Relationship Data

Heartbroken? Cardiologists explain why your heart might *actually* be broken

 

Signs_He_Doesn't_Love_You.jpgIn the wake of a breakup, you might say that you’re “heartbroken”, a phase characterized by deep sadness and loss. The feelings are sharp and intense, but are they just feelings?

 

Research shows that the gut wrenching, kick-to-the-stomach feeling that comes after losing someone you love is not just an emotional experience; the effects of a broken heart are grounded in real physiological changes.

 

To understand how the pain is processed, neuroscientists at Columbia University looked at brain activity in unmarried people who had experienced an unwanted breakup in the previous six months. Participants were asked to look at pictures of friends and exes while being touched with a hot probe. Interestingly, the pictures of the exes and the hot probe caused the same parts of the brain to light up. The pictures of friends had no effect. This study revealed that the part of the brain that processes physical pain also processes the pain associated with emotional loss, and your body will respond in many unfortunate ways in the wake of pain.

 

Heart

 

After a breakup, a heart may temporarily enlarge while the rest of the heart functions normally or with even more force. This condition is called stress-induced cardiomyopathy also known as broken heart syndrome. Researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center noted an especially precarious window for developing a heart problem: During the first 24 hours after experiencing loss, a person’s risk of suffering from a heart attack increases 20X.

 

According to the American Heart Association, broken heart syndrome is similar to experiencing a heart attack. Symptoms include shortness of breath and chest pain, but no clogged arteries, a characteristic of a traditional heart attack.

 

Unfortunately, your heart isn’t the only place that will experience stress in the wake of a break up.

 

Skin

 
Breakouts can be attributed to many things—diet, hormones, cosmetics—but the stresses associated with a breakup can also send your skin to a bad place. Researchers at Wake Forest University studied 94 students in Singapore to isolate the causes of breakouts. They found that breakouts were 23 percent more likely to occur during periods of high emotional strain.

 

Hair

 Some people experience hair loss after losing a partner. The emotional stress can trigger an auto-immune condition which attacks your hair follicles or increases the production of androgen, the chief cause of female pattern baldness. Luckily, this issue is only temporary, and as you recover from your break up, your hair should grow back.

 

Muscles

After a break up, the body will produce an influx of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine. These stress hormones can help you react quickly in dangerous, short-term situations, but in longer term traumatic situations, these hormones can exhaust your muscles. The extra cortisol will tell your body to send more blood to you muscles, but with no physical outlet, the muscles will swell and feel sore.

 

The Stomach

The cortisol produced in the wake of a break up will also wreak havoc on your digestive track. The extra cortisol will divert blood away from your GI, causing irregularity. If your stomach is already sensitive, you might experience additional cramping or diarrhea.

 

Best ways to counteract the nasty effects of a break up?

Endorphins. Curb those wild stress hormones by pulling yourself off the couch and breaking a sweat. “Exercise also leads to the release of brain chemicals like endogenous opioids that can create feelings of contentment,” says Dr. Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. “It may even get your dopamine flowing.” The stress stemming from a painful break up is real, and physical activity is the best way to help your body release and process the pain.

 

 

Pheromones and Attraction

iStock-622184828 copy.jpg

Have you ever found someone completely irresistible, but you’re not sure why? Some scientists argue that we might be picking up on someone’s genetic compatibility with our sense of smell.

When we smell something, tiny odor molecules bind to receptor cells that travel directly to the brain for processing. Smell—unlike the other senses—is analyzed almost instantly. This rapid analysis is the reason why smelling something familiar can trigger an emotional response instantly, and sometimes these responses can be quite powerful. Think of the last time you smelled chocolate chip cookies. Did you feel a cozy, comfortable feeling? What about popcorn? Did you find yourself in an upbeat, casual mood?

If smells can solicit hefty emotional responses, can they trigger us to have romantic feelings?

Scientists still debate the answer, but they all can agree that the discussion starts with pheromones.

Pheromones describe the special cocktail of chemicals that our body releases that may influence the way people behave towards us. These chemicals—when smelled—are known to stimulate the hypothalamus, a part of the brain known to regulate sexual behavior, mood, and hormones.

