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Kimberly Lawson

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The Financial Pros and Cons of Keeping Your Money Separate From Your Partner

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Prepare to have the “the talk” with your partner about whether or not you plan on having a joint bank account as a married couple.

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Thank Your High School Best Friends If You’ve Found True Love

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A recent study found a positive link between strong teenage friendships and future romantic satisfaction.

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5 Things Newlyweds Might Not Know About Finances

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Marsha Barnes of The Finance Bar shares her insight on things newly married people should know when it comes to their wedded bliss and bank accounts.

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What to Do If You Meet a Prejudiced Wedding Vendor

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If you have found yourself in the hurtful situation where a wedding vendor clearly has an issue with who you are, there are a few ways to respond.

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9 Ways to Transform Your Relationship If You’re in a Rut

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Here’s how to add more excitement to your relationship when you’re in a rut.

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Study Finds a Happy Marriage Can Lead to Living Longer

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A recent study found that just like going to the gym, keeping your marriage healthy can help couples live long, happy lives together.

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Research Shows Marriage Actually Gets Easier With Age

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According to studies, the longer you and your partner are married, the better your relationship will be.

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Why You Should Talk to Your Gal Pals About Your Sex Life

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Women who talk to their female friends about sex tend to have higher levels of sexual self-efficacy and self-esteem.

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Will Your Sexual Past Impact Your Marital Future?

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A study found that women who had more sexual partners before marriage were happier after tying the knot.

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Study Finds Couples Who Use Pet Names Are More Satisfied in Their Relationships

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A recent study found the most and least popular pet names that couples use.

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A Study Found That People Enjoyed Sex More When High Than When Drunk

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In a recent study by the Archives of Sexual Behavior, researchers investigated if there was an association between using marijuana and unsafe sexual behaviors.

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Why It’s Totally OK to Be the Couple Who Refers to Themselves in the First-Person Plural

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A new study has found that couples who use “we-talk” can be more interdependent and likely happier.

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A Study Found That, Unsurprisingly, a Supportive Partner Can Help You Lose More Weight

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A study determined that a supportive partner, versus a highly critical one, can help women lose weight

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A New Study Found More Couples Are Delaying Marriage Due to Crushing Student Debt

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You can’t exactly prioritize saving for your dream wedding when you have years of student loan debt pilled up.

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The Benefits of Positive Thinking During Pregnancy Are Seriously Surprising

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The power of positive thinking throughout your pregnancy really might play a role in your baby’s development.

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Why We Gain Weight When We’re In Love

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A couple who eats together, gains weight together. According to new studies, most people gain weight when they’re in a serious relationship.

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THIS Is the Best Time of Day to Have Sex

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Aside from “whenever possible,” these are the most opportune times of the day—and month!—for ultimate sexual satisfaction.

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Receiving Fresh Flowers Can Help Relieve Stress

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Everyone wants their wedding to be beautiful, and of course a big part of that has to do with the floral arrangements. But making those gorgeous centerpieces happen is a thing in and of itself. How do you know which florist to work with? Should you DIY your wedding flowers to save money? And do you really want the tulips over the calla lilies?

As stressful as these decisions may be, by the time the ceremony is over, you may not even want to look at another bouquet of fresh flowers, much less have any hanging around your home.

But according to a recent experimental study from the University of North Florida, these little blooming bundles of nature actually make you feel better about life. The research, published on the Society of American Florists-run website About Flowers, found that adding fresh flowers to your home or office space was associated with a significant reduction in stress among women.

Researchers surveyed the stress levels of 170 women between the ages of 18-65 for 12 consecutive days using the Perceived Stress Questionnaire. About midway through the experiment, some of the women received an arrangement of flowers, while others received a really nice candle of approximately the same value. A third group of unfortunate women received absolutely nothing—they were the control group.

Unsurprisingly, the women who received the arrangement and lived with them for a few days “overwhelmingly reported that flowers improved their mood,” a summary of the research states. Certainly, if your honey has ever surprised you at work with roses, you can attest that this is spot-on. The average reduction in stress was -5.5 points on the Perceived Stress Questionnaire.

“There is a growing body of research that illustrates how environmental design positively impacts health,” said lead researcher Erin Largo-Wight, an associate professor of public health at the University of North Florida, in a statement. “Now it is both intuitive and scientifically known that adding elements of nature, like flowers, to interiors promotes well-being.”

The question is, why do flowers elicit positive emotions and lower our stress levels? A 2005 paper offered some theories: One, for example, suggested that humans have evolved to associate flowers with food gathering or the future availability of food, such as fruit or nuts. It’s also possible that we’re simply attracted to sensory stimuli, such as color and visual symmetry. Another idea the authors explore is the notion that humans evolved to want to cultivate and essentially save flowers from utter destruction: “Flowers may be the plant equivalent of companion animals,” they write.

See more: How Relationship Stress Can Affect Your Gut Health—And How To Fix It

As Largo-Wight pointed out in an interview with WTKR, the great thing about these findings is that it requires so little effort to stop by the grocery store on the way home and pick a bouquet of fresh, colorful, sweet-smelling flowers. “That’s something we can all consider doing to create those moments of calm in our day,” she said, “creating that restorative environment to promote our health and reduce our stress.”

If it means more coming from your partner, though, feel free to send him or her this article.

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What Makes Someone Desirable When Dating Online?

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Online dating has revolutionized the often awkward first date. Think about the classic rom-com You’ve Got Mail. There’s no way Meg Ryan’s character Kathleen Kelly wouldn’t have known that she was emailing/flirting with her bookstore rival Joe Fox (played by the ever charming Tom Hanks) if she’d been able to access his dating profile. Sure, they may not have even ended up together without that anonymity, but my point stands: Whether you’re an active account holder on Match.com or swiping left on Tinder, nowadays, it doesn’t take nearly as much time and effort to get to know a potential date before meeting them.

According to the Pew Research Center, the number of 18- to 24-year-olds who use online dating tripled from 10 percent in 2013 to 27 percent in 2016. But it’s only been in recent years that researchers have started gathering related scientific evidence. One of those studies, published this past August in the journal Science Advances, offers some really interesting findings regarding what makes someone desirable.

Using data gathered from active users of an unnamed heterosexual online dating site during the month of January 2014 (the study focused on four metropolitan markets: New York City, Boston, Chicago, and Seattle), researchers found that it’s entirely possible to attract a person you might think is out of your league. An analysis of messaging patterns showed that men and women both reach out to partners who were, according to the study’s measures, about 25 percent more desirable than themselves.

As the study’s authors write, “It appears that people are pursuing a hybrid strategy with elements of both [matching and competition]—they are aware of their own position in the hierarchy and adjust their behavior accordingly while, at the same time, competing modestly for more desirable mates.”

The most eyebrow-raising result from the study, however, had to do with age: According to their analysis, women reach peak desirability at the age of 18. For some reason, after women become eligible to vote, their appeal begins to decline. Men, on the other hand, don’t reach peak desirability until they’re 50—yes FIFTY!

“The age gradient for women definitely surprised us—both in terms of the fact that it steadily declined from the time women were 18 to the time they were 65, and also how steep it was,” Elizabeth Bruch, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Michigan and lead author of the study, told the New York Times.

It may also not surprise you to learn that the more education a man has, the more desirable he becomes online. A woman with a bachelor’s degree is also pretty hot—but once she starts pursuing a postgraduate education, her hotness level begins tapering off.

The study’s authors also found that in a vast majority of cases, it was men who first established contact online: In fact, more than 80 percent of the guys in their data set sent the first “You up?” (Metaphorically speaking, of course.) What’s interesting, though, is that both men and women tend to contact fewer potential partners if the people they typically hit up were more desirable than themselves. The study’s authors called this a “quality over quantity” approach.

Despite how grimy all of this feels—particularly if you’re a woman hoping to find Mr. or Ms. Right without leaving the comforts of your couch—we still go for online dating, if only for the slim chance we can get a date with an Idris Elba-lookalike. As the study states, “The chances of receiving a reply from a highly desirable partner may be low, but they remain well above zero, although one will have to work harder, and perhaps also wait longer, to make progress. Compared to the extraordinary effort male rats are willing to go through to mate with a desirable female; however, messaging two or three times as many potential partners to get a date seems quite a modest investment.”

See more: How to Win At Online Dating

Unless you’re the 30-year-old New York City woman cited in the study who received 1,504 messages in one month. That’s equivalent to one message every 30 minutes, day and night. If this is you, maybe deactivate your accounts and hit up a local bar instead.

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Are You Guilty of Singlism?

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According to a recent survey from Tinder, most young millennials are cool with being single for a while. Of a sample of 1,036 single adults, ages 18-25, 72 percent said they had “made a conscious decision” to do life unattached for a period of time, while 81 percent said that being on their own benefits them in other parts of their lives, such as work and personal wellness.

These findings fly in the face of everything society has ever taught us. As Darcy Sterling, a licensed clinical social worker, told USA TODAY recently: “Historically, people blindly set out to cross off items on their young-adult-to-do list: Go to school. Work hard. Find a partner. Get married. Have children. Encourage your children to do the same. Rinse and repeat.”

Women no longer need a partner to help them build an enjoyable and sustainable life. We don’t even need them to have children. We can do all that on our own, thank you very much.

Yet for all the progress we’ve made around gender equality, society still pushes the narrative that we need to get married to really have a happily ever after. And you, sorry to say, may be perpetuating those unfair expectations without even realizing it.

Think about it. As a recently engaged or married person, have you suddenly made it your mission to hook up your single cousin with one of your partner’s friends? Have you clucked a sympathetic tongue and attempted to comfort your unattached co-workers by telling them, “Don’t worry—your time will come”?

That’s singlism, my friend.

According to Bella DePaulo, an author and scholar who’s made it her life’s work to practice and study single life, singlism is “the stigmatizing of adults who are single.” That, she writes, can include “negative stereotyping of singles and discrimination against singles.”

In a recent post for Psychology Today, DePaulo talks about how singlism needs to be taken more seriously. For example, she writes, singlism typically leaves people less financially secure. It’s no secret that our country’s laws are set up to bolster married couples—we talk about the tax benefits of getting married all the time. Single people also often pay more for housing, and when it comes to health care, they don’t have the option to be added to another person’s workplace insurance plan like many married employees do.

Also, single people are often asked unfairly to stay late at work while their married colleagues get to go home, and research has shown that they experience sexual harassment in the workplace more.

DePaulo also shares stories of uncoupled people being denied important health care because they’re not married: One single woman told her that she was denied a hysterectomy, even though she suffered from severe menstrual issues, because she “might want to have kids someday.”

Marriage is a beautiful thing; we love love. But singlism is alive and well in America, and we can begin to address it by not being dismissive of our single friends. They don’t necessarily need a lifetime partner to be happy with their lives.

See more: How to Treat the Single Bridesmaid(s) in Your Wedding Party

That’s why that recent Tinder survey is so newsworthy. As DePaulo writes: “After generations of single people feeling bad about being single – or at least thinking they should feel bad, here are new generations of young people who do not seem the least bit shamed about their single lives.”

She adds: “I’m tempted to say: This changes everything.”

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