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.

Can You Fall In Love With Anyone? Answer 36 Questions

Occasionally, I like to dabble in what I call pop psychology. The latest fads or trends or theories offered to explain away why human beings do certain things. The weirder the theory the better it is from my point of view. With that in mind, something interesting crossed my desk, and could not be allowed to go un-noticed. It was weird enough, without being over the top. Nothing that was going to change the world, but it could provide a valuable insight into why we do what we do as people.

Kind of.

To put this into context, it all stems from a social experiment performed by New York psychologist, Arthur Aron, in 1997. Aron reasoned that human beings could be engineered to fall in love with anyone. Then he set out to prove his theory by conducting a study called The Experimental Generation Of Interpersonal Closeness. It sounds like a very self-important study title but basically it boils down to pairing up a couple of complete strangers. For his purposes, Aron selected a heterosexual man and woman. But there is no good reason to think that it wouldn’t apply to a same sex couple. He than gave them three quarters of an hour to answer 36 specific questions which gradually grew more progressively intimate. The questions ranged from, would you like to be famous? To, what if anything is too serious to be joked about? Aron wanted to see if closeness and intimacy could be created, in an experimental environment. After answering the quiz, the couple then had to stare into each other’s eyes, for four minutes, in total silence. Guess what? It worked. Yep, the man and woman who walked into his lab complete strangers, through separate doors, left together and fell in love. Six months later, they were married and all of the scientists in Aron’s laboratory were invited to the wedding.

Now I know what you’re thinking. This sounds like a load of malarkey. I might have been tempted to agree with you. Even if you accept that everything happened, as it was said to have happened, this was more to do with being a random, one off occurrence. The kind of experiment that could never be repeated in the real world. Lightning never strikes twice in the same place. Right?

Well, here’s where the story gets kind of interesting. Eighteen years later, along comes Mandy Len Catron, writer of the popular, Modern Love column, in the New York Times newspaper. She knew of Aron’s study. It crossed her mind as well, as to whether the result was a one off that could never be repeated. It occurred to Catron, that the only way of really answering that question was to replicate the study. But Catron’s twist is that she would be one of the participants along with a complete stranger. so that is what she did. At the end of her experiment, Catron wrote about what happened, so with a bit of judicious paraphrasing on my part I will let her tell the story. But, before we get into the details, I should point out a couple of disclaimers, relating to the Catron experiment. Firstly, it turns out that Catron’s ‘complete stranger’ wasn’t a completely complete stranger if you get my meaning. She says that they were University acquaintances who would occasionally meet at the climbing gym. Catron admits that at one time she thought there might have been a romantic possibility but it never came to anything. This was going to be the first time that the two of them would hang out together, as it were, to see what happened. Secondly, Catron first read of Aron’s study in the middle of a relationship breakup.  She says: “ Each time I thought of leaving, my heart overruled my brain. I felt stuck. So, like a good academic, I turned to science, hoping there was a way to love smarter.”

So Catron was not exactly in a fit state of mind to be objective about the whole romance thing. In fact there might even be an element of wishful thinking, on her part, for a positive out come. I am not accusing her of anything. I am simply pointing out she was in a vulnerable state of mind. At the very least she would have been open to the possibility of having a relationship as a result of doing the experiment. Then again aren’t we all if we actively desire to be in a relationship? Anyway let’s give her the benefit of the doubt.

Catron says she happened to mention the Aron study to that University acquaintance I mentioned previously, more than likely when they were climbing a rock wall together. She told him of how Aron had engineered a heterosexual man and woman to enter his laboratory through separate doors, sit face-to-face, and answer a series of increasingly personal questions. Then they stared intently into each others’ eyes etc etc. Which prompted her University acquaintance to say: “ Let’s try it.”

Of course, Catron’s experiment was not an exact duplication of the Aron study. For a start, she and her ‘stranger’ met in a bar not a laboratory. Catron then googled Aron’s 36 questions and the two of them spent the next two hours passing an iphone across the table posing each question.