To figure out how sensitive we are to pheromones, Swiss zoologist Claus Wedekind conducted “The Sweaty T-shirt Experiment.” He instructed 44 different men to wear the same t-shirt two consecutive nights. After collecting the t-shirts, he asked 49 different women to sniff each t-shirt and rate the odor for intensity, pleasantness, and sexiness.

Results showed that the women preferred the odors from men whose DNA was most different from their own. Because choosing a mate with a similar genetic makeup can cause a host of genetic complications for an offspring, the women’s choices show that they have an ability to analyze and gravitate towards men who guarantee greater reproductive success. In other words, women preferred sexual experiences with men who smelled a certain way.

Pheromones also solicit responses based on sexual preferences, not biological sex. In another study conducted by Dr. Ivanka Savic and colleagues at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, a group of men—some straight, some gay—and women were asked to rate attractiveness to two different pheromones. Both the gay men and women responded strongly to the male pheromone, whereas the heterosexual males preferred the female pheromone almost exclusively.

Despite the science, there is no real way to determine the true effect of pheromones; There are simply too many mitigating factors. For example, it’s impossible to confirm the real reason we gravitate towards certain people we find attractive. It could be the scent they carry, but it also could be related to personality, confidence, appearance, or status.

If pheromones can influence sexual responses, is it possible to recreate certain smells to make yourself more sexually desirable?

Unfortunately, pheromones are an elusive mix of natural chemicals, impossible to replicate in a lab. To date, scientists (and fragrance companies) have not been able to get to the heart of what exactly makes up pheromones, how they are created, or how to emulate them. Some companies tout “love potions”, but these are most likely gentle, pleasant fragrances.

Pheromones could be influencing attraction, but it’s more likely a combination of factors with pheromones playing some small role. Visual cues, body language, and the quintessential “chemistry” of how your personalities mesh all play into your perception of a potential romantic encounter.

 

Dating Fatigue is Real. Here’s What to do if it’s Happened to You…

iStock-588361062 copy.jpg

If you’re single and interested in a new relationship, first dates are inevitable. If you’re lucky enough to have friends setting you up or an experienced matchmaker on your side, you can count on some pre-filtering and quick turnaround time to make those first dates somewhat easier. But, if you’re searching for love online or on apps, you could invest countless hours getting to know someone before ever meeting—if you ever get to an actual meeting. According to a 2016 study by the Pew Research Center, nearly 1/3 of people using apps never make it to a date. For those that do schedule dates, many experience several bad dates before something relatively good pans out.

 

You know the drill. Anticipation and excitement grows as your first date approaches. Then, not even 20 minutes into the first date, you know there’s no chance of a future. This anticipation—disappointment—optimism cycle seems to repeat itself and, before you know it, you’ve stopped dating completely.

 

Dating burnout is similar to job burnout: An activity that once posed a satisfying challenge is now a mundane task. If the mere mention of a date conjures up feelings of inevitable disappointment, you’re definitely in the midst of dating burnout.

 

Other telltale signs include:

 

Experiencing jealousy over your friends’ relationships.

Jealousy is a sign of insecurity. If you feel slighted by your friend’s relationship or, if you’re pulling away from the new couple, you might be internalizing feelings of frustration about your own romantic life. “I couldn’t stand my coworker’s boyfriend,” says Marie. “Listening to her talk about his anniversary plans was so annoying, but I couldn’t figure out why. I typically liked hearing all of her dating stories. Then, I realized that it had nothing to do with boyfriend. I was sad we weren’t going to talk about our hilariously bad dates from the weekend.”

 

Feeling like the search is hopeless.

When quitting seems easier than fielding another bad date, you’re not heading towards dating fatigue—you’re there. If you’re fearing boredom, rejection, or exhaustion, nixing future dates will seem like the perfect way to prevent future pain.

 

Willing to go for anyone who isn’t terrible.

Settling for someone to stave off loneliness is a sign that you’re losing faith in yourself. Lowering your standards is the best way to find yourself in a relationship you should avoid. “The worst relationship I ever had was actually the first woman I met after my divorce,” says Tom, 41. “I didn’t know what I was doing and the thought of dating again blew my mind. Well, I learned my lesson.”

