships occur when your partner shares something difficult about his or her life with you. Even though most people want to understand their partner and be supportive in these situations, sometimes it’s hard to know what to say.

In this illuminating animation of by Brene Brown’s TED talk, one can see the important differences between responding with sympathy ("At least...") versus empathy ("I'm glad you told me") when people share something hard from their life. Sympathy involves feeling pity for someone else, and even though that feeling may be well intended from listeners, no one likes to feel like someone feels sorry for them. Empathy is harder because it involves putting yourself in the other person’s emotional shoes, which takes a tremendous amount of attention to what they are saying, effort to truly understand how they feel about it, and then sincerely conveying this understanding.

In laboratory studies that test men and women’s empathy, men have traditionally performed worse than women, which may come as no surprise to some people. However, new research including brain-imaging studies looking for differences between men and women’s capacity for empathy and studies that incentivize men’s empathic accuracy with monetary rewards, suggest that men have the ability to be just as empathic as women. As one of my professors was fond of saying, “There’s a difference between ability and motivation.”

So, it seems that lack of motivation, rather than lack of ability is the better explanation. Sometimes, this might be due to men not paying enough attention to understand. Alternatively, some men might understand and want to express their empathy, but just don’t know what to say. For the latter type of guy, the advice at the end of this video is about as good as it gets.

More on Relationships:

Is Love All Around Us? How to Beat Holiday Loneliness

The Everyday Conversation That Strengthens Your Relationship/span>

10 Steps to a More Intimate Relationship

Romantic Allergies: 5 Ways Our Mates Annoy Us

12/04/2013

Couple-fighting-tv-remote-668x375Your partner's not-so-endearing quirks may have more in common with allergies than you think. The little things your partner does that annoy you -- chewing with their mouth open, leaving the toilet seat up, or changing the TV channel without asking -- are not catastrophic, but, over time, they create a strong response that resembles an allergic reaction. For example, if someone has a cat allergy, then they might react with some sniffling at first contact with the cat, but with repeated exposure they react with a runny nose, severe congestion, and tears.

Romantic partners’ annoying behaviors can be like cat dander. Researcher Michael Cunningham and his colleagues found that early exposure to partner behaviors that are gross, inconsiderate, intrusive, or that violate some social norm, often create mild reactions at first, but become so grating over time that they might affect the overall quality of the relationship.

So what habits can hurt your relationship? According to a 2010 UK survey of more than 2,000 men and women, here were men and women's biggest grievances:

Things That Annoy Men About Women:

  1. Saying ‘I’m fine’ when they’re not
  2. Talking too much
  3. Constantly asking what men are thinking
  4. Winning arguments by crying
  5. Never saying ‘sorry’ even when they are wrong

Things That Annoy Women About Men:

  1. Not listening
  2. Not putting the toilet seat down
  3. Toenail clippings and beard shavings casually left where they fall
  4. Their friends
  5. Hogging the TV remote control

It can feel a little silly having such strong reactions to relationship allergens because they are small and sometimes partners don’t mean to be annoying. Yet, given the potential effect of relationship allergens on the overall quality of the relationship, it’s best to delicately talk about these issues with your partner.

Here's how to do so nicely: Before you bring up relationship allergens, it’s good to prioritize the things that annoy you and then to provide context when you discuss the issues. When you bring up the conversation, some couples have success with framing it like this, “This is not a big deal, but there’s some small things that are get on my nerves. I’m sure I do some small things that get on your nerves too, so I was wondering if you could tell me three small things I do that annoy you and then I could tell you three things?”

What annoys you about your partner? How do you deal with it?

More About Relationships:

Top 17 Relationship Tips

How to Fight Fairly

Communication Skills for Lifelong Relationships

Movember Might Increase Manliness and Attractiveness

11/22/2013

Ladies-love-beards-250x250You may have seen photos on Facebook of your male friends growing their facial hair for 30 days in November as part of the worthy cause called Movember. I’ve been noticing some variability in these efforts with some friends growing full mustaches and beards in two weeks, whereas others have struggled to grow middle school-like mustaches. As a guy who would be in the middle school-like mustache range, I began to wonder whether facial hair is related to attractiveness.

The Question: What style of facial hair do heterosexual women find most attractive?

The Investigation: Australian researchers showed over 500 male and female participants photos of men with four different styles of facial hair:

(1) Clean shaven (à la Justin Bieber)

(2) Five days of light stubble (Robert Pattinson)

(3) 10 days of heavy stubble (George Clooney)

(4) Six weeks of full facial hair (Boston Red Sox players)

They wanted to see if participants would rate the four styles of facial hair differently on key mate selection criteria: attractiveness, masculinity, healthiness, and parenting ability.

What They Discovered:

Women found men with heavy stubble to be the most attractive. Both men and women rated full facial hair men higher on healthiness and parenting ability. Women increased their ratings of masculinity as the amount of facial hair increased and it was interesting that this effect was strongest for women in the peak fertility phase of their menstrual cycle.

Takeaway: Men who want to be perceived as attractive are best advised to go with the 10 days of heavy stubble, whereas those looking to convey more long-term potential as a mate (e.g., being healthy, potentially a good father) are better off going with full facial hair.

See more about this study and others at Dr. Ty’s website.

More on Attractiveness:

Does Everyone Have a 'Type'?

Why Ladies Think Ryan Lochte Is Hot

Fake Facebook Relationhips: Do They Make You Seem More Attractive?


Ty Tashiro is the author of The Science of Happily Ever After: What Really Matters in the Quest for Enduring Love, an entertaining look at why modern dating is so challenging, why people can easily make bad partner choices, and how science can help us make smart decisions in the search for enduring love. It's available on Amazon, Indie Bound and Barnes & Noble. Dr. Ty received his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Minnesota. His research has appeared in top academic journals and he has been an award-winning professor at the University of Maryland and University of Colorado. Follow him on facebook and twitter.
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