DatingArticles

Articles for Dating Couples

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    50 Shades of What?

    Women are more than just sexual objects. Even after the height of the women's movement, they fight to seen as bright, capable of great accomplishments and worthy of respect. For years, women have taught other females about the difference between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy one.

    Now, there's Fifty Shades of Grey. Married women, college women and even young teen girls are so infatuated with it that they have actually bought more than 30 million copies.

    It is the story of Ana, a college student who is pursued by an older guy, Christian Grey. Ana is attracted to Grey when they meet, but she believes the attraction is not mutual. Through a series of events, Grey reveals that he wants to have sex with Ana. However, he requires her to complete paperwork beforehand: a non-disclosure agreement forbidding her to discuss anything they do together. There is also a second contract: one of dominance and submission, with the understanding that there will be no romantic relationship, only a sexual one. Grey is into bondage, discipline and sadomasochism (BDSM).

    While Ana finds Grey intriguing, he confuses her. He showers her with gifts and takes her to meet his family. Yet he wants to control what she eats, tell her what to wear and require her to obey him. And, he does not allow her to touch him or look him in the eyes. Grey beats her with a belt when Ana asks him to show her how extreme the BDSM could get.

    Why does this novel draw so many women in? Doesn't it promote women as sexual objects? What is the book's message about love? Would you want your daughter to date or marry Christian Grey?

    “I think women who are intrigued by this book must ask themselves, ‘Why does this guy appeal to me?’” says Pam Johnson, licensed clinical social worker. “Being willing to turn over the keys to your life to someone who wants to dominate and control you has a very high price tag.”

    Trust and support, mutual respect, non-threatening behavior, negotiation, healthy boundaries and fairness are the hallmarks of healthy relationships. Contracts forbidding conversation about the relationship or treating one of the people in the relationship as less than the other are not healthy or loving behaviors.

    Why would a woman offer herself to a man who makes it perfectly clear he only wants to dominate her and have sex with her?

    “In many instances, this 'Christian Grey' kind of person attracts women who are looking for safety and security,” Johnson says. “At first it may be very appealing to have someone who will take all the hard decisions away when things feel scary and out of control. However, you cannot mistake control over your life for a real love that is safe and secure.”

    Any relationship that dominates, degrades, and fails to nourish and cherish is nothing more than a work of fiction. When a woman learns to first love herself for who she is, there is no room for shades of gray.

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    What You Should Know About Fishing for Relationships

    Relationships are complicated, but "catfishing" takes things to a whole new level. A "catfish" uses Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.

    Have you heard about the media firestorm concerning Manti Te’o and his serious "girlfriend's" tragic death? The entire country felt sorry for Te'o. The problem: The girlfriend never even existed.

    Here's another example: Four attractive young women tearfully told Dr. Phil of being duped online and believing they were talking to a guy…the same guy. One woman talked with him on the phone every day for three years; they exchanged photographs, texts and were planning their future together. None of these women ever personally met their love interest. They were shocked to discover that "David" was actually a woman. And, they had never spoken with the guy in their photos.

    How can people be so naïve to fall victim to this kind of scam, and why would someone do this? Who knows how or why a person deceives and leads people on. Perhaps it's a need for power and control, a desire for attention or to hurt people. But, the bigger question is – why do people ever fall prey to this? The women pushed red flags aside in the name of love. Maybe people are so desperate for love that they are willing to deceive themselves about what real relationships look like.

    Real Relationships

    Spend time together, talk and get to know each other face to face. Talking on the phone and messaging back and forth only provides a one-dimensional perspective of your relationship. It is impossible to be in love with someone without seeing how they interact with others, how they handle anger and conflict, or how they treat you. You may be in love with who you think they are, but you have no proof that what you have heard or seen is real.

    Look for trust, honesty and openness. If a person can’t meet you, your friends or family in person, stop wasting your time in a fantasy world. Don't settle for anything less than a relationship that is healthy, nurturing and most importantly, REAL.

