Entries in Valentine's Day (10)


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


For Office Romances, New Rules Apply

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As Woody Allen, King Edward VIII and fictional philandering ad-man Don Draper could all attest, love can be dangerous. In the workplace, though, love is fraught with special peril.

That an office romance gone sour could unleash a hail of legal arrows, such as lawsuits alleging sexual harassment or discrimination, does not seem to impede coworkers from dating.

In a survey of office workers just released by CareerBuilder, 39 percent say they have dated a co-worker at least once in their career. Of those who did, 29 percent dated a higher-up; 16 percent dated their boss. Most workers said they had been open about these relationships, but 35 percent kept them secret.

Clarence Belnavis, a partner in the Portland, Ore., law office of Fisher & Phillips, counsels clients on the dangers of office romance. It's no secret why love is blooming in the office: It's where people spend most of their time, Belnavis tells ABC News. "You spend more time at work than you do sleeping. No wonder a good number of people find their significant others there," he explains.

Even so, he says, most employers don't know how to deal—or don't want to deal—with the legal issues raised by these relationships. "Very few deal with it in a proactive fashion," he says.

There is nothing illegal about love in the office, provided it's consensual and not the result of intimidation or coercion.

Nor is it illegal for a lover to show favoritism at work toward his beloved. "Paramour favoritism" is the legal term for that, says Belnavis, and courts have found it to be neither harassment nor gender discrimination, for purposes of the Civil Rights Act.

The reason, says Belnavis, is that the favoritism shown to a significant other disadvantages all other employees equally, whether they are male or female. Further, according to The Legal Intelligencer, paramour favoritism does not run afoul of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines, which permit isolated instances of preferential treatment based on consensual romantic relationships.

While the commission has ruled that favoritism shown towards a paramour may be unfair to other workers, the unfairness is based on considerations other than the gender of the disadvantaged parties.

What makes consensual office relationships problematic for employers, Belnavis says, is that consent can be withdrawn at any time.

"Today's consensual relationship," he says, "can be tomorrow's breakup disaster." Suddenly, one party's attentions are no longer welcome to the other.

Despite the danger that the jilted lover will sue, alleging, say, that the relationship was coercive and that the employer allowed it to exist, Belnavis says most employers choose not to intervene in office romances. "They feel it's taboo for them to interfere in that aspect of employees' lives," he adds.

Michael Woolley, associate general counsel for trucking company C.R. England in Salt Lake City, Utah, told the Wall Street Journal that his company does not ban in-office relationships. But when and if management learns that two employees are dating, it calls a meeting with them to discuss the situation.

In rare instances, says Woolley, the company will draft a so-called "love contract" stipulating that the relationship is consensual, and setting ground rules for the couple's behavior in the workplace. One reason love contracts are rare, he says, is that the necessary negotiations can make for awkward conversations between manager and employees.

Belnavis says he has been recommending such love contracts to his clients since 2001.

He calls them useful tools for establishing the ground rules and boundaries of an office romance. If the relationship goes sour and charges of harassment start to fly, they offer some measure of protection for management, who can cite them as proof that the relationship was consensual and that management sat the couple down and explained what standard of behavior was expected of them.

A well-drafted love contract, says Belnavis, might include some or all of the following elements: acknowledgement by the parties that a relationship exists; that it is not based on intimidation; that the employees understand the company's policies on sexual harassment and discrimination; and that they commit to keeping management informed of any changes in their relationship. It might also include a commitment not to engage in retaliation, should the romance end.

"Love contract" is a bit of a misnomer, says Belnavis, noting that nothing is bought or sold. "It's more what I would call a relationship-acknowledgement form."

He emphasizes that the document, while useful, is not a cure for relationships that are wrong by definition such as a romance between a manager and an immediate subordinate.

So how should office lovebirds who are peers comport themselves, to avoid trouble?

Rachel DeAlto, a self-described flirting and communications expert, is the author of Flirt Fearlessly, an A to Z guide to fraternization. Her list of do's and don'ts for office sweethearts includes the following four tips:

Find out what policy, if any, your office has about workplace romance: If your company forbids it, don't do it. Or, alternatively, resign: If you've found the love of your life, keep your paramour and find a job somewhere else.

If company policy permits romance but requires that you notify HR of your relationship, report it at its earliest stage.

Respect decorum: If romance is permitted, have the good taste not to rub yours in co-workers' faces. "Making out at the Christmas party or causing your colleagues to feel uncomfortable with your public displays of affection," advises DeAlto, "is never cute. Keep all outward shows of affection for outside the office."

Likewise, keep all love-problems at home. Don't allow them to taint your professional life or those of co-workers.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


This Valentine's Day, Know the Truth About Aphrodisiacs

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The fairy tale in which a princess must kiss a frog in order to turn him back into a prince may not have completely innocent origins.

One kind of toad produces venom with bufotenine, a supposed ancient aphrodisiac that increased levels of serotonin, the happiness hormone, in couples looking to increase sexual arousal.

Yes, really.

"Anything that uses serotonin increases arousal at the brain level to promote sexual activity," said Dr. Paola Sandroni, a neurologist who became fascinated with ancient aphrodisiacs when the erection-producing drug Viagra first appeared on the market. She published a scientific paper about aphrodisiacs in 2001.

Sandroni came across well-known aphrodisiacs in her research, like dark chocolate, and some more outlandish ones, like a certain kind of whale poop. A substance called ambrien, which came from the guts of sperm whales, was used in Arab folk medicine to treat headaches and improve sexual function. She found studies that showed ambrien increased certain pituitary hormones and testosterone levels to stimulate the brain's synthesis of dopamine, the pleasure chemical.

Of the more traditional aphrodisiacs, Sandroni said artichokes, oysters and avocados are debatable. It's possible they stimulate arousal, but it's also possible their reputations grew because merchants found it was good for business to claim they had aphrodisiac qualities.

"Basically, we're on really shaky ground here," said Pepper Schwartz, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington who has written and co-written several books on sex and relationships, including her latest, The Normal Bar.

She said the appeal of scents like rose, pumpkin and cinnamon are repeated often enough that they may have some effect in the bedroom, but the power of pheromones and aphrodisiacs lack the scientific proof to make a believer out of her.

"We may give off a smell, but not like when a female wolf is in heat and any male wolf in the next several miles can tell she's ready," she said, adding that similar doubt surrounds aphrodisiacs.

Schwartz said her aphrodisiac of choice is champagne, because the bubbles promote faster alcohol absorption into the bloodstream, allowing one to relax quickly. Alcohol allows people to feel free to have sex by alleviating stress and inhibitions, but Schwartz maintains it doesn't push people to have sex with partners they would not be attracted to when they were sober.

But Schwartz said she is always careful not to drink too much -- or eat too much on a fancy date.

"The two biggest physical enemies of sex are being tired and being full," she said.

Even though oysters are often considered aphrodisiacs because they have zinc, which stimulates blood flow, Schwartz said someone would have to eat a beach full of them to make a dent in their sexual arousal. That obviously puts those people in the too-full zone, she said.

The same principle is true of ginseng and dark chocolate, which are rich in antioxidants and therefore work somewhat like Viagra to increase blood flow, Sandroni said. However, it would take huge amounts of them to produce the same effect as Viagra.

Still, it's possible that regular amounts of chocolate and oysters get people in the mood simply because they're expensive and associated with fancy dates, Sandroni said. That alone could heighten serotonin and dopamine in the brain to make someone feel sexy.

"Even if an aphrodisiac isn't working on a physical level, and it's only working in a placebo-effect kind of way, there's validity to its use," said Sarah Thorp, a curator at the Museum of Sex in New York City.

Thorp, who has a background in anthropology, said Cleopatra appears in many myths about sex and pleasure. She notably used to bathe in water filled with saffron to increase sensitivity and lead to greater pleasure.

Chocolate made its way into aphrodisiac lore, Thorp said, when the Aztec emperor Montezuma drank a chocolate beverage before satisfying his numerous wives.

"Everyone's always looking for something to enliven their sexual relationships and sexual prowess," she said. "Across the world in every culture in every time period we keep on circling back to this idea of aphrodisiacs. I think that in and of itself is fascinating."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Dark Chocolate Trend Making Valentine’s Day Healthier

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Thursday could be the healthiest Valentine’s Day on record, with more Americans than ever reaching for dark chocolate over milk chocolate, experts say.

Heightened public awareness about the health benefits of dark chocolate has turned what used to be seen as a guilty indulgence into a must-have staple.  The dark stuff contains a higher level of cocoa flavonoids, which recent scientific studies have found combat bad cholesterol and lower blood pressure.

A devotion to dark is obvious from farmers markets to supermarkets, where shoppers are bombarded by dark chocolate bars containing 70, 80, and 90 percent cocoa solids.

Fast-food shops are even getting in on the trend.  Krispy Kreme unveiled a dark chocolate donut this month and Dunkin’ Donuts is peddling “dark hot chocolate.”

“It’s growing and it’s growing and it’s growing,” Katrina Markoff, owner of Vosges Haut Chocolate, an edgy chocolatier based in Chicago, told ABC News.  The company’s dark chocolate bacon bar outsells its milk chocolate cousin by a lot, she said.

“We sell millions of those,” said Markoff.

Milk chocolate still reigns, with only 29 percent of Americans over age 45 and 15 percent of Americans age 18 to 44 preferring dark chocolate, according to a survey by the National Confectioners Association.

But the dark trend is on an undeniable upward swing, said Susan Smith, an association spokeswoman.

A nutrition researcher at Harvard’s School of Public Health said the potential of dark chocolate is exciting scientists, but some consumers are getting the wrong message.

“We’re in the middle of a scientific revolution in the understanding of cocoa flavonoids,” Eric Ding told ABC News.

So far the only proven positive effects of dark chocolate come from research that studied a daily consumption of 400-600 mg of cocoa flavonoids -- about 10 chocolate bars.  Scientists have extrapolated that there are some benefits, though smaller, for, say, just one bar a day, he said.

Shoppers should balance calories and sugar with dark chocolate’s benefits, he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Five Tips for the Perfect Valentine's Day Proposal

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- More than 37,000 couples will get engaged this Valentine’s Day, Brides magazine predicts.

To help anyone planning to pop the question, has posted five essential items necessary for pulling off the perfect proposal.  Surprisingly, it has less to do with romantic music and mood lighting and more to do with planning ahead.

The five tips for a prefect proposal are:

1. Consider the ring

Don't get caught in an awkward situation by proposing with a ring that's one size too small.  Determine ring size ahead of time by borrowing one from the jewelry box and bringing it to a jeweler.  Also, have the ring insured, and don't attach the ring to anything moveable, i.e. animals or kites.

2. Show that you know your woman -- or man

If your fiancé is shy, don't propose via a flash mob.  Be imaginative, but be personal.

3. Don't jump the accepting

If you have a feeling that a proposal is about to happen, don't ruin it.  Don't let them know you know.

4. Phone first, Facebook later

Don't announce the engagement on Facebook before calling the important people in your life first to share the good news.

5. Celebrate

Make it a special night.  Make reservations at a great restaurant or ask family and friends to meet you for a toast.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Lipsticks, Perfumes May Be Hazardous to Health

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Beware of lipstick-stained lips before puckering up this Valentine’s Day. They could be covered in lead.

A new study conducted by the FDA found that 400 lipsticks on the market tested positive for lead, according to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition that advocates for safer cosmetics and hygiene products.

Maybelline Color Sensation by L’Oreal USA was the worst-offending lipstick of the group tested, the Campaign said. It contained more than 275 times the amount of lead that was found in the least-contaminated product.

Children’s products in the U.S. cannot contain more than 100 parts per million of lead. The highest offending lipstick contained 7.19 parts per million, the group said.

“There is no safe level of lead exposure,” Stacy Malkan, co-founder of Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, told ABC News. “It builds up in the body over time. A little bit every day is adding up and staying with you.”

Malkan said women use an average of 12 cosmetic and hygiene products per day.

Lead is a poisonous metal and it was banned from paint products in the U.S. in 1978. The element is particularly dangerous to young children because it can cause blood and brain disorders in developing bodies.

There are no FDA standards in regulating the amount of chemicals in products, said Malkan.

“When these companies are asked about these chemicals, they argue, ‘it’s legal, so it’s OK,’” said Malkan. “That’s why we’re calling for the FDA to set a standard and give guidance to these companies for the best manufacturing practices.”

Lipstick is only the latest cosmetic to raise red flags. Kim Anderson, executive director of Ava Anderson Non-Toxic, a cosmetic line of chemical-free products, said customers should shy away from any product that lists “fragrance” as an ingredient.

“If they’re using the word fragrance, that company could be hiding up to 600 chemicals under that word,” said Anderson, who advocates for safer cosmetic regulations. “Seventy-five percent of the time, fragrances contain phthalates, a known-carcinogen that causes reproductive issues in the body.”

Even perfumes are coming under fire. A proposed bill in New Hampshire would prohibit state employees from spritzing on perfume or cologne before heading to work. The reason? For some people, these fragrances can cause severe allergic reactions.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is launching the Kiss Lead Goodbye contest Tuesday, when women are encouraged to submit video submissions to hear what they have to say to cosmetic giants that put lead in their products.

Learn more at

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Majority of Women Find Valentine’s Day Flowers and Chocolate 'Too Cliché'

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Hey, Guys. You might want to skip the flowers and chocolate on Valentine’s Day and give the lady in your life something more thoughtful.  A new survey by the social network shows 58 percent women consider Valentine’s Day flowers and chocolates to be “too cliché.” The women say they prefer a Valentine's Day gift that involves more thought.  But don’t think you can get away without giving a card.  While a majority of men surveyed said they don’t enjoy receiving sappy Valentine’s Day cards, 65 percent of the women surveyed said they love ‘em.

Additional findings:

  • 72 percent of men and 58 percent of women say Valentine’s Day is perfectly suited for a first date.
  • 62 percent of singles say the best time for a romantic date is sometime other than Valentine's Day.
  • 49 percent of singles say the best aspect of being single on Feb. 14 is that there is “No pressure. I don't have to plan anything, buy anything, or get dressed up.”
  • 36 percent of singles say the best aspect of being single on love day is “I don't have to be romantic just because it's Valentine's Day.”
  • 16 percent of singles say the best part of being single on Valentine's Day is that “it's less expensive.”

The survey involved more than 1,200 singles in the U.S.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


What Gets Women in the Mood? Not Gifts, or Nakedness

Eyecandy Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new survey of married women reveals they enjoy sex with their husbands, but 67 percent want their men to know that sharing loving feelings and saying nice things turns them on faster than gifts or seeing their spouse naked.  The women also confirmed that words are much better aphrodisiacs than sexy clothes or having their hubby make dinner for them.

The survey by also reveals that more than one-third of married women would rather have sex with their spouse than watch a movie, go to a spa, get on Facebook or chat with friends.

Additional findings:

  • 75 percent of the married women polled say a good sex life with their spouse is extremely or very important.
  • More than half the women surveyed admit to trying something new in the bedroom within the last year.
  • 49 percent of women have fantasized about having sex with someone who is not their spouse.
  • When asked if they would have an extramarital affair if there was zero chance of their spouse finding out, 23 percent said they would do so, or are not sure what they would do.

The iVillage survey involved 1,001 married women between the ages of 18 and 49.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Poll: 31% of Workers with Office Romances Married Their Co-Worker

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Love is in the office air. A new Valentine’s Day survey commissioned by finds 31 percent of employees say their office romance led to marriage.  The survey also found 38 percent of workers admitting they have dated a co-worker at least once over the course of their career.  Seventeen percent of those polled admitted dating co-workers at least twice.

Additional findings from the annual CareerBuilder Valentine’s Day survey:

  • 28 percent of workers who dated a co-worker said they have dated someone above them in the company hierarchy, and 18 percent admitted to dating their boss.  Women were more likely than men to date someone above their pay grade, 35 percent to 23 percent.
  • Hospitality is the leading industry when it comes to office romances, with 47 percent of employees admitting they dated a co-worker. The financial services sector was next at 45 percent, followed by Transportation & Utilities, Information Technology and the healthcare industry.
  • 26 percent reported that what someone does for a living influences whether they would date that person.  Five percent of workers revealed someone ended a relationship with them because either their job required too many hours at the office, they didn’t make enough money or the person didn’t like their line of work.
  • 19 percent of respondents reported that they are more attracted to people who have a similar job.
  • Social settings outside of work were cited most often when it came to workers making a love connection.

The survey of 7,780 U.S. workers was conducted by Harris Interactive.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Valentine's Day Food That Will Put You in the Mood

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CLEVELAND) -- The key to a woman's heart is chocolate, or more specifically, phenylethylamine.

A number of foods, including dark chocolate, contain compounds that boost that "lovin' feelin'" in the heart and in the brain.  So this Valentine's Day, cozy up with that special someone for some surprising heart-healthy treats that will get you ready for love.

Oysters have long been considered an aphrodisiac, but they are also a great source of libido-lifting zinc, according to Amy Jamieson-Petonic, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic.  Zinc has been linked to improved testosterone production, which can help men get in the mood.

Another hormone-heightening food is avocado.  "Avocados are high in vitamin B6, which increases hormone production and tends to reduce erectile dysfunction in men," Jamieson-Petonic said.

Avocados have also been shown to lower the "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and raise the "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) variety, which can help keep the heart healthy long term.

Garlic might not be ideal for kissing, but it's great for sex.  "Garlic is high in a chemical called 'allicin,' which tends to increases blood flow to the sex organs," Jamieson-Petonic said.

Guys might also want to consider a sausage and sauerkraut, Jamieson-Petonic said, citing a study that found eating sauerkraut made men feel sexier.

It might be hard to get close right after garlic and sauerkraut, but a chocolately, nutty or fruity dessert can cleanse the pallet and sweeten the mood.

"Dark chocolate contains serotonin, which is a chemical that helps to increase your mood," Jamieson-Petonic said.  And chocolate's other mood-lifting compound, phenylethylamine, can "mimic the feeling of being in love."

Nuts are a great treat for the heart.  But almonds are an especially great source of zinc, selenium, vitamin E, and arginine, which can help increase circulation and improve erectile function, Jamieson-Petonic said.

Strawberries and citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, are high in folic acid and vitamin C, making them a great choice for reproductive health.

A glass of red wine with Valentine's Day dinner can also help get blood flowing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio