Entries in Relationships (61)


Teens' Peer Struggles Can Forecast Long-Term Problems

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- According to a new study, teenagers who struggle to connect with their peers often struggle to make friends and avoid problems later in life, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Virginia published the results of the study in the journal Child Development.

Joseph P. Allen, Hugh P. Kelly Distinguished Professor at the University of Virginia, led the study. "Overall, we found that teens face a high-wire act with their peers," said Allen. "They need to establish strong, positive connections with them while at the same time establishing independence in resisting deviant peer influences. Those who don’t manage this have significant problems as much as a decade later."

The study followed approximately 150 teens for 10 years in order to determine whether there were long-term impacts to peer struggles during the adolescent years. The study found that there were long-terms effects, including difficulty managing disagreements in romantic relationships.

Additionally, the study showed that teens who were involved in minor forms of deviance were at higher risk of alcohol and substance use and illegal behavior later in life.

According to the study, teens who managed to connect with others while still standing up for themselves and "becoming their own persons" were rated as the most competent overall by age 23.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


New Mobile Apps Give Online Dating a Makeover

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In 2013, blind dates are getting a serious makeover.

Alex Pavlenko is one of the millions of Americans looking for love at any time of day. She went on a blind date during her lunch hour.

Pavlenko met her blind date, Ed Stern, on a brand-new mobile app from dating website OKCupid called Crazy Blind Date, which matched them based on their personality profiles. Two days after they were connected, they met for a blind lunch date.

Two days is a lifetime for today’s apps, which help happy singles looking for Mr. Right, right now.

While online dating sites are seeing fewer visitors – ComScore says 22.9 million visitors ventured to online sites in January 2012 compared to 29.3 million in 2011 – apps like Locals and Singles Around Me are making instant love connections with people nearby who want to meet up immediately.

The number of app-happy singles looking for love on their smartphones is booming, according to Nielsen. In November 2012, there were 13.7 million – double the rate from the previous year.

These apps can show you all of the potential dates that are within walking distance of your exact location. Love can be found literally right across the street with these new apps.

The fastest-growing app is Tinder, which instantly introduces you to your friends’ friends. It’s so popular, it grew 750 percent just last month. The app has made more than 15 million matches with 1.5 billion profile ratings and more than 60 percent of their users logging in every day.

Sam Yagan, the CEO of OKCupid, designs apps that deliver romance at warp speed.

“You can be dating all the time, from wherever you are. And that’s really the key,” he said.

Yagan’s apps can schedule dates in just 30 seconds. You don’t even have to do the asking because the app does it for you.

These apps are leading many to wonder, can instant connections lead to lasting love?

For Pavlenko, her instant date went “pretty well.” But with 100 dates in the palm of her hand, she’s already looking for the next one.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Facebook Relationship Statuses Up by 200 Percent on Valentine’s Day

Joanna Stern / ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A scroll through most people's Facebook Newsfeed Thursday likely showed lots of pictures of flowers, chocolates and candies. There’s no doubt it’s Valentine’s Day. But sprinkled among those images, it's also likely there are notifications that some friends are now “in a relationship.”

According to Facebook, Valentine’s Day is the biggest day of the year for letting the Facebook world know about your relationship by adding a “relationship status” to your Timeline. Facebook says that 200 percent more relationships are added on Feb. 14, compared to any other day of the year. Also, more than 70 percent of those people who list their status on Facebook first met on Valentine’s Day.

What Facebook doesn’t have is stats about the most popular time or day to go from being “in a relationship” to “no longer in a relationship.” Virgin Mobile and OkCupid dubbed Wednesday, Feb. 13, “National Breakup Day.” They reported that 59 percent of people said that if they were going to break up with someone, they would do so just before Valentine’s Day to save money.

If that’s true, one would think many people changed their statuses Wednesday, in time for Valentine's Day, or over the last few weeks. But perhaps when it comes to declaring your love publicly on Facebook, it’s complicated.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Relationship Ranch: Horses Help Couples Heal Broken Hearts

Horses are being used in an unconventional form of couples counseling at a Colorado ranch. (ABC News)(LOUISVILLE, Colo.) -- It's fascinating to watch a man trying to win back the love of his life by talking to a horse.

Horse therapy has been used for decades to help treat people with physical disabilities or learning disorders, but now they are also being used in an unconventional form of couples counseling.