 

A string of bad dates.

Nothing is more exhausting than a streak of dates without any semblance of connection. Mustering up the enthusiasm—and courage—to get yourself out there again will seem like an uphill battle.

 

Finding your couch more appealing than social gatherings.

Taking a break from all social activities—not just dating—reveals that your frustration from the lack of romantic connectivity is seeping into your other relationships. If you are closing yourself off from everyone, it’s time to evaluate your approach to dating.

 

So what can you do to recover from dating burnout? Consider the following to get back the good vibes:

 

Lower your expectations, not your standards.

Instead of focusing on if the other person likes you, flip the equation to figure out if you feel something towards the other person. This process takes time and might not lead to fireworks initially.

 

Keep the first date short.

You’ll know if you want more—or not—within the first 20 minutes. Keeping the first date short will help you build tension for date #2 or save you from spending too much energy on a dead end. This advice is especially true if you are dating vis-a-vis apps and online.

 

If you know you aren’t interested, don’t go on a second date.

No one wants to be the bad guy, but going out again when you know it’s not there will waste your time and theirs. “I would rather sit through drinks with a guy I wasn’t into than have the ‘I’m not into you’ conversation,” says, Molly, 37. “Of course, this only makes things harder in the end.”

 

Keep your dating life private until you’ve narrowed it down to one person.

Save yourself the trouble of rehashing the same details of lackluster dates.

 

Give yourself a time out.

You’ll project your best self if you’re not forcing yourself to feel or act a certain way. If you’re juggling five people, none of whom you really like, do everyone a favor and take a break. Channel your energy and free time towards a new hobby, keeping physically active, seeing friends, etc till you are ready to date again.

 

Get honest with yourself.

Self awareness is the first step to making sure you aren’t self sabotaging. If you don’t feel anything after several dates, ask a trusted friend about what it could be. If this isn’t possible, seek a dating coach —an objective third party can work wonders.

 

Although it can feel overwhelmingly hopeless, dating fatigue is only temporary. At Linx, we’re here to streamline your dating experience. Matchmaking isn’t just about more dates; it’s about optimizing the variables for connection. If you’re feeling disconnected, we can help. Email our founder Amy at amy@linxdating.com

 

Are You Dating Someone with Asperger’s?

With nearly 3.5 million Americans falling somewhere on the autism spectrum scale, it’s likely you’ve been on a date—or even a relationship—with someone who may show signs but not may not be formally diagnosed. Asperger’s syndrome is a mild form of autism that makes it extremely difficult to read others; social cues, hints, romantic gestures, and suggestive language won’t make sense to someone with Asperger’s. Paul, a 37-year-old with Asperger’s described dating with his condition as “learning a new language, but instead of words and phrases, I had to learn how to read and speak nonsensical behavior.”

When it comes to dating and relationships, people with Asperger’s, or Aspies, have additional challenges that may frustrate romantic partners. Without understanding the condition, neurotypical (NT) people can feel hurt, annoyed, and embarrassed by well-intentioned singles with Asperger’s. To help bridge the gap, we’ve addressed the top stressors of dating someone with Asperger’s and what you can do to make it easier for all parties involved.

An inability to express sentimental feelings

What you can do: Don’t assume the other person is uninterested, just because he isn’t telling you he likes you or finds you attractive. Let him know what you think and tell him why it is important that he learns how to make you feel special. Employing some structure to this conversation will help everyone feel more open and honest. “Create a ‘safe space’ for discussion and using semi-formal techniques like active listening, time outs with agreed upon return times, and speaker-listener paraphrasing,” says Amy Marsh, a sexologist “set regular times if you have to.”

Lack of understanding about physical affection

What you can do: Affection like holding hands and kissing won’t make sense to your partner. Attaching a gesture to an emotion is not intuitive, so take the time to explain what the gestures mean and why you are doing them. Otherwise, your physical affection can have an adverse effect. According to The Partner’s Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome, hugs can be very uncomfortable as they essentially restrict movement and invade personal space without warning. Best to say, “I want to give you a hug, because it will make me feel close to you. Sound good?” to help your partner acclimate to your style of affection.