Caton recalls the questions began fairly innocuously. Would you like to be famous? In what way? When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else? But then they began to get more intimate. But this is where it gets a bit Mills and Boonish to be honest. Catron says she asked her acquaintance: Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common? “To which he replied: I think we are both interested in each other.”

Catron writes she” grinned and gulped her beer as he listed two more commonalities I then promptly forgot. We exchanged storiesabout the last time we each cried, and confessed the one thing we’d like to ask a fortuneteller. We explained our relationships with our mothers.”

Catron writes the questions reminded her of the infamous boiling frog experiment where the frog doesn’t feel the water getting hotter until it’s too late. Then quite poignantly, she says “With us, because the level of vulnerability increased gradually, I didn’t notice we had entered intimate territory until we were already there, a process that can typically take weeks or months.I liked learning about myself through my answers, but I liked learning things about him even more.”

In a moment of self candour, Catron says she and her acquaintance were so absorbed in their conversation, they had not even noticed that the bar, which was empty when they arrived, had filled up by the time they paused for a bathroom break.

Catron writes: “ We all have a narrative of ourselves that we offer up to strangers and acquaintances, but Dr. Aron’s questions make it impossible to rely on that narrative. Ours was the kind of accelerated intimacy I remembered from summer camp, staying up all night with a new friend, exchanging the details of our short lives. At 13, away from home for the first time, it felt natural to get to know someone quickly. But rarely does adult life present us with such circumstances.”

Catron says the moments she found the most uncomfortable, in her experiment, were not the ones where she had to confess something about herself, but when she was forced to express an opinion about her partner. For example there was the question: Alternate, sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner a total of five items? and Tell your partner what you like about them and be very honest. This time saying things you might not say to someone you’ve just met?

Catron has a point. The questions are pretty out there and most people would struggle with the answers.

As Catron observes the majority of Aron’s research focuses on creating interpersonal closeness, investigating the ways in which we incorporate others into our sense of self. She says it makes it easy to see how the questions encourage what Aron called ‘self expansion,’ prompting answers such as , “I like your voice, your taste in beer, the way all your friends seem to admire you.” Catron writes what it does, is instantly make certain positive qualities belonging to one person, explicitly valuable to the other.

As Catron observes: “ It’s astounding, really, to hear what someone admires in you. I don’t know why we don’t go around thoughtfully complimenting one another all the time.”

Which brings us to the sixty four million dollar question: What was the outcome of the Catron experiment? Did it result in true love ever after? Or, just a night of passion and then see you later? It’s only fair to allow Catron to have the final word. However I really do think she has read one too many Mills and Boon books ; “We finished at midnight, taking far longer than the 90 minutes for the original study. Looking around the bar, I felt as if I had just woken up. “That wasn’t so bad,” I said. “Definitely less uncomfortable than the staring into each other’s eyes part would be. “ He hesitated and asked. “Do you think we should do that, too?””Here?” I looked around the bar. It seemed too weird, too public.”We could stand on the bridge,” he said, turning toward the window. “The night was warm and I was wide-awake. We walked to the highest point, then turned to face each other. I fumbled with my phone as I set the timer. “OK,” I said, inhaling sharply. “OK,” he said, smiling.

Ok. Now prepare yourself for the next bit because Catron lays it on with a trowel.

“I’ve skied steep slopes and hung from a rock face by a short length of rope, “ Catron writes. “But staring into someone’s eyes for four silent minutes was one of the more thrilling and terrifying experiences of my life.  “I know the eyes are the windows to the soul or whatever, but the real crux of the moment was not just that I was really seeing someone, but that I was seeing someone really seeing me. “

Please forgive if I sound churlish. I don’t mean to be mean. Catron deserves much credit for having the courage to become the guinea pig in this experiment. She writes: “What I like about (Aron”s) study is how it assumes that love is an action. It assumes that what matters to my partner, also matters to me, because we have at least three things in common, because we have close relationships with our mothers, and because he let me look at him.  I wondered what would come of our interaction. If nothing else, I thought it would make a good story. But I see now that the story isn’t about us; it’s about what it means to bother to know someone, which is really a story about what it means to be known.”