Nancy Hamilton and Lottie Grimes are marriage therapists who run Relationship Ranch in Louisville, Colo. They are convinced that horses can help feuding couples make peace.

"You wouldn't think they would have any role in marriage therapy," Hamilton said. "But because horses are so exquisitely sensitive, they can help us determine what a couple is actually, really feeling."

For three weekends, "Nightline" followed one couple's last-ditch effort to save their crumbling relationship and attended their equine therapy sessions.

Justin and Lyz, both 30 and never married, have been together for nine years and have two sons. But lately, they said, the bickering and fighting at home got so bad that Justin reluctantly agreed to move out.

"We have piled problem on top of problem on top of problem for years," Lyz said. "Who knows what's at the bottom of that?"

Although he was skeptical about the healing powers of horses, he said he was willing to try just about anything to make his family whole again.

On their first day of therapy, the couple was introduced to the ranch's herd of horses. Justin was magnetically drawn to the newest and most aggressive horse, Danny, who came to the ranch after surviving a grizzly bear attack. Danny wasn't fitting in with the other horses, which hit home for Justin, who felt exiled from his own herd. Hamilton said horses can sense and read people's emotions.

"They're almost like a Rorschach projective test with a mane and a tail, where people can project onto them their feelings, their thoughts and their fears," she said.

Hamilton said she believes those fears can stem from what she called unresolved childhood wounds, which plague adult relationships. That was the case with Justin. When he was 9-years-old, his sister was brutally murdered by an ex-boyfriend and young Justin saw the murder scene.

"He chased her down and cut her throat," he said. "We went back several days later and they hadn't cleaned anything up."

After working with Justin and Lyz, Hamilton said Lyz saw Justin as controlling, but those tendencies are rooted in his childhood trauma.

"Trauma survivors are very concerned with being able to control their present environment because they were not able to control their environment when they were traumatized," she said.

Hamilton had Justin go through a blind trust exercise with Danny to force Justin to surrender control to his partner. The goal was to expose Justin's old wounds. Hamilton instructed him to talk to Danny about what had happened when his sister was killed. Danny, the trauma-surviving horse, set the stage for a major breakthrough.

"It seemed so stupid at first, and then it was actually helpful," Justin said. "Therapeutic."

Watching Justin talk to the horse, Lyz said she never saw him so vulnerable. After the session, the two apologized for hurting each other.

Two weeks later, Justin went through a final exercise to fully cope with his past. In a pen, surrounded by the herd, Justin became 9-years-old-again. He was instructed to confront his absent father through a role-playing exercise, while Lyz acted as a stand-in for his dad.

"You abandoned all of us," he said aloud. "I had to be the man of the family and I think that you're a coward."

During a crucial and emotional moment, Danny, the horse, seemed to sense that his new friend needed him, and he put his head into Justin's hands. Then, in a rare sign of trust, some of the other horses lay down behind Justin, while others joined him by his side.

"That was the big 'ah-ha' moment for Lyz," Hamilton said. "She said, 'Justin, I realize that I am abandoning you over and over again just like your dad did.'"

At that point, Hamilton told the couple to re-commit to each other exclusively. Suddenly, the horses started kicking and running. Hamilton said she believes they were reacting to Lyz's fear of commitment and Justin's fear of abandonment.

For now, the future of Justin and Lyz's relationship is still uncertain. Lyz said she needed more time to decide whether to continue the relationship. They haven't solved all of their problems, but at least for now, they have found some guidance for the long road ahead.

"If you truly want help you're going to do whatever it takes to get that, even if it's talking to a horse," Justin said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Scientists Discover Power of Oxytocin 

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BONN, Germany) -- Many women have dreamed of a magic love potion to keep control of the straying and the wandering eye. Now scientists say they may have just found one.

A study conducted at the University of Bonn in Germany had men use nasal spray containing the hormone Oxytocin. Results showed that when men in monogamous relationships were given the spray, they kept their distance from good-looking women who they did not know -- about four to six inches farther away, to be exact. The spray had no effect on single men and the amount of distance they chose to keep between themselves and attractive women.

The study involved 57 heterosexual males, and about half of them were involved in monogamous relationships.

Researchers say that the hormone could be used to promote fidelity. Still, there is no word yet on when Oxytocin would become a commercial product, or even available in the United States.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Annual Women in Pain Conference Focuses on Relationships

Coral Von Zumwalt(NEW YORK) -- In many respects, Cynthia Toussaint is unlucky.  She was a ballerina who had a role in the show Fame.  Then she was brought down by a then-nameless chronic pain disorder that left her mute and in a wheelchair for years.