Harping on the same subject or telling the same story repeatedly

What you can do: Shift the conversation to something that interests you. If your partner interrupts or continues to talk, gently tell them that this behavior makes it difficult for you to feel interesting. “If you are the more “neurotypical” partner, then you may find yourself playing detective and trying much harder to understand the other person than they ever will try to understand you, and it can feel lopsided” says Marsh. “Remember that for many people on the autism spectrum, social and emotional skills and communication have to be learned more intellectually rather than intuitively.”

Inability to read social cues or knowing which social rules to apply in certain situations

What you can do: Ease him into large social situations like parties or group outings. If he or she is overwhelmed or decides skip the event, try not to take it personally. Social situations are especially trying with so many different social cues coming from so many different people. To help your partner feel more comfortable, try to make the introductions on their behalf and help them transition topics.

Not understanding sexual situations, specifically how to escalate into physical intimacy

What you can do: For many people with AS, physical intimacy is the expression of feelings; however, escalating to the physical realm and establishing the mood with foreplay won’t seem important or necessary unless the NT explains what he or she is looking for in the bedroom. Asperger’s specialist, Dr. Kenneth Roberson suggests the following exercise: “Together with your partner make a list of the things that your partner does sexually that you like. Make a second list of things you would like your partner to do or try sexually. Make a third list of things that you do not particularly enjoy sexually. Ask your partner to generate similar lists. Then sit down together and share the items on your lists.”

If things do not go as planned in the bedroom, wait for a better time to discuss. “DO NOT argue in the bedroom,” says Marsh. “Let that be your area for safe connection with emotions and intimacy. Period.”

The first step in sustaining a serious, long-term relationship with someone with Asperger’s is acceptance. “Don’t confuse acceptance with granting permission to act whatever way your partner chooses. Callous, unsympathetic, and cold behavior, for example, are not things to be supported,” says Dr. Kenneth Roberson, Ph.D. “There is nothing wrong with expecting to be treated decently, wanting to be accepted and loved, and disapproving of anything less, but when your goal is to change the fundamental characteristics of who your partner is, you not only set yourself up for failure but you risk setting the bar impossibly high for your partner.”

 

 

How to Get Over a Break Up ASAP

iStock_000019224889Small.jpg

Both sides of the break up coin are agonizing. The person initiating the split has to fill the role of bearer of bad news, usually wounding the heart (and ego) of someone who he or she cares for deeply. He or she usually experiences guilt, confusion, and a unique type of stress that stems from knowing the end is near. On the other hand, we have the person receiving a final decision. Stripped of all opportunity to direct the course of the relationship, this person is left vulnerable, helpless, shocked, or disappointed.

If there was connection—real connection—pain is to be expected from all parties involved. We also know that every relationship that doesn’t make it to the next level will end with a breakup, yet we still find ourselves hurting after every split.

So, how do we heal from heartbreak faster?

  1. Avoid Numbing Agents—Shopping, food, alcohol, rebounds, pills, and drugs used to mask the pain will only prolong the agony of loss. Deriving relief this way will only push you deeper into depression, debt, or weight gain.

 

  1. Feed Yourself Well—When your heart is hurting, it’s even more important to monitor what goes in your body. Excessive sugar will crash your system; processed food will challenge your energy; and not eating will stress your heart even further. Now is the time to treat yourself to the best food you can get your hands on.

 

  1. Bring Yourself Joy—It’s easy to fall out of love with yourself just because someone else has. So many factors lead to relationships ending; we forget that so many of those reasons have nothing to do with who we are.

 

  1. Follow the Good Vibes—We tend to feed off of the energy around us. Experiment with a new crowd that offers you a fresh start. Science reveals laughing and smiling are instant mood lifters, so give yourself an opportunity to absorb the joy around you.

 

  1. Remove the Reminders—Pictures, cards, and other reminders should be out of sight. There is no need to live among reminders of relationships past. The mementos, seemingly innocuous, can derail your path to healing. Also, consider un-following—not unfriending—your ex on social media. You can always change the setting when you’re in a better place without anyone finding out.