Catron says Aron’s study taught her that it’s possible and pretty simple to generate trust and intimacy, the two feelings required for love to grow. Now I know you are itching to know, did it result in the two of them becoming an item? The answer is yes. Not quite wedding bells but they are in a relationship. So, has the Aron experiment, times two, answered some age old question? Can we indeed fall in love with anyone given the right circumstances? Maybe. A strike rate of two out of two ain’t bad.

Can You Actually Die Of A Broken Heart? Answer Might Surprise You

I was aghast the other day. Now there’s a word I bet you haven’t heard in a long time. Significantly aghast is how I would describe it. The same sort of aghast I had, as a child, when I discovered evidence that questioned the existence of Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. When I look back in hindsight, I was definitely sold a pup on the Easter Bunny. Seriously though, a bunny that delivers chocolate eggs at Easter? Pull the other one. But as for the two other so called myths, there was no way they could be anything other than the real deal. I mean how else do you explain all those presents at the bottom of my bed on Christmas morning? And being left a pile of silver coins, just because some baby tooth fell out, come on, that has to be magic, right?

So what triggered a revisit to painful memories of what I thought was true at the time, that later turned out to be something else entirely? I was reading a story about the commonly used expression: they died of a broken heart. Call me naïve but I always genuinely thought, that dying of a broken heart, was just a metaphor for being profoundly unhappy. You can’t really die of a broken heart can you? I mean that couldn’t possibly be a recognised medical condition? . Wrong again. Turns out that you can not only die of a broken heart it is also a physiological condition with a medical explanation.

Before we get into the medical explanation part, what really got me thinking about this topic was a series of stories I’d read about couples, married for 60 years or more, who die within minutes or hours or days of one another. I know what you’re thinking. Pure coincidence. But it happens too often to be so easily explained away. Take the case of Ohio couple, Ruth and Harold Knapke who met in the third grade and continued a torrid love affair for the next 66 years. They both died on the same day, Ruth aged 89 and Harold aged 91 just 11 days shy of their wedding anniversary. Their children firmly believe the timing was no coincidence. “When it became clear that Mom was dying — and Dad understood that — he spent a mostly sleepless night,” their daughter Margaret Knapke said. “The next day, Friday, there was a certain calm about him, and he began to fail rapidly. Dad died 11 hours before Mom did — both of them on Sunday — and we believe he did that as final act of love for her. We believe he wanted to accompany her out of this life and into the next one, and he did.”

This is by no means the only story. High school sweethearts, Les and Helen Brown were born on the same day and died one day apart after 75 years of marriage. Pennsylvania couple, James and Marjorie Landis died 88 minutes apart after 65 years of marriage, and Iowa couple Gordon and Norma Yeager died one hour apart, holding hands after 72 years of marriage. Gordon Yeager, 94, and his wife Norma, 90, left for a shopping trip into town but they never arrived at their destination. A car accident sent the couple to the hospital emergency room and intensive care unit with broken bones and other injuries. But, even in the hospital, their concerns were for each other. “She was saying her chest hurt and what’s wrong with Dad? said the couple’s son, Dennis Yeager.  ” Even lying there like that, she was worried about Dad, and his back was hurting but he was asking about Mom.”

When it became clear that their respective medical conditions were not improving, the couple moved into a room with beds side-by-side where they could be close together. They held hands; his right hand in her left hand. Gordon Yeager died at 3:38 p.m. He was no longer breathing, but his family, were surprised by what Gordon’s heart monitor continued to show. Even though he was dead, the monitor said his heart was still beating. A hospital staff member explained to them that Norma’s heartbeat was being picked up because she was holding her husband’s hand. “And we thought, ‘Oh my gosh, Mom’s heart is beating through him,'” Dennis Yeager said. “Dad used to say that a woman is always worth waiting for. He waited an hour and held the door for her.”

