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relationships

We've all been there.

As a young, free singleton you promised yourself you'd never use pet names for your future partner – after all, no one wants to be that couple.  

Just hearing your friends refer to their other halves as "babe", "sweetheart" or "honey" was cringey enough to make you swear off romance for the rest of your life, but then all of a sudden, life throws you a curveball and you end up with a "babe" all of your own. 

Slowly but surely the inside jokes and doting nicknames will creep their way into the relationship, and bam – you're just like every loved-up couple you've ever rolled your eyes at. 

So, why does romance turn us all into mushy, baby-talking, doe-eyed softies? 

Well, according to science, it likely stems from our parents.  

“Baby talk is used really extensively, including cross-culturally, by mothers around the world,” Florida State University neuroanthropologist Professor Dean Falk told Broadly.

“It exists for language acquisition in infants, and it also expresses love and facilitates bonding between the mother and the infant."

She believes that couples use pet names for each other because it brings them back to their childhood memories and first love – their mum. 

And while this all might sound a bit Freudian, it's actually one of the most natural ways to bond with a partner. 

So, if you've got a "baby", "chicken" or even a "darling" in your life, chances are you're onto a winner. 

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If you’re sick of seeing loved-up couples this Christmas and think being single at this time of year totally sucks, just remember, the pair that just passed you have probably put that day’s festive-based argument on pause to keep up appearances for the public.

That 'perfect' couple have most likely had more than one argument over whose family they should spend Christmas with, whose group of friends they’ll go out with over New Years and who forgot that Christmas Eve was meant to be Christmas movie night and organised a night on the beer instead.

Here are just five reasons why being single at Christmas is a major win

1. You don’t have to worry about hiding your hungover face in front of the in-laws.

"No, I’m fine. I always look this green and clammy."

2. You don’t have to spend hours traipsing through ‘boy’ shops looking for an Xbox game you’re certain you got him for this birthday.

"What’s Fortnite? Actually, I don't care. Just give it to me."

3. You save a LOT of money not having to shell out for generic gift sets for his side of the family.

"Lavender talc? That’ll do his nana…again."

4. You don’t have to sit through charades with your boyfriend’s uncle who constantly calls you by his ex-girlfriend’s name.

"No, don’t worry! Laura…Áine… sorry, they’re really similar."

5. You don’t have to prime your family on all the ‘Not To Be Discussed’ topics before he calls around.

"No, you can’t laugh at what happened in Ayia Napa. He doesn’t even know you know."

Seriously, is that stress-fest worth it just for a New Year's Eve kiss?

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Getting bored of the same 'ole carry on in the bedroom? It might be time to step outside of your comfort zone and discover the wonders that lay beyond the boudoir. 

New research claims that having sex in places around the house can help boost relationship satisfaction and overall happiness. 

The team at House Method asked 1,000 people about their favourite places to get down to business. 

Results showed that couples who have sex outside the bedroom boast 10.5 per cent greater relationship satisfaction, while 33 per cent were more satisfied with their sex lives. 

Rather unsurprisingly, the living room proved to be the most popular non-bedroom location for couples to get freaky, closely followed by the bathroom.  

Attics, closets and gardens were the least preferred spots, which is hardly surprising, really. 

What's more, it seems that couple who enjoy sex outside the bedroom actually have more sex in general, averaging at 10.9 times a month, compared to just 5.8 times for bedroom-only couples. 

Of course, depending on your living situation, non-bedroom sex isn't always an option. 

All of the people who participated in the survey lived with their significant other – making it 100 times easier to have sex when and where you want to.   

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So, love it or hate it, there's no denying that The Notebook has earned its reputation as one of the most romantic movies of all time.

And even though it has become one of the ultimate romantic film clichés, we're not sure we'll ever get bored of the young couple's rollercoaster love story.

But, while Noah and Allie might seem like the ultimate couple goals, relationship experts aren't buying it.

According to Stylist, a group of romantic experts recently sat down with Time Out to discuss some of the best and worst romantic films of all time.

The list was surprising to say the least, but perhaps The Notebook was the most puzzling choice of all.

We know what you're thinking. How could a romantic expert of all people decide that this was a bad film?

Well, according to psychotherapist, Gupreet Singh, Nicolas Sparks' story is actually too perfect.

He explained: “Noah restores a house for Allie. He writes letter after letter waiting for her. They die holding hands. Talk about idealised love! If you believe in it you start to think: I shouldn’t settle for less.”