 

  1. Keep it Simple—This is harder than you think. Attending parties he/she might attend? No. Finding reasons to reach out? No. Keeping in touch with his/her friends? No. It’s easy to think you can “be adult” about crossing paths, but the heavy emotional charge has a way of clouding better judgment.

Ironically, the things we are least likely to do during a break up — eating right, visiting friends, meeting new people—are the things that will help us heal the fastest. Giving yourself the time to cope with loss is going to fast track you to a better place with a better partner.

Where to Live and Let Love Find You

Where to Live and Let Love Find You.png

It’s Valentine’s Day. Don’t sulk alone in your apartment watching Netflix. If you’re single and ready to mingle, maybe you should move to a new city where love will find you.

Unlucky in love? It’s not you, it’s your city. The dating pool in the nation’s largest cities varies quite a bit. To help people find the places that will give them the best chance to find their soul mates, our friends at Trulia examined U.S. Census data in each of the 100 largest metros. We’ve focused our efforts not only on where you can find plenty of single men and women, but where you’re more likely to find those more or less educated, divorced or not, and places where populations skew young or old.

For now, we limited our study to those seeking the opposite sex, since government data isn’t quite as good when it comes to same-sex statistics.

Taking a guess at what people care about most, we looked specifically at the ratio of single men to single women, the age range of these singles, how many hours they typically work each week, how much education they have and whether they were previously married or not. Note that we only analyze those at or over the age of 21.

For example, if you’re looking for a marriage-material guy– a man in his 30s with at least a college degree who works the standard 40 hours a week or more and has never been married, head directly to San FranciscoSan JoseSeattle or Austin, Texas. San Francisco has the second highest ratio of single male to single female (0.972), where 52% of adult men are single. Of this dating pool, 19.8% are in their 30s and 55.7% work at least 40 hours a week.

If you’re looking for a man…

Best places to find marriage material guys.jpg

For women, searching for your dream guy, find out your dating destination: Click here to take the quiz.

FgYXRCljR6maPTQpVGoY_ValentinesDay_titlecardManEdition.png

If you’re looking for a woman…Best places to find Ms. Independent.jpg

For men, searching for your dream girl, find out your dating destination:

Click here to take the quiz.

Looking for a woman quiz.png

On the flip side, if you’re looking for Ms. Independent – a woman in her forties with at least a graduate degree, works at least 40 hours a week and you don’t care if she’s been married before, go East. You’ll have the best luck along the Eastern Seaboard metros of WashingtonAtlanta, Raleigh, N.C., and Baltimore. For instance, in the D.C. suburb of Silver Springs, Md., 44.4% of adult women are single – of which, 14.6% are in their fab forty years and 38.8% work at least 40 hours a week.

If neither of these profiles are your cup of tea, then take the quiz yourself to figure out where you should live to if you’re looking to find love.

To dive a little deeper into the traits of singles, we first looked at where the odds are in your favor when it comes to the guy-to-gal ratio. In our study, singles includes anyone who has never been married or was formerly married and age 21 or higher. A larger or smaller guy-to-gal ratio may tell you whether you’re more likely to be surrounded by men or women if you are sitting in a typical bar or restaurant.

  • Looking for men? Cities with the more single men to single women tended to be on the West Coast rather than the East Coast. Specifically, the San Francisco Bay Area – which includes both the San Francisco and San Jose metro areas have some of the highest single men to single women ratios. But it will cost you – these are two of the priciest markets in the nation and the center of Silicon Valley. If those markets are too rich for your blood, consider Bakersfield, Calif., which took the lead in the ranking of where men outnumber women, as well as Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.
  • Where are all the single ladies? Look to Sarasota, Fla.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Winston-Salem, N.C., which had the highest ratios of single women to single men. But if you’re looking for a big city option, Philadelphia and New York had the 8th and 9th highest single women to single men ratios.
  • Where Single Men Outnumber Single Women.jpg

Where Single Women Outnumber Single Men.jpg

Next, we looked at the age range – 20s, 30s, and 40s – of these singles for each metro, broken down by gender.

  • If you’re looking for a mate just hitting the Dirty Thirty era, you should head to San Francisco, Austin, Texas, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas or Los Angeles.
  • On the other hand, Upstate New York metros such as Rochester, Buffalo, Albany, and Syracuse have a very low percentage of single adults in their thirties. Same goes for metros in neighboring states, Akron, Ohio and Montgomery County, Pa.
  • Looking for a date that Taylor Swift would describe as “happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time?” Madison, Wis.; Virginia Beach, Va.; San Diego; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and El Paso, Texas have some of the highest share of single adults who are in their twenties.
  • Meanwhile, six Florida metros Sarasota, Daytona Beach, Cape Coral, Tampa, West Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale have some of the smallest share of singles in their twenties.
  • Want someone who’s firmly adulting? Move to places such as Winston-Salem, Indianapolis, Detroit, Atlanta, Greensboro, N.C.; Las Vegas, or Miami where you’ll find more singles in their 40s.

When it comes to education, are you looking for someone who’s book smart or street smart?

  • If you are sapiosexual—someone who’s attracted to intelligent people—the data shows that you should move to San Francisco, Silver Spring, Md., Washington D.C., Cambridge, Mass., or San Jose. These metros have some of the highest percentage of single men and women with at least a college degree or graduate degree.
  • If lack of a diploma isn’t a deal breaker, then inland California might be the place to go. Riverside, Fresno, and Bakersfield has some of the lowest percentages of single adults with a college degree.

Methodology

2014 5-year US Census American Community Survey data gathered via IPUMS-USA at the University of Minnesota were used for this study. For the quiz, we restricted the data to non-married adults with at least a high school degree and aged 21 or older, but younger than 50. There were two underlying factors that determined which metro is the most suitable for the quiz taker. The first factor was the single adult male to single adult female ratio. The second factor was what percentage of the single adult male or female population fit your demographic criteria specified by one’s quiz answers. Rankings of the 100 metro areas based on these two respective factors were used in order to generate a final ranking that is tailored to the quiz takers’ preferences. For the explanation portion of this report that comes after the quiz, the data includes all those who are 21 years of age or over and are currently non-married unless specified otherwise.

What is Cuffing Season and Why Does It Matter?

With holidays approaching, you may find yourself wanting a relationship more than usual. As the days get shorter and the weather cools down, singles are looking for a relationship that will tie them over the next few months, but perhaps not endure into the spring. This heightened desire for a semi permanent relationship occurs during “Cuffing Season”.

Cuffing season begins during that stretch of fall when the weather begins to cool off and everyone you know starts coupling up. It specifically describes the desire to couple up or “cuff” ourselves to a partner during the chilly months—and stay together until spring. The trend is undeniable, but what causes it? Is this preference to cozy up just a preference or are we biologically engineered to get monogamous during the cooler months?

Is “Cuffing Season” actually real?

Short answer is yes—winters yield a higher rate of conception; spring yields changes to Facebook relationship statuses. When Hinge, a popular dating app, polled users, they discovered that men were 15% more likely to look for a relationship in the winter than any other season. Women were 5% more interested in a monogamous relationship, too.

Is “Cuffing Season” the result of biological impulses?

Experts agree that although people tend to pair up during winter months, the urge to couple up is not substantiated by any biological impulse. In fact, humans have evolved to a point beyond mating seasons. Scientists note that humans associate cold temperatures with loneliness, which could prompt the urge to get monogamous, but ultimately, the need to “cuff” ourselves to each other isn’t a biological or evolutionary response.

So, how do I handle the “Cuffing Season” urge?

Those urges to couple up aren’t easy to avoid. Between plus-one invites and fears of experiencing the holidays alone, you might find yourself approaching relationships from a place of neediness instead of real affection. Make sure the chemistry is real by taking any relationship you start this winter on the slow side. Gift giving, family travel, and plus one invites might add a little more complication to your dating life than usual. Don’t let the stress of the holidays rush your love life. Remember, spring is right around the corner.