As I mentioned earlier, there is a proper medical name and explanation for this condition dealing with affairs of the heart. It’s called Takotsubo cardiomyopathy or Broken Heart Syndrome. The condition nearly always follows a traumatic emotional loss, such as death of a spouse, parent or child and it primarily affects women. It causes chest pain and sudden heart failure, believed to be brought on by a surge of fight or flight hormones. The good news is patients with the condition tend to recover faster than most other patients with heart problems. And if they manage to survive the initial onset, it almost never recurs. But there are plenty of examples of Broken Heart Syndrome causing both severe, short-term heart muscle failure and ultimately death for the sufferer.

And if you still don’t think Broken Heart Syndrome is real, there is additional science to shine even more light on the phenomenon. In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe, decided to examine whether stress can actually contribute to illness. They surveyed more than 5,000 medical patients and asked them to say whether they had experience of any of a series of 43 life events, the psychiatrists identified, that might have occurred in the previous two years. The respondents, who took part in the study, listed the death of a spouse as the most stressful life event a person can experience. Of course stress can cause physical ailments especially to the heart, and the physical and emotional consequences of severe grief can sometimes be more than the heart can physically cope with.

Medical research has discovered that in some cases, one person’s heartbeat can affect, or regulate, the heartbeat of another person, quite possibly by acting as a type of life support. In one such study, at the Institute of HeartMath in Boulder Creek, California, scientists looked at what happens to the hearts of six couples,’ in long term relationships, while they slept. Heart-rate monitors revealed that during the night, as the couple slept beside each other, their heart rhythms fell into synchronisation, rising and falling at the same time. When the printouts of their heart rate monitors were placed on top of each other, they looked virtually identical.

“When people are in a relationship for 20, 30, 40, 50 years, they create a sort of  co-energetic resonance with each other,” one of the scientists involved in the study said. “A simple analogy is two tuning forks, put next to each other. They create a co-resonant pitch.” Another scientist put it a different way: “ It’s about connection. For many people their spouse represents their greatest sense of connection to this world.”

Can someone die of a broken heart? Absolutely.

Mormon Women Who Marry Gay Husbands- Guess What? No Problem

Those Mormons are at it again. But, I don’t want this to sound like I’m against religion in general and Mormons in particular. I’m not. Each to their own, I say. But surely there must be something in the water in Utah to give rise to so much random out thereness that I feel like giving all of them a good shake and saying enough is enough.

This latest escapade, is being driven by, what I would describe, as that well known suppository for mindless entertainment that masquerades as The Learning Channel. TLC, is about to screen yet another documentary blockbuster called My Husband’s Not Gay. It focuses on three Mormon couples and their ‘unconventional’ marriages. By unconventional I mean, the couples are supposedly happily married but the husbands all profess to having homosexual feelings and desires.

At one point in the documentary, we see two of the couples, on a double date, sitting in a French restaurant and enjoying animated conversation. The mood lightens considerably when a male waiter approaches the table. It’s the husbands and not the wives who start to flirt with him suggestively, joking that he must have milked the goat by hand to make the cheese for their salads. Please.

We see one of the husband’s gushing on camera, he’s such a good looking guy to which one of the wives jokingly suggests are we going home together or what? The only thing we don’t see is maybe one of the husband’s asking for the waiter’s phone number. But of course nothing of the kind happens.On camera.

The Learning Channel, as you might expect, has been the recipient of a significant backlash from gay rights groups who say the documentary “ promotes the false and dangerous idea that gay people can and choose to be straight in order to be part of the faith of the Mormon church.”

In other words, the program reflects Mormonism’s deeply rooted homophobia.

More than 73 thousand people have signed a petition calling for the documentary to be cancelled.

Let’s have a go at deconstructing this.

The husbands readily admit to being sexually attracted to men yet deny they have ever acted on their impulses. And in their own curious fashion, they term this aspect of their personalities as ‘same sex attraction’ or SSA rather than being gay or bisexual. Don’t forgot you can only be called that, according to them, if you act on your impulses and they haven’t, you’ll be pleased to know, if you choose to believe them. They claim their wives stand by them 100 percent and that their marriages have not only produced children but plenty of action in the bedroom. Too much information if you ask me. They say their marriages are stronger because they acknowledge the issue rather than sweep it under the carpet.

They also insist that their arrangement follows the beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints which, of course, proclaims that the ‘only acceptable expression of sexuality and romantic feelings is within a marriage between a man and woman.” According to church gospel, only heterosexual unions should lead to the birth of children.

As one of the couples, points out in the documentary, the church of the Latter Day Saints teaches that behaviour is choice. Choosing to act on these feelings is wrong within marriage but having those feelings? Not so much. As one sage like observer pointed out, as long as men in the Mormon church don’t actively seek out relationships with other guys and cheat on their wives then Jesus is cool with it.

The couples say the main foundations of their relationship is they have no secrets.

As one of the husbands said: “Other people might look at us from the outside and say: ‘That’s unusual’. But to us, it’s not a big deal and just part of the way we live our lives. My wife and I love each other and our son very much, and that’s what counts.”

One of the other couples featured in the documentary claims the husband, finally had the courage to reveal his SSA, 15 years into their 20-year marriage, but the revelation has only brought them closer.

“When he first told me, it was very upsetting and confusing, the wife said. She describes their relationship as a journey. “And I didn’t know who to talk to at the time “But because I love him so much, I never once considered divorce. I knew there was a way for us to work through it. And we did. Now I think my husband and I have a better sex life than any of our straight friends that we know.”

“I love and trust him completely,” she said although she admitted to now knowing her husband did have relationships with other men before coming clean about his sexuality. “And, depending on their ages, our kids [ages nine through 16] know about the SSA to varying degrees. They love and support their dad, and realise that people don’t have to be perfect to be loved by God.”

Many outside the Mormon SSA community might wonder how such marriages can possibly survive. Me included. But New York psychologist Dr Gilda Carle believes they can survive as long as both sides understand each other and observe certain boundaries. “It’s the year 2015 and there is no one size fits all,” says Carle, the author of 15 relationship books. “We learn to live with each other’s idiosyncrasies when we love another person. Love and marriage are not just about a penis and a vagina. It’s about a connection of souls, faith, family and children. And these couples appear to share an extraordinary trust and openness. Every study shows those are the keys to lasting human relationships.”

She does warn, however, that it’s only strong women, secure in their own identity, who can deal with the implications of a husband with SSA.

“Any wife who is wishy-washy about her own sexuality, or ability to understand a guy with these urges, does not belong in one of these relationships,” Carle says.

On the show, one couple turns out to be the most forthcoming about their sex life, revealing: “There have been periods in our marriage where I knew that the attraction wasn’t there. But thankfully, we’ve moved beyond that.”

The wife admits that after they wed and when their relationship finally became physical, she was the most concerned about intimacy issues.

“The first thing that went through my mind was, ‘Will he be attracted to me?

“At the same time, though, it was, ‘Well, at least he doesn’t have anybody else to compare me to!’” During their nine-year marriage and with the help of counselling, she says she has become increasingly secure in herself and the lifestyle they lead as a couple. “I feel frustrated when people don’t understand ….and when they question whether he is living up to his identity. “I know that he has made the choice that is most true to himself.” Yeah right.

Sorry but I don’t believe a single word of it. There is only one way this is going to end. Everybody in tears.You can live in denial but it is not a river in Egypt and  I wouldn’t recommend it. I just wish people could accept that love is love irrespective of gender, race or creed. What a pity I won’t have the chance to sign that petition.

