Relationships are fun, tricky, amazing, frustrating, the best thing that ever happened to you - sometimes all in one day. I know it, reader! That's why I bring you the latest news on coupledom: to better forge ahead with your chosen one, to better prepare for your next chosen one, or to get along better with your wife-dolls.
The internet has put courtship on speed.
Most new relationships are born on Twitter, says research by e-retailer PIXmania. (Can we all agree that's actually quite hard to believe, or am I just really old now?)
The research also found it takes an average of 224 tweets, 163 text messages, 70 Facebook messages, 37 emails and 30 phone calls to fall in love. Which sounds like a lot, but actually technological woo-styles have sped up courtship: respondents 55 and older said it took 78 days to make someone theirs, whereas the under 25s said it only took 24 days.
Also, 27 per cent of people have ended a relationship via text message and need to RETRAIN AS PEOPLE.
Touch your partner. Touch them so much!
A sad British study has found three out of five people feel starved of their partner's touch. That's a significant chunk of people! Look around: it's three out of five of your workmates, weeping on the inside for lack of spoon. No wonder they're so morose. The mystery is solved.
More sadness: Some couples go for days without touching at all. Twenty per cent never kiss their partner, ever. Twenty-two per cent sit at opposite ends of the couch when they're watching television. And seven per cent have forgotten how to cuddle each other. Just clean forgotten.
Disclaimer: The study was commissioned by Durex, who really couldn't care less about cuddling.
You secretly want a 22 per cent self-based morph.
Finally, proof of what we already knew: people like to jump people who resemble them. In a recent study, researchers took 20 "stable" couples and morphed each partner's face in three different ways: a morph with a "prototypical female", a morph with a "prototypical male", and a morph in which the couples' faces were blended together.
Lo and behold, people got the most giddies when they saw the "self-based morph". (Although they had no idea it was a self-based morph, because ew, who would choose that on purpose.)
What can we conclude from this exercise in morph? That "extreme genetic similarity between spouses can result in low reproductive success", but: "moderate genetic similarity can be beneficial", says the paper.
Must everything, always and forever, be about helping the sperms and eggs?! They really have a lot to answer for.
Betrayal, meet brain.
Researchers at Stanford University have found the brain reacts differently to betrayal in short-term and long-term relationships. In other words: they've discovered why people who have been with cheaters for longer are more inclined to keep forgiving them, while noobs just get the hell out at first burn.
As reported in Psych Central:
Partners who have been betrayed early in a relationship use regions of the brain associated with controlled, careful decision-making when considering whether they should continue to trust the person who deceived them.
On the other hand, those betrayed in a long-standing relationship use areas of the brain associated with automatic, habitual decision-making, increasing the likelihood of forgiveness.
Sociologists hooked the study participants up to MRI scanners and played tricks on them involving sums of money, and computers that were pre-programmed to deceive them by pretending to be people who then didn't give their money back, or something.
Anyway, they found the lateral temporal cortex, associated with habituated decision-making, i.e. stuck-in-rut thinking, became more active after late betrayal. Inversely, people who were betrayed by the computers earlier on had a different part of their brain light up: the anterior cingulate cortex, which is associated with conscious learning, planning and problem-solving.
Which is interesting, because we tend not to think of the brain as a physical entity, and are prone to deliberating in abstract, intangible terms, like: "Well, they have a history and many years together, so it's difficult to throw that away". When it's possibly more like: "Well, his/her lateral temporal cortex is lit up like a Christmas tree, so there's that."
Follow Rebecca Kamm on Twitter.