But in one respect, she is lucky.  She is one of the few women she knows whose partner, John Garrett, didn't leave her during years in pain.  He stayed with her during the 13 years doctors told her the pain was in her head, and the 17 more as she gradually found her voice and started lending it to other women with conditions like complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and fibromyalgia.

"He said he never doubted me, but he did not understand it," Toussaint said.

She said Garrett has taken care of her and their home since they were 21 or 22 years old.  Now, they're 52.  

"To not leave is amazing," she said.

Garrett said he met Toussaint in 1982 when they were 19-year-olds at the University of California, Irvine and planned to move to Los Angeles to pursue careers in entertainment.  Then Toussaint suffered a ballet injury that went from "bad to worse to catastrophic."

The pain from the injury to her right leg spread through her entire body, which is typical of CRPS, though she did not know it at the time.  CRPS has no known cause, but doctors suspect it is either a damaged nervous system response or an immune system response.  The young couple wouldn't get a diagnosis until 1995.

"She was bedridden, housebound, wheelchair bound," Garrett said.  "Everything was being turned upside down and inside out, and you don't really know what's going on."

And for years, he tried and failed to sleep in bed next to Toussaint at night as she writhed in pain.

"There's no manual, no textbook on how to take on something like this early in your life," he said, noting that most people who care for elderly parents are middle-aged.  "I had fantasies of fleeing, of getting the hell out of here.  I'd get in a Honda Civic and head out on the I-15 and just keep going."

Garrett worked odd hours to bring in money and still be around to take care of her.  His acting career would have to wait.

Toussaint compared caring for women in pain to caring for an Alzheimer's patient: "We don't get better, and we don't die.  It's just the truth."

But Garrett stayed because he loved her, and what he really wanted was to make her feel better.  He made her meals, helped her dress and even helped her go to the bathroom when things were at their worst.

Toussaint's CRPS diagnosis was the real turning point, he said.  And when they founded For Grace, a nonprofit to educate and help women in chronic pain, he became its executive director.

They're about to have their fifth annual Women in Pain conference on Friday, and they have a bill on California Gov. Jerry Brown's desk to ensure effective pain treatment for patients.

There are pitfalls of being a caregiver, but he has stayed with Toussaint for more than three decades.  They'll celebrate their 32nd anniversary on Sept. 15.

"Sometimes, you lose yourself. You lose your identity, giving yourself over to caregiving for somebody," he said, adding that it's important for him to reconnect with his desires and goals when he can.  "If you truly love someone, you'll go through hell and high water to help them in any way you can."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Today's Technology Impacts Privacy in Our Love Lives

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Privacy is a quaint concept but it doesn’t seem to be respected much in today’s electronic world.

Since there are unlimited ways to communicate, it also gives people an easier way to cheat on a significant other. And if that’s the case, many of those who feel they’re being two-timed say it’s perfectly acceptable to check their partner’s text messages, voicemails or emails.

Surveying 2,000 adults, the online dating service discovered that 37 percent of women believe it’s okay to conduct some electronic snooping if “bad behavior” is suspected, while 29 percent of guys feel the same.

What happens to be acceptable seems to vary with people’s ages. Checking another person’s texts, voicemails and emails gets the nod from 36 percent of all adults aged 18 to 34 while only 26 percent of adults over 55 approve of it.

Even more interesting is that 41 percent of the younger respondents say it’s acceptable to date more than one person at a time while over half of those older than 55 don’t see anything wrong with going out with multiple people.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'Looners' Substitute Balloons for Love, Sex and Intimacy

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For children, balloons can make the heart soar, but when an adult tucks his balloons into bed at night, he could be considered a "looner."

Dave, a former piano teacher from outside Little Rock, Ark., thinks of his balloons as his children. And he has fathered 65,000 of them. He cuddles them and coddles them, but insists the relationship is purely platonic.

"Some people think I am doing something else with them, but I am not," he says. "I am pure in my life -- I keep the balloons the same way."

Dave is one of four stories that will air on National Geographic Channel's series, Taboo, which airs Sunday, Aug. 19 at 10 p.m.

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Each night, he tucks one under his shirt and sleeps with the chosen balloon. "They create a world of sleeping on clouds and I want to feel the love emanating from these beautiful, beautiful balloons," he says in the episode.