Did You Know It’s Hot To Stare

Sometimes I have been known to write about sex. It could be because I am a depraved and dirty old man who likes to get his jollies off writing something salacious. Or (the real reason) sex is a natural part of life and anything that is going to make it better for everyone is worth talking about.

For example, did you know that more eye contact improves your sex life? I read a clever line the other day on the topic. When it comes to love and sex, the eyes have it. But how we eye one another off these days, is not so good. In fact, if the truth was known it is nonexistent. We seem to have lost the art of creating a lasting impression because we have become too scared to stare. We don’t look at each other anymore.

I mean, do you make a point of establishing and holding eye contact when you flirt? How often do you make eye contact with your significant other? Most importantly, how often do you make eye contact when you are doing the business? The answer is probably rarely, if at all.

Speaking of probables. On the balance of probabilities those who are looking for love are exercising their pupils far more than those already partnered up. In other words, if you are already spoken for, the look of love doesn’t involve much looking anymore. There could be a multitude of reasons for this. But I am suggesting just one. We don’t have time for the look of love because we are too busy looking at other stuff. Like smart phones, tablets, computer screens and porn. Yes porn. It’s instantly available and you are carrying its downloadable potential on portable devices every day.

A columnist took on this issue the other day. She suggested we stop mooning around (her words) at these “mirrors of self reflection” and start “turning back to the proverbial soul windows of the people we are actually with.”

She went on to suggest a mighty good reason for doing so. Recent research suggests we are having sex less often. This research says it’s because, thanks to the internet, we are having sex under the shadow of a new form of performance anxiety which, as the theory goes, owes its existence to the newly found, easily accessible, porn industry.

I certainly don’t want this to sound judgmental. This theory could be true or not but whatever you might think you’d have to admit it’s pretty interesting. The theory says that thanks to the porn industry and cheaper, faster, internet speeds, we’re now really familiar with how people look when they are having sex. We know how to perform when we’re having sex, what faces to make, what positions to adopt, what sounds to make and the list goes on.

But there is a downside. While we are looking at these people banging their bits together we might also notice that rarely are they looking at each other. In fact the eyes have it when it comes to the only contact not being made. Of course it could be argued they don’t have to. We are talking flesh not feelings. Why waste time with a loving gaze, when all eyes are on the money shot figuratively and metaphorically speaking?

But are we truly missing out?

Maybe.

Good sex is about good connection. Connected sex isn’t sex at all. It’s called love. And isn’t love making what we need more of because it is truly satisfying? And it certainly doesn’t happen if at no point are you looking into the face of someone, if you’ll pardon the pun, that your connected to.

That columnist, who I mentioned, points out  that only when you’ve felt the rush of connectivity from looking into the proverbial soul-windows of your partner, will you know the sheer bliss of soul-rocking sex. It’s probably overstating it a tad. But it has the ring of truth. She says the power of a stare shared between two soul mates is stunning. It shines with a new brilliance once that gaze has been raised, and met. That’s where the understanding and the joy and the truth comes from. That’s where good sex – and a good relationship – begins.

She says it takes courage to make and maintain eye contact, especially when it comes to the risky, run of romance. But reward comes with effort and fortune favours the brave. So it might pay to do what scares us sometimes, even if that scary thing is as simple as looking into the eyes of the person you’re talking to, whispering to, or undressing.

I’ll shut up now.

Let’s Talk About SEX

Lately I’ve been blogging a bit about sex. Which is a bit of a worry. It normally isn’t my thing. Talking about it I mean. There is something wildly inappropriate about a middle-aged man, speaking of things that are best left said and done in private. When you get to my age you need to be occupying your time thinking of wholesome pursuits like lawn bowls. But I blame all the bizarre stories that keep popping up.

Let me give you a for instance. The vaginal orgasm, does not, cannot exist. Bet you didn’t know that? Women do not ejaculate, and the G-spot named after eminent gynaecologist, Doctor Ernst Grafenberg should be renamed the F-spot. That’s F for fantasy.

