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The latest news on Relationships from Business Insider
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    emma stone ryan gosling

    • A small study suggests that having sex at least once per week can help people age better. 
    • Researchers claim that frequent sex can lengthen your telomeres, which promotes better agin and promotes better physical and mental health as you age. 
    • This was a small and short study, so more research is needed. 

    It's no secret that sex comes with many benefits, but a new study suggests that having sex frequently can also keep you from aging. Well, sort of.

    The study, conducted by the University of California in San Francisco, monitored the sexual habits of 129 mothers in relationships over one week. Researchers found that those who had sex at least once during that week had significantly longer telomeres, nucleoprotein caps at the end of DNA strands that protect chromosomes from deteriorating, than those who didn't.

    Telomeres naturally break down due to aging, poor diet, and high alcohol use, according to the study. But being physically active, eating well, and, apparently, having sex, can help mend and lengthen them. Other studies suggest that these telomeres can help you live longer and keep up physical and mental health as you age. 

    Something interesting about the study however, is that relationship satisfaction, daily support or conflict, or perceived stress had nothing to do with telmoreres length. Neither did the participants sex drive or enjoyment of sex. 

    Obviously more research here is needed as it was such a small study done over a short period of time. But other studies have pegged once a week to be an ideal number of times to have sex with your partner as well, so it's not a bad goal to strive for. 

    But it's also important to remember that you should be having sex as much as you and your partner want to be. There are a lot of things that may prolong your life that will make you a lot happier than having routine and unfulfilling sex. 

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    NOW WATCH: What 2,000 calories of your favorite foods looks like

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    The Holiday

    • A new survey asked people about infidelity, specifically when they first cheated. 
    • They found that women are most likely to cheat between seven and 10 years of marriage, while men tend to cheat after 11 years. 
    • They also found that people stop themselves from cheating out of moral obligation and the fear of being alone. 

    When you think about someone who cheats, you may think of someone who is decades into a marriage and has just become bored with the same-old routine. But a new study found there is a certain amount of time people are married before cheating— and it may not be as long as you might think. 

    The study surveyed 423 participants about what would make them stray in their marriages and why. They found that people who identify as women were vastly more likely to cheat within the window of six to 10 years of marriage.

    And although that may not seem like a lot, researchers pointed out this may coincide with the trope of the "seven-year itch"— the feeling of wanting to stray after about seven years together. 

    But for people who identify as men, the findings were not as clear-cut. The survey didn't find a universal time that men cheat in their marriages, but on average they waited about 11 years before cheating.

    woman looking down sad

    When asked why they would avoid cheating, people were less concerned about their children or their partner, and said they actually would avoid it because they don't want to end up alone or were too moral to do it. 

    As far as who is least likely to cheat? Researchers found that those who say that they would abstain from cheating the most were more religious people who identify as women and who have been married for a short amount of time. 

    Of course there are a myriad of reasons why someone might cheat and every relationship is different. But no matter what the reason, for your sake and your partner's, it's probably better not to.  

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    NOW WATCH: What it's like to fly on North Korea's one-star airline

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    Screen Shot 2017 11 07 at 4.17.41 PM

    When you imagine your dream wedding proposal, you may see a beach or a hot air balloon, but these couples saw flash mobs, tricks, and viral videos. 

    We've rounded up some of our picks for the most viral, over-the-top, and heartwarming proposals to inspire you to take a leap for love. 

    A man traveled 4,349 miles to propose via GPS "art."

    Yasushi Takahashi proved he could walk the walk and talk the talk when he quit his job and traveled 4,349 miles (mostly on foot) through Japan so a GPS tracker could track his movements. 

    The result showed his path spelling out "Marry me" with a heart.

    She said yes.  

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    This couple that got engaged during the halftime show during a Chicago Bulls game.

    Jake Conrad proposed to his boyfriend Michael Holtzman at a Chicago Bulls game and enlisted a little help from the mascot. 

    The bull helped lead Holtzman through the crowd as the halftime dancers made an aisle. Conrad walked down to meet him and proposed with a yellow ring pop. It's not exactly clear, but we're pretty sure he said "yes." 


    A man had a proposal 365 days in the making.

    Dean Smith showed that patience pays off when he planned his proposal a year in advance, a showed a video each day for a year of him unknowingly asking his girlfriend Jennifer to marry him. 

    He filmed himself holding up signs, asking her to marry him, while he did everything from eating cereal to snuggling with his cat. The final sign came as whiteboard messages from her family while they were on vacation. 

    After she watched the video, he got down on one knee and made one final plee. She, of course, said yes. 

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    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Bride Wars

    There's no getting around it: weddings can be really stressful, especially for a bride. And although no one would blame them for getting a little upset, some exceed the acceptable amount of anger and turn into total bridezillas. 

    We've rounded up our favorite horror stories from Reddit that will make you laugh, cringe, and decide that, maybe it's better to just elope. 

    "The bride threw an actual, honest-to-god tantrum."

    "It was a stinking hot, humid day, and nobody wanted to be outside for the outdoor wedding. We were doing wedding party photos, and everyone was dripping in sweat and about to pass out, so we decided to finish the rest of the pics in a nice shady spot. The bride threw an actual, honest-to-god tantrum because she wanted to make the party hike all the way across the venue grounds to get shots in front of a full-sun pond. None of her bridesmaids wanted to do the 10-minute walk in their heels and it would have been a terrible spot for photos, which we mentioned.

    She pouted her way through the rest and they divorced a year later." - Redditor Nadia61

    "His wife apparently laughed in her face."

    "Not my experience, but a former coworker of mine.

    He and his wife went to a wedding in Hawaii and took a full two weeks of vacation to do so (they arrived two days before the wedding which was on a Saturday). They figured that if they were going to Hawaii for this wedding, they'd make it worth their while and take a full vacation as well. Apparently they were the only couple that elected to do that (or at least admit to it and discuss their plans). And the bride lost her s--- about it.


    His wife apparently laughed in her face and told her to call if she decided to grow up about it. To her credit, the bride did call later to apologize profusely for her outburst. Nerves I guess." - Redditor syriquez

    "The bride discovered this only after their beer and wine ran out one hour into the reception."

    "We showed up to an outdoor wedding in early March and it was freezing. There was food ... but it was cold. There were no chairs. There were tables with chairs under a pavilion but they were reserved for family and wedding party only.

    The games that were supposed to entertain guests broke during the very first game played ... corn hole corn EVERYWHERE. The groomsmen were cold and tired of standing, so they invited a large percentage of guests to their 'getting ready suite' which had couches and a pool table.

    The bride discovered this only after their beer and wine ran out one hour into the reception. Cue [a] screaming match in the middle of everyone. The groomsmen liquored the groom up and he danced the last song before passing out behind the DJ, while the bride took tear-stained selfies with her bridesmaids." - Redditor schlahdeedah

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Olivia Netwon John patrick mcdermott

    • Olivia Newton-John's ex-boyfriend Patrick McDermott was reported missing in 2005 after allegedly falling off a boat and drowning. 
    • But numerous theories and investigations have attempted to poke holes in this.
    • Some say he's actually been found in Mexico, and was allegedly dodging child support payments. 
    • A new investigation claims to have photo of a man who is likely McDermott. 


    Actress Olivia Newton-John was heartbroken 12 years ago when her on-again-off-again boyfriend of nine years, Patrick McDermott, was reported missing after an overnight fishing trip near San Pedro, California.

    But numerous private investigator reportedly point to evidence that suggests McDermott is still alive and living in Mexico.

    McDermott's original disappearance was in 2005. It was said at the time that he had "likely drowned."

    McDermott's body was not recovered after a search and, three years later, the Coast Guard declared that McDermott had "likely drowned," according to Us Weekly. He was presumed dead. 

    But shortly after, details emerged that made people wonder if McDermott was actually still alive and faking his own death in order to abandon Newton-John and avoid some debts. 

    For example, none of the 22 other passengers on the boat he was on saw him fall overboard or heard him cry for help, according to Us Weekly. Additionally, Us Weekly noted that at the time of his alleged disappearance, McDermott owed his ex-wife, Yvette Nipar, $8,000 in child support for their son, Chance. 

    Theories began circulating that he was still alive and living in Mexico. Multiple private investigators reportedly found him for various news outlets.

    These facts began to weigh on investigators and the public alike, and theories began sprouting up that McDermott was actually alive and well in Mexico. The first reports that this was true date back to 2005 when a group of investigators hired by Dateline NBC reportedly found him living in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, under his birth name, Patrick Kim, according to Us Weekly. 

    McDermott's ex Nipar later wrote a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, asking him to stop selling the investigator Philip Klein's book about the investigation, "Lost At Sea," on his site, saying that she believed McDermott was dead. 

    "[Klein is a] well-known serial liar (who) is simply looking to be famous at the expense of an unfortunate tragedy in our lives," she wrote, according to Perth Now. 

    Things stayed quiet until March 2016, when Australian magazine Women's Day took another crack at the allegations, hiring a private investigator to look into his alleged disappearance.  The investigator claimed to find him in the Mexican village Sayulita, living with his new girlfriend. 

    "Patrick's probably now working in the yachting industry for a high-profile family down there," he said, according to Women's Day magazine. 

    Freedom Boat

    This investigation prompted Newton-John to speak about McDermott's alleged disappearance with "60 Minutes Australia." She told them that his alleged disappearance really affected her and that she grieved for him. But when asked if she believed he may have been in hiding, she said that she had made peace with that a long time ago. 

    "I mean it's human to wonder. But you know ... those are the things in life you have to accept and let go," she said at the time.

    Now a new investigator claims to have photographic proof that McDermott is alive.

    Now, another investigation, this time from Australian magazine New Idea, alleges even more proof that McDermott is still alive. The investigator they hired claims to have a photo of McDermott and an unidentified woman on the beach together. 

    "The widow's peak is exact," the investigator alleged to New Idea. "The eyes are very similar and the ears extend down on the head the same distance. I believe it is him."

    It's unclear if McDermott is still alive, and if Newton-John would even want to find him if he is: She married John Easterling in 2008 and seems happier than even. 

    But, like Newton-John said, it's human to wonder. 

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    NOW WATCH: What 2,000 calories of your favorite foods looks like

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    open arms beach woman free happy carefree

    • Women have to work harder than men in heterosexual relationships, so are happier being single than men are, according to a new study.
    • The study showed that women tend to be better at having alternative social networks whereas men tend to rely quite heavily on their wives.
    • The concept of spinsters in on its way out as society realises that a lot of single women are happy being single. 

    Women are happier being single than men are, because being in a relationship is harder work for women, new research suggests.

    According to a study by data analysts Mintel, 61% of single women are happy being single, versus 49% of single men.

    The survey also found that 75% of single women have not actively looked for a relationship in the last year, compared to 65% of single men.

    And the proposed reason for this is that for women, being in a heterosexual relationship is actually a lot of hard work, and generally requires more effort and labour than for men.

    "There's evidence that women spend longer on domestic tasks than men and I think they also do more emotional work — so they still do more housework and cooking and things as well as more emotional labour," Professor Emily Grundy, of the University of Essex, told The Telegraph.

    From spending more time and money on upkeep of your appearance, doing more chores and putting more effort into resolving problems or arguments, being in a heterosexual relationship typically involves a lot of effort for a woman.

    What's more, women are simply happier being single than men are. We're better at socialising by ourselves and are more likely to have close friends we feel we can turn to in times of need.

    "Women tend to be better at having alternative social networks and other confidantes whereas men tend to rely quite heavily on their wives for that and have fewer other social ties," Dr Grundy explains.

    "Certainly there's a common finding from a lot of studies that women who don't have a partner tend to do more social activities and more friends compared to women with partners whereas with men it's the reverse — men without a partner tend to do much less of that.

    "So it may be that women have a wider range of alternatives," she said. 

    There's also the fact that the stigma of being a single woman is gradually changing.

    The concept of spinsters and bachelors is on the way out, and society is finally realising that yes, many single women aren't in relationships because they're actually happy being independent, doing whatever they want with their time, and they don't actually need anyone else.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How you should design your home to maximize happiness

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    Lisa Bonet Jason Momoa

    • Jason Momoa and Lisa Bonet secretly got married this October. 
    • Although they normally keep things pretty low-key, Momoa opened up about their love to James Cordon. 
    • He said he's had a crush on her since he was 8 years old, and that he freaked out when they first met. 


    Actors Jason Momoa and Lisa Bonet have been one of Hollywood's cutest and most interesting couples for more than a decade now. And although they usually keep things pretty private, following the news of their recent secret wedding, Momoa has been sharing some sweet tidbits about their relationship. 

    Momoa, 38, appeared on "The Late Late Show with James Corden" and when Corden congratulated him on his recent nuptials, he happily flashed his new wedding ring. Though he and Bonet, 49, have been together for about 12 years, Momoa told Corden that their love story actually began 30 years ago, when he saw her on TV. 

