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Being a Virginian, and with many friends and family who are University of Virginia alumni, it hits close to home that a year ago today, a female UVa. student was found in her college quarters beaten to death. And shockingly, her boyfriend is the one who stands trial for her murder.

Glamour magazine covered the UVa. story a year ago, but was disturbed when headline after headline in the media repeated that same story with different women and their partners. They conducted a poll with Harris Interactive of 2,500 women. The findings? That 30 percent of women in relationships have been abused by their partners. Looking closer, when the term “abuse” is expanded to include emotional as well as physical abuse, the number rises to an alarming 60 percent.

Have you ever been in a relationship where you were abused? Or, have you witnessed it happening to someone you know? It’s one of those things that might be easier to notice from the outside, and perhaps a grey area unless your friend confides in you. But should you say something? Absolutely. (Glamour has an article here about how to start this type of definitely-uncomfortable conversation.)

What’s also appalling is how underfunded one the biggest programs confronting domestic violence is. In 2010, the National Domestic Violence Hotline had to let over 80,000 calls go answered! What can you do? You can text TELLNOW to 85944 to make a $10 donation toward the hotline–up to $200,000 of donations will be matched by the Avon Foundation for Women. Also, check out Glamour’s new “Tell Somebody” campaign.

On a local level, the Help and Emergency Response (H.E.R.) Shelter in Portsmouth has a 24-hour hotline for referrals or information. H.E.R. also provides emergency shelter to women and children. Check out their website if you want more info.

Do you like playing a game of chicken? Unless you’re a thrill seeker…probably not! At least not in the traditional car-racing-toward-each-other sense. But we do play the relationship equivalent, in fact. It can be summed up in three little words: “I love you”! Yep, that very risky and usually relationship-changing (or ending?!) moment.

According to a study done by MIT psychologist Josh Ackerman, in which the 205 people studied were all involved in heterosexual relationships, men are more likely than women to be the one who drops the L word first (even though over 60 percent of those studied said they thought women tend to be the initiators!). Also, men reportedly feel happier than women after those words are exchanged. (Although, the study concedes, it’s not ALWAYS because they have noble intentions…but sometimes it is!) Ackerman even provides tips to women for when and how to say those three powerful words when dealing with commitment phobes, with men who are looking for longer-term relationships…and, when to just hold out till the guy says it.

I remember a few years ago, I was tearing my hair out wondering why the guy I had been seeing seriously wasn’t saying those words. Of course, being that that relationship was obviously destined to end, right now I can’t remember if I wanted to hear it because I felt the milestone was just appropriate, or because I was bursting to say it too. Maybe it was my slightly competitive nature; but I do not tend to yield (and in that case, I didn’t)! But, there’s not necessarily a right or  a wrong, and every situation, every relationship, is different.

Until I meet a situation where my emotions overwhelm my reason (and, um, my pride), I definitely have to agree with the study’s indirect recommendation that [if they’re not willing to risk being met with the sounds of dead silence, or whatever reason they do have] women should hold out as long as they can i.e. wait for the guy to give in first…because, as Ackerman’s study indicates at least, he probably will. Heh.

Do you speak what you feel when it comes to “I love you”, or do you wait for it to be said first? Is pride an issue for you? What if he/she just didn’t give in?

Check out Yahoo!’s Shine article on the study here.
And for those of you who really wanna know all the info, here is a full copy of the study.

Quick test! Have you got the knack of Tweeting down to its awesome micro-blogging science? Can you put together 140-character updates in a snap and get in everything you wanna say?

Well, short and sweet has its advantages, but not when it comes to relationships, apparently. Not according to one of the hilarious charts that dating site OKCupid put together (check out chart 4!). Yep, that’s right, a whole TWO MONTHS shorter and sweeter. Maybe all that connectedness and succinctness come with a price?!

How long are your average relationships? And how many social media sites do you actively participate in? If you’re not married, have you seen the longevity of your relationships decrease as you use more and more social media sites, apps, etc?

Don’t blame me, blame the study. An academic study, recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and summarized here, says that giving your partner the freedom to let their eye wander a little bit (or being given that leeway yourself) can make for a healthier relationship, one in which you’re less likely to stray and find satisfaction. Basically, I think what the study really conveys is this: if you know your quick double-take of appreciation to an attractive person who isn’t your significant other (and no, we’re NOT talking ogling here!) won’t result in an onslaught of resentment, you’ll be less likely to get defensive. Keep the peace and choose your battles, right? Unless you or the other person is truly being inappropriate, a resulting argument could do worse for the relationship than the checking out itself.

Of course, those who are totally and utterly happy in their relationship usually don’t even notice other attractive people, right?  Love is blind, they say. But, we all know the love-is-blind phase doesn’t last forever. And there’s a big difference between simply glancing at another attractive human being and letting your saliva drip to the floor.

I really don’t know how I feel about this one. One the one hand, what does a glance really mean? A good-looking person is eye catching…noticing their attractiveness doesn’t necessarily equate to actual attraction, and NOT looking at all is just one big elephant in the room. On the other hand, it’s still annoying, perhaps not enough to call attention to.

It’s a whole ‘nother story when it comes to celebrities through, because what I know for sure is this:  one day when I’m married, if I do happen to flip to a TV channel and see Keanu Reeves (or Gerard Butler, or Ryan Reynolds, or…well, the list could go on…) on the screen, I WILL stop and drool for a minute…or two. Trust me. And my husband will just have to deal with it.

Do you get annoyed when the guy or girl you’re with checks out someone else? And what do YOU do?