"It feels so warm and your heart just reaches out to [them]," he says. "I believe these are my children. They are a part of who I am ... and make a part of my so-called family."

Loving balloons seems harmless enough, but Dr. Rebecca Beaton, director and founder of the Stress Management Institute, said attachment to objects can be considered a mental illness if it interferes with daily life or causes great stress.

"I presume he has some difficulty with relationships with other people if he has a balloon under his shirt," said Beaton, who has never treated Dave.

"It feels like intimacy but it's not a real human and humans can hurt you," she said. "It's safer with an inanimate object … They don't feel so alone."

Humanizing objects is not that uncommon, she said. Chuck Noland, the Fed Ex executive played by Tom Hanks in the 2000 movie Cast Away, was best friends with his volleyball. Of course he was a castaway on a desert island.

Men also have close attachments to blow-up dolls. And just like balloons, these objects "from a kinesthetic perspective are like a human body -- kind of soft and have some characteristics like a person."

Dave may insist that he isn't sexually attracted to his balloons, but there are many who are, according to licensed sex therapist Kimberly Resnick Anderson, who is director of Sexual Health at Summa Health System in Akron, Ohio.

These attractions are defined paraphilias by the psychiatric Diagnostics and Standards Manual (DSM5) as "intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges or behaviors generally involving nonhuman objects."

Anderson consulted in a similar series from TLC, Strange Sex, which featured Christopher, a man who pops balloons for sexual pleasure.

Christopher's fetish was so intense, he moved from Rutland, Vt., to New York City to explore his balloon fantasies with others so inclined.

"A fetish is when a person prefers an object to a live person, and it becomes a requirement for a sexual response," she told in an interview about a man who had a fetish about suckling his wife's breast milk and getting her pregnant. "I have seen that with fur, rubber, diapers, bugs -- even car fetishes -- anything you can think of, there is a sector out there."

One of her patients fell in love with an inflatable duckie he found on the beach as a child. By the time he reached puberty it became sexual. "Some imprinting goes on and hard wiring and it's extra difficult to change it," she said of those with fetishes.

As for Christopher, he demonstrates his erotic love of balloons. "All I want to do is pop it," he says of his favorite orange-colored balloon. "This is going to be epic. As it gets bigger, I get a little anxious and a little nervous, you know, then really excited."

With a loud bang, he exclaims in the TLC episode, "I guess pretty much all balloons deserve to die."

His favorite trick is "necking" the balloon. When it gets to 14 or 15 inches in length, Christopher holds the balloon and stretches out the neck.

As a child he remembers coming home from school and pleasuring himself with a balloon.

"When it finally popped, I found I was most attracted to the balloon itself," he says. "I think it's calming, and it's important in my life."

What Christopher really wants is to share his love of balloons with a woman.

And that, says psychologist Beaton, is exactly the point. Attractions to objects like balloons are often just "coping mechanisms."

"They are using the balloons to fill the need for intimacy," she said. "We try to help them find other ways of getting those intimacy needs met and helping them to realize that they can self-soothe and gradually start to change."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Less Lying, More Truth Telling Linked to Better Health

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NOTRE DAME, Ind.) -- It may seem like conventional wisdom, but telling the truth on a consistent basis can make you healthier, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.
With recent evidence showing that Americans tell an average of 11 lies per week, psychology researchers at Notre Dame were curious about the benefits of living a more honest life. They found that the fewer fibs you tell, the better you sleep at night, and that lying less was also tied to better relationships.

Lead researcher Anita Kelly says that in the small study of just 110 people, ranging in age from 18-71, those who purposefully avoided lying for 10 weeks experienced fewer physical and emotional complaints.

"Feeling blue, feeling anxious, having trouble falling asleep and that sort of thing.  Those are the kinds of mental health complaints they were reporting having fewer of those when they lied less," Kelly said.

Interestingly, the researchers also noted the ways in which people attempted to avoid lying such as avoiding troubling questions by distracting with another questions. It turns out that lying by omission or avoidance and telling those "little white lies" can also take their toll if they cause stress, they found.

"So it was very clear that … that lying less was linked to better health for our participants," Kelly said.