“But most average couples are nothing like that. We are humans, we are fallible. Love is imperfect because we are.”

Now, we're not saying he hasn't got a point, but isn't it nice to fantasise every once in a while?

The Notebook was never meant to be a factual retelling of true events, but instead a fictional account of love at its best and at its worst – and in that sense, we think it did a pretty good job.

Sure, most of us probably won't find anyone willing to send us handwritten letters every day for a year, but it's nice to see that this kind of true love really does exist – even if it is just up on the big screen.

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Shifting a co-worker at the office Christmas party might seem like one of the biggest clichés going, new research has shown that it could signal the beginning of a long and meaningful relationship.

Drinks are flowing, the office is closed and for one night a year, all inhibitions go out the window.

Maybe it's that guy from finance you've been eyeing up since he told you your hair looked nice one day, or perhaps all that wine will make you see you work husband/wife in a whole new light – either way, it's pretty likely you'll fall into someone's arms at the end of the night.

In fact, according to a recent study conducted by Instantprint, almost half of all office workers will have some kind of work related romance this festive season.

What's more, 53 percent of those who end up sharing a sneaky shift will end up being in long-term relationships, with one-third of those couples staying together for over a year.

The study also shows that those who work in HR are the most nervous about going to work the day after the Christmas party – though they were also shown to be the ones most likely to get “embarrassingly drunk,” so we're guessing that those go hand-in-hand, really.

Oh, and if you are looking for love this festive season, set your sight on that ride in IT – apparently they're the most likely to kiss someone.

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We've all been there. You finally land a date with the guy/girl of your dreams, only to realise that the two of you couldn't be less compatible in the bedroom. 

At this stage it's easy to throw in the towel and call it another lost chance, but according to a new study, the first time isn't exactly a great indicator of how good you could be together. 

In a survey of 2,000 Americans, 58 per cent of those in relationships described the first time they slept with their significant other as awkward or terrible. 

The research, conducted by OnePoll and Pure Romance, also found that the majority of us feel anxious when having sex with a new partner, with issues like body confidence and the fear of not pleasing your partner often getting in the way. 

What's more, the study also found that three in ten (33 per cent) people would call it quits with someone if the sex wasn't good the first time round. 

And as for the rest of us, the average person will tolerate four or five bad sexual encounters before breaking things off. 

So, what exactly makes for a bad sexual experience

For men:

  • Not reaching orgasm

  • Lack of foreplay

  • Partner wants man to go down on them but won’t reciprocate

  • Going too fast

  • Erection difficulty after drinking

For women:

  • Lack of foreplay

  • Going too fast

  • Not reaching orgasm

  • Dirty sheets

  • Partner wants woman to go down on them but won’t reciprocate

But all hope is not lost. 71 per cent of those surveyed don't believe that the first time dines the relationship, and agree that figuring out each others likes and dislikes should be a fun and bonding experience. 

If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try (and try) again! 

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There comes a certain point in every relationship when you both form a mutual agreement to say bye-bye to loud clubs and over-priced taxis, and hello to Netflix binges and pizza meal deals.

On the surface we'll tell ourselves that we're never going to be that couple, but deep down we're secretly loving those lazy Saturday nights spent on the couch with our other halves. 

And while social media has led to belive that the key to a happy relationship lies in a trek across South East Asia or at the bottom of a zipline in Switzerland, it turns out the answer is actually much simpler.

According to Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k, relationships should “be as boring as possible.”

Speaking to Business Insider, he said: “That sounds really weird to people but if you think about it, a really happy 80-year-old couple that’s been together for 60 years, the reason that they’ve been together for 60 years, it isn’t because they took all these private jets and they had these crazy vacations and “Oh my God, look at their pictures.”

“It’s because that they were able to be boring together.”

It seems that the happiest couples actually live simple lifestyles, spending a lot of their time at home, cooking dinner and talking about the same old stuff day in and day out.

We know what you're thinking – why would you want to spend your life with someone who bores you?

Well, you don't necessarily have to leg it to the nearest library and pick up the most mundane human you can possibly find, but when you do find that special someone it's important that you're comfortable being bored around each other.

Mark continued: “A lot of people…don’t want to be a boring person, like we really want to be interesting people and have interesting lives but the problem is that, that conflicts with what makes a relationship good in a lot of cases.”

“A lot of cases, what makes you an interesting and complex person, makes you a really horrible person to be with romantically.”