As one wag observed, these final, anti-climactical words are contained in a controversial paper published in the latest journal, Clinical Anatomy.

The researchers from the Italian Centre For Sexology, which sounds like something you’d find in a Fellini movie, claim that the only way a woman can climax is through clitoral stimulation. Vaginal orgasm has no scientific basis and in any case, the concept is a Sigmund Freud invention.

The researchers conclude female orgasm is possible for all women, always with effective stimulation of the female erectile organs.

Phew. I’m glad of that. They had me worried.

But not all sexual health professionals are happy with that ending.

For example, Kayt Sukel, author of Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex and Relationships, says the researchers who wrote this paper have got it wrong.

While anatomy might be important, sexual response is more than just the sum total of our nether regions. She says the researchers do not explain why some women can’t climax even with sufficient clitoral stimulation while others are capable of reaching orgasm in the absence of it.

Kayt Sukel says this study doesn’t take into account other studies, outside of anatomy, that have examined the vagus nerve, the role that the brain plays in orgasm and how direct cervical stimulation can lead to orgasm in paralyzed women.

In their paper, the researchers from the Italian Centre For Sexology make another controversial point. They argue that because the clitoris, the female equivalent to the male penis, is an external organ it therefore makes internal vaginal orgasm impossible.

Can’t believe how many times I’ve used the V and P words. Talk about out of your comfort zone.

But people like renowned Australian urologist, Helen O’Connell, dispute this concept of a woman’s anatomy. Doctor O’Connell says the clitoris is very much an internal organ.

As for the G-spot, the Italian researchers say it belongs in the same category as unicorns and angels in terms of believability.

You know what? I’m done with all this pop psychology.

What I find amazing is this constant obsession with female orgasm. It just puts more pressure on people. Relationships are hard enough as it is without having to raise the bar in the bedroom.

Surely the most important element of a healthy sexual relationship is being with the right person. The closeness, the sharing and just having regular, good old- fashioned cuddles. Old fashioned, that’s me.

Sex is not a race nor is it a competition. It’s about two human beings who love each other. Nothing is ever cut and dried. It’s never just the one part but the sum of many. There endeth the lesson.

A Sex Tape Like No Other

Today I saw a sex tape like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It was a sex tape that was incredibly explicit yet it didn’t invade anyone’s privacy, identify or embarrass anyone. There wasn’t a celebrity to be seen. Anywhere. At least I don’t think there was. Of course it included your customary bit of nudity. There has to be. It’s a sex tape after-all. But not in the way you would ever expect. Let me explain.

It was a sex tape made by a bunch of medical scientists. They created it using the footage from literally hundreds of MRI scans. For those who don’t know, MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It produces a 3D map of the human body but it can pretty much do anything. MRI scans are a great tool for doctors because they produce incredibly detailed images through magnetic fields that map the position of water molecules which exist in varying densities in different types of human tissue. Here’s the really technical explanation for how MRI scans work. An MRI scanner uses a strong magnetic field and the pulses of radio waves to manipulate hydrogen protons in the human body. When the radio frequency source is switched off, the hydrogen protons reveal their position in the body by re-emitting energy, which is then captured and translated into images. Pretty simple really. I am joking.

MRI scanning is completely different from CAT scans or X-rays. They are generally more expensive and take more time but they provide much greater detailed information about the soft tissue of the human body. The MRI scanner is a huge machine with what looks like a tunnel in the middle. The patient lies flat and they are then inserted inside the scanner. It doesn’t use harmful radiation. And that can deliver two types of benefits. Firstly, it isn’t dangerous in any way to the person being scanned which means they can spend much longer in the machine and secondly, scientists can take a lot more pictures, which is what a group of medical experts set out to do.