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    Creative Date Ideas

    Going on a date doesn’t have to be expensive or stressful. Here are a few of our ideas:

    • Go for a hike in the mountains.
    • Watch a funny movie together.
    • Help out in a service organization together.
    • Grab something to eat and take it to the park for a picnic.
    • Go for a walk or jog.
    • Cook a meal together.
    • Go to a park, swing and play.
    • People watch in the mall.
    • Go for a drive and explore new places.
    • Work out together.
    • Learn something new together.
    • Get dressed up and have a candlelight dinner at home.
    • Go to a historic site.
    • Philosophize under the stars. Share your hopes and dreams.
    • Play board games or cards.
    • Learn to play a sport together.
    • Read a book together.
    • Bury a treasure (like a big Hershey’s kiss) and take the other person on treasure hunt to find it.
    • Throw the other person a surprise party for a special occasion.
    • Set up a mystery date.
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    The Millennial Success Sequence

    In 2009, Brookings Institute scholars Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill proposed a successful path into adulthood. Called the “success sequence,” this path is most likely to lead toward economic success and away from poverty. It includes finishing at minimum a high school education, getting a job, followed by marriage and then having children. Since proposing this path, no real test has been done to see if that approach applies to today’s young adults.

    Researchers Brad Wilcox and Wendy Wang decided to measure the impact of the success sequence messaging on millennials. Wilcox is a senior fellow at the Institute for Family Studies. Wang is the director of research at the Institute for Family Studies and former senior researcher at Pew Research Center. Their findings reveal some interesting data about millennial behavior regarding education, employment, marriage and family.

    According to the study, a record 55 percent of millennial parents (ages 28-34) have put childbearing before marriage. This indicates that today’s young adults take increasingly divergent paths toward adulthood when it comes to family formation. These divergent pathways are associated with markedly different economic fortunes among millennials.

    “We found that 97 percent of millennials who followed the success sequence are not poor and are in the middle income track by age 30,” says Wilcox. “Based on every indicator, from our perspective, the success sequence is still quite relevant and compelling.”

    Fully 86 percent of young adults who married first have family incomes in the middle or top third. Compare that to only 53 percent of millennials who put childbearing before marriage. For young, single and childless adults, 73 percent have family incomes in the middle or upper third income distributions.

    The pattern holds true for racial and ethnic minorities, as well as young adults in lower income families.

    • 76 percent of African American and 81 percent of Hispanic young adults who married first are in the middle or upper third of the income distribution. With them are 87 percent of whites.
    • 71 percent of millennials who grew up in the bottom third of the income distribution, but married and then had a baby, moved up to the middle or upper third of the distribution as young adults.

    “Some have questioned if the success sequence is all about education and work, with marriage being an afterthought,” Wilcox says. “Are education and work the only pieces really driving the story?

    “Based on our findings, the link between marriage and economic success among millennials is robust. Compared with the path of having a baby first, marrying before children more than doubles young adults’ odds of being in the middle or top income tiers. This holds true, even after adjusting for education, childhood family income, employment status, race/ethnicity, sex and respondents’ scores on the Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT) which measures intelligence and knowledge of a range of subjects.”

    Findings from the study also show:

    • A stunning 97 percent of millennials who follow the success sequence are NOT poor when they reach their prime young adult years (ages 28-34).
    • 31 percent of millennial high school graduates (who didn’t follow the work and marriage steps by their mid-20s) are in poverty during their prime adult years.

    According to Wilcox, data that tracks adults across the transition to adulthood indicates good news for following the success sequence. That path is the most likely one to guide people to realize the American Dream. Education, work and marriage are important - even for a generation that has taken increasingly varied routes into adulthood. Considering this, business and civic leaders should promote public policies and cultural changes that esteem this sequence and make it more attainable.

    Based on this report, it appears that millennials are beginning to see the value in marriage. They're also finding out how the timing of their decisions impacts their ability to achieve their long-term goals.

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    The Cost of Delayed Marriage

    Knot Yet, a report released in April 2013 by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancies, The Relate Institute and The National Marriage Project at The University of Virginia, explores the positive and negative consequences for 20-something women, men, their children and the entire nation concerning two troublesome trends:

    • The age at which men and women marry, now at historic heights – 27 for women and 29 for men; and
    • The age at which women have children.

    Delayed marriage has elevated the socioeconomic status of women. This is especially true more-privileged women, as it allows them to reach their life goals. It has also reduced the odds of divorce for U.S. couples who are now marrying.

    But although they are marrying later, women have not put off childbearing at the same pace. The median age at first birth for women, 25.7, falls before the median age of first marriage, 26.5.

    • By age 25, 44 percent of women have had a baby, while only 38 percent have married. Overall, 48 percent of first births are to unmarried women, most of them in their 20s.

    This phenomenon, called “the crossover,” happened decades ago for the least-economically privileged. However, for middle class American women (those who have a high school degree or some college), the crossover has been recent and rapid. There has been no crossover for college-educated women, who typically have their first child more than two years after marrying.

    The “crossover” is concerning. But why? 

    • Children born outside of marriage are much more likely to experience family instability, school failure and emotional problems.
    • Children born to cohabiting couples are three times more likely to see their parents break up than children born to married parents.
    • Middle class and poor Americans and their kids are more likely to pay the cost of delayed marriage in America, and
    • College-educated Americans and their kids are more likely to enjoy the benefits of marriage.

    Does Sequence Matter?

    Researchers believe that for the sake of today’s 20-somethings and their children, syncing marriage and childbearing would be beneficial. Becoming a parent requires intentionality, and relationships flourish within what Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill call "the success sequence”:  Complete at least a high school education, get a job, marry and then have children - in that order.

    Marriage is clearly not for everyone, but the decoupling of marriage and parenthood is deeply worrisome. The "crossover' fuels economic and educational inequality, not to mention instability. Knot Yet proposes a comprehensive approach encompassing economic, educational, civic and cultural initiatives to help 20-somethings find new ways to put the baby carriage after marriage.

    The sequence of marriage - then parenthood - is not a guarantee for success. And, going out of sequence is not a recipe for failure. However, there is clearly a growing disconnect between sexual activity, parental intentions and marriage.

    Most young adults believe non-marital childbearing is acceptable. They seem unaware of the toll that it can take on their lives and society. Unfortunately, the research shows that when people become parents before having a plan or a partner, children are the ones who stand to lose the most.

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    Cohabitation: Good or Bad?

    Cohabitation has been a hot topic of conversation for many years. In the 60s and 70s very few couples lived together before marriage. Today, more than 60 percent of couples cohabit before marrying. Numerous reputable studies, however, find that couples who cohabit prior to marriage significantly increase their risk for divorce.

    In April 2012, a New York Times piece addressed the downside of cohabitation. It said that couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to have less-satisfying marriages — and are more likely to divorce — than couples who live apart before marriage. Researchers call these negative outcomes “the cohabitation effect.”

    Prior to the NYT piece, the March 2012 Christian Science Monitor touted “new research” that was part of a Centers for Disease Control survey of 22,000 men and women, focusing on marriage and divorce and what makes a good marriage. It suggested that times have changed from when cohabitation before marriage signaled higher chances for divorce later. The study’s lead author, Casey Copen, says that cohabitation plays a smaller role in predicting divorce than it used to.

    So does cohabitation harm your chances of marriage? Does it increase the risk of divorce?

    “I would tell people to hit the pause button before they run out and encourage friends to start shacking up,” says Glenn Stanton, author of The Ring Makes All the Difference: The Hidden Consequences of Cohabitation and the Strong Benefits of Marriage. “A wealth of data suggests that the significant negative impact of cohabiting has not disappeared into the ozone.”

    Stanton points out that the Christian Science Monitor did not cite a study on cohabitation. Instead, it cited a study examining first marriages in the United States.

    “This is only one study in a long, impressive and robust body of research showing that cohabitation is generally associated with greater divorce risk in marriage,” Stanton says. “In fact, the study actually acknowledges that it has been well-documented that women and men who cohabit with their future spouse are more likely to divorce compared with the non-cohabiting marrieds.”

    Stanton cites a particular study about cohabitation’s negative impact on both marital quality and marital longevity. The negative impact did not wane as cohabitation has gained social acceptance.

    But does “social acceptance” mean that living together before marriage is a positive thing?

    For example, smoking cigarettes was not only socially acceptable in the past. In fact, it was the cool thing to do for years. Then research revealed that smoking, and even second-hand smoke, causes lung cancer. While not everybody who smokes gets lung cancer, the risk was great enough to make people think twice.

    If a lifelong, healthy marriage is your goal, consider the evidence. There is more than enough of it to support that living together before marriage may put your relationship at risk.

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