The Future of Love and Romance Isn’t Doomed. Hooray!

*This post was sponsored by As always, all opinions are my own.

What do 107 million Americans have in common?  They’re single. For the past three years, has worked to understand them. This year as part of their 2012 Singles in America Study, surveyed over 5,000 single men and women (as well as over 1,000 married folks), asking them 200+ questions about love, sex, dating and relationships.

On Saturday I attended a Livestream event presented by where world renowned biological anthropologist, Dr. Helen Fisher of Rutgers University presented some of the findings from this year’s Singles in America study.

Even though I am Canadian, I still found the “Singles in America” presentation really interesting. If you have the time, I strongly suggest you check out the recording of the presentation here. It’s about 35 mins long – I watched it while eating my lunch!

Dr. Helen Fisher is a leading expert on the biology of love and attraction. She’s spent over 30 years studying romantic interpersonal attraction, exploring the  age old question “why humans fall in love?”  Her presentation totally brought me back to my days as a nerdy Anthropology student and revealed some fascinating findings that actually debunk a lot of the common held myths we have about sex and love.

From articles in the Atlantic (“All the Single Ladies”) to the New York Times recent story about the End of Courtship, there’s been a lot of buzz in the media lately that suggests the future of romance and marriage is basically doomed. However, Dr. Fisher revealed that this isn’t necessarily the case!

First of all, people are actually way more optimistic about marriage than recent articles suggest. The majority of Singles surveyed who are in their 20’s and 30’s are still seeking marriage and 90% of people open to marriage say that they believe they can stay married to the same person forever.

Not only are people still seeking to tie the knot, married people are reported as being just as happy as Singles. Marrieds have just as much sex as Singles (41% have sex once a week or more). Married people also have more orgasms! 47% of married people orgasm 91%-100% of the time vs. 38% of singles. The majority of married people reported that they were still “very much in love” with their spouse and 80% of marrieds said that given the chance, they would marry their current spouse again.

With that said, “Friends with Benefits” relationships are increasing – Over the past year 47% percent of singles have had a Friends with Benefits relationship (40% of women, 53% of men).

Looking at this number, it’s easy to assume that we’re becoming less willing to commit and are instead choosing to be in casual relationships. However, what’s actually kind of shocking is that 45% of Singles reported that they had a FWB relationship turn into a long-term commitment in 2012. This number has increased by 20% since 2011. This means that all those movies like “No Strings Attached” and “Friends with Benefits” which I love to hate because they feature ridiculously good looking friends who screw each others brains out and then (unbelievably) fall in love – aren’t a complete crock of you know what. As Dr. Helen Fisher explains, “Casual sex doesn’t really exist.”  When sexual arousal occurs, dopamine levels increase and oxytocin – a hormone that creates pair bonding in humans – is released. In other words, biology makes it easy for you to feel attached to and fall in love with someone once you’ve slept with them. This explains why I sometimes feel like my heart lives in my vagina.

In fact, Fisher is careful to point out that American’s willingness to enter into a FWB relationship before committing could be a sign of an emerging “pre-commitment stage”  amongst humans. Sex is speeding up, whereas commitment is slowing down. In other words, it’s not that people don’t want to commit to each other, it’s just that people want to “kick the tires” to see if they are sexually compatible before taking the plunge. It makes sense. For me, physical chemistry is really important. I need to know that it’s there before making a long-term commitment to someone. Dr. Fisher points out that Singles want to learn as much as possible about each other before committing. And as she points out, “You can learn a lot about someone by having sex with them” Amen to that!

The last did-bit of information that I found particularly interesting was about Sexting. Just watch this short video and you’ll see exactly what I mean (don’t worry, the video is work-safe)

If you’re now regretting 80% of the sexts you’ve ever sent, YOU’RE NOT ALONE. 

To sum up, Dr. Fisher explained that as humans we have very powerful brain circuits that developed thousands of years ago. We’re also one of the few species of mammals that are driven to pair up. Because of this, our cravings for attachment, sex and romance are as primal as those for food and water. Our desire to attach ourselves to other people and procreate isn’t likely to change, however how we express these desires might.

So what does this research mean to me? Well, I like to think that I share a similar optimistic attitude towards love. My recent online dating experiences have lead me to believe that romance is not dead. Despite meeting a few oddballs, most of the people I’ve met have been very gentlemanly and commitment focused.

With that said, I’m definitely going to think twice the next time I get the urge to send someone a sext.

What do you guys think of the Singles in America statistics? 

Do You Suffer from Sexually Transmitted Awkwardness?

Because, apparently I do.

In most situations I act like the confident, well-adjusted, well-spoken adult that I know I am. I get excited by the prospect of meeting & getting to know new people, I can network and elevator pitch like a pro, and after almost two full months of trying this online dating thing, I can confidently say that I’m a good date. With the exception of that time I blurted out that I used to ghost-write erotic fiction and called a guy out for dressing like Patrick Bateman, I generally don’t get nervous talking to guys or going on dates. I’ve been single for a year and between my various (brief) romances with guys like Handsome Guy, LA Guy, The Chef, The Sexy Russian and several dates from Plenty of Fish – I’ve been able to ease myself back into the single life and get some practice dating.

With the guys I mentioned above, it was easy to keep my composure. I liked them, but also felt like I had nothing to lose therefore, I could just go with the flow. However, as soon as I start to really like someone it’s like I catch a incurable case of Sexually Transmitted Awkwardness. I turn into a bundle of nerves and do stuff that’s so awkward it probably leaves people wondering,

“Is this really the smart and sassy girl I went out with the other night?!”

When I like you, my dating skills become about as smooth as my job interview skills – in other words, not very.

True Love: when you can be weird & awkward together.

For example, the other day when my date came to pick me up, I went over to his car to open the passenger side. I was tugging on the door handle with no avail. That’s when I heard him call out to me from across the street.

“Um, Simone, I’m over here. That’s not my car”

Sure enough, I was trying break into my neighbour’s SUV. In my defence the cars do look similar, however I should have known the difference considering I walk by my neighbour’s car every day and I’ve been out with this guy 4 times already. My response:

“Oh sorry! I’m really bad with cars. I’m always trying to get into ones I’m not supposed to. I once tried to get into the side of a van even though it didn’t have any doors”


I also might have told him that I really liked watching Pretty Little Liars, “Mostly as a guilty pleasure but also for the haircuts. Those girls have really good hair. So yeah, I watch it for hair inspiration. Not that I want my hair to look like a teenager’s or anything”

Mindy Kaling, one of my lady heroes who makes awkward sexy.

I’m sure at this point he was thinking “OMG, HOW DOES THIS WOMAN FUNCTION?” and wondering whether I lied about graduating from one of the country’s top universities.

In situations like these I always want to blurt out in total Wayne’s World style,

“I’m not Mental, really! I swear!”

Or just something totally random and unrelated like: “I really like Bartlett Pears!”

Then I spend the rest of the date just praying that they find my awkwardness charming. After all, with the likes of Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey taking the entertainment world by storm, awkwardness is kind of hot these days. Right?! I hope?

The truth is, when I’m hanging out with someone I like, it often feels like I’m just one awkward moment away from going on a full on rant where I blurt out every revealing and embarrassing fact about myself. In my head it sounds a bit like Liz Lemon’s famous confessional from 30 Rock, only with more inappropriate sexual references.

“One time I laughed at a blind guy eating spaghetti! Sometimes I pee in the shower if I’m really tired! I saw my grandparents making love once and I didn’t leave right away! There is an 80% chance that in the next election I will tell all my friends I am voting for Barack Obama but I will secretly vote for John McCain. Here’s one, when I was a kid, I used to put on my fanciest nightgown and then I would mix orange soda and cream soda in a champagne glass and I would sit in the dark and watch The Love Boat. Consequently I have some weird sexual fantasy stuff about Gopher from The Love Boat." - Liz Lemon

Whenever I hear a story about a guy who swears his secret to keeping his cool on dates is to masturbate beforehand, I always think “That’s gross, but I totally get it!” Although I’m no stranger to DIY orgasms, I think what would actually help me more is a pre-date “verbal purge” which I’m sure would sound something like this:

Wizards scare me! I collect sock monkeys and I totally hide them whenever you come over!  I’m terrible with cars and directions and I’m pretty sure I have a mild case of spatial dyslexia. I’ve been known to come home after a night out and eat a whole package of salami in one sitting. This is why I no longer buy salami. I grew up in a really politically conscious left-wing household, however part of the reason I voted for my city counsellor was because I thought he was hot. When I was 13 I had a crush on Warren Beatty, which I now realize is totally creepy. I once had a sex dream about George Michael that I didn’t want to wake up from. And by George Michael, I mean the openly homosexual singer, not the awkward teenage boy from Arrested Development – because that would just be weird. I’ve never been camping because the idea of peeing outside weirds me out. When I was 16 I accidentally set my hand on fire, not because I was doing something cool and rebellious, but because I was burning the edges of maps with a candle, trying to make them look antique. The most horrible thing I’ve ever done is stand idly by while a Mean Girl made a boy who lived on our street drink a glass of homemade “ice tea” which I’m pretty sure was a mix of apple juice and her own urine. I also have a phobia of fountains that shoot out murky water, boy bands, corporate team building events, apple juice and Richard Simmons’ hair. I write about my vagina on the internet, I hope that’s OK.”

Here’s to hoping that if any of that ever slips out, someone will find it charming.

 Does anyone suffer from awkwardness while dating? Please share so we can group hug or something.

A Week of Long Journeys and Listening to Your “Buddy” Voice.

Last week, I stepped outside after an early morning doctor’s appointment and a seagull promptly pooped all over my $400 parka. I think my avian friend was aiming for my shoulders but by the time I noticed what I had happened the mess had already migrated to my sleeve and started to drip down all over the front of my jacket. Random seagull blitzkriegs are one of the few tradeoffs of living in such a beautiful coastal place. I came to the conclusion that there is no journey longer and more agonizing than the crowded cross-town bus trip you take covered seagull poop. However, a few days later I learned that there is something much worse: the silent car ride you take after you’ve broken up with someone at 2 am.

Since December I’ve been hanging out with “The Chef” one of the guys I’ve met through my recent initiation into  online dating. The Chef is a good guy. He’s the kind of guy you only hope you’ll meet through online dating. He’s kind, generous and does not own a kayak or a rotating tie-rack. He’s an adventurous, fun loving guy who shares my intense passion for food and eating, and enjoyed cooking for me. When we weren’t out sampling restaurants or cooking up a storm, we’d indulge in marathon viewing sessions of the Food Network. Sounds perfect right?

We look nothing like this of course.

A few weeks ago, while watching “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” we started to make-out. When I opened my eyes and glanced towards the TV screen I saw Guy Fieri biting into a massive, oozing, Philly Cheesesteak and was suddenly filled with panic. Was it possible that food was the only thing we had in common??

Sometimes I think dating would be so much easier if I’d never been in love. If I didn’t know what it felt like to curl up in someone’s arms and know that this person is your person. I’ve only experienced this a few times in my life, but I know the feeling very well. If it’s not there, I can still enjoy being with the person for awhile but eventually I just start to feel sad and my instinct to run kicks in. That’s generally when things start to get messy. Maybe ignorance is bliss?

Flash forward to last week when I was laying the the Chef’s bed. He was curled up next to me when the panic started again and I said the words that no one wants to hear, let alone at 2 in the morning.

“I don’t think I can do this”

Recently I wrote about overcoming sexual shyness. In case you hadn’t already guessed from reading this blog, sexual shyness is not one of my issues. I kind of have the opposite problem. In the past, I’ve found myself in situations (both romantic and sexual) where I decided to just go with the flow, because it just felt easier to say “yes” than to say “no.” However, that was then and this is now. I made a pact with myself after my big breakup, that I would look after myself – both physically and emotionally – and not do things that were self-destructive. My good friend Lindsay says that this means “listening to your Buddy voice” at all times. In other words, listening to your instincts, showing yourself some love and only doing things that feel right and authentic to you. So, last week that’s exactly what I did.

Be your own BFF and listen to your buddy voice. She's a peach.

He drove me home in stony silence, the 15 minute drive feeling like 50.

I thanked him for being good to me and asked him whether we could stay friends.

His response, “I don’t think so”

Can you blame him?

I’m proud of myself for listening to my “Buddy voice”. It just really sucks that I ended up hurting someone’s feelings in the process. Given the option between how I felt stepping out of the car that night and what happened earlier in the week, I’d choose the bird poop – hands down.

