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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

You Might Be Surprised To Know Facebook Doesn’t Like Talking about D-I-V-O-R-C-E

I happened upon an interesting published observation the other day, about the social media landscape in general and Facebook in particular.

Just as an aside, I really do believe the jury is out on whether Facebook is a good thing. I, for one, am decidedly uncomfortable with how much intelligence gathering Facebook does on each and every one of its users. It garners a lot of information particularly about what we like and don’t like and uses it to bombard us with ads and marketing pitches. Nothing wrong with that you might say. What I object to is the sneaky way they go about it. But in any case, that is a topic for another day.

Most of the time I am intrigued and at times horrified by what is posted on Facebook. It is fairly pathetic that a number of Facebook users seem to think that there is no such thing as privacy. Every time they burp or fart, it’s worth sharing with the world. Call me old-fashioned but some things are just better left unsaid.

Getting back to the interesting observation, (well, I think it is) if the experience of others is anything to go by, then Facebook is somewhat adverse to the harsher realities of life, like divorce.

For example, a well-known author, blogger and public speaker, called Michael Ellsberg, posted what was described as something truly subversive on his Facebook page. Ellsberg has 25 thousand Facebook followers so pretty much anything he was going to say could be described as a big deal to those that follow him. Ellsberg announced that he and his equally famous wife, a woman with the remarkable name of Jena La Flamme, were splitting up. Her claim to fame is being a weight loss expert and the author of a book called Pleasurable Weight Loss. Apparently such a thing exists.

The observation was that Ellsberg had peeled off the social face that many Facebook users maintain when it comes to their relationships. A social face illustrated by a smorgasbord of photographs that make marriage look like a constant holiday or make people look like they are auditioning for a dating website. Just to reiterate. I am saying this is a published observation and something, I thought, worth reporting on. The thrust of what is being said is that marital discord is an untouchable topic on Facebook. In fact, if you were to go looking, you will struggle to find any documentation of strife, anxiety, discord or discontent, of the marital kind, among the one billion Facebook users. I guess it all boils down to what is socially acceptable and what is not. There is far more social acceptability to whining about your job or even seeking advice about missteps in people’s careers or complaining about the sleep deprivation that goes with rearing children than there is in talking about the rupture of a marriage.

In breaking the news about his bust up, Ellsberg said it was a significant departure from the ‘smiling photos and professions of love’ he had previously published about his relationship with La Flamme. Believe it or not the couple spent months carefully crafting their Facebook announcement, which they say has been met with a largely positive response. What I find extraordinary is their need to announce it on Facebook in the first place. Anyone would think that theirs wasn’t a marriage but a marital brand, which after its dissolution needed the message to be spun much like a corporate media release.

But if you are going to place that much importance in a Facebook announcement it can also go pear shaped just as easily. Take the case of Penney Berryman who looked at her Facebook newsfeed to discover that her husband, at the time, had changed his status from married to single. It was an announcement of their separation that came as a complete shock to Penney Berryman. “I was still married to someone who made a public statement about our relationship that I wasn’t ready for,” Berryman said. She responded by revising her own marital status, leaving it blank and opting not to have the change show up on her public newsfeed. In the transition to divorce, Berryman also altered other aspects of her public digital life, starting by deleting timeline photos of her wedding and other marital milestones. “It was tough to figure out how I represent this part of my life that doesn’t exist anymore but used to be such a big part,” she said.

So what? I hear you saying and you are right. Who cares? Well we don’t and we do. We care ( I think we do) that life has changed to such a degree that Facebook has become so important to people because it clearly has.

As you might expect, a lot of ‘experts’ have pontificated on this sociological shift, like Sherry Turkle, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology psychologist. She wrote a book called: Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology And Less From Each Other. “If you complain about your pet, your job, even your children, there is a sense in which these are external to you – the complaint is about what life has dealt you,” Turkle said “When you complain about your marriage, the boundary between marriage and self is much less firm.” By that I think she means fragile.

According to Turkle, we see our partners as a reflection of ourselves. Any hint of weakness, insecurity, or conflict isn’t good for our personal brand, which is essentially what social media has reduced us to.  Turkle says it might also be understandable that people have been reluctant to post their marital woes on Facebook and attack their spouse in a public forum, because, of course, it can’t be achieved without creating further problems.

Which gets us back to the Ellsberg divorce announcement. He genuinely thinks that Facebook could be helpful to couples breaking up (as only Facebook can) if the parties posted in a way that didn’t blame or finger point. It would be along the lines of a question: Does anyone have any advice about how I can deal with anger in a way that isn’t destructive to our marriage?

Turkle, the psychologist, doesn’t agree with Ellsberg. She thinks Facebook is not the forum for those types of announcements. Facebook she says is a place for good news and certainly not the place where you talk about your most vulnerable self.

Well, here’s my definition of good news. How about NO news at all about the really personal stuff, especially when it comes to Facebook? It works for me. It might even work for you. And in any case isn’t that what they really say about good news?

Five Ways Women Destroy Their Husband And Kill Their Marriage. But Am I Being Serious?

This is my first blogpost for 2015. But given what I am about to discuss here, we could easily be talking about 1815.

It’s a topic racking up millions of views and shares on social media. Seven point five million to be exact, at the time of writing. You guessed right, Sex and Marriage.