    "Listen it was more than [love at first sight]. Ever since I was 8 years old and I saw her on the TV I was like, 'Mommy, I want that one,'" Momoa gushed. "I was like, 'I'm going to stalk you for the rest of my life, and I'm going to get you.' I'm a full-fledged stalker."

    "But yeah, I've just always wanted to meet her. She was a queen, always," he continued. 

    Despite Momoa's apparent convictions to making Bonet his wife one day, the story of how they actually met is a lot cuter. Momoa said that they met through mutual friends at a jazz club and he, understandably, freaked out about meeting his childhood crush. 

    "I literally turned around and I see her and she goes, ya know, 'I'm Lisa,'" he recalled. "I turned around to my friend and I was like 'ahhh!' I had f------ fireworks going off inside man."

    Lisa Bonet Jason Momoa

    Afterwards, Momoa said he "convinced her" to take him home to his hotel and they ended up going out to Cafe 101 in New York City for a meal. 

    "We sat down, she ordered a Guinness, and that was it," he said. 

    "'Cause you love Guinnness, right? You ordered a Guinness tonight," Corden said. 

    "I beyond love Guinness," Momoa said, gesturing to his mug. "She ordered a Guinness and I ordered grits. We had Guinness and grits, and the rest is history."

    The two have two children together, Nakoa-Wolf Manakauapo Namakaeha Momoa and Lola Iolani Momoa, and he serves as step-dad to Bonet's daughter, actress Zoë Kravitz.

    Based on their long partnership and how lovingly Momoa talks about Bonet, I think it's safe to say that they will be sharing many more pints of Guinness and many more bowls of grits together as a married couple. 

    You can watch the whole segment below: 


    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Everything we know about the mysterious SR-72 — Lockheed Martin's successor to the fastest plane ever

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    Ariel Winter and Levi Meaden

    • Ariel Winter, 19, and Levi Meaden, 30, celebrated their one-year anniversary on Sunday.
    • The 19-year-old "Modern Family" star commemorated the occasion with a heartfelt Instagram post.
    • "Thank you for being the incredible man you are, and for making me the happiest I could've ever imagined," she wrote.
    • The couple has been living together since they started dating last November.

    Ariel Winter and her boyfriend Levi Meaden celebrated their one-year dating anniversary on Sunday. Winter marked the occasion with a heartfelt Instagram post.

    "Happy 1 year anniversary my love. I'm the luckiest girl in the entire world. Thank you for being the incredible man you are, and for making me the happiest I could've ever imagined," she wrote. "Here's to many, many more. I love you."

    Winter, 19, shared two photos in her post. The first showed the couple in formal outfits, while the second was a snapshot of them in front of a waterfall.

    "P.S. your crazy butt is the only one who could ever make me agree to jumping off a cliff at a waterfall soooo yeah. I love you," she wrote, referencing the second picture.

    Meaden, 30, shared an awe-inducing anniversary post of his own, which included a third picture of the lovebirds.

    "I can't believe it's been a year. We've had adventures. Gotten dolled up countless times. And travelled [sic] through 3 continents together. I never imagined I'd be this happy. I love you more than anything! Happy anniversary Peanut Butter!!!!" Meaden wrote in the caption of his post.

    Fans can't get enough of the couple's love for each other.

    "Aww you look so happy," one person commented on Winter's post. "Cuties! Happy anniversary you two!" someone else wrote. "So sweet!" another person said.

    Although the couple has been criticized for their 10-year age difference, it seems like they don't let the haters bother them. In May, Winter told Refinery29 that her Meaden has actually helped her become more body-positive.

    "I have to say he is the most incredible person I've ever met and that I'm so lucky to be with him," she said. "He's always complimenting me and making me feel special and beautiful."

    🙂 #mcm 🙂

    A post shared by ARIEL WINTER (@arielwinter) on Sep 18, 2017 at 6:38pm PDT on

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    NOW WATCH: These 13 beauty trends will leave you stunned

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    First dates are stressful. Even if they go well, meeting a new person is inherently going to be difficult at first. 

    And while we all inevitably have a rotten date or two under our belts, some dates take it from bad to horrific. We've rounded up the craziest stories from variousRedditthreads that will make you want to thank your lucky stars your last date was just a bad kisser. 

    "He says he is actually outside the pub we were at and he can see us."

    "I've known this girl since school I'd always thought she was pretty but she's always had boyfriends and I'd hardly seen her in two years due to being at university, etc. Until two days ago when I saw her in the pub where we had a brief catch-up and I got her number.

    "So texting her yesterday she suggests we go out for a drink later and I agree. We meet up and it was going great. Both enjoying ourselves conversation is flowing and she seemed into me. Her ex boyfriend had been texting her the whole time but, she had been ignoring it and we joked about it, nothing seemed too strange.

    "But then as we move on to another pub while we had been enjoying a paper aeroplane throwing competition, he starts ringing her ... over and over and over. So she eventually answers and he's crying, drunk, and acting crazy and she's tell him to just leave her alone.

    "We continue enjoying ourselves for a bit (all this time she is still being constantly bombarded by his texts) and then he starts ringing again. This time he says he is actually outside the pub we were at and he can see us. All he wants is to see her and then he will go home.

    "So obviously she goes outside to speak with him and I'm just left sitting there contemplating just leaving. I got a look out him through the window and he's an absolute mess. To try and give you a idea of how bad I'm talking, like Joe Swanson-level crying ... proper broken man stuff, it was hard to watch.

    "Then she comes back nearly in tears saying how she feels just terrible that she is the reason why he feels so bad. I try to ask her if she is OK and comfort her, but she just says she's fine and we end up just finishing our drinks and calling it a night so I walk her down to the taxi rank and give her a hug and see her off." - Redditor JDizzle69


    "I couldn't believe that she'd react so rudely to something and then try to act as if it didn't happen."

    "I decided to meet up for coffee with a girl that I had been talking to online. We talked for 45 minutes or so — normal first date topics like family, travel, etc. She then asks, 'Where did you do your undergrad?'

    "Now, I have a pretty good job, but that question sets the bar pretty high for a guy who didn't go to college. She is not only assuming that I went to college but is also assuming that I am taking part in some type of post-graduate school.

    "When I said that I went to technical school and then straight into the workforce she looked at me as if she'd never heard of such a thing. Apparently, I didn't pass all of her minimum requirements to be considered human. After a brief pause, she broke off her shocked stare, placed her hand on her forehead in a fashion that covered her eyes, inhaled briefly and followed it by a valley-girl, 'Eew!' She took her Blackberry out of her purse and whispered to herself as she typed, 'he ... didn't ... even ... go ... to ... college ...' I then saw the left thumb hold the shift key as she deliberately pressed the exclamation point key once ... ! Twice ... !! Three times ... !!! In reality, each one of those keystrokes was a simple tapping of a small piece of plastic, but, in my head, it sounded like a metal bank vault door was repeatedly slamming shut.

    "She pressed a few more buttons on the phone, presumably sending this text message to her total BFF. She put the phone away, looked at me, and after taking a deep breath said, 'Well that is okay. Not everybody is capable of going to college.' She put on a fake smile followed by an awkward laugh and just stared at me awkwardly. I couldn't believe that she'd react so rudely to something and then try to act as if it didn't happen. Perhaps she still believed that, like a child playing hide and seek, if you covered your eyes you would disappear.

    "After staring at each other awkwardly for a few seconds, I finally broke the silence by saying, 'Wow, okay. So, yeah... I, um guess it is about time to get out of here?' I stood up and took my trash to the trash can and she followed me out the door. I turned and began walking down the street and she followed closely and said, 'How far away is your car?' This girl was expecting a ride!

    "So, I stopped and turned around and said, 'Oh, I am about a block this way. Where did you park? She replied, 'Oh, I took the bus here. I don't have a drivers license.'

    "Now, I am normally not a rude person. Even in that situation, I was going to just walk away and let that be that, but I just couldn't pass this opportunity up. I looked at her right in the eyes and said, 'Eew!' Pulled out my cellphone and typed, 'she ... doesn't ... even ... have ... a ... license ... ! ... !! ... !!!' I then put my phone away, looked up at her, smiled and said, 'That's okay! Not everybody is capable of driving a car! Lucky for you, the bus stop is right over there. I hope you don't have to wait too long!'

    "I wish I took a picture of the look on her face as I walked away. It was priceless." - Redditor kid320

    "We fit perfectly together, even in the heavens."

    "I slept with a guy on our first date, he was on top. At first I thought he was sweating, no big deal, I'm a trooper. Then I looked up, after a weird muffled sob, and he was crying. As I stared up into his tear filled eyes, in horror, he stated, 'Oh my god, I'm in love with you.'

    "At this point, I stated loudly, 'I have to go. My mom is calling.' Rolled him off of me, grabbed my stuff, and got dressed while walking out of his house. He called after me, sobbing in the doorway. I turned, halfway down the driveway, still pulling a shirt on over my head.

    "'Our signs are compatible! We fit perfectly together, even in the heavens.'

    "Even in the heavens, guys." - anonymous Redditor

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Alexis Ohanian (left) and Serena Williams

    The last year has been huge for Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian. 

    Since last December, the tennis superstar and the Reddit cofounder, respectively, found out they were expecting a child, got engaged, and are about to get married.

    But things weren't always perfect. In fact, when they first met, Williams tried to get Ohanian to go away by telling him there was a rat nearby. 

    In the July cover story of Vanity Fair, writer Buzz Bissinger got the inside look at their love story. That, along with Instagram sleuthing, helped us compile the story of Ohanian and Williams' whirlwind romance. 

    Here's how this power couple from opposite worlds fell in love. 

    SEE ALSO: Reddit's founder thought people in Silicon Valley were the hardest workers — until he met his fiancée, Serena Williams

    The pair met in May 2015 at the Hotel Cavalieri Hilton in Rome, when Ohanian sat down at the table next to Williams' outside by the pool, according to Vanity Fair. Williams and her friends tried to get him to leave by telling him there was a rat at his table. When it didn't work, they invited him to join them.

    Source: Vanity Fair

    Williams had never heard of Reddit before, and Ohanian had never watched Williams play tennis, but he agreed to come to the match later that day. He knew so little about the sport that the first photo he shared publicly of Williams shows her committing a foot fault.

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    Source: Instagram, Vanity Fair

    When they met, Ohanian had just gotten out of a five-year relationship with his college sweetheart, microbiologist Sabriya Stukes.

    Source: The New York Times, Vanity Fair

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Harry Potter Hedwig

    • If you grew up reading Harry Potter books, it could mean you're a better person.
    • A study looked at how identifying with characters when they were faced with prejudice could make students more tolerant of minority groups.
    • Kindness and tolerance is a common theme in the books, and people who are cruel to others for their differences are the bad guys.

    Harry Potter was a massive part of the childhoods of millions of people. Even if you're not part of the cult following, it's unlikely you've been able to avoid the franchise completely.

    As it turns out, growing up with Harry Potter might have made you a better person. According to one study, published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, people who are emotionally attached to Harry Potter are less likely to be prejudiced against minority groups.

    There are a lot of different groups in the books, and the over-arching theme is to be kind to others, regardless of how different they are. There's also an emphasis on prejudice being associated with evil.

    The main antagonist, Voldemort, is obsessed with wizards only being "pure-bloods," meaning they come from wizarding families. "Mudbloods" are those who are born to magicless — or "muggle"— parents.

    In the study, being exposed to these group dynamics appeared to play a big role in how children grew up to see others who were different from themselves.

    The researchers gave 34 primary school children a questionnaire about how they felt about immigrants, then divided them into two groups; one group read a scene about Draco Malfoy calling Harry's friend Hermione a "filthy little Mublood," and the other read paragraphs unrelated to prejudice, such as Harry buying his first magic wand.

    A week later, the children were asked again about their attitudes towards immigrants. Those who identified with Harry Potter and read the prejudiced excerpt had significantly improved their attitude towards immigrants. The perspectives of the children who read the neutral passages didn't change.

    In other words, after being exposed to Malfoy's hatred and cruelty, the children showed more tolerance and kindness.

    There were two follow-up experiments in the study, where groups of people were asked about their feelings towards minorities after reading about Harry and his friends. One found that high school students had better attitudes to gay people afterwards, and the other found that college students had more compassion for refugees.

    "Harry Potter empathises with characters from stigmatised categories, tries to understand their sufferings and to act towards social equality," said lead author Dr. Loris Vezzali, a professor at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. "So, I and my colleagues think that empathetic feelings are the key factor driving prejudice reduction. The world of Harry Potter is characterized by strict social hierarchies and resulting prejudices, with obvious parallels with our society."

    He added: "Harry has meaningful contact with characters belonging to stigmatised groups. He tries to understand them and appreciate their difficulties, some of which stem from intergroup discrimination, and fights for a world free of social inequalities."

    Throughout the Harry Potter series, the characters all experience the difficulties of being different: Harry and his scar, Ron and his hand-me-down clothes, and Hermione with her muggle parents. However, there is never question over whether they are friends with each other, or why their differences should matter.

    In the words of Albus Dumbledore: "Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open."

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How you should design your home to maximize happiness

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    Elon Musk Talulah Riley

    • Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was interviewed for an intensely candid Rolling Stone profile.

    • He discussed his views on relationships and loneliness.

    • Musk has been married twice, and recently split from his girlfriend actress Amber Heard.

    Elon Musk got candid about his personal life in a recent, in-depth Rolling Stone interview.

    He spoke of his recent breakup with ex-girlfriend Amber Heard, expressing his heartbreak over their parting.

    It's an unusual move for Musk, who said in 2010 that he would "rather stick a fork in my hand than write about my personal life."

    The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX went on to discuss how difficult it is for him to meet people, saying he is looking for a long-term relationship — and a soul mate. Musk even asked interviewer Neil Strauss if there was anyone Strauss thought he should date.

    "If I'm not in love, if I'm not with a long-term companion, I cannot be happy," he told Rolling Stone. "I will never be happy without having someone. Going to sleep alone kills me. It's not like I don't know what that feels like: Being in a big empty house, and the footsteps echoing through the hallway, no one there – and no one on the pillow next to you. F--. How do you make yourself happy in a situation like that?"

    Here's a look at some of the tech titan's past relationships:

    SEE ALSO: A look inside the marriage of world's richest couple, Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos — who met at work, were engaged in 3 months, and own more land than almost anyone else in America

    DON'T MISS: A look at the demanding schedule of Elon Musk, who works in 5-minute slots, skips breakfast, and largely avoids emails

    Musk told Rolling Stone he's struggled with loneliness since childhood. "When I was a child, there's one thing I said," Musk said. "'I never want to be alone.'"

    Source: Rolling Stone, Business Insider

    Musk met his first wife, Justine Wilson, at Queen's University in Ontario. Writing in Marie Claire, Justine — who uses Musk's last name — recalled Musk invited her out for ice cream.

    Source: Marie Claire

    She decided to stay in to study, but he showed up with "two chocolate-chip ice cream cones dripping down his hands." Musk transferred to Wharton, but kept sending Justine roses. They went their separate ways, but reconnected as Musk started working on his first startup and Justine started working on her first novel after graduation.

    Source: Marie Claire

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    silver linings playbook

    This was a conversation I never planned on having. Sharing my hopes and dreams? A cliche, but sure. Talking about my childhood? Understandable. But I never envisioned sitting across my dented coffee table in my way-too-small apartment, talking to the man I was falling in love with about my history with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety.

    Thankfully, there’s a way to talk to your partner about your mental health that makes a potentially uncomfortable conversation much easier.

    In the ideal world, these conversations would be as casual as contemplating dinner options or discussing weekend plans. After all,nearly 1 in 5 Americans suffer from mental illness every year. Mental illness is a common affliction, so discussions about symptoms, treatments, triggers, and how to support someone affected should be just as common. They’re not, though, due to stigma surrounding mental health.

    When I realized I had met the man I could feasibly share my life (and the last pint of ice cream) with, I knew that meant sharing my diagnosis. If we were going to co-exist and be one another’s “people,” we needed to arm one another with the tools to adequately support one another through every up and down life, and mental illness. would throw our way. As individuals, and as a couple.

    So if you’re in the same boat, know that there are tools at your disposal to discuss your mental health with your partner in a way that will be beneficial for you both.

    Be aware of the potential outcomes

    Before discussing your a mental illnesses with your partner, it’s paramount that you go into the conversation with a few reactions in mind. Avi Steinhardt, a licensed clinic social worker in Brooklyn, NY, told HuffPo that, “Many ofthe risks of disclosing a mental illness are similar to the risks of falling in love.”

    How someone will react, and/or whether or not they will “stick around” are reasons why this conversation can be particularly daunting. But how you partner responds will be a look into who they are as an individual, and how they would and/or could support you in the future. “If there is a risk that they won’t be sensitive enough, it is also good to know early on that this person would likely not be a good match,” Steinhart said.

    The National Institute of Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that three reactions are possible. Some people won’t consider mental health conditions an issue, others may not be able to handle their concerns and, in turn, will end the relationship, and some will respond with uncertainty or curiosity, and ask and/or seek out more information in an effort to understand the information that has just been shared with them.


    Wait until you’re ready

    Disclosing your mental illnesses anddiscussing the state of your mental health are a personal decisions. You are under no obligation to divulge information about your mental health, even to a loved one. So NAMI suggests you know why you’re choosing this moment to have this particular conversation. Don’t force it, and don’t talk until you’re ready.


    If you’re feeling unsure as to how to handle the conversation, NAMI suggests youpractice with a mental health professional, such as a therapist. “You can discuss any worries you may have about any issues, questions, and comments that might arise.” A few practice runs can also help you clarify your thinking and ensure that you’re speaking clearly enough for your partner to understand to the best of their ability.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    mark zuckerberg priscilla chan

    • A prenuptial agreement (or prenup) is a legal agreement couples enter into before they get married.
    • Many involve what will happen to the couple's finances should they divorce.
    • However, relationship contracts, whether they be a prenup, postnup, or other agreement, can stipulate more than simply who gets what in case of a breakup.

    Successful power couples agree upon important issues from the get go.

    And whether it's with a legally-binding prenup, or postnup, or a more flexible relationship agreement, they often put it in writing.

    "Two egos in a marriage can be great if all the important issues are agreed upon up front," Handel Group co-president and life coach Laurie Gerber previously told Business Insider.

    While prenups are traditionally thought of as worst-case-scenario financial planning, relationship agreements aren't always all about the money.

    Some of the most important issues couples should agree upon early on include sexual and romantic needs, family boundaries, and who pays for what, and putting it into writing can give a marriage a better chance of success.

    Most breakups happen because of cheating, Gerber says: "Couples who face the reality of this threat head-on and deal with it stand the most chance of success."

    "Don't be afraid to put it all in writing to refer back to as a living breathing document," she says. "And plan to have meetings about how you are running your marriage and family just as you would for your company or any other project you care about profoundly."

    Here are some of the less conventional things successful power couples have put into writing:

    SEE ALSO: Successful power couples that stay together have 8 things in common

    DON'T MISS: Why successful people get divorced

    Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan agreed to spend more time together

    Before marrying in 2012, when Priscilla Chan moved to Palo Alto, California, she and Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg drew up a relationship agreement.

    In it, Zuckerberg agreed to take her on a date once a week and spend 100 minutes of alone time each week with her outside the office or his apartment.

    The couple are worth an estimated $74.5 billion.

    Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake have a clause about cheating

    Actors Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake reportedly have an infidelity clause in their prenup that states Biel will receive $500,000 if Timberlake cheats.

    The couple are worth an estimated $248 million

    Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban agreed not to tolerate drug or alcohol abuse

    Actress Nicole Kidman and singer songwriter Keith Urban reportedly signed a prenup stipulating that Urban, who struggled with alcoholism and cocaine abuse, would receive $600,000 a year for every year they are together, but only if Urban refrained from using illegal narcotics or drinks excessively.

    The couple married in June 2006, and in October 2006 Urban checked into rehab for an alcohol addiction.

    "Definitely we both met each other exactly at the right time," Urban told People magazine in 2007. "She said early on that she wanted to be brave with me. I feel there was something else at work, bringing us together and then just continuing to watch over us." 

    The couple are worth an estimated $205 million.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Whether a narcissist discards you permanently depends on three basic factors:

    1. Whether they have an alternative source of self-esteem building narcissistic supplies.
    2. What their relationship style is like.
    3. Whether you want to be discarded permanently.

    As one narcissistic client told me: “People are very interchangeable for me. They are like hamburgers or tissues. I need them for what they do for me, not because I like them for themselves. If one won’t give me exactly what I want and I have the opportunity to upgrade to a different, better person (better is defined as higher in prestige), I will do it in a heartbeat!”

    Having said that, narcissists come in different flavors.

    Here are some common types and how they react after they have discarded someone. I sometimes say “him” for the sake of brevity, but there are female versions of these types as well.

    Recyclers are people who cycle among the same small group of people over and over again

    When they become disenchanted with one person in the group, they immediately move on to the next. Eventually, everyone disappoints them and the first person starts to look appealing again, and they reach out to her again for connection. Recyclers tend to value familiarity. They become nostalgic about person A, when they become angered or disappointed with person B or C. They will likely cycle among the same group of people until someone moves away or dies.

    Romantics imagine that they are in love with you and are capable of elaborate and very convincing courtships

    In them, the two of you are the very picture of perfect love. In fact there are likely to be many pictures of the two of you posted on whatever internet sites they frequent because it is so important to narcissists that everyone sees you as the perfect couple.

    Romantic narcissists may even plan a wedding with you and encourage you to start thinking of names for your children. But…after a while the novelty of enacting the loving couple wears off and they lack the ability to stay emotionally connected to you once things are less than perfect.

    They may leave you suddenly and rationalize it in any of a number of ways. Two common ones are:

    • You aren’t who they thought you were. This explanation allows them to relieve themselves of any blame. It is your fault that things did not work out, not their inability to stay committed. Now that the narcissist knows you well enough to see your flaws (and in a narcissist’s mind, to be flawed is to be worthless) there is no point staying with you. The truth is that they were never actually in love with you; what they were in love with was the idea of being part of a perfect couple that everyone envied. The emphasis here is on “perfect.”
    • Yours is a doomed and tragic love. The relationship did not work out because tragically it was doomed from the start by forces beyond the two lovers’ control. This version of why they are leaving is based on all the romantic and doomed lovers of literature and cinema. Think of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, or Allie and Noah in The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. This scenario appeals to a narcissist because he gets to be as romantic and sentimental about the two of you as he likes, but does not ever have to subject this love to the real tests of everyday life. The lovers in his fantasy are always tragically parted before anyone has to buy the toilet paper.


    Novelty seekers get bored very easily

    One man told me that he lost interest immediately after sex. Another said that he could not sustain a relationship for more than two weeks. Many of these narcissistic men are simply what I term “trophy hunters”: once they have “gotten” you, they immediately lose interest and leave to hunt someone else.

    They love the excitement of the chase, not the actual relationship. You will rarely see them again unless they find themselves up late one night, bored and horny. Then suddenly you will find a text from the guy on your phone. He will try and draw you back into a relationship that lasts until he feels satisfied or the sun comes up, whichever event occurs first.

    Grudge holders rarely return to prior lovers

    Their personal history is full of splits with people whom they now hate and refuse to talk to, often over events that they have mostly forgotten. The details are vague, all they remember is that they want you to suffer. And that is exactly what they imagine is happening in their absence.

    They get more narcissistic supplies for their shaky self-esteem by cutting you off totally, than they ever get in a real relationship. Often this is a family pattern: their mother has a sister she has not spoken to in twenty years and their brother and sister hate each other as well. In fact after years of messy feuds, there are very few intact relationships in this narcissist’s family. Holiday dinners are very small and not very cheerful.

    The essential question to ask yourself is “Do I want this person back in my life?”

    As you can see from the above, many narcissists are quite willing to come back for as long as it suits their needs, while remaining oblivious to yours. If you cannot realistically envision a good future together that does not involve the narcissist suddenly becoming different, you might want to stay “discarded.”

    All you have to do is never answer any of their texts or phone calls or respond in any way to their attempts to entice you back to serve their needs. The ball is in your court once they contact you. You get to decide what to do, not them. And, late at night when you are lonely and feel yourself weaken, you must never ever text them for any reason.

    If they are bored and lonely too, they will answer and the whole thing will start again and end in exactly the same painful way as before.

    Elinor Greenberg, PhD, CGP is in private practice in NYC and the author of the book "Borderline, narcissistic, and Schizoid Adaptations: The Pursuit of Love, Admiration and Safety."

    SEE ALSO: How children grow up to be narcissists

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    woman hood

    • You're likely to feel angry and want revenge when you realise your ex-partner abused you.
    • However, an explosive reaction is playing right into their hands.
    • The best thing you can do is live your best life, and show how much stronger you are without them.

    Getting dumped by your partner is painful. It's even more devastating when that partner was abusive.

    It can take a while after a break-up to realise the damage your toxic ex-partner was doing to you. However, once you do understand what happened to you, you're likely to be angry, hurt, or even jealous of their new relationships.

    As tempting as it might be to try and seek revenge in some way — or warn their future partners of their real personality — the best thing you can do is take care of yourself. After all, if they abused you, they got off on their power over you, so any reaction from you now will be exactly what they want.

    According to Perpetua Neo, a doctor of psychology and therapist, any reaction you make will also feed their ego.

    "Regardless of whether you react with affection and sentiment, or anger and resentment at your abusive ex-partner, any response is positive for them," she told Business Insider. "Think of it this way — any sort of energy is feeding the trolls. And you want to consciously choose not to do that, knowing they will do anything to get you to respond."

    Rather than letting your anger get the better of you by sending angry messages, let it fuel you to do the things that would have otherwise made your ex angry.

    Neo said in order to ignore the temptation to react, you should make a conscious effort to live your best life ever.

    "I love the quote in 'The Scarlet Letter,' 'She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom,'" she said. "Ask yourself, 'What freedoms was I deprived of?' And revel in them. It could be as simple as wearing mascara again or taking selfies."

    Something therapists recommend after a toxic relationship is "no contact." This means no contact at all. No texts, no calls, and certainly no meeting up with your ex. You should also delete them off all social media.

    Be prepared for theatrics

    Sometimes, the abusive ex might try and get you back by playing the victim, or telling you they will change — be prepared for them to try anything to get a response out of you. If they don't leave you alone, you may need a restraining order — especially if they were physically abusive.

    "He may be trying to bait you back that way by posting pictures of other women, posting sentimental 'I am so sorry for what I've done, give me a chance' stuff, or sounding pathetic like the victim drinking his life away so you'll feel bad," Neo said. "Lock those profiles down — block him, delete him, unfriend him. Think about any attention you give him as feeding the trolls — even mentally."

    The stronger you get, the less chance there is you'll gravitate back towards the person that hurt you. You might find yourself aching to get back with them, but this will fade in time. It's simply because they gaslighted you into thinking you didn't deserve better.

    "Doing is believing," Neo said. "You've shown yourself that no matter what the trauma bonding or Stockholm Syndrome is doing to you, you have busted those patterns and rewired your brain and body towards your new life."

    Ultimately, the best "revenge" you can get on your ex who mistreated you is becoming your best self.

    "He wanted to see you weak, small, and subordinate; he said you'd be useless without him," Neo said. "Even though he tried to destroy you, you've turned the tables and instead created an awesome life courtesy of the lessons from what he did to you. That will piss him off royally."

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    This video was originally posted in August, 2016.

    A study discovered that couples reported higher satisfaction with sex and their relationship by focusing on this one thing. Amy Muise, the leader of the study, discusses more about her team's work in Science of Relationships. Following is a transcript of the video.

    If you're looking to improve your sex life, here's a tip: Make a concerted effort with your partner to have sex.


    Sound obvious? There's more to it: You have to focus on having the right kind of sex. 

    Past studies have found that two of the main reasons people have sex is: Either for intimacy, pleasure or other positive outcomes. Or, to avoid tension, disappointment, or other negative outcomes.

    Having sex for the first reason leave couples more sexually satisfied and happier with their relationship overall. With this in mind, a team of researchers tested a new theory:

    Could telling couples to have positive sex improve satisfaction?

    They educated 94 people in relationships on the benefits of positive sex and then asked couples to focus on having positive sex by:

    1) Compile a list with your partner or reasons for having positive sex

    2) Each day think about a past sexual experience with your partner that you enjoyed

    3) Send your partner a sexy text or email

    4) Focus on having a good time during sex

    After one week, the couples reported higher satisfaction with the sex and their relationship. These results could help couples with sexual issues.

    “One of the long-term goals would be to build this into therapy for couples who are facing sexual issues.” -Amy Muise, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Dalhousie University

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    wedding cake

    • Marriage looks a lot different today than it did 30 or 60 years ago.
    • For example, millennials are more open to interracial and interfaith relationships and less likely to have sex outside of marriage.
    • We rounded up the biggest differences between the way millennials and their predecessors approach marriage.

    The institution of marriage is constantly evolving.

    Couples who get hitched today create a partnership that looks totally different from their parents' and grandparents' — from their wedding to their commitment to monogamy.

    Below, Business Insider has collected some of the starkest contrasts between the way millennials and their predecessors approach married life. Just imagine how different marriage will look in another 30 years.

    SEE ALSO: 6 ways millennials are raising kids differently than their parents

    Millennials are more accepting of premarital sex ...

    A 2015 study, published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, found that millennials are the generation most accepting of pre-marital sex.

    In the 1970s, just 29% of American adults believed premarital sex among adults was "not wrong at all." That number increased to 42% in the 1980s, 49% in the 2000s, and 58% between 2010 and 2012.

    ... but they're waiting longer to have it

    Meanwhile, a 2016 study, also published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, found that millennials have had fewer sexual partners than previous generations.

    As Business Insider's Chloe Pantazi reported, results showed 15% of millennials aged 20 - 24 said they had no sexual partners since turning 18. When people born in the 1960s were ages 20 - 24, just 6% said they hadn't had sex.

    Dr. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist and the Chief Scientific Advisor to, told Pantazi this is possibly because millennials are more ambitious in their careers and more cautious about starting relationships.

    They're starting relationships online, and those marriages may be stronger and happier

    At least one-third of couples meet online. Dating sites and apps are especially popular among younger generations of Americans.

    And a growing body of research suggests those who connect through online-dating services go on to have happier marriages, and are less likely to divorce.

    For example, a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2012 looked at about 19,000 people who married between 2005 and 2012. People who met their spouse online said their marriage was more satisfying than those who met their spouse offline. Plus, marriages that began online were less likely to end in separation or divorce.

    (That study was funded by, but one of the study authors told MarketWatch that it was overseen by independent statisticians.)

    It seems likely that people who register for online dating are more interested in a serious relationship — not that online dating directly causes relationships to be stronger.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    couple autumn

    • We rounded up books from a variety of experts that explain why marriage is so hard and how you can strengthen your relationship.
    • The authors touch on topics including infidelity, personality clashes, and even time-management.
    • Each one provides tips that you can implement starting today.

    Marriage is complicated. That's a given.

    So it helps to take a comprehensive look at the whole institution: When did we start having such high expectations for our partners? How do we fall for people who drive us crazy in the long run? Why in the world do we think about cheating if our relationship looks perfect?

    The authors of the five books below — whose ranks include a psychotherapist, a productivity researcher, and a social psychologist — draw on their unique expertise to come up with some answers to these and other important questions. Their insights will help you look with fresh eyes at your own partnership and get inspired to change it for the better.

    Read on for the books that will help strengthen your marriage.

    SEE ALSO: 8 books to read before you get married

    'The All-or-Nothing Marriage: How the Best Marriages Work' by Eli J. Finkel

    This book breaks down into two parts: an exploration of the historical factors that make marriage so hard and a series of creative strategies for strengthening your relationship.

    "All-or-nothing marriage" is the term Finkel — a social psychologist — and his colleagues developed to describe modern relationships. We're placing more expectations on our relationships than ever before — we want our partner to be our best friend, our lover, our intellectual sparring partner, maybe our co-parent — while simultaneously investing less time and energy in the relationship. The inevitable result is that we're disappointed.

    What to do? Well, for one, consider asking less of your relationship. (Really!) Maybe your partner isn't the type to have philosophical debates late into the night; maybe you've got a friend who loves to do that.

    Or, consider not asking so much of your relationship right now, if things are especially stressful. Maybe you just had a baby or maybe you're under a lot of pressure at work. Adjusting your expectations and being realistic about what the relationship can do for you at this point in time is key.

    Find it here »

    'The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity' by Esther Perel

    Esther Perel is something of a celebrity couples therapist — she's the author of the bestselling book "Mating in Captivity," she's given hit TED Talks, and she's the host of an audio series titled, "Where Should We Begin?"

    Now, Perel has sunk her teeth into the subject of cheating, drawing on 30 years of experience to explain everything from how a couple recovers from infidelity to why infidelity can occur even in seemingly happy relationships.

    Perel is strikingly insightful. On the topic of why people in happy relationships cheat, she explains that it can be a form of "self-seeking," as opposed to an attempt to escape the other person. And on the topic of recovery from cheating, Perel says something good can come out of the process: the restoration of honesty and passion.

    Regardless of whether you've been personally affected by infidelity — and Perel says most people have been — the book will make you rethink your understanding of human intimacy and relationships.

    Find it here »

    'The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin

    Rubin is another well-known voice in the self-improvement domain. She's the author of multiple bestselling books, including "The Happiness Project," and she hosts the podcast "Happier With Gretchen Rubin."

    "The Four Tendencies" isn't about romantic relationships per se — instead it's a look at how your personality type affects your life in general. But Rubin does put these personality types in the relationship context, in order to help readers understand why they're attracted to certain people and why the same conflicts keep popping up with their partners.

    For example, "obligers"— people who meet outer expectations but don't always meet inner ones — often pair up with "rebels"— who resist both inner and outer expectations. And while "upholders"— who meet both inner and outer expectations— may be initially attracted to rebels, eventually they'll start to clash. (All these labels get less confusing once you sit down to read the book.)

    Rubin does a good job of helping readers become more tolerant of people who are different from them — especially if that person is their spouse — and of helping them figure out how to manage those differences effectively.

    Find it here »

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    old couple retirement

    • The happiest retirees live life to the fullest by traveling, dining out, and spending money on things they've always wanted.
    • Relationship happiness has the biggest impact on retirement contentment.
    • A third of retirees say that health problems are their biggest interference.


    "Happiness," it's been said, "is like a butterfly. The more you chase it, the more it will evade you." In other words, by actively pursuing a happy state, you reduce your chances of achieving it.

    That may be true from a philosophical standpoint, but when it comes to retirement planning, new research suggests there may in fact be specific steps you can take to enjoy a more rewarding post-career life.

    Researchers from The American College, Eastern New Mexico University, and Texas Tech looked at financial, lifestyle and other data on 1,526 retirees to see what makes for a more satisfying retirement.

    When it comes to having a more enjoyable retirement, the experiences of older Americans shows that there are three main ways you may be able to tilt the odds in your favor.

    1. Spend more money on having fun.

    When the researchers examined how retirees spend their money — on everything from cars and housing-related items to food and insurance — they found that spending in only one category tended to predict retirement satisfaction: leisure, or "experiential commodities" as they say, which includes such activities as dining out, travel, entertainment, and hobbies.

    It's hardly shocking that splurging on dinner at a nice restaurant will leave you feeling more warm and fuzzy inside than forking over the same sum to have your car's oil changed and the tires balanced and rotated.

    But don't put the bump in satisfaction down to mere hedonism.

    Rather, it's because shelling out dough for leisure activities — or what one of the study's co-author's, The American College's Michael Finke described to me as as "social spending"— takes us outside of ourselves and keep us more engaged with the world.

    You don't want to overdo it, though, and have an initially blissful retirement devolve into a survival test in your dotage because you spent too freely on leisure pursuits early on.

    But to the extent you have discretionary funds built into your retirement budget, don't be afraid to target them to activities that give you the biggest happiness bang for your buck.

    2. Nurture your personal relationships.

    How close you feel to family and friends can also affect how much you enjoy retirement. For example, the researchers found that when it comes to relationships, how well you and your spouse get along had the biggest impact — even larger than that of leisure spending — with retirees who described their relations with their spouse as being very or quite close likely to experience higher levels of life satisfaction than those with a poor spousal relationship.

    This stands to reason. After all, if you're married, your spouse is the person you're probably going to be spending the most time with. And if that relationship is sour, it will likely be harder for you to truly savor other aspects of retirement.

    Surprisingly, the researchers found "no evidence to support children contributing to retirees life satisfaction," although having close relationships with friends and, to a lesser extent, other family members does.

    I have to admit I did a double-take on this assertion about children, as it seems inconsistent with the importance most parents place on their relationships with their kids.

    But the issue here isn't how much we love or value our offspring, but whose company is likely to provide us with the most enjoyment in retirement. "And it appears that the people we get the most satisfaction from spending time with," says Finke, "may not be our children, but the friends with whom we have more in common and share similar interests."

    In any case, relationships, not to mention physical intimacy, can play a major role in how much you enjoy life after work. So as you near and enter retirement, you'll want to be sure to evaluate your relationships with the people who matter to you and try to sustain and improve those relationships (and if possible cultivate new ones) as you age.


    3. Do all you can to maintain your health.

    You can also improve your shot at a happy retirement by staying healthy. Indeed, retirees who reported they were in good, very good, or excellent health were more likely to feel satisfied with their retirement than those with poor or even fair health. What's more, health status was even more likely to lead to retirement satisfaction than good relationships or leisure spending.

    Other research bears out just how much good health is linked to retirement happiness. According to a recent Nationwide Retirement Institute survey, a third of recent retirees say that health problems are interfering with their retirement.

    Of course, you don't have absolute control over your health. But there are a number of things you can do to reduce the chance that an illness or other physical problems will cast a pall on your post-career life, including staying active and exercising regularly, getting regular checkups, and receiving proper treatment for any ongoing health issues.

    Aside from enhancing your enjoyment of retirement in general, looking after your physical well-being may also help you feel more financially secure by possibly lowering the amount of money you'll have to shell out for health care, which is one of retirees' largest expenses.

    There are other ways aside from those mentioned in this paper that may also be able to help you can improve your prospects for a more satisfying retirement. For example, a 2015 Merrill Lynch report found that seniors who give back in some way, such as by volunteering, were more likely to say they were happy and had a strong sense of purpose in their lives.

    SEE ALSO: It doesn't matter how much meditation or time management you do — the only way to improve stress is to work less

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