“In a strange way, I feel like we need to cultivate more boredom in our lives, like boredom needs to be okay again. It needs to be seen as a good thing and I think it’s definitely a good thing for relationships.”

Hear, hear!

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Christmas is an expensive time of year. The list seems never-ending, going on forever. We need to buy a gift for our sister, best friend, work wife, parents and even the dog.

Oh and don’t forget about bae.

Or maybe you could if you plan on being guilty of the cheapest dating trend.

Scrooging is a dating trend that’s growing in popularity and it is not pleasant.

Ever get dumped just before Christmas and wonder what went wrong? Things seemed all fine and dandy and then bam! You’re single again and hoping to God you can get a refund on the surprise weekend away you booked as a gift to beau.

Well, according to Metro, scrooging is essentially dumping your other half so you don’t have to buy them a Christmas present.

Yes, you read that right.

Apparently, one in ten are guilty of this dating trend and men are more likely to do it. Not surprised, to be honest.

Relationship expert for EHarmony, Rachael Lloyd, told Metro, “We know that relationships can often become less of a priority in the run up to Christmas. It’s also a time when dating significantly slows down. 

“However, it seems particularly miserly to end a relationship simply to avoid buying your partner a present and indicates that you weren’t ready for a romantic commitment in the first place.”

Staying single just seems like a much easier option.

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Look, it's not a pleasant situation for anyone.

You're single for like a million years, then you happened to magically stumble upon someone who –  at first – seems to tick every box.

Plus he's so pleasant to look at that it hurts and basically you can't believe your luck.

''It's finally happened,'' you proudly tell the gals over G&T's. ''He seems to good to be true, tbh.''

And bam! there's your first clue – if it seems to good to be true, it usually is. 

I've had three relationships in my 24 years, plus a few shorter dalliances and I genuinely never bought the whole excusing-someone's-trash-behaviour-because-you-fancy-the-arse-off-them thing. 

Or maybe I've been lucky to have never gotten tangled up with a narcissist before…whatever. 

But, oh boy, it happens. 

Doesn't the quote go like- "people tell you who they are in the beginning, you just choose not to listen.''

But if you want to avoid heartbreak a few weeks/months down the line, then listen up: if you see more than one of these red flags listed below – run. 

They're non-negotiable, just like your self-respect.

1.  He shows signs of controlling behaviour.

You'll probably read that and say ''omg, obvs! I wouldn't put up with that, no way'', but it can be extremely subtle.

And if they're seasoned at it, it can happen almost without you noticing the first few times – or worse, noticing it and letting it slide.

Warning phrases can be anything to telling you he doesn't like you wearing your hair a certain way/a lot of make-up to ordering for you in restaurants and putting you down in the the pub in front of your mates. 

Don't fall into questioning your self-worth. 

2. He's mean with money 

If he's tight with money, he will be mean in other ways – with his time, his affection, his words.

It just shows bad character and you don't need to voluntarily associate yourself with someone like that. 

3. His actions don't match his words 

Who doesn't love to be told they look fab?

The problem here is when the person you're dating is saying all the right things but in the next breath he's giving you unprompted stories about his ex/past sex life or ogling another person in the bar.

The word for this is: fake. 

 

4. He passes comments on other women/people in general 

I mean, I'm laughing as I type this, this should be a shut-and-close-case of ''he's a sh*thead, what are you doing with him?'' BUT, here me out.

It's early, early days with someone and he says something rude and you're shocked and you pull them up on it, fine, ok. It's when the actions become repeated and they become the norm.

My advice then? He's not a good person, and not worth your precious time. 

5. Something just feels ''off''

This is the worst one. Because it's not tangible.

If you're battling paranoia in the beginning, it won't probably won't get better.

Your gut can tell when something's not right. We might ignore the uneasy feeling in our stomachs, but it's there for a reason. 

Basically, if you're holding back a bit, it's more than likely because you've picked up on energy that he's giving out  – that's what you ''can't put your finger on.''  

Look, you know if someone is genuinely good for you or not. 

I read this the other day and it struck a chord with me; ''No amount of physical attraction or good sex is worth clinging to someone who does not make you feel at peace with yourself.'' 

And to that we say hear, f*cking hear. 

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Moving in together is a big step.

Yeah, it's exciting and the thoughts of having your own place with the person you're mad about sounds fab but think of it realistically.

All privacy is gone and you no longer even have your own personal space, your own bedroom. 

So what about…separate rooms?