This study was presented at the American Psychological Association meeting and has not been peer-reviewed.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Can Sex Without Orgasm Bolster Marriages?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Matt Cook hasn't had an orgasm in seven months, and he hopes never to intentionally have one again. The 51-year-old publisher from Virginia isn't celibate. Happily married for 25 years, Cook said his sex life is more exciting than ever and giving up the goal-oriented climax has improved every aspect of his life.

Cook, the father of two adult sons, is a newcomer to karezza, a form of intercourse that emphasizes affection while staying far from the edge of orgasm. Climax is not the goal and ideally does not occur while making love.

"It creates a deep feeling in a relationship that is very difficult to describe -- much deeper than conventional sex," he said.

Cook is one of a growing number of men who have embraced karezza and have found it has helped heal their marriages, inject more spark into their sex lives and even shed porn addiction.

A recovering porn addict, Cook suffered from performance anxiety with girlfriends. Sex got better with his wife, but he didn't know how much until he discovered karezza.

Now, he has sex almost every day.

"It kind of never ends," said Cook. "Why would I want to give that up for a 15-second orgasm?"

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Deb Feintech, a counselor from Portland, Maine, uses karezza to help couples repair their broken relationships.

"The people most interested are men," she said. "It's very radical for them, but they are finding the emotional intimacy far outweighs any of the thrill of the chase and the mating mind."

And Feintech said the practice is not just helpful for middle-aged couples struggling with the ennui of a long marriage, but for young couples headed to the altar.

"I offer this to them as something to try for a month or so," she said. "They wake up every single morning and they are not even thinking about genital stimulation. They are snuggling, holding and breathing with eye contact and flow. It's very conscious -- from the genitals to the heart."

It puts the emphasis on attachment, not climax.

The word karezza was coined by Dr. Alice Bunker Stockham, a Chicago obstetrician and early feminist who promoted birth control, a ban on corsets and sexual fulfillment for both genders. In 1896, she wrote a book by that name -- from the Italian word carezza, which means caress.

For strengthening marriages, she encouraged what was then called "male continence," although in the interest of equality, she asked that women abstain from orgasm, as well.

Marnia L. Robinson has carried the contemporary torch in her 2009 book, Cupid's Poisoned Arrow, and on her website, Reuniting: Healing With Sexual Relationships.

"Even for those with the highest libidos, performance can become a grind and drive a craving for novelty," said Robinson. "Such feelings, although perfectly natural, can create projections and resentment that cause disharmony, especially after our temporary honeymoon neurochemistry wears off."

Technique is "virtually immaterial," she says. "It's a practice about not doing, about getting your goal-driven mammalian mating system out of the way long enough to fall into a state of relaxed union."

A former corporate lawyer and now a devotee, Robinson argues that karezza's power is rooted in neuroscience.

"Orgasm really isn't in our genitals, but actually between our ears," she said.

In the "passion cycle of orgasm," the hormone dopamine rises in anticipation of sex, and then crashes after orgasm, creating a biochemical "hangover," according to Robinson.

In men, that happens almost immediately after ejaculation; for women, it can be two weeks before the brain returns to homeostasis, according to Robinson.

"Karezza turned out to be an enjoyable way to tiptoe around biology's agenda," she said.

Overstimulation of the pleasure receptors can also desensitize the brain to pleasure or create a craving for more. When men are addicted to pornography or have frequent orgasms, "no amount of pleasure can satisfy," she said. "We are always looking for something novel."

But in karezza, lovemaking never finishes, so sexual energy continues to flow, helping to prevent boredom with a partner, say advocates. Karezza also elicits the relaxation response and encourages the brain to release the "love" hormone ocytocin, which helps in bonding behavior.

Robinson, unable to sustain intimacy, had been married twice before meeting her husband Gary Wilson, a former science teacher who helped her in her research. He had experienced depression and alcohol addiction, but after the couple explored karezza together, he was able to give up Prozac and drinking.

She found she was able to sustain a lasting and harmonious marriage.

"We sit tight, next to each other 24/7 and are never apart," said Wilson. "I don't feel the need to have my space, which is unusual."

Though many other men look at Wilson "like I am crazy," he said karezza can surprisingly help "rekindle things" in a long-term relationship.

For each couple, the experience is different.

"The natural 'karezzanauts' would be committed couples who want to sweeten the harmony of their relationships," said Robinson.

But young people, too, can try their hand at karezza, she said. In the very least, the practice is an effective form of birth control.

"I doubt any of us forget how to have conventional sex if pregnancy is desired," she said. "You can still ride a bike, even if you drive a car."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio