Tag Archives: love

After the vote: Meet tomorrow with resolve, determination

Throughout our nation’s history, we’ve faced devastating setbacks in our pursuit of a more perfect union. But even in the darkest of moments, Americans have summoned the courage and persistence to fight on. The results of tonight’s presidential election require us to meet tomorrow with the same resolve and determination.

This is a crucial moment for our nation and for the LGBTQ movement.

The election of a man who stands opposed to our most fundamental values has left us all stunned. There will be time to analyze the results of this election, but we cannot afford to dwell. We must meet these challenges head on.

Over the last 18 months, Donald Trump and Mike Pence have intentionally sowed fear and division for cynical political purposes. They now face a decision about whether they will also govern that way. We hope, for the sake of our nation and our diverse community — which includes women, people of color, those with disabilities, immigrants, and people of all faiths and traditions — they will choose a different path.

For our part, HRC will continue our fight for equality and justice for all with greater urgency and determination than ever before. We must. Lives literally depend on it.

Despite the outcome of this presidential race, we know that the tide has irreversibly turned in favor of LGBTQ equality. Today, we draw strength from the vast majority of Americans who believe that our lives and rights are worth fighting for. Thanks to you and your tireless work, we deployed the largest get out the vote effort in our organization’s history. In North Carolina, it appears we have defeated the hateful Governor Pat McCrory and helped elect Roy Cooper to repeal HB2. We were proud to support Hillary Clinton, and she made history as the most pro-equality candidate to ever run for president of the United States.

The defeats we have suffered tonight demonstrate that our future victories will require us to dig deeper and work harder to continue bending the moral arc of the universe toward justice and equality. We must fight to protect our progress, and to limit the damage that Donald Trump has promised.

To every LGBTQ person across this nation feeling stunned and disheartened, and questioning if they have a place in our country today, I say this: You do. Don’t ever let anybody tell you otherwise. Be bold, be strong, and continue to stand up for the principles that have always made America great.

At a time like this, we don’t slow down. We double down. Tomorrow, HRC will set to work once again, undeterred and focused on our mission to realize a world in which every single LGBTQ person is safe and equal and valued.”

Pope backs opposition to Mexico’s gay-marriage proposal

Pope Francis recently voiced support for Mexican bishops and citizens opposing the government’s push to legalize same-sex marriage.

At his weekly Sunday blessing, Francis said he willingly joined their protest “in favor of family and life, which in these times require special pastoral and cultural attention around the world.”

Francis has opposed gay marriage and has railed against “gender ideology,” particularly as taught in schools.

But he rarely intervenes publicly in national debates, preferring to let local bishops take the lead.

Over the weekend, tens of thousands of people marched through Mexico City o in opposition to President Enrique Pena Nieto’s push to legalize same-sex marriage.

Organizers of the National Front for the Family estimated at least 215,000 people participated, and while that number could not be immediately confirmed, it was clearly one of the largest protest marches in Mexico in recent years.

Dressed mainly in white and carrying white balloons, the marchers held banners warning against same-sex marriage and demanding parents’ right to control sex education in schools.

“We are not against anybody’s (sexual) identity,” said Abraham Ledesma, an evangelical pastor who traveled from the border city of Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas, to participate in Saturday’s march. “What we are against is the government imposition … of trying to impose gender ideology in education. As religious leaders, we don’t want to be forced to marry same-sex couples and call it marriage.”

Others carried signs saying “an adopted child deserves a mother and a father.”

On the other side of a police barricade separating the two sides at Mexico’s Independence Monument, a far smaller crowd of same-sex marriage supporters — perhaps a couple hundred — listened to music and speeches.

“They may be the majority,” said Felipe Quiroz, a gay activist and school teacher. “But just because they are the majority, doesn’t mean they can take rights away from minorities. That would lead us to a dark period, to fundamentalism.”

Many saw the massive march as the Roman Catholic church flexing its political muscle in a country where about 80 percent of people identify as nominally Catholic.

In May, Pena Nieto proposed legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

It is currently legal only in some places such as Mexico City, the northern state of Coahuila and Quintana Roo state on the Caribbean coast.

But in June, Pena Nieto’s party suffered unprecedented losses in midterm governorship elections, and his party has since put the proposal on the back burner in Congress.

Activists say opposition to same-sex marriage played a role.

 

Surveying singles in the city

The number-crunchers and trend analysts at WalletHub say they have a formula for rating the best — and worst — cities for singles. Their study of the 150 most populated U.S. cities shows Madison at No. 15 for singles and Milwaukee at No. 89.

Salt Lake City came in at No. 1, followed by Orlando, Florida; Tempe, Arizona; Atlanta; Scottsdale, Arizona; Austin, Texas; Reno, Nevada; Cincinnati and San Francisco to complete the top 10.

The bottom included Hialeah, Florida; North Las Vegas, Nevada; Glendale, California; Detroit; Columbus, Georgia; Chula Vista, California; Oxnard, California; Aurora, Illinois; and Newark, New Jersey.

There was a method to the list-making. A city could earn as many as 50 points for “dating economics” and 50 points for “romance and fun.”

In deciding “dating economics,” points were awarded for the costs of restaurant meals, beer and wine, movie tickets, taxi fares, fitness club fees, beauty salon services and haircuts, as well as for housing costs, household income, job-growth rates and unemployment rates.

In tabulating points for “romance and fun,” the numbers of restaurants, cafes, attractions, parks, nightclubs, shopping centers and spas were considered, as well as the percentage of single people, city accessibility, crime rate and online dating opportunities.

Madison’s “romance and fun” ranking was 12 and Milwaukee’s was 71; Atlanta led in that category.

In the “dating economics” category, Madison dropped to 79 and Milwaukee ranked 81. No. 1 in that category was Gilbert, Arizona. 

Madison’s point total was 79 out of 100 and Milwaukee’s was 47.94.

WiG, via Facebook and Twitter, surveyed readers in Milwaukee and Madison and found lists such as WalletHub’s “best and worst cities for singles” are made to be bring delight, debate and dismissal.

“I think Milwaukee’s better than that number shows,” said David Reece, a happily single guy. “But maybe it depends on who you are and where you are in life.”

Reece is 57 years old and gay. “Maybe in a city it’s easier to date when you can find a small community,” he added.

College student Marsha Wills said the same of Madison. “It’s kind of like how it’s better to shop the food co-op than Walmart,” said Wills, who said she has several options for Valentine’s Day. “You know things are going to be better quality and fresher.” 

Fashion and film find romance in ‘The Looks of Love’

Fashion and style have forever been in bed with film, television and music, especially in the moments that scream love.

We all have our top pop memories of romance, lust, marriage and heartbreak from those worlds and more, including the beauty industry and the world of advertising. In a new book, The Looks of Love: 50 Moments in Fashion That Inspired Romance, insider and designer Hal Rubenstein has rounded up some of his. 

We asked him to illuminate his favorites from the book, recently released by Harper Design in plenty of time for Valentine’s Day:

‘LOVE STORY’

Rubenstein calls 1970s Love Story a “cheaply produced, poorly shot and badly edited” film of Erich Segal’s runaway best-selling book. Both had fans weeping by the millions. Among the reasons the film did well were the genetically blessed stars, Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal, but coming as it did in the ascendancy of Woodstock, with its bell-bottoms and beaded necklaces, Love Story ironically led the way for preppy style. Forever.

In his Harris Tweed blazers over Shetland sweaters and blue Oxford cloth shirts with collars out, O’Neal’s Ollie might well have been raised by the sales staff of Brooks Brothers, Rubenstein said. MacGraw’s Jenny, meanwhile, walked a protest-free campus in a peacoat, black turtleneck and plaid skirt with matching scarf once the book (thanks to a plug of gold from fan Barbara Walters) hit the big screen the year after the seismic Woodstock.

SONNY AND CHER

Her Bob Mackie gowns and long, straight raven hair are legendary, as are his furry vests and Prince Valiant ’dos. But there’s something else, Rubenstein said, besides their break-out duets that hit the Top 40 in 1965. They followed up with The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour that premiered on CBS in 1971, ending in 1974.

The two fell out of love and divorced in 1975. Both had short-lived solo TV shows before CBS persuaded them in 1976 to reunite as a divorced couple in the same time slot on Sunday nights.

“They were the first high-profile couple ever to appear public divorced and getting along,” Rubenstein, 65, said. “When I was a kid you said the word divorce the same way everybody said the word cancer. And they basically said, ‘Here we are and we’re having a good time,’ and it changed people’s attitudes toward divorce.”

JAMES DEAN

With Taylor Swiftian efficiency, James Dean’s rise to teen idol started with his debut as the troubled Cal Trask in East of Eden. The film served as a 1953 counterpart to the more macho stars of the previous generation — Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, Gregory Peck and even Marlon Brando, just seven years Dean’s senior, Rubenstein writes.

Trask was followed in 1955 by Dean’s portrayal of the vulnerable, unsure Jim Stark, who wears his teen heart on the sleeve of a red nylon windbreaker in Rebel Without a Cause. It’s not easy looking that cool in a red zip windbreaker, but Dean pulls it off.

Offscreen, he was more closely associated with Schott NYC Perfecto black leather motorcycle jackets. He never wore one in a movie but Brando did and the Perfecto line of leather jackets lives on. 

“There is not a leather jacket out there that is not stolen from that Schott jacket,” Rubenstein said.

The boy band One Direction tops Twitter’s charts for tweets this year

Messages of love and gratitude shared by the boy band One Direction topped Twitter’s charts this year, eclipsing President Barack Obama’s celebration of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage.

One Direction members accounted for half of the 10 most recirculated tweets, including the three most popular.

All the One Direction tweets were either directed at bandmates or the group’s fans. None are likely to be remembered for heralding pivotal moments in history.

“All the love as always. H,” One Direction’s Harry Styles tweeted in March after Zayn Malik announced plans to leave the group. Styles boasts 26.3 million Twitter followers. The band’s other current and former members have amassed between 16.6 million and 23.7 million followers apiece.

Obama nabbed the fourth spot in the Twitter rankings released Monday with a June 26 tweet that hailed the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage as “a big step in our march toward equality.”

Other tweets in Twitter’s Top 10 came from Saudi Arabia King Salman after his crowning, hip hop personality Kayne West calling for people to do everything they can, actor Leonard Nimoy philosophizing five days before his death and Caitlyn Jenner introducing herself after her transition from one-time Olympic decathlon champion Bruce Jenner.

Twitter also released some of the most popular topics, denoted by hashtags, that resonated with the more than 300 million users of its short-messaging service. The list included (hashtag)JeSuisParis after last month’s terrorist attack in France, (hashtag) BlackLivesMatter after police shootings of African-Americans in several U.S. cities, (hashtag) LoveWins after the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage and (hashtag) RefugeesWelcome as people fled the Middle East for Europe.

Although Twitter Inc. has built a big audience, Facebook’s social network is five times larger.

A list about what people were talking about on Facebook this year is expected to be released soon, too.

On the Web…

https://twitter.com/onedirection 

An open letter to Kim Davis | Signatures are invited

As you may know, when you fall in love with someone, you hand your heart and soul over to them. Anyone who has committed to sharing their life with another human and forming a family unit knows that it is the biggest and most rewarding adventure you will ever take.

You know that all of the laughs and all of the tears won’t fall on the echo of an empty room, but will instead be received in the warm embrace of someone who has pledged to see you at your best and love you at your worst. You know that person is there to help pick you up on those days when the odds are stacked against you. You know that you never have to do the dishes alone.

When I met John, I had no idea that I would spend the next two decades building a life with the man who would one day inspire me to demand our right to be recognized by our country. I earned the right to lawfully call him my husband, just as you have a right to call your husband such. Love transcends gender.

You’re imposing the same indignities on couples in Rowan County that John and I suffered when Ohio would not legally recognize us as a married couple. Thankfully, the law is now changed so that nobody should ever have to experience the injustice that John and I endured. No one is above the law, Kim, not even you.

I joined the fight to have our love treated equally precisely because our love is equal. The love that any family shares is no more or less worthy than that of any other, and it’s not fair for you, or anyone, to judge. It’s your job to simply do your job. Issuing a marriage license at work is not a personal endorsement of my marriage any more than recording a deed is an endorsement of my home ownership.

It’s simply following the rules in this civil society in which we’ve all agreed to be members.

What truly matters is the kindness and compassion we share with our families and with those around us. Love makes a family. And as of June 2015 the federal government agrees.

I did not fight for my right to call John my husband in vain. I stand today in his memory and proudly declare him my legally wedded spouse. Do not stand in the way of others seeking their legal right to have their love recognized.

Sincerely,

Jim Obergefell for ACLU Action

On the Web …

To sign the open letter with Jim in support of marriage equality, please visit: 
https://action.aclu.org/secure/letter-kim-davis


U.S. welcomes U.N. discussion on ISIL attacking LGBT people

The United States welcomed the first-ever “Arria formula” discussion by the UN Security Council of how better to protect the lives and dignity of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender persons, who are frequently among the most vulnerable in conflict and post-conflict situations.

The session focused on ISIL’s atrocities targeted against LGBT persons and those perceived to be LGBT in Syria and Iraq.

National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said, “In highlighting acts of horrific brutality that these individuals have endured, today’s discussion challenged the international community to develop better and more effective protections for LGBT persons.”

Price continued, “The United States thanks the government of Chile for its partnership in convening today’s discussion, as well as all those who contributed to it. Just as the United States will not relent in our efforts to defeat and ultimately destroy ISIL, we will continue striving for a world in which no one is subject to violence or persecution because of who they are or whom they love.”

Love, death, family and justice: Marriage equality at the Supreme Court

A middle-of-the night trip to the emergency room, with her 9-month-old son coughing and laboring to breathe, gave Pam Yorksmith her latest reminder of why she took up the fight for same-sex marriage.

Before baby Orion could be treated for croup, the hospital had to call his birth mother — Yorksmith’s wife, Nicole — “to get permission to treat my child,” Yorksmith said.

Although the Yorksmiths started their family together through artificial insemination, hospital records and Orion’s birth certificate don’t list Pam Yorksmith as a parent.

Beyond the right to wed, gay and lesbian Americans in the 13 states that continue to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman confront obstacles across the course of their lives, from adoption to hospital visits to death benefits.

The Yorksmiths live in Kentucky and work in Ohio, both states that ban same-sex marriage. That complicates school enrollment, benefits, travel and tax matters, as well as medical care.

They are among the 19 men and 12 women whose same-sex marriage cases from those two states, plus Michigan and Tennessee, will be argued at the Supreme Court on April 28. 

Some sued for the right to marry, while others are fighting to have states recognize a marriage performed elsewhere. They include young parents and grandparents, as well as a couple of grieving men who already have lost their life partners.

Some have never known a moment’s fear about living life as an openly gay person.

Others, like Luke Barlowe and Jimmy Meade, still don’t hold hands in public, even after more than 40 years together.

“We grew up in an era where you didn’t show your affection for a same-sex person,” Barlowe said. “We’ve never gotten over that.”

Barlowe and Meade met in 1968 at the Gilded Cage, a gay bar in Lexington, Kentucky. Both retired, they married in Iowa in 2009 and live about an hour outside of Louisville.

“We wanted to do this not for us – it does nothing for us – but we wanted to do it for the kids coming up behind us,” Barlowe said.

Once the couple signed up for the lawsuit, they finally felt they could stop living in the shadows.

Meade had a doctor’s appointment recently and Barlowe filled out his paperwork. In the blank asking for their relationship, Barlowe did something he hadn’t done before. He wrote “husband.”

“It was the strangest feeling,” he said. “Even after all these years.”

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse were not planning to challenge Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage when they went to court to win the right to jointly adopt each other’s children. A federal judge transformed their case into one about the right to marry, and the nurses have become celebrities in their Detroit suburb of Hazel Park.

“We’ve been stopped multiple times at our local shopping center with people just telling their story. These are people’s lives that we’ve changed,” DeBoer said.

They live with their four adopted children, ages 2 to 6, and a foster child. Each woman has adopted two kids, but Michigan ties joint adoption to marriage.

“We decided that not doing anything would do more harm to our children than standing up and saying we’re going to fight,” DeBoer said.

DeBoer is a part-time neonatal nurse while Rowse works full time as an emergency room nurse. They hope to adopt a fifth child soon.

“These young children usually have medical needs,” DeBoer said. “We have training. We have room. We have the love.”

Sgt. 1st Class Ijpe deKoe and Thom Kostura were married in New York in 2011, just before deKoe deployed to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army. The Army has since moved them to Tennessee.

They have a game they play on the many road trips they take from their home in Memphis.

Each time they cross into another state they declare, “We’re married!” or “We’re not married!” – depending on whether the state recognizes same-sex marriage.

“I wish we could register for gifts every time we cross a state line,” Kostura said.

Those trips mimic daily life for deKoe, an Army Reserve sergeant on active duty. His marriage is considered valid while at work at a military base in Millington, Tennessee. But back home in Memphis, there is no legal recognition for his nearly 4-year-old marriage to Kostura.

In 2013, Jim Obergefell and John Arthur were watching TV news about the Supreme Court striking down part of the federal anti-gay marriage law. Obergefell leaned over, kissed the man he had loved for more than two decades, and said, “Let’s get married.”