Greetings From the Man Buffet

After Christmas I spent a few days visiting my best friend and her daughter who live a few hours North of Sleepytown. When I woke up groggy eyed last Saturday morning, my best friend asked me:

“How did you sleep?”

“Not that great. I had this dream that I was going on all these weird dates with people I had met on Plenty of Fish

“Simone, that’s not a dream. That’s actually been happening.”

I had to laugh because she is right.

Online dating. It's weird.

After a year of very little male contact in this town, trying online dating for the first time was like being escorted to a giant all you can eat Man Buffet and being told “dig in!” For example, when you find yourself at any buffet there are always a few things you know to avoid based purely on instinct (the mystery jello pudding) There are also items that you wouldn’t put on your plate even if someone paid you (the devilled eggs.) However, beyond the obviously questionable “fare” there’s whole lot of middle ground of stuff that’s OK to indulge in.

Before you know it you’re digging into roast beef and Yorkshire pudding even though you know in your heart you’re way more of a tuna tataki kind of girl. The food is there, it’s warm and and gosh darnit you paid $10.95 just like everyone else, so it’s yours for the taking. Besides, every buffet has at least one thing that’s awesome, right? Maybe if you keep sampling you’ll eventually stumble across your figurative golden pot of baked brie & smoked bacon mac and cheese in the sky. Isn’t this what you’re supposed to do at a buffet?

Of course, it’s all good until you catch yourself taking a spoonful of the mystery jello pudding and cracking open your 20th crab leg of the evening. That’s when you have this moment where you’re like, “OMG I JUST ATE TWENTY CRAB LEGS AND I’M NOT EVEN HUNGRY. WHY DID I TRY THE PUDDING? WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?”

Yes, online dating is totally like this.

Also, in case it wasn’t clear – watching me eat at a buffet is kind of gross.

I think I was so relieved that my first online dating experiences weren’t total disasters, that I ignored some initial red flags. I mistook “not terrible” for “awesome”. Although I steered clear of the “devilled eggs” (which there are many on Plenty of Fish – just read this post), I came dangerously close to the “mystery pudding” table, dating a few people that I probably wouldn’t have given a chance had I met them under different circumstances.

A month into this online dating experiment, I’ve had to add some new items to my red flag & deal-breaker list.

It’s not going to work if…

1. He doesn’t have any friends or an active social life (I enjoy an active social life & love hanging out with my friends. If you don’t – this isn’t going to work. It’s all about balance.)

2. He doesn’t have close ties with his family (Although not a complete deal breaker – after all, we can’t choose our families – if a guy can’t understand that I enjoy spending time with my family, it’s not going to work.)

3. He doesn’t own a phone. Not even a landline. (Question: HOW DO YOU LIVE?)

4. He does own a rotating tie rack. (Oh hi, Patrick Bateman)

4. He had one friend but he hasn’t heard from him in a few weeks since said friend was admitted to the local mental hospital.

5. When you go over to their house to watch a movie, they take the whole sofa and make you sit in the weird puffy chair on the other side of the room.

6. You have conversations that sound like this:

“Have you heard of ______ band?”

“No, have you heard of ______ band?”

“No, but I like _____ have you heard of them?”

“No, have you seen _____ movie?”

“No, sorry. Have you seen______?”

“No, sorry I’ve never heard of it.”

Eventually you end up agreeing on some movie/band/book that you both kind of liked. Sort of like that song by Deep Blue Something except the thing that you both kind of liked isn’t anywhere as cool as Breakfast at Tiffany’s and you leave the date thinking, “WHY THE HELL DID I TELL THAT GUY I THOUGHT HOUSE BUNNY WAS A GREAT MOVIE?”

7. He used to manage an adult video store.

8. The first thing you see when you walk into their apartment is a box labelled “COSTUMES.”

9. Their best friend’s nickname is “Rape-y” because “he’s always making jokes about raping his female co-workers” but don’t worry, “He’s a hilarious guy and you’re totally going to love him!”

*This friend may or may not be currently residing in local psych ward.

Of the initial 3 dates I’ve been on, I’ve had to cut two loose, leaving only one man standing. I won’t say too much about this man except that he’s kind, considerate and no rotating tie racks have materialized during our courtship thus far.

To be continued…

PS. The second image was found here and yes, that’s my new dating mantra.

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