Think tomatoes aren’t sexy? You’ve never tried them slow-roasted! Serve them “as is”, use like a side dish for lamb, chicken and turkey or make them a perfect topping for pasta and homemade pizza.
There are 8.5 million people living in NYC. And someone who suits you for tonight or for the rest of your life is out there too. Maybe, you saw your Mr./Ms. Right on the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday, or sat next to him or her this afternoon in a coffee shop on the East Side.
The Big Apple has no problem with interesting singles. But meeting them has become a real challenge for New Yorkers. We are too busy, too into something else and in too much of a hurry to spend much time wondering through bars and parks and waiting for a sure hit. That’s why dating apps have come to be a part of dating culture in New York. It’s just one tap between you and your exciting date. That’s of course if you are using a right app with local-based NYC search and meet real New Yorkers.
In order to help you find such an app, we’ve made a research on the most interesting mobile dating services and made our own list featuring pros and cons of the best dating apps for New Yorkers.
Pros: Made exclusively for NYC and L.A., so you don’t go wasting your time on someone you’ll never be able to meet in real life
Cons: Users are matched based on the horoscope compatibility. Taurus for Capricorn and Gemini for Libra. Or is it all the other way around? A questionable matchmaking algorithm. But fun though.
- Secret Desire
Pros: An app featuring good local-based search. But the best part is anonymity. No wearing masks, no pretending someone you are not. Speak up your desires and find other New Yorkers who are up for the exact same thing. It might be just a sexy chat, a one night stand adventure or a beginning of true love.
Cons: The app is not for New Yorkers only. You can chat with your neighbor next door or find someone on the other coast. It’s not a con actually, but you have to be specific on your goals and search parameters.
Pros: A purely NYC app focused on gyms, fitness and yoga classes. A nice mobile spot to meet someone like-minded, if you are all into sports.
Cons: No sport in your life and not a single thought about it? Then you won’t see any good matches on this one. Sorry.
Pros: An app designed to find that same stranger you liked on the aboveground train or in the Central Park last week. We are not sure, if the idea is good for small towns somewhere in Midwest, bur it surely works for the Big Apple.
Cons: Your matches are people rushing along the same daily routs and the same streets as you are. And what if your soulmate is usually taking another train? Oops. Happn is of no help for you two.
- Coffee Meets Bagel
Pros: An app that fits love life in your busy schedule. Every day at noon one new match is available for you. Didn’t fall for him/her? Just say “no” and provide feedback on what’s wrong. Tomorrow you’ll get a new, better-tailored would-be partner.
Cons: The matchmaking process is very slow which is good as it gets you to think over every match and bad ‘cause your chances on finding a date for tonight are slim to none.
Pros: An app that has changed the field of mobile dating and introduced swiping into the world of matchmaking. Right-swipe is a yes, lift-swipe is a no. Liked someone who right-swiped you too? Congrats, you are a match! It’s all easy. And the local NYC search is quite good too.
Cons: Swiping is fun for the first two days or so. Then it becomes real exhausting. There are zillions of users in New York alone and you are very likely to miss or ‘mis-swipe’ your Mr./Ms. Right because of all the crowd.
Pros: Another easy-to-use and very popular dating app in New York and all over the world. The matchmaking algorithm is simple, just hit or miss, but many users registered and good search-customizing tools make OkCupid quite efficient.
Cons: The app shares Tinder problems. It’s nice to know you have zillions of users in New York City to choose from. But it might get quite disappointing and exhausting as it gets to real matchmaking.
As you can see, the apps above have their pros and cons. But all of them do work and help singles in New York City meet each other. Mobile dating is a real catch for our fast lifestyles and busy schedules. Your date is already there waiting for you to download an app, so go for it!
The more popular online dating is the more and more unsavory characters are attracted to it. That’s the reality we have to face. But it doesn’t mean you are to give up the idea of fast and easy matchmaking. You just have to be a bit more cautious and considerate on who are you chatting with.
Next we’ll discuss what does a catfish mean in dating and how to discover one in your matches. Please check out frequently asked questions on the issue along with our quick and clear answers.
What is Catfish dating?
Catfishes create fake profiles on dating sites and apps, use other people’s photos and personal data, pretend to be someone they are not in order to lure real users into online romance and (not necessarily, but very often) get to his or her credit card.
Why Is It Called Catfish Dating?
The slang term was first used by a hapless lover Nev Schulman in 2010. He falls for a gorgeous girl on a dating site, the young couple has a long love story online until Nev discovers his girlfriend had been faked by a middle-aged married housewife. He came up with a documentary called “Catfish” and latter with a same name TV-show.
Of course, Schulman was not the first guy to get caught up in a relationship with a fake identity, but he was the one to initiate the extensive discussion on what does catfish mean in online dating.
In his documentary, he used the metaphor of live catfish and cod shipped together: catfishes kept cods active until the end of the journey and so do online catfishes on dating and social networking sites.
What Is Dating a Catfish Like?
At first, you meet someone fabulous and very right for you. Then you two have great chats and get kind of attached, but all of that online only. Meeting in person is what a catfish on a dating site never does. Finally, he or she asks for help, gifts and money or wangles your credit card details and vanishes.
How to Catch a Catfish in Online Dating
The biggest signs of a fake are your online date not able to see you any time
at all and rejecting the idea of video chats. Those are definitely red flags.
However, there are some other signals to arouse suspicion.
- Look carefully on his or her pictures. Are they too good to be true? That’s another suspicious sign, especially if you are not a supermodel yourself.
- Ask yourself, if your relationship has gotten too serious way in no time at all. Real relationship-seekers need to get to know each other. People in search of hookups arrange a quick meet-up or get straight to sexting. Instant romance without meeting in person is usually what a catfish wants of online dating. They gain your trust to get to your money.
If your online date has asked for money or expensive gifts, say no. No matter what his or her pretexts were and how convince they seemed. If he keeps insisting or ghosts on you after your firm refusal, breathe a sigh of relief. Now you know precisely what does a catfish mean in online dating and will never buy in to fake identities again
We left off with our columnist about to meet with Sasha Cogan, a work superior and mother to her daughter’s best friend. Sara’s nervous about sharing what’s been going on with the turncoat trio of Charmaine, Burt and Steve, but isn’t sure what she wants to accomplish beyond unburdening her conscience. How will Sara manage this tangled web of connections?
Read on? To read the entire series of articles from the beginning, click here.
Thursday, 7:40 p.m. (continued)
The door swings open, and Sasha greets me like an old friend. I’m immediately set upon by a big, shaggy dog of indeterminate breed. “Cosmo, no jumping!” Sasha says.
I tell her it’s OK, that I have dogs, too, and don’t mind at all. I stick out a hand to shake and make my way into the house, which is not too messy, and I tell her that. I quickly take in her place; it’s a pleasing mix of antiques and mid-century modern and lots of art – big, colorful abstracts and what looks like it could be an original Lichtenstein. She gestures toward a brown leather couch. She offers a glass of wine and I accept, and it occurs to me that Sasha Cogan may be as grateful for the social contact as I am for the audience with her. She’s the CEO of a huge conglomerate, divorced and hardworking. She probably doesn’t have many opportunities to spend time with other moms.
After some small talk about the joys and aggravations of raising teen girls, she asks me, simply, “So, what’s going on?”
I start slowly at first, nervous as hell, but manage to spill out my whole story. Sasha is rapt the entire time. By the time I’m done, I realize I’m sweating. I wonder what she’s thinking. Is she worried that I’m going to sue the company? I probably shouldn’t have shown my hand this way, but I want her to know that I’m not looking to make a legal production out of this.
Finally, she says, “I am so sorry you had to go through this”. She thinks it’s ridiculous that Steve opened up an investigation against me because Charmaine spotted the online-dating site on my computer screen. “I’m a big fan of Internet dating,” she says. “In fact, my current guy-friend and I met online.”
She takes a sip of wine and smiles. “So. Sara. What can I do for you?”
I feel like I’m sitting on Santa Claus’s lap. Here’s my chance to ask for anything. Not that I’ll get it, but it won’t hurt to put in a few requests. I tell her that the investigation is bogus and I want it to end. I ask for a transfer to another division. She gives me her word that she will get me out of “what appears to be a toxic work environment” (her words) but says I’ll have to be patient because of the hiring freeze. I guess I have no choice but to wait, but that won’t stop me from keeping my eye on the classifieds.
Sasha’s front door opens, and there’s my daughter with Jessie. “Hi, girls,” Sasha calls out. “There are brownies in the microwave”. (I figure she hides food from the dogs by storing it in the microwave, just like I do.) My kid takes one look at me on the couch with my feet curled under me, glass of wine in hand, and rolls her eyes. She hisses, “What are you doing here?”
“I’ll tell you later”. I watch her and Jessie trudge up the stairs.
“Well. Is there anything else I can do for you?”
I take a deep breath and say, “There’s one more thing. I’ve heard that Steve is up for director of international operations. I know it’s not my place to say anything…”
“Go ahead, Sara. It’s as much your place as anyone’s. You’re a part of this organization. Your opinion matters to me.”
“I know that good things happen to bad people all the time, but I think it would be refreshing if, for once, a good person actually got that job.”
Sasha asks me if I had anyone in mind. I told her I thought Christina Spencer would be a good fit. She’s been working on the international team for four years. She’s smart and hardworking. Unlike Steve, she’s not a self-promoter, so most people don’t realize how wonderful she is.
Sasha grabs a pen from her coffee table and scribbles on the inside of a paperback book.
“Christina Spencer”. “Very good. Thank you.”
Thursday, 9:30 p.m.
I leave Sasha’s house feeling 20 pounds lighter. I’m so grateful that I had the chance to unburden myself to someone who is actually in a position to do something. I can’t wait to tell Loves To Cook, Doesn’t Want Kids about my conversation. I walk in the door and head straight to the computer. The dogs want to go out, but they’ll have to wait. LTC is online now? Yay! I send an instant message.
“Hey. It’s me. Want to Skype?”
There’s no response for a few minutes, which can seem like hours when you’re trying to chat online. He finally responds, and it’s not good.
Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.
Her novel, Wife Living Dangerously, is now available. Click here to read the previous installment of “Single in the suburbs”.
OK, so we have our faults: Forgetting anniversaries, forgetting to put the seat down, and a whole bunch of other important things I’m forgetting. But before you go wishing for a world devoid of us big dumb apes, take a minute to reflect on all the joy we bring to your world. Like duct tape, dudes have all kinds of helpful uses, like?
1. We do gross things you don’t want to do.
Got a bug that needs squishing? A clogged drain that needs snaking? In this day and age of women doing it for themselves, every once in a while, it’s nice to sit back and let a guy feel like a “real man” and do your dirty work for you. Whether we’re sweating our butt off hefting air conditioners into your bedroom window or carrying heavy cases of bottled water from the car to the house, dudes are not above getting grimy for your affection.
2. Our constant desire to have sex with you has got to be good for your ego.
Maybe our attempts to have quickies before you run out the door for work aren’t exactly romantic, but what can we say, you drive us wild! What could be a better boost for your self-image than a dude who wants to spend as much time as humanly possible in the presence of your nakedness?
3. We’ll never tell you that you look fat in those jeans.
No matter how many times you ask or what size they are, the answer will always be unilaterally, unequivocally NO.
4. We’re easy to please
Fancy dinners? Pricey presents? Save your dough. To bring a big smile to your fella’s face, follow this simple equation: One beer + one couch = happy man.
5. We keep you up to date on all the latest gadgets.
You don’t want a TV set bigger than your dining-room table? Fine, but we’ll let you know when your computer is hopelessly outdated and which new cell phone doubles as an MP3, takes pictures, and reminds you to call your mom on her birthday all at the same time. It’s like having your own personal electronics consultant for free!
6. You can squeeze our arms as hard as you like during the scary parts of movies.
And aside from making great stress squeeze balls at the multiplex, we’re also good to call in the middle of the night when you think you hear some gigantic mouse sneaking around downstairs. No man will say no to a late-night trip to your place because (a) We care about you and want to make sure you’re OK and (b) The potential for sex is way too high to pass up.
7. Our old college T-shirts are the most comfortable pajamas in the universe.
See? There’s a very good reason that we refuse to throw them out.
8. We make you laugh your butt off.
Sometimes, being an overgrown three-year-old has its benefits, like all the weird website links we forward you to break up your boring day at work.
9. Whenever you’re upset about work, our response is always, “Your boss is an idiot.”
Dudes see things in black and white. We’re not all about understanding the subtleties and layers of an argument. If you’re having problems at your job, we won’t play psychoanalyst and try to get to the root of the problem. We won’t try to figure out if you are doing anything to make the situation worse: If your boss is pissing you off, your boss is obviously a jerk and doesn’t deserve to have you.
10. We nearly always make the first move.
Asking someone out, leaning in for that first kiss, all instances that can result in ego-destroying rejection. But even the meekest of men are willing to take the risk when a beauty like you steps into our lives. So sit back and enjoy watching us tremble.
Dan Bova has written for Stuff, Redbook, and other magazines. For the female perspective on this issue, read Guys: Give thanks for women!.
Most wounds heal naturally, but if your last relationship ended with a near-fatal blow, it might not be enough to erase all your sweetie’s emails or delete that number from your cell. You might need to take stronger action.
“When you’ve split up with someone, you’re not only dealing with a sudden absence in your life but also most likely battling feelings of anger or rejection or both, especially if you’ve been dumped,” explains Anna Jane Grossman, the author of It’s Not Me, It’s You.
“We love someone in part because he or she reflects things we like about ourselves,” she continues. “So it can cause a pretty good bruise if a person who once loved you announces there’s no longer anything likable about you. When you’re in this pit of misery, it can be even more difficult to fight your way out once you consider that there will probably be more breakups in your future. The reality is that the vast majority of relationships don’t last.”
But that doesn’t mean that you should live the rest of your life in the pit of misery or in the tower of bitterness, says Alexandra Delis-Abrams, Ph.D., the author of Attitudes, Beliefs and Choices. She offers these steps for starting your recovery:
Honor your feelings; don’t deny them.
Take stock of what happened and examine your beliefs pertaining to it as well as your own behavior. Be relentlessly truthful.
Own what actually happened. Take responsibility for your reality and use it as a gift to help you learn about you. We know our intention by what we have. So, on some level, it was intention on your part that led to the breakup.
“Once you allow yourself to feel your feelings and move on, you won’t have to try to have your spirits lifted,” Delis-Abrams says. “You will naturally feel more energy.”
That’s what John Jones of Oakland, CA, did after a particularly nasty breakup. “Instead of focusing on “Why does this have to happen to me?” or “At least there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” I’ve begun to look more at “What can I take away from this experience now?” Jones says. “This introspection, often involving walks in the woods combined with having a better support system of friends this time around, has made dealing with some of the particularly painful aspects specific to this breakup more manageable.”
In fact, your social network is a great safety net, says Shari Marx of New York. “The best advice is to reconnect with your girlfriends and to start to love yourself again by looking better,” says Marx.”And meet someone new. Maybe not right away, but even if it’s just a male companion, he will help to fill the void that once was your last relationship.”
That’s the recipe for recovery she used after her last breakup. And it’s a good one, Grossman says: “Having a friend around to keep you company when you’ve just gone through a breakup can make all the difference in the world, so don’t be afraid to ask someone to camp out in your apartment with you for a while. This will ease the pain of waking up to an empty life and an empty house. Make sure your friend knows he or she doesn’t need to become your therapist or nanny,” Grossman adds. “Just being there for you listening to you talk and handing you a tissue now and then will probably be enough”.
Grossman also agrees with getting back in the dating game as soon as you can. “You’re probably not going to find a replacement right away for the person you lost, but getting back out there might remind you that you’re a hot commodity, and there are other datable people out there besides your ex.”
Margot Carmichael Lester, a freelance writer based in North Carolina, has felt the sting of a bad breakup on more than one occasion and lived to tell the tale.
Finding out your friends don’t like your boyfriend can be a shock. It was for Joseph Cavalieri when his roommate delivered the news.
“She just didn’t like him at all,” says the 49-year-old glass artist from New York. “She basically put the wall down and said, “You can see me, but I don’t want to be out with the three of us.”
This kind of relationship segregation keeping friends and lovers apart isn’t realistic for most of us. We want our friends to like the person we’re dating, and when they don’t, it isn’t always easy to see where the problems lie. Maybe our dates are jerks, but whose to say it isn’t our friends that are actually the problem”.
“Look at the pieces that might be factual,” says Katie Medicus, an LCSW and counselor in Knoxville, TN. “If your friends confront you about your relationship, or even make subtle suggestions that they’re unhappy about whom you’re dating, the first step is to control your reaction, then be honest with yourself about what they’re saying.”
For Cavalieri, once the shock subsided, he was able to look at what his roommate was saying: “I decided she was entitled to her opinion”.
His roommate was the only one of his friends who was forthcoming with her feelings, and while the depth of their relationship gave weight to her opinion, it was still hard to hear.
“When I heard it while I was with the person, it was hard to understand,” says Cavalieri, “because we all know love is blind.”
Sure, news coming from a trusted friend isn’t necessarily any easier to take, but it can be more reliable, and it’s something we should really examine.
“If this is someone who knows me and really cares about me, I’m going to consider the feedback,” says Medicus.
Also consider the delivery. Someone who genuinely cares about you will share his or her opinion gently, not combatively, with your feelings in mind.
Cavalieri’s roommate was careful to make sure they were alone before she shared her feelings. They were out for dinner when she raised the issue. “I think she worked up to it, gave it a lot of thought,” Cavalieri says. “It was very well thought out”.
His roommate was also the only person who said something while they were dating. “My other friends waited until after we broke up to mention anything.”
Ultimately, his roommate’s feelings made it awkward for his romantic relationship as his boyfriend kept asking about his roommate and why they didn’t hang out. But it also gave Cavalieri a perspective about his boyfriend that he hadn’t previously had.
“He was controlling,” he says. “He put off like five of my friends. It was very difficult to see them with him along.”
Kim Daly, a 29-year-old beauty and travel writer in New York, wishes her friends were more direct and honest about her relationships.
“No one has ever told me I was dating a jerk,” Daly says. “But later if I say something like, “Man, he was a jerk,” they always agree with me.
Of course, as her own experience suggests, the fear of friend rejection is strong and liable to taint our relationships.
“And the opposite is true too,” she admits. “I would never tell a friend that her guy was a jerk because if she really likes him, she’ll drop me instead of him. Usually only to discover later that she broke up with the wrong person.”
The excruciating task of being honest with our friends is sometimes what makes good friends, though.
Valeria Donovan, a 31-year-old esthetician from Memphis, is married to her high-school sweetheart. There was a time, though, when she all but vanished from some of her friends’ lives while spending all of her time with her boyfriend. It was the intervention of caring friends that helped her find balance again.
“I make a lot of time for my close friends,” Donovan says, “but it was because they sat me down and said that to me.”
Cavalieri’s experience has also shaped his attitude about his friends and his boyfriends. His friends’ feelings are a factor in his dating life.
“The friends that I’m closest with, their opinions are really important,” says Cavalieri.
Nowadays, if Cavalieri starts a new relationship, he waits to introduce that person to his friends, and when he does, they’re left on their own once the introductions are made.
This acclimatization technique lets him watch how his friends treat his date and vice versa. Having dated someone with “really bad social skills” has taught him to pay attention to these initial interactions between friends and lovers.
“I try to let it happen naturally,” Cavalieri says. “I don’t try to force it.”
Seth Wharton is a writer who lives in New York City with his wife of seven years and their
When you’re out of work, there’s no question harder than “What do you do for a living?” Its impact can be even worse when it’s coming from your date. And then there are the other pesky questions that follow.
To help you field these queries, we’ve compiled a handy guide.
Q: What do you do for a living?
Unless you’re changing careers, the best answer is the job you’ve been doing. “If you are an unemployed lawyer or plumber, for instance, you still have the credentials and experience, regardless of whether you currently have a job,” explains Carole Lieberman, a psychiatrist in Beverly Hills, CA, and the host of “Dr. Carole’s Couch,” a weekly Internet radio show on voiceamerica.com.
Scot McKay, a dating coach based in San Antonio, TX, offers another approach. “I’d answer in terms of what my ambitions, passions and goals are, rather than what my present job status is,” he says. Remember, it’s a date, not a job interview. “The point is to see if the two of you get along, rather than to divulge life stories”.
Q: Where do you work?
This one’s a little tougher to tap-dance around, so you might as well tell the truth. Lieberman suggests saying something like, “Right now my job is looking for a job. And it’s really interesting because I’m getting to meet a lot of new people and decide what new company I’d like to work for. The key is being upbeat about it. Nobody wants to date Danny Downer.
“Most people today understand the concept of downsizing and that it can happen to anyone,” says Michelle Hill of Huntington Beach, CA. She’s single and was recently downsized for the third time in nine years. “Be honest, communicate openly without telling every single detail.”
Q: How long have you been unemployed?
The best answer is a truthful but positive one, says Paulette Sherman, a psychologist and the author of Dating from the Inside Out. She suggests something like, “The truth is, I don’t know when I will find another job. I can only do my part to be active, remain compassionate with myself and have supportive people around me.”
“This sends the message that you are doing what you can, but it could be an ongoing situation,” she explains. “It implies that you are proactive and not lazy, but also that you don’t want to be judged or pressured by your dates.”
And while we’re on the subject of judgment, it’s out there in your dates, and maybe even in you. It’s important to remember that you can’t control what others think about you, but you can control your perception of yourself.
“There will always be judgment in our lives, so it’s our job to determine who we are and how we want to live and to honor that above those other voices,” Sherman counsels. “It helps to really determine what we think about ourselves and to return to that. For example, if you are a talented, responsible, successful investment banker with a great work history who is suddenly out of a job, return to the big picture. Remind yourself of your strengths and catch yourself when you start allowing others to determine your worth and bring you down.”
And if your date does ding you for being out of work, well, that’s a sure sign she or he is not the one for you. “If your date looks down on you or is condescending, say bye-bye,” Hill says.
With the right attitude about your situation and some good answers to tough questions, you’ll be ready to get out there and date.
Margot Carmichael Lester is the author of The Real Life Guide to Starting Your Career and is a frequent contributor to Happen, Monster.com and others.
Sure, we can be a pain in the butt sometimes. Sure, there’s the nagging, the nosiness, the PMS mood swings and those easily injured feelings. But guys, think for a moment about all the wonderful things we ladies do. From the pains we take to be aesthetically pleasing to how we kiss it and make it all better, we women do rock. Let us count the ways!
1. Like it or not, we groom you for a real relationship.
Whether it’s the mom who taught you to respect us, the sister who told you our secrets, or even the last girl who dumped you because you weren’t ready to settle down, the women in your life help to shape you into the best man you can possibly be. So that when you meet The One, you’ll be ready, willing and able.
2. We’re sympathetic.
Before we try to solve the problem (as men tend to do), we acknowledge it. We say things like: “That must have hard for you seeing your friend get the promotion instead of you, how do you feel about it?” It may not seem like much, but a world without women’s compassion and understanding would be a pretty cold place.
3. We’re extraordinary ego-boosters.
If it seems as though women are forever fishing for compliments, it’s because they’re nice to hear, especially when they’re sincere. That’s why we “dole them out” about how handsome you look in that suit, how awesome you are at air hockey, how mind-blowing you are in bed, et cetera.
4. We’re soft.
Soft hair, soft lips, soft skin and so forth. All in all, it’s a pretty huggable package.
5. We keep your social life hopping.
Before there were Palm Pilots, there were women. We organize, we schedule, we remember. Admit it you get out a whole lot more and have a more interesting life when you’re dating someone who wants to do something besides sit home and watch TV all the time.
6. We listen.
The stereotype of woman as chatterbox is unfair. OK, scratch that we do love to talk. But not in a vacuum. That’s why we’re always urging you to talk; we believe in communication and that means we want to listen, too. Go ahead, open up tell us what you were like as a little kid and how you plan to save the world.
7. We have a civilizing influence.
Yes, you probably could survive in a bachelor pad adorned with nothing but a TV and a six-pack in the fridge. But once a woman enters the picture, prepare to see some improvements even if you’re not living together yet. Due to our nest-feathering instincts, we strategically place pillows, search for thick, absorbent bath towels, and not only use sheets but change them regularly. Ahhhh!
8. We inspire you to shoot for gold.
Think it’s an accident the Muses were all women? Somebody’s got to encourage your rock opera, psyche you up before that job interview, and root for your basketball team. We do it because we recognize your potential and know you can achieve your goals. And we want to cheer you on.
9. We make worthy opponents.
Yeah, yeah, we’re soft and sweet most of the time. But engage us in battle, and we will tear your #%$^@ing head off. So be thankful, be very, very thankful that we like you right now.
10. If you want kids someday, we’re usually willing to have them.
And the labor pains. And the stretch marks. And in between, the periods. You’re welcome.
Nina Malkin is the author of 6X: Loud, Fast, & Out of Control. For the male perspective on this issue, read Women: Give thanks for men
Kicking leaves, carving pumpkins, pencils, books and work: We’re back in the fall routine. And as we resume our autumn rituals, most of us take stock. Perhaps there’s nothing we ponder more thoroughly than our bedroom habitat. Is someone there? If not, why not? If so, is this The One? Or should someone else reside in this inner sanctum?
We tend to think that spring and summer are the mating seasons, the key times that we engage in the pursuit of happiness. But as autumn gets under way, professionals, entrepreneurs, students, retirees… almost everyone returns to “the hood,” or to clubs, restaurants, gyms, sports and cultural events and parties rekindling and expanding their social webs.
“Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want,” wrote critic Joseph Wood Krutch. Like cats, in the autumn, even the meek become emboldened to ask for what they want: romance. Some will join Chemistry.com, the Internet dating site I helped design for those looking for a serious relationship. Others will seek a mate at other Internet dating sites, or buy newspapers and magazines to peruse the personals. And as they gather, they will hope for love.
How autumn works its charm
What makes fall such a dynamic mating season? First, it’s important to acknowledge that anytime is a good time for love and sex. Deer court in the fall; female dogs court when they are “in heat”; most female monkeys have a sexual peak in the middle of their monthly menstrual cycle when they ovulate. Humans have no courting or birthing season.
Certainly, summer (the “hot” season) has its thrills. The fireflies and crickets, the pungent smells of roses, barbeque and salty air, the sunning bodies on the beach or grass, the fresh peaches: summer magic invigorates our senses. But as poet John Keats wrote of autumn, “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness… thou hast thy music, too.” Keats had it right. As we hurtle toward crisp days and nights, new events and new floods of chemicals will propel us toward love.
The chemistry connection
Foremost, in autumn anticipation can run high. And novelty, unpredictability and anticipation can juice the dopamine circuits in the brain, making you feel good and very good. Dopamine is the chemical that courses through the mind when a person foresees winning money, reaches for chocolate or even takes cocaine. And the novelty of autumn can trigger this dopamine response, giving you energy, optimism, focus and motivation, as well as increasing your sex drive.
Autumn days, however, primarily jumpstart the production of testosterone, the premier hormone of lust. Men and women inherit their baseline levels of this potent cocktail. But this hormone also fluctuates according to daily, monthly and annual rhythms. Testosterone is highest in men in the early morning, for example, as well as higher in women just before mid-month ovulation, when they are most likely to initiate sex. But beyond these shifts, in autumn, this sap rises giving men extra strength, energy, concentration and confidence. Moreover, as testosterone initiates sexual desire, ensuing sexual activity triggers more testosterone. Thus the cycle spins.
Remarkably, even anticipating sex increases testosterone in men. Known as the “lighthouse effect,” this relationship was first discovered when scientists measured the beard trimmings of a lighthouse attendant. He lived alone on an island during the week. But every Friday he sped to the mainland to enjoy the weekend with his girlfriend. On Fridays his beard grew more than usual the effect of testosterone, triggered by sexual desire.
“In the spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love,” wrote Alfred, Lord Tennyson. But in late spring and early summer, levels of testosterone are at their lowest. They peak instead in November and early December, when sperm counts are also higher. And this potion works. In the Northern Hemisphere, women give birth more frequently in August and September, nine months after the flood of testosterone in late autumn. This testosterone surge may be part of nature’s plan to turn our thoughts to love in the waning days of autumn and reap love’s rewards during the bounty of late summer. A vestige of the rutting season of many other creatures, autumn may be our primary time to love. This fall, may it be yours.
Helen Fisher, Ph.D., is research professor, department of anthropology at Rutgers University; author of Why We Love; and is chief scientific advisor to www.chemistry.com.