Tuesday, June 28, 2011

If relationship is wrong, it's right to get out

If relationship is wrong, it's right to get out
By Carolyn Hax

Adapted from a recent online discussion.
If you know relationship is not right, get out as early as you can
Oldest trick in the book?: She got pregnant, we got engaged. I was resigned, if not thrilled. She subsequently miscarried and I saw no choice but to end our engagement.
The day I did so was literally the last time she and I spoke, and it's been over a month now. I guess I'm just seeking validation that what I did wasn't inherently wrong or evil.
Carolyn: No one's going to give you a medal.
But of your two choices — break up or remain engaged to someone you didn't want to marry — breaking up was the only one that held any promise of happiness for both of you in the long term, even though it meant telling someone who was already grieving, "Oh, and I also don't love you." So there's validation for you in that.
The reason it isn't a complete gosh-that-stinks pat on the back isn't just that you rejected someone who is (possibly) grieving. It's that the only good outcome in this situation was one you seem to have declined to choose when it became available, before the shotgun engagement. Your signature suggests you now have doubts she was even pregnant — and that plus the not-thrilled engagement says you were sleeping with someone you didn't love, didn't particularly trust, and possibly didn't agree with on some significant things, like what to do if she got pregnant.
There are so very many examples of people in relationships despite a full-blown set of doubts, few of them happy.
I realize that it's extremely difficult to act on those doubts and walk away from relationships — usually people do care to some degree, even strongly; I also realize that most people don't get punished for dithering the way you and she just did. Still, the fact remains that there are consequences to getting 100 percent involved with people you're less than 100 percent comfortable with.
I am sorry both of you got smacked with those consequences. Next time, please, see them coming — and get out as soon as you realize you're promising more than you feel.
No shame in looking inward before beginning a career
Va.: I graduated from college this winter, and took up full-time hours at the job I worked during class, but have since taken no steps to move forward with my career. I just feel paralyzed. Any words of advice or inspiration to get me moving forward?
Carolyn: Trust that the answer will come to you when you're ready for it, and enjoy being young and employed full time. There's a fine line between contentment and paralysis, but especially for someone just starting out, it's okay to decide you're on the contentment side and live your life a bit without agonizing over your next step. The career choices that suit you in the long run will be the ones that fit your lifestyle, temperament, habits and natural skills — and you're just starting to see how all of those things present themselves away from the protective scaffolding of school life.
Just make sure you're saving as big a chunk of your income as you can afford, because having money saved will help you act on your ideas when they come to you.

Monday, June 27, 2011

10 Best Places for a First Date

10 Best Places for a First Date
by Amy Keyishian

e asked you about those places most likely to guarantee a good date—here’s how you answered*:

 of you would love… A coffee house
Funny, this venue also showed up as one of the worst places to take a first date in a previous Happen poll. But hey, one man’s poison, another man’s passion. It’s certainly low-pressure, which is always a plus, and the caffeine can’t hurt the conversation either. “Coffee will prevent even your most boring story from putting your date to sleep,” jokes Todd Katz, 39. “Also, it’s a very cheap date. Unless you go to Starbucks. Then bring your checkbook.”

 of you would love… A walk in the park
Ah, the calming sound of leaves rustling, birds singing… Mother Nature can be quite the matchmaker. “On my first date with Joel, we walked his dog, Casey, in the park,” says Felicia Roff, 30. “It was a beautiful day. Plus, Casey is insanely adorable.” No wonder they turned into lovebirds soon afterwards.

 of you would love… The local diner 
It may not be swanky, but it’s comfortable, as is the food. “You know you’re in love if you can canoodle after eating 10 tons of meatloaf,” says Marjorie Ingall, 38. “When I finally met up with Jonathan after chatting ourselves into a lather online, it was fun to dig into some honky-tonk comfort food and enjoy a really low-key setting.”

 of you would love… Brunch
A late-morning weekend date has a lot of advantages… like the ability to size up your date in broad daylight. “Brunch is more casual — and less pressure — than a dinner date, and yet more leisurely and fun than a lunch date,” says Jason Kersten, 34. “I’ve had the best conversations with women over Bloody Marys.”

 of you would love… Live music
Too loud — say, heavy metal — is usually bad, but if it’s jazzy or acoustic, this is a lock. “I was going on a date with someone that wasn’t my usual type, much less straight-laced, and he took me to see a show by an African group,” says Ellen Benson, 32. “It worked out so well. The musicians were so happy and enthusiastic and fun. Knowing that my date had scoured the city’s offerings to find this for us revealed how creative and cool he was.”

 of you would love… A museum
There’s something classy about this daytime-date choice, and there's always something to talk about. “I met a blind date at the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum,” says Jennifer Wertkin, 37. “Being around all these beautiful and interesting objects eased us into natural conversation, and the whole date was very low-pressure and unforced.”

 of you would love… A fancy restaurant
Well, who wouldn’t? All the five-star treatment can rub off to a good romantic effect, as Rachel Stark, 32, agrees. “I went out to a really top-notch restaurant with this one guy, and it was so impressive to see my date read the wine list like a pro and then suggest appetizers, main courses, and desserts that complemented one another. By the time dinner was over, I felt like such a lady. Now, that’s a date!”

 of you would love… A comedy club
A lot of people hated this idea in our “worst first-date” poll, but if the chemistry is right, even bad comedy can give good laughs. “We were just looking for something entertaining to do and ended up in a bar that was having open-mic night,” says Laura Gilbert, 28. “The comics were so bad that it was even more hilarious than professionals would have been. It was like karaoke but even more embarrassing, and I have to say, we bonded over it.”

 of you would love… A bar
Let’s be honest here: Alcohol does wonders for easing those first-date jitters. Another benefit is its open-endedness, points out Rick Toscano, 30. “With dinners or movies, there’s a definite end to the date, which can be awkward,” he explains. “In a bar, a date is much more fluid. If you’re having a good time, the drinks can keep coming.”

 of you would love… A sporting event
Even if you’re not a die-hard fan, heading to a baseball or basketball game can be exciting simply because the stakes are high—someone wins, someone loses. “It’s like going to a movie, but more interactive,” says Lynn Harris, 36. “Plus, the adrenaline-filled display on the field can only ramp up whatever chemistry you have already.” 

Amy Keyishian writes magazine articles, young-adult novels, and shopping lists. Her first date with her current beau involved canoodling in a window overlooking the city—she recommends it highly!

* Percentages add up to more than 100% because respondents were asked to pick all places they thought would be great for a first date, not just one. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Link Between Virginity & Divorce

Women Who Lost Virginity Early More Likely To Divorce: Behind The Study

Anna Bahr

Want a successful marriage? Make sure you have sex when you're ready.
According to a new study, women who are sexually active early in their adolescence--specifically, before age 16--are more likely to divorce.
Researchers at the University of Iowa used the responses of 3,793 women who are married or have been married at some point in their lives from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth to examine the relationship between the age at which they had their first sexual experience, and the success of their first marriage.
At first glance, the findings seemed alarming: multiple outlets (including this one), reported that up to 47 percent of women who lost their virginity during their teen years divorced within 10 years of getting married--implying that women who lose their virginity during adolescence will inevitably face conflict in their later adult relationships.
In fact, while the age at which sex first occurred was significant in determining women’s likelihood to divorce, more important was whether that sex qualified as “wanted." That's because the earlier women had their first sexual experience, the less frequently the sex was actually wanted. In short, the study's conclusions were less about the correlation between when a girl loses her virginity and her risk of divorce than it was about how the nature of the first sexual experience affects later romantic relationships.
While some of the initial reports about the study alluded to this point, they often did not explore it completely, so we decided to go to the source--lead researcher Anthony Paik--to shed more light on this surprisingly complicated study.
What were the main findings of the study?

