Tinder And Grindr. Waste Of Time.

I cannot get over how much the dating landscape in the 21st century seismically shifted.

When I was growing up, meeting someone for a relationship, was reasonably upfront. Give or take the odd, unexpected left turn. There was the at work option, or at a party, pub or bar. See. I’m so old fashioned and out of touch to be talking about this. Then along came Internet dating. I never had an issue with that. Never bothered me in the slightest. In fact I warmly embraced this development. It was such a perfectly, reasonable, rational not to mention respectful way to meet a potential partner. But now we have something completely different. I call them the devil’s children of Internet dating. Not that I am passing some kind of moral judgment here. I’m not. Far from it. I just have a lot of personal issues with Tinder and Grindr. And, it is not because they’re a couple of smartphone applications, used primarily by people to have casual sex. Actually, “casual” is way too nice a word. It’s because they live in a world where people and sex are disposable commodities. To be used and discarded, There’s no love, no deep connection, no personal investment of any kind to be found in Tinder and Grindr apart from the kind you get from self-gratification. But for some of us, maybe even many of us, these two apps have fundamentally changed the way we go about things relationship wise and not in a good way, in my view.

So I was quite interested and bemused to read a story with the headline: “ How Sex Is Killing The Live Music Scene Thanks To Tinder And Grindr.”

The story suggested that we forget breath-testing, lockouts, or downloading – Sex is killing live music, or at least the search for it is, on Tinder and Grindr.

That’s the provocative but serious claim, made by a music venue owner and live music booker, James Young, who says that more and more people prefer to “stare at their phones and swipe left or right ” rather than head out to a bar where they might meet somebody.  Sounds pretty sad to me.

“Grindr, the gay app, came out about two years before Tinder and has destroyed the gay hotspot [in Melbourne],” Young says. “That is a textbook, identifiable case. And here we are, two years later, with Tinder following in its footsteps”. He says young people are hanging about (probably at home) hunched over their phones instead of going out to bars and clubs.

It should be pointed out that music venues don’t simply exist for the sole purpose of enabling a romantic meeting between two people. Of course not says Young, but “bars are fragile businesses” and anything that affects even three or five percent of business on already thin margins can be hard to recover from. “And what we are talking about is 10 per cent loss of business and for some businesses, that’s their profit margin.”

Young, who owns and books music for three bars in Melbourne argues that “sex has always been a big part of rock ‘n’ roll but we’re not saying the sole purpose of venues is to pick up”. It is, however, a problem that carries a ripple effect because people used to meet – or hook up in the modern parlance – at venues where music was being played.

“If there are less people at the bars, that’s going to affect sales and there is also a parallel issue in the type of dates you go on,” Young says. “A Tinder date is a super casual date so ‘let’s meet at a cafe, let’s meet at the latest, chic pop-up restaurant’. He says first dates used to be at a rowdy live music event. Not anymore. But people don’t really talk to each other anymore. They hook up.

He says in Sydney you can add lockouts and earlier closing of bars to the Tinder-effect. Young also raises another fear, that “Netflix, Stan and binge TV series watching have become the new dating”, with the simplicity of an affordable entertaining option capped off by the fact that “you’re already on the couch”.

What a huge yawn. I prefer the personal meet and greet, the spark, the meeting of minds, the possibility of what might be and then discovering that it is, any day over any smartphone app. As far as I’m concerned Tinder can go up in flames and it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest. I know. So old fashioned.

Modern Apps Killing Monogamy. Stick With A Dinosaur

Sometimes I will happily stand up and be called a dinosaur. Called myself one plenty of times before. Someone actually called me a killjoy today. That’s going too far. Old fashioned. Yes. Out of step with modern living. Yes. Sometimes. And yes, this is one of those times when I am happy to be walking at a different pace.

It was the headline that got my attention. Are modern dating apps killing monogamy? Apparently the answer is yes. And proof positive of this development was offered by way of a case study. Let’s call her Jessie. That’s what the article called her so who am I to contradict. Before online dating, before her two kids, before the Big Conversation with her skeptical husband, Jessie’s inkling was that she wasn’t quite like the ladies she saw at church. The sexual taboos of life in the affluent burbs weren’t for her.

