Here's Everything Science Discovered About Sex & Relationships In 2018
I’ll admit it: I was known to doodle in the back of chem class, and I dipped out of physics whenever I could. Simply put, science has never been my thing — except, however, when it involves the dating realm. With each study that’s released, I eagerly read the findings, hoping that I may glean some wisdom from other couples’ lives that may impact mine. And what science discovered about sex & relationships in 2018 is nothing short of groundbreaking. The insightful research conducted this year can not only help us understand what behaviors, traits and qualities make for more successful relationships and healthier sex lives, but also which ones could be detrimental.
Indeed, science has revealed so much about relationships and sex over the decades. It has taught us, for example, that single people spend more on dating than those in relationships do. It has also uncovered which occupations are most popular on dating apps (spoiler alert: nurse, dentist, and photographer get the most right swipes for women, while interior designer, pilot, and physician’s assistant are the most attractive when it comes to men). We’ve also learned that porn viewing can have a negative effect on relationship satisfaction for men.
As they say, knowledge is power. Here are some of the most profound findings science offered up in the realm of dating, relationships, and sex over 2018.
The more you think your partner depends on your relationship, the less likely you are to break up with them.
There are many reasons why someone might put off a breakup, despite feeling unhappy in a relationship. According to a pair of studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2018, people often avoid breakups when they feel like it may take a toll on their SO because the relationship is very important to them. In fact, the more dependent on the relationship people perceived their partner to be, the less likely they were to initiate a breakup.
It makes total sense when you think about it: No one wants to hurt someone who has played an important role in their lives, and obviously, breaking off a bond that matters to them will likely be hurtful.
Problematic Facebook use is linked to relationship anxiety.
Ever noticed how some people have a tendency to share a lot of intimate details of their lives, or to make themselves look better? Well, using Facebook in problematic ways is associated with insecurities about one’s close relationships, according to recent research published in BMC Psychology.
It all comes down to your attachment style. People with high attachment anxiety agree with statements such as “I am afraid that I will lose my partner’s love.” And the study revealed that attachment anxiety was associated with comparing oneself to others, oversharing personal information about oneself, and creating a false impression of oneself while using Facebook. Moreover, these people were more likely to use the social network at the expense of other activities. Meanwhile, people with high attachment avoidance agree with statements such as “I get uncomfortable when my partner wants to be very close.” And those people were more likely to use Facebook to create a false impression of oneself as well. Not only that, but researchers discovered that the link between attachment insecurity and these Facebook behaviors was even stronger among people with low self-esteem.
Sharing the dishwashing duties can improve relationship satisfaction.
No one loves vacuuming or taking out the trash. But as it turns out, of every possible chore, washing the dishes causes the most conflict in relationships — only, of course, when the responsibility is mainly left to one partner. A report from the Council of Contemporary Families revealed that when women are often left to clean all the dishes, they tended to argue more with their partner and reported lower sexual satisfaction compared to those who had a partner who helped out.
Ultimately, the study showed that sharing all household chores can improve a relationship. Fortunately, the study also revealed that men have taken on more household chores over the past several decades: in fact, they perform twice as much housework on a weekly basis than they did in 1965.
Relationship gains is a real thing.
It’s long been speculated that there's a link between one's relationship status and their weight — and this was confirmed by a recent study conducted at the University of Queensland in Australia. Researchers found that couples in happy relationships weighed an average of 13 pounds more than single people, and that they experienced an average weight gain of four pounds per year. Could it possibly be because once you’re comfortable in a relationship, your self-confidence soars, so you're less concerned with obsessing over the scale (hooray!)? It's unclear why this happens, but it's worth noting that there's really nothing wrong with it, as long as you're physically healthy — in fact, note that the study specified it's happy couples who experience this weight gain.
And here's another tidbit of good news: The study also found that people in relationships tend to have healthier habits overall than single people, including eating less fast food, and consuming more fruits and veggies.
Feeling obligated to work after office hours can hurt your relationship.
“Let me just make sure that client hasn’t responded,” you think to yourself while anxiously checking your email before you and bae have dinner. Apparently, while this kind of behavior may make you look good to your boss, it can be detrimental to your relationship. New research published in Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings found that being expected to monitor work emails around the clock can take a toll on your mental health and overall well-being. People who felt obligated to check emails outside of traditional office hours reported higher levels of anxiety. Remarkably, that seemed to have a spillover effect, as those people’s partners reported not only decreased well-being but also lower relationship satisfaction.
“Phubbing” is associated with relationship dissatisfaction.
It’s no secret that nowadays, people may ignore their SO while they’re in their presence to use their smartphone instead. Just take a look around next time you’re out to eat, and notice how many people on dates are checking their email or scoping their Instagram feeds. According to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, this phone snubbing behavior — deemed “phubbing” — actually increases the likelihood of relationship dissatisfaction. How? Phubbing seems to create emotional distance between partners, which then obviously takes a toll on their bond.
The study’s authors concluded that phubbing “violates fundamental human needs” and ultimately results in “negative communication outcomes.”
Talking about sex with friends can boost your sexual well-being.
If watching Sex and the City feels downright autobiographical, you and your besties may be doing something right: A new study published in the International Journal of Sexual Health revealed that discussing sex with friends is associated with greater overall sexual well-being for women.
According to the study, when women had supportive female pals who offered up encouraging or positive advice or feedback, they were more likely to confront a partner to ask for a change in their sex life. They were also more likely to ask their SO if they’d been tested for STDs.
On-again, off-again relationships can negatively impact mental health.
From fictional couples like Rachel and Ross to real-life ones like Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick, we’re all familiar with the on-again, off-again relationship. And as you may have suspected, science has shown that these relationships aren’t exactly healthy. A study published in Family Relations in August 2018 found that the uncertainty that results from breaking up and reuniting over and over again is linked to a higher risk of mental health issues. Both straight and gay couples who engage in these kinds of relationships were more likely to experience depression and anxiety.
Most women would take "amazing food" over sex.
If you’d take a mind-blowing brownie over some below-the-waist action any day, you’re not alone. Everyday Health’s recent Women's Wellness Survey of revealed that 73 percent of the over 3,000 women surveyed would take an amazing meal over sex when given the option between the two.
It’s not the first time science has shown that some surprising things take priority over getting some, either. One previous survey by Max Borges Agency showed that shopping on Amazon is more important to many millennials than sex.
The more you know, eh? Next time you're looking to boost your dating or sex IQ, look to science for some seriously thought-provoking knowledge. We may not have all the answers yet, but at the very least, we're getting a little wiser to what works — and what doesn't.