Medical scientists wanted an answer to this question: What would the normal stuff, we humans do with our bodies every day of our lives, actually look like if you could see inside someone? They asked for, and got, a group of volunteers prepared to do whatever was asked of them. What followed was something incredible. There was a 3D image of a knee being bent, showing the muscles and tendons stretching. And a beating heart, showing the left and right ventricles, pumping blood throughout the body. There were pictures of someone drinking pineapple juice. We see the juice in the mouth and when it is swallowed the image follows its passage down the oesphagus into the stomach. There is a 3D image of how the tongue behaves when someone is playing the trumpet and two people, one speaking Chinese and the other German. We see how the vocal chords open and close. Believe or not there were moving pictures of someone defacating. We see the faeces in the rectum being expelled from the body. It is extraordinary, shocking and fascinating at the same time. It was to me. Then the video gets into the X-rated stuff.

The 3 D pictures begin with a man and a woman kissing passionately, both of them in an obvious state of sexual arousal. We see the two hearts literally beating faster. It progresses to tongue kissing. Nothing is left to the imagination. Then the video cuts to a 3D image of lovemaking. The image is the antithesis of pornography. It is completely anonymous and stripped back to the sheer physicality of two human beings mating. We know it is a man and a woman but that is all we know. It is both fascinating and beautiful. Finally we see life being born. We see Twins in the uterus before birth and then the actual birth itself.

It was a once in a lifetime experience for researchers and the people who participated. It wasn’t ever painful nor was it dangerous yet it revealed never seen before images. The only unpleasant side effect might have been the constantly loud buzzing noise of the MRI machine. It’s the sort of video that anyone would find fascinating.. If nothing else, it provides a greater appreciation of who we are and what we are made of and how it all works. It tells me, the human body is a perfect machine, but its perfection, lies in its myriad of imperfections.

Bring Us Some Men

There’s a remote village in southeast Brazil about 500 km from Rio De Janeiro called Noiva do Cordeiro. It sits in a valley called Belo Vale, which literally translates as beautiful Valley and it’s a place that lives up to its name. The village has groves with row upon row of thick skinned and sweet tangerines, banana plants and trees covered with bright yellow flowers.

But if you go to Noiva do Codeiro the landscape is not the only view to catch your eye. There are also its inhabitants. To be more specific, I’m talking about the village women. But that is also Noiva do Codeiro’s curse as much as it is a blessing.

Apparently this area is famous in Brazil for producing more women than men. But right now too many of them are single and looking for love and there just aren’t enough men around to go round if you get my meaning. And the women of Noiva do Codeiro are determined to do something about it. They’ve launched a nationwide and an international appeal for eligible men to come to their village.

As one of the young village women explained: The only men that single girls meet in the village are either married or a relative. Everyone is a cousin. She says: we all dream of falling in love and getting married. But that is not to say they need a man. They don’t. The village women do very well and are quite happy the way they are. They manage the village finances, they work the fields, they run the show in the absence of men. In fact what makes the place so special is the sense of community that exists here. People work together, and because they work so hard it makes them want to look out for one another. The village has a saying: Life is good because we are always with friends.

Now at this point you might be wondering why there is such a lopsided gender balance. It has to do with Noiva do Codeiro’s history. The village was first settled in the late 19th century. Its founder was a woman called Maria Senhorinha de Lima who arrived after she was accused of adultery and exiled from her church and home in 1891. That stigma has never left the place. The villagers say it has meant that Novia do Codeiro has been isolated because of prejudice and they have also been fighting a campaign to ensure that the authorities don’t continue to ignore the community.

Clearly, there are men who live in Noiva do Codeiro but they spend the week away working either as miners or in the nearest big city. The village women acknowledge they are an unusual group in rural Brazil. But the times they are a changing in Brazil. The country has a female President. A woman heads up the country’s oil company and women make up more than a quarter of the senior management of Brazil’s leading companies.

This latest publicity has helped to spread Noiva do Codeiro’s notoriety far and wide. The place has a history of male visitors falling for the inhabitants of the village. And that is what the women of Noiva do Codeiro are hoping for. It is now on the tourist trail for some French travellers. If only the village women could speak French.