They knew they didn’t have much time. Arthur was in the final stages of Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Ohio voters had banned same-sex marriage. So within weeks, a medically equipped plane carried them to Maryland, where Arthur’s aunt waited to officiate. Arthur lay on a gurney as the couple exchanged their vows inside the plane, on the tarmac.

Less than four months later, Arthur died at age 48. Obergefell was listed on the death certificate as his surviving spouse; the couple had won a court order before Arthur’s death to make it so.

That victory was overturned by the federal appeals court in Cincinnati, which upheld the same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee as well.

Obergefell also has run into problems with survivor benefits and he worries about being excluded, after his own death, from a family cemetery plot that Arthur’s grandparents set aside for married spouses and direct descendants.

None of it was a fight Obergefell and Arthur were looking for.

“No one could ever accuse us of being activists,” Obergefell said, smiling. “We just lived our lives. We were just John and Jim.”

Poll: Division on Supreme Court case, marriage equality

Americans narrowly favor allowing same-sex couples in their states to marry legally, an Associated Press-GfK poll finds. But that support comes with caveats, and there is a close division in the country over the upcoming Supreme Court case that could make gay marriage legal nationwide.

Here are 5 things to know about public opinion on gay rights and same-sex marriage.

1. SPLIT ON SUPREME COURT ACTION

The AP-GfK poll finds Americans are slightly more likely to favor than oppose legal same-sex marriage in their own states, 44 percent to 39 percent, while 15 percent say they don’t lean either way. But the country is evenly divided, 48 percent to 48 percent, on which way the Supreme Court should rule when it hears a case this spring on whether individual states can ban gay marriage or whether it must be legal nationally.

Gay marriage is now legal in 37 states because of a recent flurry of federal court decisions.

2. MANY SUPPORT RELIGIOUS EXEMPTIONS

Half of Americans think that even where gay and lesbian couples are allowed to marry legally, officials who issue marriage licenses should be exempt from issuing them to same-sex couples if they have religious objections, while 46 percent say there should be no such exemption. And 57 percent of Americans think wedding-related businesses should be allowed to refuse service to gay and lesbian couples for religious reasons.

Support for a religious right to refuse service isn’t limited to gay marriage opponents. About a quarter of those who favor legal same-sex marriage also favor religious exemptions for those who issue marriage licenses, the poll finds, and a third say wedding-related businesses should be allowed to refuse service.

Geri Rice, who lives near San Francisco and works in law firm management, strongly favors gay marriage. She’s torn about whether a public official with religious objections should be exempt from issuing a license but says she believes that business owners should be allowed to tell somebody no thanks.

“I don’t like it,” Rice said, “but I think they have the right.”

3. REFLECT MORMON CAMPAIGN

The poll results on same-sex marriage echo the views of the Mormon church. Earlier this month, the church called on state legislatures to pass new laws that protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination but also protect the rights of those who assert their religious beliefs.

James Esseks, who directs the LGBT project of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom “does not give any of us the right to harm others, and that’s what it sounds like the proposal from the Mormon church would do.”

In Utah County, south of Salt Lake City, clerk Bryan Thompson says he has strong personal opinions on same-sex marriage, but he doesn’t think they should influence how he performs his duties. His office initially waited to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in December 2013, after a federal judge in Utah struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage. Thompson said he had wanted more legal guidance from the state.

“I have a responsibility as a civil servant to follow the dictates of the law, regardless of my personal feelings or preferences,” Thompson said.

4. GAY RIGHTS DIVIDE REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS

Two-thirds of Democrats, but only 4 in 10 independents and 3 in 10 Republicans, think the Supreme Court should rule that all states must allow gay and lesbian couples to get married. But nearly half of moderate and liberal Republicans say the court should make same-sex marriage legal nationwide, compared only 2 in 10 conservative Republicans. Eight in 10 liberal Democrats and 6 in 10 moderate or conservative Democrats want the Supreme Court to make that decision.

About two-thirds of Democrats in the poll think local officials should not be exempt from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but 7 in 10 Republicans and about half of independents say they should be. But even among Democrats, nearly half said wedding-related businesses should be allowed to refuse service to gay couples.

5. EVANGELICALS DRIVE OPPOSITION

The new poll finds that strong opposition to gay marriage, and strong support for allowing local officials and businesses to avoid serving gay and lesbian couples on religious grounds, comes from evangelical Christians.

Eight in 10 evangelicals, but only 4 in 10 non-evangelicals, support religious exemptions for officials who issue marriage licenses. Three-quarters of evangelicals think businesses should be allowed to refuse service to gay couples, while non-evangelicals are about evenly split on that issue. Three-quarters of evangelicals oppose same-sex marriage being legal in their states, while 6 in 10 non-evangelicals are in favor.

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,045 adults was conducted online Jan. 29-Feb. 2, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online.

Science of love: Getting to the heart of the heart

Birds do it. 

Bees do it.

But why do we fall in love? How do we stay in love? What do we gain from love?

To explore those questions and more, WiG poured some wine, unwrapped a box of truffles, lit a candle and delved into a year’s worth of science and health journals. 

Sex or no sex?

Jesse Hollister and colleagues at the University of Toronto were captivated by the elegant, showy evening primrose because 30 percent of the species in the genus have evolved to reproduce asexually. This made the primrose the right plant to test a theory that biologists have long promoted: Species that reproduce sexually are healthier over time than species that reproduce asexually, because they don’t accumulate harmful mutations.

The researchers, working with teams in Canada and China, examined 30 pairs of the primrose species — one in the pair reproduced asexually; the other sexually.

“What we found was exactly what we predicted based on theory,” Hollister stated. 

“This is the first genetic support for the theory that a significant cost to being asexual is an accumulation of deleterious mutations,” said University of Toronto professor Mark Johnson. “This study has allowed us to unlock part of the mystery of why sex is so common. It’s good for your health, at least if you are a plant.”

Going pitter-patter?

Falling in love really does make the heart go pitter-patter and takes one’s breath away, say scientists with the Loyola Sexual Wellness Clinic at Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago.

Clinic co-director Pat Mumby said falling in love releases a flood of feel-good chemicals — dopamine, adrenaline and norepinephrine.

“This internal elixir of love is responsible for making our cheeks flush, our palms sweat and our hearts race,” said Mumby.

Credit dopamine for that euphoric feeling.

Credit adrenaline and norepinephrine for that pitter-patter of the heart and the pre-occupation with that other person.

Not so total recall

Think you remember the details of a love at first sight?

Maybe.

Maybe not, according to research from Northwestern University that was conducted with the support of the National Institutes of Health and published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The researchers showed that fragments of the present get inserted into the past to form faulty memories. Memories get adapted and updated, reframed to fit the now, according to lead author Donna Jo Bridge, who led the research at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

For the study, people viewed object locations on a computer screen with varied backgrounds. When asked to place the objects in the original location, the participants always placed them incorrectly. Next participants were shown the objects in three locations on the original screen and asked to choose the correct location. They placed the objects in the misremembered location because they had reformed the memory.

The look of love, or lust

Researchers with the University of Chicago, working with the University of Geneva, analyzed the eye movements of test subjects studying black-and-white photographs of strangers.

They found that people tended to fixate on the face, especially when they said an image elicited a feeling of romantic love.

However, subjects’ eyes moved from the face to the rest of the body when images evoked sexual desire. 

Marital investment

Professors with the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, examined changing expectations of marriage and relationships — from the 18th century to the 21st.

They reported that Americans, on average, are making smaller investments of time and energy in their relationships than in the past and they have very different expectations from the couples of yesterdays. 

“In 1800, the idea of marrying for love was ludicrous,” stated psychology professor Eli Finkel, the lead author of a paper presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Chicago. “That isn’t to say that people didn’t want love from their marriage; it just wasn’t the point of marriage.”

Today, according to Finkel, “Americans look to their marriages to help them ‘find themselves’ and to pursue careers and other activities that facilitate the expression of their core self.”

Table for four?

A study presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology annual conference in Austin, Texas, this past year suggested that double dating can help spark romance for a couple—provided the double date involves deep, revealing conversation.

Passion can decrease for a couple over time, but research shows that self-disclosure in a couple affects closeness and passion.

So what happens when two couples form a fast friendship and go beyond small talk to discuss deeper, personal topics?

“The more that the other couple responds to your self-disclosures in a validating and caring way when on a double date, the more passionate you feel about your own relationship,” said study author Keith Welker of Michigan’s Wayne State University. “Although we still need to investigate why responsiveness from other couples predicts increases in passionate love, one possibility is that having another couple respond positively to yourself and your partner may provide you with a fresh, positive view of your partner and relationship.”

A caution: Be sure that other couple is going to make you look good before you book a table for four on Valentine’s Day.

Faith-based frisky

A study from the University de Porto in Portugal published in Applied Research in Quality of Life indicates that people of faith and regular churchgoers are positive about their love lives and tend to express greater satisfaction with life and sexual relationships than the average adult.

The research involved nearly 1,300 Portuguese adults between 18 and 90 years old and used the “Satisfaction With Love Life Scale.”

Love, and loving sex

For her study on sexual pleasure, Penn State sociologist Beth Montemurro conducted a series of interviews with heterosexual women between the ages of 20 and 68.

Most women in the study said being in love made sex physically more pleasurable. Women in love said they felt less inhibited and more willing to explore.

Montemurro said the women interviewed “seemed to say you need love in sex and you need sex in marriage.”

Romance and rights

A team at Indiana University looked at attitudes toward couples and found that people generally think of loving relationships in a hierarchy: heterosexual couples being the most “in love,” followed by lesbian couples and then gay couples.

And these attitudes, the IU researchers wrote, led people to form beliefs about who should enjoy what rights and liberties — from holding hands to legally marrying.

The paper was titled “(Double) Standards for Granting Formal and Informal Privileges.” 

Matched up

Nearly all the gay and bisexual men involved in a first-of-its-kind study on love and sex said their most recent sexual event occurred with a relationship partner and that they felt “matched” in feelings of love with that partner.

The study, “Sexual Health in Gay and Bisexual Partners” was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior and conducted by Virginia’s George Mason University’s Department of Global and Community Health and Indiana University’s Center for Sexual Health and Promotion.

“These findings highlight the prevalence and value of loving feelings within same-sex relationships,” Joshua G. Rosenberger, lead investigator and George Mason professor, said when releasing the research.

The study was based on an Internet survey of 25,000 men.

“Very few people had sex with someone they loved if that person didn’t love them back,” said research scientist Beth Herbenick. “This ‘matching’ aspect of love has not been well explored in previous research, regardless of sexual orientation.”

Thinking of cheating, and cheating

Cheating — is it worse to think about it than to do it?

Well, researchers of a newly published study report that heterosexual men are more likely than heterosexual women to be most upset by sexual infidelity — 54 percent of heterosexual men, 35 percent of heterosexual women.

However, heterosexual men are less likely than heterosexual women to be upset most by emotional infidelity — 46 percent of heterosexual men, 65 percent of heterosexual women.

Bisexual men and women, gays and lesbians did not differ significantly.

“Heterosexual men really stand out from all the other groups: They were the only ones who were much more likely to be upset by sexual infidelity rather than emotional infidelity,” stated lead author David Frederick, who suggested insecurity about paternity may have something to do with the emotions.

The study was conducted by Chapman University in California and involved a survey of about 64,000 people.

Couple counseling

Psychologists at the German Universities of Jena and Kassel reported last fall that a romantic relationship helps neurotic people find stability.

The researchers interviewed 245 couples several times over nine months. Using a questionnaire, the researchers gauged changing degrees of neuroticism and relationship satisfaction. Participants also were asked about fictitious everyday life situations and their possible significance for their own partnership.

“This part was crucial, because neurotic people process influences from the outside world differently,” study author Christine Finn stated, noting that neurotic people react more strongly to negative stimuli and have a tendency to interpret ambiguous situations negatively.

The researchers found that over time, neurotic tendencies decrease as a romantic relationship builds.

Finn stated, “The positive experiences and emotions gained by having a partner change the personality — not directly but indirectly — as at the same time the thought structures and the perception of presumably negative situations change.” 

Revealing ‘likes’

A report in the journal PNAS indicated that computer models might know a person’s personality as well as his or her significant other. 

Researchers at the University of Cambridge and Stanford University said a computer model using a person’s likes on Facebook can predict a person’s personality more accurately than most friends and family and well enough to rival the judgment of a partner.

In the study, the computer more accurately predicted a person’s personality than a work colleague based on just 10 likes, more than a friend based on 70 likes, better than a parent or sibling with 150 likes and as well as a spouse with 300 likes.

“People may choose to augment their own intuitions and judgments with this kind of data analysis when making important life decisions, such as choosing activities, career paths or even romantic partners,” said lead author Wu Youyou of Cambridge’s Psychometrics Centre. “Such data-driven decisions may well improve people’s lives.”