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

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

What do 107 million Americans have in common?  They’re single. For the past three years, Match.com has worked to understand them. This year as part of their 2012 Singles in America Study, Match.com 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 Match.com 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? 

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