It might not be as horrifying as it sounds as a survey of 2,000 couples suggests that sleeping apart could lead to better quality sex.

The research found that four in ten couples sleep apart most nights, and that of these, 34% claim they have better quality sex and more of it, while 38% say that sleeping apart improved their relationship.

Sounds great to us.

So what were the reasons for not sleeping together? 

They included different sleep cycles, their partner moving around too much in bed, having different shift patterns, and snoring. 

A good night’s sleep can help our sex lives, as it increases sexual desire and pleasure so separate beds might do the trick. 

Now it can reduce opportunities for intimacy – 24% of those who slept separately said they had sex less frequently as a result.

So to ensure sexy time stay near the top of the list, schedule sex or just making time for skin-to-skin contact during the day to replace the late-night spooning.

Mind coach Anna Williamson told Metro, ''If your partner is restless in the night, perhaps they snore or breathe heavily, and as a result, keep you awake or disturb you throughout the night, it can be a good idea to sleep apart from your partner in order to catch up on some much-needed sleep.''

She continued, ''Physical contact is essential in keeping a relationship connected. Touching each other releases feel good, love endorphins, and often being in bed can be the best time of the day to communicate effectively with each other. Pillow talk is a really emotionally positive thing to do and it can help you feel safe and secure as you both hopefully drop off to sleep together.''

So why not try it out and see if it works for you and your partner?

Yo never know, it could be the spark to lit both your fires…

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The sex is comfortable, you know what to expect and you know it's going to be good.

Since the break-up, your feelings have changed for your ex, but there's still probably a lot of love there – if he or she isn't a complete assh*le.

Your friends will shame you for letting them back in to your bed – but the next time they go to tell you off, throw them this little chunk of science.

These two studies claim to bust the myth that if you get freaky in the sheets with your ex, you'll delay your ability to move on.

In fact, they say having sex with your ex, even if you're in a horrible place about the split – isn't bad.

The first study, conducted by researchers at Wayne State University, Western University, and the University of Toronto Mississauga asked 113 newbie singles to fill out an online survey.

The newly dumped people were asked if they hooked up with their ex, how they felt emotionally and how attached they felt towards them at the end of the day.

The researchers then conducted a second study, but this time 372 people were questioned about sex with their exes and if they still held any emotional feelings for the ex.

And surprise, surprise – both studies concluded that contrary to popular belief, sex with an ex doesn't prolong heartache.

Additionally, the number of times you get freaky with your ex-lover doesn't play a role either. 

The results actually found it does the opposite – anyone who felt a strong emotional tie to their ex, sought out sex the most because they were trying to fill a void their ex had left.

BUT doing the dirty made them feel BETTER about the breakup – so honey, have your cake and eat it because this is emotionally risk-free.*

“This research suggests that societal handwringing regarding trying to have sex with an ex may not be warranted,” explained lead author Stephanie Spielmann. 

“The fact that sex with an ex is found to be most eagerly pursued by those having difficulty moving on, suggests that we should perhaps instead more critically evaluate people’s motivations behind pursuing sex with an ex,” she added.

So those late night booty calls are all golden baby – happy ridin'.

*This only works if both parties are single, and non-toxic. And don't forget to use protection.

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Porn is something that people watch, be it when they're single or in a relationship.

And while many admit to using it to satisfy their urges, how damaging is it to people's sex lives? 

Can you watch it without consequences?

This recent survey spoke to more than 1,200 men and women to analyse how porn plays into their sex lives. 

The findings were…surprising, to say the least. 

It seems that 1-in-4 men would rather be having sex with the people they see in porn, and this is compared to just 7% of women.

Shocking or duh?

As well as that, even when lacking arousal for their partner, 37% of women will only watch porn once-a-week; however, 39% of men that share those feelings watch porn every day. 

Worrying figures show that more than half of women have an easier time achieving orgasm while watching porn than they do while having sex –  what is going on guys?!

The ease of access to porn is a cause for concern.

What about couples watching it together – does it help or hinder their action between the sheets? 

Sixty percent said that they do, but a quarter of men said they'd rather have sex with the individuals in the porn they viewed than their real-life partners.

What's strange about it all is that the more men watched porn, the less likely to be turned on by their partners they were and the more frequently women watched porn, the more likely they were to feel aroused by their partners.

It seems that consuming porn is a slippery slope – maybe more of us should give our partners the time and attention they deserve in the bedroom, and leave watching sex on the screen altogether. 

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