Her first marriage when she was in her early 20s, ended after she had an affair. Her second marriage, starting shortly thereafter, was “happy – very happy,” but as her children grew up, moved out and on, she was left….well…. bored.

Thoughts turned to cheating on her husband of 20 years, we are told, as if this was perfectly normal behavior. She considered bars, parties, and a return to the good old days of her mid-20s. All care and no responsibility.

But Instead, Jessie sat her husband down for a deep and meaningful so we are told. Here’s the kicker. We are told she told him something that more and more “progressive” couples are beginning to realise. They love each other and want to stay together – but in the age of Tinder, Ashley Madison and OkCupid, well…they have other options.

Options, that are just a click away.

“Interesting, introspective, happily married professional,” reads Jessie’s profile on the newly non-monogamous dating site Open Minded. “I’m into building deep and loving relationships that add to the joy and aliveness of being human.”

Bollocks Jessie. You are into sex, Nothing deep. Certainly, nothing meaningful, and only the truly naïve would call it loving.

Let’s just pause and refect for a moment. Open Minded is a dating site that isn’t quite like Ashley Madison, the unapologetic dating-for-cheaters service that expects a billion dollar valuation when it becomes a publicly listed company you can buy shares in.

How sad is that?

There’s money to be made in every kind of human exploitation including adultery. Open minded also isn’t quite like mobile hook-up app Tinder, where – according to one recent report – as many as 40 per cent of “singles” are secretly … not single. Open Minded, according to its founder, yet another tech savvy hustler, is a new kind of dating site for a newly “mainstream lifestyle” where couples, we are told “form very real attachments” just not exclusively with each other. He expects the app to be used by swingers, polysexuals and experimental 20-somethings. But he guesses that most of his 70,000 users are people just like Jessie. In committed, conventional relationships, who realize that, statistically speaking, few modern couples stay with a single person their whole life. Can I just say I have no problem with that at all. In fact, can I say, I have been that person. All I am saying is, if you are going to do that, don’t stay married and act like a single person.

“If you look at marriage, it developed as a survival strategy and a means of raising kids,” the founder of Open Minded says. “But relationships are no longer a necessary component of life. People have careers and other interests – they can survive without them.”

This is a classic example of people just talking without saying anything at all. And of course we have an academic to give the whole thing credibility. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and one of the world’s leading relationship researchers, ( I bet she is the only one to call herself that) is in the same dark camp as the Open Minded app entrepreneur. She says in caveman days, humans teamed up in non-exclusive pairs to protect their children. Later, as people learned to plant crops and settle in one place, ” marriage became a way for men to guarantee kids, and for women – who couldn’t push heavy ploughs or carry loads of crops to market – to eat and keep a roof over their heads.”

So is Fisher seriously suggesting this is the only reason why people enter into relationships? What about love? And commitment? What about it ? says Fisher. There’s a long history of married men sleeping around, Fisher says. You can forget about romantic notions or thinking that relationships are anything other than transactions and the social expectation that both people partner for life, to the exclusion of everyone else. Is just that, an expectation.

In fact, given the history and prevalence of non-monogamous relationships throughout cultures, it’s not scientifically correct to say the human species mate or pair for life, Fisher says. Dogs mate for life. Beavers mate for life. Humans have one-night stands, lovers and a 50 per cent divorce rate.

Fisher dubs it a “dual reproductive strategy”: We’re biologically programmed to form pair-bonds, yes, but some people – many people – are also programmed to seek out variety.

I couldn’t possibly disagree more. Deep down human beings want romance in my view. They want something long lasting. They want friendship, companionship. Love. Yes they want sex. Don’t we all. But that comes at the end of the long chain of all of the other.

See I told you. I am a dinosaur.

Fifty Shades of Nothing A Path To Feminist Empowerment?

I think I am turning into a dreadful cynic.

But when you encounter a load of old tosh that people like Robin Rinaldi peddle as some kind of credible alternative thinking, I reckon you just have to call it for what it is. For those who might never have heard of Robin Rinaldi firstly, you aren’t missing much in the ideas department. There is nothing personal meant by this. It’s her ideas that are under the microscope here. For the sake of clarity, I should enlighten you on who she is. Robin Rinaldi is a journalist and a writer who just published a book called The Wild Oats Project. Now if you unravel the tortured logic which is the premise for this book, Rinaldi is saying that being childless and having promiscuous sex with a lot of different men and some women is an expression of her “femininity” and presumably every other woman who might follow her lead. Sorry I don’t buy it.

Apparently this all stems, or so Rinaldi tells us, from when as a young woman and newly engaged to a man called Scott, she visited a marriage guidance counsellor who in my opinion gave her really, really bad advice. Having said that, I secretly suspect Rinaldi would have charted the course she took irrespective of what anyone might have told her.

Rinaldi wanted children. Her husband to be did not. The marriage guidance counsellor told her: “ I don’t know whether you two will end up having kids. But my feeling, Robin, is that if you eventually want children badly enough, Scott will get on board.”

Funnily enough, Scott did not get on board at all with that idea. Not only did he not get on board, he also had a vasectomy just to make sure. It was then that Rinaldi decided, if she couldn’t have children, then she should at least have lots of sex with different men and women and sometimes men and women together. It doesn’t make any sense but that is what she did.

Now she told husband, Scott about this who, contrary to the reaction that most sane, sensible people might have, agreed to an open marriage for a year.

Let me just place it on the record. I not only understand, but concur with women who say they are completely fulfilled without becoming a mother. These women still have great careers, lives and relationships. Having children is not some necessary exercise in personal completion or wholeness. It is simply a choice. You do or you don’t. Clearly, Robin Rinaldi is not one of these women. For her not having a child has made her bitter, twisted and resentful. And Rinaldi makes no effort to conceal that resentment. She admits to doting on the children of relatives and friends even going to the extent of excusing herself from adult conversation just so that she can go and converse with kids. I don’t think you would be drawing a long bow to say that the Wild Oats project is her attempt at escaping the emptiness she feels at being childless. Instead she takes promiscuous sex as a source of comfort and calls it feminist empowerment.

Rinaldi, now aged 50, tells us that she always considered herself a ‘good girl’ and ‘pretty conservative.’ She had only slept with three other men before she met her husband.

“Sexually, I was experiencing what happens to a lot of women in their late 30s and early 40s … I was approaching my sexual peak and was relaxing into myself,” she told the New York Post. “As the door to motherhood closed, I found myself rushing towards this whole other outlet of heightened female experience – taking lovers,” she said. “I refuse to go to my grave with no children and only four lovers … If I can’t have one, I must have the other.”

Which begs the question why must you? I’m sorry but there is no way logically that this hangs together except in Rinaldi’s headspace.

Rinaldi says, at the start, she and her husband drew up rules for their so-called open marriage: they wouldn’t sleep with mutual friends, get into serious relationships or have unprotected sex. And they would only ever have three dates with each partner.Of course rules are meant to be broken and break them they did.

Under the terms of their agreement, Rinaldi rented an apartment Monday to Friday as a location for her various trysts. On the weekends she returned to her husband where they would live as a married couple without ever asking each other what they did while they were apart.

Rinaldi wrote how she started out by posting an online ad, entitled Good Girl Seeks Experience. In the ad, she wrote: ‘I’m a 44-year-old professional, educated, attractive woman in an open marriage, seeking single men age 35-50 to help me explore my sexuality.’

You can imagine the response. The next day, she had 23 offers.

She tells us her first encounter was with a 40-year-old lawyer, who she slept with in her apartment on the second date. Describing the night, she wrote: ‘We stumbled to the bed, where he turned me onto my hands and knees and took me from behind. ‘We had intercourse twice and, after he left, I felt satiated.’

Next she tried much younger men, and even describes texting her husband goodnight from a Las Vegas hotel room moments after a 23-year-old lover had left the room. Two of her 12 encounters were with women, one of which was a threesome. Describing another encounter, she writes about taking a newfound pleasure in fellatio, which she describes in lurid detail.

Needless to say this has nothing whatsoever to do with ‘feminist empowerment’ and everything to do with selling and marketing her book.

After a year of this, surprise, surprise the marriage to Scott disintegrated and they divorced. Rinaldi was contacted out of the blue, by one of her old lovers. who she says she is now living with in a monogamous relationship, if that can be believed. See, I told you I am a cynic.

Rinaldi writes and we are expected to believe that this experience has given her a new-found inner peace.

She writes: “I’m grateful I experienced my marriage to Scott … but now, for this part of my life, I believe being with someonewho is the most temperamentally like me is where I can learn more. As for not having children, I’m at peace with that, too. “First I channelled the creativity I would have used to become a mom into my sexuality, and then I channelled it into writing my memoir. As my story shows, there are many different ways in life to find passion and fulfillment…… I learned I didn’t need a man or a child in order to experience true womanhood.”

Hang on a minute. Let’s just retrace our steps here.

Rinaldi ends this book and her experience divorced, childless and in a relationship with one of the men she picked up and had an affair with along the way. How could that be described as a net gain? If anything she has gone backwards in terms of her innermost desire. She is never, ever going to have kids. And we are meant to believe this has given her a new found security? I say pull the other one.

If this is the path to enlightenment I am happy to remain in blissful ignorance. But I am not a woman so I don’t count. In any case I don’t think deep down Rinaldi believes any of it.

At the front of the book she dedicates her writing to “Ruby” the child she never had. I rest my case.

How To Find True Love On Tinder? Give Me A Break

I can’t really say I get Tinder. But I’m probably too old. On second thoughts, take out the probably. But I can’t deny that it’s an extraordinary social phenomenon. For a start, there are the stats. On Tinder, nearly 1 billion swipes occur every day from Sydney to New York … London to Tokyo. The dating game has changed inexorably. In fact one Tinder aficionado has written a book about the experience called SWIPE- The Game has Changed. The writer is a man. So it’s written from the male perspective. But when he says the dating game has changed, judging by his experiences, he is not kidding. He writes: “ my dating experiences have been nice – meeting lovely women who are smart, engaging, and filled with positive energy. It’s been naughty – from orgies to Fifty Shades-type encounters, I dipped my toes into the deep end, in between, there’s been tragic dates, new friends, and a bit of heartbreak.”

The writer then goes on to give chapter and verse from his ‘ weird, wild, and wonderful year on Tinder.”

What did he learn? Are you sitting down?

He learned that the smartphone apps like Tinder and OK Cupid have changed the dating game, and he ventures the opinion that human sexuality might have changed forever. That is a very big call, but he says, the evidence stacks up. He says that smartphones are 2015’s obligatory appendage, implying that the app dating single’s bar is open 24/7, it’s free, and everyone possessing one is invited to the party.

He says he also learned the dating world moves like a New York minute. In 2015, we live in a want it now culture. We want food, movies, information, porn, tickets, scores … and all of it, this minute. Make that this second. The writer says we swipe, match, and want to know right now if you want to date, have sex, or fall in love. And we want to meet … right now. Of course the ‘we’ is anyone in the age group 18 to 39.

Apparently, Tinder has dating rules. You’ve got 10 days from swipe match to meeting in person, or it’s not going to happen. And as tradition goes, a “pretty good” first date will land a second … But what’s different is that now, we are back on our phones swiping away on the cab ride home looking for the next “great” date.

Now I know what he means by a New York minute.

He says he also learned that the ‘three date’ rule is out. For those, like me, a bit slow on the uptake, he means sex. He says a week with a few dates turned into a few more dates that turned into a “ rock star-type experience of 18 orgasms … in a week. It was hedonistic. It was weird. It was too much.”

Probably.

Nikki Goldstein is a Doctor in Human Sexuality. She says we need to question whether the qualities we are using to quickly judge those we swipe on, are the right ones that should be used to find meaningful relationships or even casual sex. How much can you tell from a quick glance at a profile and a short drink before having sex with someone?

Again, I wouldn’t think you have to ponder too long or too deeply to answer that question.

“The dating world is so fast-paced and crowded that sex is no longer something to wait for,” Goldstein says. “ We want to know straight away if there is sexual compatibility and some women might also feel if they don’t act quickly on the sexual front they might lose to someone who will.”

The writer of his book SWIPE- The Game has Changed was so enamoured with this Tinder experience that he wants to share what he’s learned so that others will replicate his success. He’s developed a theory, don’t they all. It’s called the MISBAC Strategy. He doesn’t ever tell us what it stands for but he says it originated to solve app dating in much the way that he solved the PacMan puzzle as a child. He says armed with this strategy, it’s so much easier for men and women to meet up in person – whether you’re seeking a friend, a date, something naughty, or a relationship.

The author jokingly says he thought he’d be teaching finance at this age, but instead he’s mentoring men and women on MISBAC so their dating and sex lives are more fulfilling. I think what he really means is that what he’s doing now is lot more financially lucrative than teaching finance. Let’s face it anyone who can tell you how to go about having a successful relationship is going to make money. But parts of what he says I personally find a little unnerving. For example, he writes; “ I learned that Fifty Shades is, in reality, quite pale. There’s a whole new world of sex out there, and it’s a lot racier than porno-for-polo-mums at the cinema. Teens have turned into twentysomethings and grown up with porn as a means of sex education. Their dating lives and bedroom style would make Mr Grey tinkle in his suit. Ropes, toys, orgies, squirting, fisting, and “tromboning”. I did it all … starting with a swipe.”

He says he learned it’s easy come, easy go in The Age of Swipe.

That is not necessarily a good thing. In fact I know it isn’t.

He talks about a Tinder relationship he had that reads more like throwing away a disposable item. “ We had been dating for close to two months. A swish event at Sydney Opera House was our next date … then the email came. I was dumped and swiped left. It’s easy come, easy go, and we were both back online, swiping within days. We are all people with real, almost tangible feelings, yet we are all swipeable and oh so disposable.” Yep. There is that word again. Disposable. I’d like to know what happened to the getting to know one another and the journey that goes with it? That takes time and according to the writer there is no time.

He says: “ I learned to worry for the Generation Millennial. They will swipe their virginity away, apologise with a rose emoticon, declare their first “I love you” via text, and walk straight past a cute woman on the street because they are too busy swiping five on their smartphone.”

I’m sorry but this sounds like crazy talk to me. According to the Sex Doctor, Nikki Goldstein, “Going online to find love, sex and dates has opened up more possibilities and people, however tech dating is making us lazier and our communication skills are dwindling – things we actually need in relationships when we do get into them.”

At last, sanity prevails.

But according to our writer on Tinder who clearly wants to sell a lot of books, the Age of Swipe is here to stay, and it’s getting bigger. The good? he says, It’s so easy to meet somebody new. The bad? It shouldn’t be this easy to meet somebody new. He says society is at the dawn of a new beginning – the landscape for dating, sex, and relationships will change forever at the swipe of a smartphone app.

But here’s where the author gets a bit full of his own self-importance. He says: “ I wrote SWIPE not because my dating ups and downs are interesting (they are), but more because you can’t ask Dad or Grandpa the new, app dating rules. With SWIPE I hope to be that mentor, so people’s personal lives are more fulfilling.”

Give me a break. It’s superficial not fulfilling. It’s the self-fulfilling prophecy of ‘me.’ How is this going to affect me? How can I make this all about me? What is that person going to do for me? And if they don’t do enough for me, I’ll go and find someone who will and all I have to do is swipe my phone.

Well guess what? Having a successful relationship is give and take. In other words, if you want to take you also have to give. And you are never going to learn that from a smartphone app or reading a book about a year on Tinder.

Naming And Shaming On Social Media Can Cost You Plenty

Social media. What a revolution. Not a day goes past, without just about every one of us being on it, in one form or another. It helps us keep in touch, find love, get work, be empathetic to one another. No end to the possibilities. But like every rose it has its thorns. And people are just starting to understand the implications of what it means when things go horribly wrong on social media, especially in terms of issues like privacy and public shaming. But a recent case in an Australian court has provided some sort of clarity on one issue relating to personal privacy. A West Australian woman was awarded almost $50,000 in compensation from an ex-boyfriend who posted sexually explicit videos and photos of her on Facebook. It was a significant legal ruling on the law of personal privacy. The case involved a woman called Caroline Wilson, a fly-in, fly-out worker at Fortescue Metals Cloudbreak mine in the Pilbara in outback Western Australia. Fly-in workers originate from other parts of Australia but they are attracted by the high wages and superior working conditions offered by mining companies desperate for skilled labor.

Wilson took her ex-boyfriend and former colleague Neil Ferguson to court after he posted 16 photos and two videos of her on his Facebook page. The court was told that Ferguson posted the sexually explicit material after Wilson ended their relationship via a text message, which judging by his subsequent behaviour, was the least that Ferguson deserved. In a series of expletive-laden text messages to Wilson, Ferguson said the photos were “out for everyone to see … Can’twait to watch you fold as a human being.”

What a charmer.

Wilson, became aware of the posts after being told by friends around 5.20pm on August 5, 2013. And they were subsequently deleted around 7pm after she begged Ferguson to remove them. Wilson’s lawyer, argued his client was entitled to an injunction under the law of breach of confidence to restrain Ferguson from re-posting the material, along with compensation for loss of wages, embarrassment and distress.

According to legal experts, there are very few Australian cases where a plaintiff, in a breach of confidence case, is entitled to compensation for emotional distress, as opposed to economic loss. The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) released a report in June setting out elements of a potential civil action for serious invasions of privacy that would allow damages to be awarded for emotional distress. However, the Australian Government does not support the new law. The ALRC also said it was “desirable” for Parliament to “clarify the courts’ powers to award compensation for emotional distress” in breach of confidence cases.

What was really interesting about the case was what the judge said: “By posting the photographs and videos on his Facebook page, the defendant made them available to his approximately 300 ‘Facebook friends’, many of whom worked at Cloudbreak.”

The judge referred to a 2008 Victorian Court of Appeal decision, Giller v Procopets, in which a woman won compensation for emotional distress after her former partner distributed copies of sexually explicit videotapes of the couple. The judge said this was the only case he could find in which a superior court in Australia had grappled with the same issues. He also made the important observation that the events in the Giller v Procopets case took place in 1996, but technological advancements had “dramatically increased the ease and speed” of disseminating images and other material.

And that is an extremely important distinction. If anything, it makes the transgression far worse, than it might have been in the past, in terms of dissemination.

The judge ruled that Wilson was entitled to an injunction and $48,404 in compensation, including $35,000 for emotional distress and $13,404 for loss of wages while on leave. Ferguson was sacked from his job as a result of the incident. Quite frankly, it’s hard to feel any sympathy for him.

As you might expect, this case has the legal fraternity in a tizz. Associate Professor ,David Rolph, a media law expert at the University of Sydney Law School, said the case “indicates that breach of confidence might provide a remedy for addressing a lot of personal privacy concerns”. But he noted that applying existing causes of action to new situations that do not “ fit neatly” may distort the law and have unintended consequences. “My own view is that if privacy is a value that’s worth protecting it’s worth protecting directly and we should think about that in a broader, more comprehensive way,” he said.

A legal precedent has been established. The law has dealt fairly severely in a social media case of naming and shaming. Hopefully it will make potential future perpetrators think twice about indulging in similar behaviour. We can but hope.

Happy Valentine’s Day Means Getting Rid Of Hair Down There

It’s Valentine’s Day. I like to think of myself as liberal and tolerant. Ready to embrace the new and the different. I’ve discovered VD clearly means a lot of different stuff to very different people. Not just flowers, chocolates and a nice dinner in a fancy restaurant. So I guess that explains if not accounts for some of the strange rituals performed in celebration of the day. Or not. Mmmm. Maybe not. Let’s just call them strange and leave it at that. This is definitely bizarre. Quivering with anticipation and ready to emerge from hibernation, after yet another long, cold winter, millions of Americans, apparently, have engaged in, what can loosely be described, as a thinning of their nether regions. We are told by reliable sources, that this is a ritual as old as time itself. But this year’s pubis shearing is expected to be among the largest and most bountiful in decades, with more than 20,000 tons of short and curlies shorn by Feb. 14.

“My boyfriend and I are going to see, As You Like It, and then enjoy a nice candlelit three-course dinner,” said Brooklyn resident Lydia Simonson, who, along with her fellow Americans across the country, will prepare for Valentine’s Day by carefully crafting or thinning their pubis. She, along with many other hopeful VD lovers, will soon excuse themselves from their daily grind and retreat to a nearby bathroom, to tend to their lady garden. “It’s going to be so romantic,” Simonson said.

Funny, I don’t see the connection. But, what would I know?

Imagine, tiny scissors and electric razors flying off drugstore shelves, while all across the country legs dangle precariously over open bathtub drains. According to statistics from the National Depilatory Council, (yes there is such a body) the week before Valentine’s Day is by far the busiest time of the year for shaving, trimming, sculpting, playful pattern-making, waxing, and even ‘manscaping’, the genitalia. I am pretty sure ‘manscaping’ means making it pleasant for a man to look at.

Whoa.

Let me butt in here and give my twenty cents worth. Call me old fashioned but I prefer women to look exactly as nature intended. If you happen to be hairy downstairs so be it, I say. Consider it to be part of your personality. And if anyone should dare offer criticism, tell em to shove it. Anyway, back to the topic at hand. “David and I are going to take a long walk around the park and then maybe on the way home we’ll stop and grab some ice cream,” said Julie Stibbons, a Dallas-area design consultant who recently made use of grooming shears, a pair of tweezers, and two magnifying mirrors to contribute her 0.4 ounces to the nation’s total raw hairscape. “I wonder if David will send me flowers at work like last year, Stibbons said, whose smooth vaginal region will show no signs of stubble for days, if not weeks to come, “He’s just so wonderful.”

While this year’s pubis shaving promises to be prolific, experts say the United States and much of the Western world has undergone many personal grooming phases over the years. In 1947, the first year that records were kept, Americans only mowed about 1.25 tons off their “genital lawns,” while in the mid-1970s private edging was so rare that documentation had to actually be abandoned until 1981. But with the booming economy of the 1990s, the U.S. suddenly saw smooth as the way to be, for men and women and, as VD approached, a huge resurgence in both shearing, plucking and waxing.

Not lyrically I should hasten to add.

“There’s a huge spike every year in the first half of February,” said Brooks Watson, head of sales at Schick, makers of the TrimStyle razor for women. “The rest of the year, Americans generate about 50,000 tons of total trimmings, but in the week before this special holiday we see a massive jump. It’s a veritable clear-cutting down there.”

I would offer the observation that the only element missing is for someone to yell timber.

According to Schick’s marketing research, during the VD season, American pubic hair removal rates briefly approach those of Brazil, traditionally the smoothest country on the planet. While Americans seem willing to slash and burn it all off for their annual celebratory day of romance, personal trimming still varies by the season, and plummets to levels almost as low as Greece during the week of Thanksgiving. And believe it or not, there are some Americans willing to talk about it. Publicly I mean. “If I trim the shrubs, the tree looks bigger,” said Jeremy Wertz, resident of Boise, Idaho, standing in front of his hall mirror with a pair of scissors “See? Worth the itching, if you ask me.

Actually, Jeremy, we didn’t ask but thanks for telling us anyway, While many consider the practice a time-honored tradition, not all Americans share Wertz’s enthusiasm.

Thank God.

“I’m not going to let corporate America dictate the date or time at which I choose to groom my genitals,” said Denver resident Marcus Shannon, adding that Valentine’s Day was “invented by the razor industry” to sell grooming devices. If the truth be known, VD was invented to simply sell, per se.

Again, according to that august body, the National Depilatory Council, the nationwide surge in concern for matters follicle,  is understandable, However, spokesperson, Donna Spaulding, urged caution. “We all want to look good and feel desirable, but it’s important to keep things in perspective,” Spaulding said. “In the end, you want people to love your pubic region for what’s inside, not just for how it looks.” Donna, how right you are.

But if that isn’t enough to make you want to leave things alone down there, how about some good, old-fashioned fear. Genital injuries have increased five fold over the past decade due to our propensity to shave the nether regions. According to a study by the University of California, the majority of injuries involved razors. And get this. In 2009, the State of New Jersey even considered, but later abandoned, the idea of banning bikini line waxing after two women were infected, and hospitalized, in a Brazilian waxing that went wrong. According to at least one American GP, pubic hair serves a purpose. When pubic hair is removed, it causes tiny wounds that can become breeding grounds for bacteria. Having it is a sign of our entry into adulthood and should cause neither shame nor embarrassment. Amen or Awomen to that.

Death Us Do Part, But Only If I Know All Of Your Secrets And Lies

Every now and again, I get reminded of what a strange, strange, world we live in. Mad even. Hollywood once made a very funny (I thought it was hilarious) movie called: It’s a mad, mad world. It shows how a bunch of strangers can, through the right set of circumstances, behave completely irrationally and out of character or simply show their true nature. Take your pick. In truth it’s probably a bit of both. And once the dye is cast there is no end to the madness.

These days, social media seems to act like a full moon and make people do things they wouldn’t normally do. Here are the latest pieces of insanity currently in vogue. As you might expect, it’s got a lot to do with men and women getting together. But first we must ask the leading question: How well do you know your significant other? It’s a question having a major effect on how we shape our dating experience. People are using web searches and social media to investigate a person’s history before they even go on first date. A recent survey discovered that information from Facebook is now being used in a third of all divorce cases as well. With social media we can discover all sorts of information about another person such as previous employment, old flames, school sports teams and last week’s embarrassing party photos. But getting back to the question: How well do you know your significant other? The answer is not very well at all according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal. In fact, the information gap is so alarming for some, that they are employing, wait for it, private investigators to look into the background of their significant other before contemplating a tying of the knot. According to the report, private investigators across the Unites States are saying that business is booming in recent years from clients who basically “ want their sweethearts investigated for potentially deal breaking habits and secrets.”

You might think it a little strange that this trend is taking off now. After all, we seem to know more about a potential spouse now than ever before. But one reason might have something to do with what I would call perverse psychology. One private investigator told the Wall Street Journal that all of this available data is actually inciting people into seeking even more information: “What they are getting is just enough information to make them curious.”

But it’s not just the availability of information about a partner’s past that is fuelling this trend. It’s also because these days, many of us seem to have more of a past worth investigating. “In a world where people are taking longer to get married, and accumulating more relationship baggage, I think many adults today are understandably nervous about going ahead with a major relationship commitment or engagement,” says Brad Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project. He notes that given this long pathway that men and women are taking to marriage, “it’s no surprise that people are hiring private detectives or other services to look into their partner’s background.”

According to the Wall Street Journal report, while some of us may think that being choosy about who to marry and therefore trying out multiple long term relationships will help to make us as sure as we can be about the person we eventually settle down with, the opposite may be true. The more relationships we have before marriage, the more likely we are to cheat on a spouse. The report says having all these relationships (and getting to watch on Facebook the lives of the ones who got away) only makes it harder not easier to reach a decision about who to marry. It’s an interesting perspective. The report goes on to say that once we marry, it can have the effect of making us less satisfied with our choice. We crave more and more information in order to be sure we’ve found Mr. or Mrs. Right, but how much is too much? Don’t we already have enough background to judge whether our partner is the one? After all, two thirds of couples who married in 2012, lived together for more than two years before they walked down the aisle. We already know our partner’s preferences when it comes to everything, especially their favourites, from brand of toothpaste to sexual positions. So what’s left? A lot, as it turns out. One relationship expert researching a book on interfaith marriage, was surprised to learn that more than half of the couples didn’t talk about how they wanted to raise their children before they sealed the deal (and that was just among the ones who already had kids).

She wrote: “ How is it possible that in all the deep, late night conversations that led you to believe this person was your soul mate you never got around to ( talking about) faith and family? “

So is it all about having the right conversation and asking the right questions of each other? The report goes on to say that the information gap is not limited to religion. It also concerns finances. In her book, The Starter Marriage And The Future of Matrimony, Pamela Paul wrote about couples who failed to reveal to each other that they had major financial debts. One woman neglected to tell her husband that, for a number of years, she earned no income and her father was paying all of her expenses. How does this kind of information, you might ask, just slip through the cracks in long term relationships? According to the experts, for one thing, we don’t often get the right input from our family and community when it comes to significant others. In her book, Pamela Paul reports, that “all the divorcees (she) interviewed said their parents gave them no direction about marriage beyond telling them upon their engagement it’s as long as you’re happy.”  And as much as we might think living together is the ultimate test for whether a relationship will succeed, the reality of the matter may be completely different. According to these experts it is very easy to live under the same roof with someone and not have any conversations about planning for the future. You can chat endlessly about who leaves dirty laundry on the floor or whether they’ve ever mopped a kitchen floor but what about having the serious chats about finances or children? Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist, recently told the Atlantic magazine, that “Living together doesn’t charm or doom you; it is not whether you live with your partner as much as how you live with your partner.” She added, “I am not against living together, but I am for, young adults being more aware that it is an arrangement that has upsides and downsides.” One of the downsides is surely that cohabitation often gives people the illusion of true intimacy while at the same time allowing partners to conceal the most important pieces of information. But, is hiring a private Investigator really the solution to discovering this kind of information? You could always try being a bit more of an open book. You might also find you achieve the same result without the aggravation or the expense.