At the centre of this firestorm is an article published on a website called FamilyShare.com and written by a woman called Katelyn Carmen. Now I can’t tell you much about Katelyn Carmen. She is a graduate from the University of Utah and a Mormon, which might explain some of her antiquated views on sex, relationships, and a woman’s ‘duties’ as a wife. By now you might be getting a bit of an idea on where this is going.

Katelyn called her piece, 5 Ways You Are Unknowlingly Destroying Your Husband and Killing Your Marriage. Clearly, it is directed at women, who she thinks should know better but they don’t. Now, personally I think the safest thing for me to do is to include this disclaimer.

  • I offer all of this without prejudice.
  • I don’t endorse any of the ideas suggested
  • I deny any responsibility for the moral outrage it might engender.

Ok. So now we’ve got that out of the way, lets deal with the nitty-gritty. Katelyn writes: “When I got married, I was amazed at the instant, overwhelming sense of responsibility I felt to love and care for my husband. Suddenly, a huge part of someone else’s wellbeing and happiness was largely affected by my choices and actions. Women, we need to be careful about how we are caring for our husbands and marriages. Don’t let the small stuff ruin the things that will bring you the greatest happiness in life.”

Now at this point you might be already saying surely this applies equally to husbands and how they should treat their wives. And to be fair to Katelyn, she does point that out but the problem she has, as I see it, no one believes her when she says it applies to men. On the issue of living within your means, Katelyn writes: “A wise old woman from my church congregation once advised: “The best thing you can do as a wife is to live within your husband’s means.” Constantly complaining about not having enough to fulfill your lavish desires or racking up astronomical amounts of debt on your credit card is a poor way of saying “thank you” to a faithful spouse who works hard every day to provide for the family. Yes, you may not have enough to buy that Kate Spade bag you’ve had your eyes on for months, but your husband will love and appreciate the fact that you honor him and are grateful for what he provides.”

Yes. She is being serious. Wait. There’s more.

Wives are apparently too negative. Katelyn writes: “Negativity is draining. Men like to fix things, and constantly being hounded with complaints makes it difficult for him to help solve your pains. If there is one thing I’ve learned from marriage is that a good man wants you to be happy, and if he can’t help you do that, it makes him unhappy. It’s okay to have a bad day once in a while, that’s totally understandable, but don’t make it a way of life.” (Wives might want to start drinking wine early in the afternoon if they want to accomplish this: my advice)

But Katelyn saves the very best until last: “Men crave and need physical affection with their wives. When you constantly decline intimacy, it wears on them. Sex should not be used as a tool to control your spouse; it should be viewed as a sacred tool to draw you closer to one another and to God. It is a great blessing to be wanted and needed by a loving, romantic husband who wants to share something so beautiful and important with you — and you only. Even though you might not always be in the mood, it’s worth it to give in (when you can) and spend that time bonding.”

Hang on Katelyn I need to pick you up on the “you only” reference. Doesn’t your religion actively promote men having more than one wife? So strictly speaking it’s going to be ok if he’s shagging more than just you according to the Mormon religion.

Anyway, I’ve digressed when I shouldn’t.

Now, as you might expect, not everyone was thrilled with what Katelyn had to say. For example one blogger said: “It turns out that while I’ve spent all these years trying to make us happy, I should have been worried about making him happy. Why? I don’t know. Because (of his) penis, I guess.”

Another blogger mockingly rephrased Katelyn’s words: “Men, susceptible creatures that they are, need lots and lots of physical affection. They cannot live without it and if you neglect your wifely duties, then he’s just going to go elsewhere, and you’ll be a bad, bad wife. Seriously, they’ll give you a trophy. Never mind if you don’t feel well, or you’re tired, or just not in the mood, your husband’s needs surmount yours and it is your duty to give him all the pleasure he wants and needs.”

According to Katelyn, one of the main relationship problems is that husbands and wives don’t speak the same language. Or should I say, wives don’t understand their husbands, and it’s all their fault. She writes: “Don’t waste your time giving subtle hints that he won’t understand: Speak plainly to him. Be honest about your feelings, and don’t bottle things up until you burst. If he asks you what’s wrong, don’t respond with “nothing” and then expect him to read your mind and emotions.”

But can you imagine my surprise, not to mention my amusement, when I came across another study which suggests the way to really improve a marriage is for a husband to spend more time at work and less time with his wife. The more overtime he does, the healthier his wife will become because the extra income means they can afford cleaners and the wife can spend more time on herself pursuing such things as vigorous exercise or playing sport.

Getting back to Katelyn, she says she is genuinely mystified by the strong reaction her article has caused. “The advice I gave in this article was influenced by a variety of sources, including my college studies and research — I minored in marriage and family studies — family therapists who contribute content to the site, my own marriage and advice from couples I know who’ve have had long, successful marriages.

“Marriage is a partnership. My advice is just as important and relevant to men –- and we publish advice for both men and women on the site,” she said. “As spouses, we should be willing to help one another as equal partners as we honor and serve one another. That, in turn, will bring the greatest likelihood of a successful marriage.”

I know I should be gracious, and acknowledge that Katelyn is talking about both sides in the relationship. And most people would agree with her on that point but call me cynical, I just don’t believe she really means it.

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.