Anthony Paik: [I looked at] the association between the timing of first sex and divorce. What I found was that women who reported that their first intercourse occurred before the age of 16, even if it was “wanted,” had an increased risk of divorce compared to those who delayed sex until after adulthood [age 18]. [But this is because] sexual experiences in early adolescence have been associated with premarital conception, premarital birth, and having more sex partners over the course of a lifetime. And all those are divorce determinants.
In addition, I looked at whether or not the “wantedness” [of the sex] mattered. If a woman reported that her first sexual experience was not completely wanted—that is, she had mixed feelings about it, or didn’t want it at all—she was at an increased risk of divorce compared to those who delayed sex until adulthood and the sex was wanted. [Of] women who report their first sexual experiences as occurring very early, say, 14 or below, almost all say that their first sexual experience was not completely wanted.
HP: How is “unwanted” sex defined?
AP: The survey [results are culled from] the CDC’s 2002 Survey of Family Growth. It has a couple of questions that ask for the context of first intercourse—that it “caused mixed feelings,” that it “wasn’t completely wanted,” or that it “was completely wanted.” It’s not clear from the survey what the womens' experience was specifically.
HP: Were the participants of the survey of the same race, ethnicity, and educational background?
AP: No. The survey is nationally representative of girls and women in the US between the ages of 15 and 44. It’s quite diverse and reflective of ever-married women.
HP: What surprised you the most about your findings?
AP: I was surprised by the percentage of women who did not report their first sexual experience in adolescence as being completely wanted. There was a very strong age grading. The younger ages were much more likely to report these engagements as not completely wanted.
HP:Why were men excluded from the study? It seems as if that’s a pretty big omission.
AP: [Laughs] If I had more money I would be happy to be another study on men. But the issue is that historically, most divorce research has looked at women’s responses. For example, in the NSFG [National Survey of Family Growth], one of the major data sets for the study of divorce, didn’t even collect responses from men until 2002.
HP: What is the association between sex during adolescence and divorce? Does one necessarily cause the other?
AP: [We don’t know whether] we can infer a causal relationship between the two. One explanation for such an association would be that there’s some set of attitudes an individual has that predisposes her both to having sex early in adolescence and to divorce. That’s what’s referred to as “spurious association,” meaning that there really is no causal linkage between the two—the relationship is caused by this third variable.
HP: What could that third variable be?
AP: I think, for example, in a population of adolescents, some individuals are more permissive to sex outside of marriage. If someone is permissive toward non-marital sex, they’re also more likely to be okay with divorce. So what’s really generating the association between these two outcomes [adolescent sex and divorce] is just the attitude, [meaning] there really is no linkage between the timing of first sexual experiences and divorce.
HP: Why would unwanted sexual experiences be associated with divorce?
AP: There are two arguments: one is that it’s a PTSD process, which is a psychological model of a post-traumatic stress syndrome process [stemming from] childhood sex abuse. This model emphasizes that these experiences, particularly with adults, are traumatic, [and] lead to high levels of sexualization [which] makes individuals susceptible to relationship difficulties.
In the second argument, unwanted sexual experiences lead to early sexualization, which is associated with subsequent life-course events that are key divorce determinants, such as having more sex partners, premarital conceptions, and premarital births.

HP: So, do articles that cite your study as proof to the fact that sexual activity during early adolescence makes one more likely to divorce misrepresent the data? 

AP: It’s just a lost in translation thing. If there’s a 14-year-old sexually active adolescent, that girl is at greater risk for a fertility outcome of premarital conception or premarital birth. Those later events translate into an increased divorce probability. That would be one potential causal mechanism for making them link. But the link between early teen sex and divorce are indirectly linked through these subsequent fertility and sexual outcomes.
HP: What is the primary point that gets "lost in translation?"
AP: One of the misunderstandings about the study is that it isn’t about whether or not sex before marriage versus delaying sex until marriage leads to divorce. It’s a study about whether sex in early adolescence, particularly if it was not wanted, affects future relationships.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fenugreek: A Spice To Spice Things Up In The Bedroom

Fenugreek: A Spice To Spice Things Up In The Bedroom

An herb commonly used in curry dishes has powers beyond the taste buds -- it also has the potential to amp up your sex life.
Researchers from the Australian Centre for Integrative Clinical and Molecular Medicine found that 25- to 52-year-old men who took fenugreek extracttwice a day for six weeks scored 25 percent higher on a test gauging libido levels than men who took a placebo, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Men who took the placebo saw their libidos either remain the same or fall during the six-week period.
Low libido is a common scourge of couples, affecting about 18 percent of men, according to the Daily Mail. It differs from impotence and infertility, and instead has to do with a lack of interest, urge or desire to engage in sexual activity.
Scientists aren't completely sure why fenugreekseems to have such an amorous effect on men, but it could be because the herb's seeds contain compounds, called saponins, that affect hormone levels. One particular saponin, called diosgenin, could affect production of sex hormones.
"It probably works to increase testosterone or androgen levels, which decrease with age," Dr. Raj Persad, a consultant neurologist, told the Daily Mail. "If it’s proven to be safe, this is good news. Men with good sexual health live longer than those ... without."
Fenugreek is not a new herb to hit the scene -- it's historically been used for treating menopausal symptoms, inducing childbirth and solving digestive problems, according to the National Institutes of Health. Today, it's still used to stimulate the production of milk in breastfeeding women, as well as formed into a paste to treat skin inflammation. It's also been shown in studies to lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Should Women Really 'Go Ugly'?

Should Women Really 'Go Ugly'?
By Tom Matlack and Vicki Larson

This post originally appeared on The Good Men Project
Vicki Larson and I have been having a fairly heated conversation about what ugly has to do, or not do, with a man being marrying material. Her Huffington Post column got huge attention for claiming that women should choose ugly husbands, lest they be subject to the Weiner/Tiger/Arnold syndrome--appealing and powerful men who crash and burn.
I am not sure we will ever agree completely, but in my direct conversations with Vicki I get the sense that we actually agree, perhaps more than we disagree. Vicki and I thought it might be informative to engage in a spirited question and answer about her original piece and my sense of what manhood really is all about.
Tom: Vicki, everywhere I look, there are articles that attempt to summarize manhood (ironically most often written by women). Don't you think making sweeping stereotype-driven judgments about men is the same thing as making those judgments about women, or blacks or gays?
Vicki: You're surprised? Women love analyzing men! Sweeping stereotypes are horrible -- I hate being seen as a high-maintenance gold-digger living off my ex's hard-earned money just because I'm a divorced blonde. Intelligent people understand that the world doesn't work in absolutes -- "never" and "always."
What saddens me reading the comments here and elsewhere is that we still focus on how "bad" the other sex is. The studies I cite are old, they've been written about many times before, but because of social media, many people knee-jerk react and spread it faster, farther and wider than before. So much for thoughtful commentary.
Tom: I heard an interesting interview with John Hamm, who plays Don Draper on "Mad Men," in which he talked about how difficult it is for him to be objectified. He was serious about it and appeared to be an honest and sweet man despite his good looks. Should we be feeling sorry for him?
Vicki: We all want to feel attractive, not objectified. Still, Hamm chose a career that feeds off of good looks and he's being paid well and has many opportunities because of it. But it's great he's talking about it because women don't know how men feel about being lust objects. Most women, however, do; even women who aren't "beautiful" are drooled over because they might have great breasts or a butt. We need to be empathetic to how the other sex experiences things; Louanne Brizendine's books on male and female brains are great.
Tom: Do you really believe the studies you cite that men with higher testosterone, presumably the most macho guys around, are not to be trusted?
Vicki: I didn't write that. Studies indicate men with higher testosterone levels have a tendency to lie and cheat more than men with lower levels. They're also incredibly exciting. That doesn't meanall of them will lie and cheat, and any woman who decides to marry a guy or not based on that alone is foolish. Of course, people get married for lots of foolish reasons.
Tom: In the course of my work with "The Good Men Project," I've spoken to thousands of men about what it means to be good--from inmates to celebrities--and one of the things I have come to is that goodness is a self-defined concept. For one man it might be taking care of his autistic child and for another it's risking his life to take pictures of the truth of the war in Iraq. How do you define "good" as it relates to manhood?
Vicki: Not to diss the name of your project, which as the mom of two young men and a woman who loves men I'm a fan of, but good is a meaningless word. Mildred Baena called Arnold Schwarzenegger a good man. Good to her, perhaps, but not to his family. And, you aren't good because you're taking care of your autistic child; that's what you signed up for when you became a parent.
Good isn't a male or female thing. So I'd rather define what it is to be human -- kind; loving; compassionate; empathetic; self-aware; honest; respects him/herself and others; generous of spirit; realizes he/she is part of a much bigger picture; takes responsibility for his/her actions, and has a moral compass. That's so incredibly sexy it's beyond "good." Bonus points if it comes with a great face and bod.
Tom: In picking a spouse, we grapple with different levels of attraction. There's the animalistic, "Wow that person is hot," kind. The, "I am just in awe of that person." And finally, "I can't imagine walking this planet without that person in my life," kind. When you advised women to go ugly what were you really saying about attraction?
Vicki: I was tongue-in-cheek about going ugly! I am not telling women -- or men -- to settle for anyone less than the person who rocks their world. But we need to reexamine what attractive means.
Anthony Weiner was once named a Cosmo eligible bachelor. Yet clearly from the comments here, few found him handsome and many called him ugly. I don't think he's ugly but he's not hot enough to send me nude pics of himself! So, what makes him an eligible bachelor if it's not his looks? Many commentors said he only attracted models and women because of his power and status. Well, if that's what we consider attractive, if that's what Cosmo's selling to women as good hubby material, no wonder men call us gold-diggers. Plus, since those guys are the high testosterone guys, we're right back to the beginning.
I'd hope he was an eligible bachelor because of the whole package; he's a smart (until he proved himself incredibly dumb), fit, passionate, funny man with a (once) promising future. If you're just going for the pretty and other things that don't really matter in a fulfilling relationship -- and I include power, status and money among those -- you're not looking at the right things. When considering someone "attractive," we should include character, too.
Tom: In a world filled with porn and superficial images of female beauty what do you tell your sons, 17 and 20, about what to look for in a woman?
Vicki: You think I can tell my sons anything? Girls are an off-limits topic. I have been delightfully pleased at the girls they consider attractive, real girls with real bodies, no makeup, sweet and smart.
I hope I've modeled for them what to look for by my priorities -- family and friends over material things and status -- and how I respect my body; I'd never inject poison or plastic into or overload it with crappy food.

Tom: Do you think that we are guilty of spending too much time on celebrity men behaving badly or it is important to nail these guys in order to make sure women see what is not acceptable?
Vicki: We spend too much time on celebrities, period, and increasingly it's becoming "news." We don't want to just nail the guys; we seem to enjoy any celebrity falling. There have been plenty of women who fall, but women tend to self-destruct. It seems more high-profile men often behave badly with women, and that, unfortunately, reflects poorly for men in general for some women. It's those stereotypes again. But I sure hope we aren't looking to celebrities for guidance. Who cares what they do? Politicians, however, must be held accountable.
Tom: Do you really think marriage works better when the wife is hotter than the husband?
Vicki: It's obvious it doesn't since mine ended in divorce! Okay, I'm joking. I think guys would love to have a hot wife. But there's no one formula that leads to a happy marriage. A marriage works best when the couple is committed to each other, similar in the ways that matter, and forgiving and accepting in the ways in which they differ. Having a hot husband or wife does not create that.
Tom: Do you think Weiner's wife Huma Abedin will, as you suggest, dump Weiner while there is still time so she can use her beauty to snag another man--only this time "go ugly"?
Vicki: I did not suggest Abedin dump Weiner, and I was, again, tongue-in-cheek about splitting before the baby will have memories of the divorce. It's an option. But she's about to be a mom, and deciding to divorce when you have kids is tough as it should be given how divorce impacts kids. Ask any 40-something woman what it's like to find love and you'll hear that it's harder than when she was in her 20s or 30s, even if she's beautiful, smart and accomplished.
Tom: We talk a lot about defining moments as men. It could be the loss of a child or a job, the slow erosion of addiction, or a divorce. But that moment when you look in the mirror and have no idea who is looking back. When for the first time you have to get radically honest with yourself about something excruciatingly hard. And that goodness often comes from devastating failure rather than success. Do you think it's possible Weiner will end up a better man?
Vicki: I'd love to believe that we could get that self-awareness, have that epiphany, without hitting bottom. But hitting bottom and being "radically honest" don't automatically give us that epiphany -- we need ways to think and act differently, and we need support. Will Weiner become a better man? I hope so, for his child's sake. And if he's lucky, Abedin will be right there by his side.

Monday, June 20, 2011

'Beauties Only' Dating Site Sparks Outrage by Dumping 30,000 Deemed Too Ugly

'Beauties Only' Dating Site Sparks Outrage by Dumping 30,000 Deemed Too Ugly

An exclusive online meeting place billed as a dating website for "beautiful men and women" was causing new outrage Monday after dumping 30,000 members deemed too ugly.

Last month was the victim of a cyber attack in which the Shrek virus -- named after the ugly animated character -- attacked the software used to screen applicants, allowing an influx of new members, The Guardian reported.

Unfortunately several thousand of those members failed to meet the Denmark-based site's aesthetic standards, and have now been dropped.

Such is the level of fury, the site's operators have set up a counseling helpline to ease the pain of rejection.

"We have to stick to our founding principles of only accepting beautiful people -- that's what our members have paid for,"'s Greg Hodge told The Guardian. "We can't just sweep 30,000 ugly people under the carpet."

The website works on a system under which members are able to rank applicants on a beauty scale. The decision to reject 30,000 cost the company more than $100,000 in refunds and Hodge sent a regretful email to the distressed dumpees.

Hodge said the company was investigating the cyber attack, adding he suspected a disgruntled former employee may have planted the virus.

The ugly members cull is not the first time the site has courted controversy, reported. In January this year it asked 5,000 users to reapply after they posted pictures of themselves looking chubbier than usual celebrating the festive season.

And earlier this month it sparked controversy in Ireland by declaring that Irish men were among the world's ugliest.