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5 Easy Ways to Say ‘I Love You’

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(Family Features) If gift-giving isn’t your strong suit, occasions like Valentine’s Day are likely to bring on stress and worry, but procrastinating will only serve to elevate your unease.

Follow these steps to simplify your shopping, and while you may not come to love the task of finding the perfect gift, your loved one will undoubtedly appreciate your effort.

  1. Browse for ideas online. Many retailers offer special promotions and gift idea sections on their websites, so finding inspiration can be as easy as visiting the sites of your loved one’s favorite stores. There are also dozens of articles online to help get the ideas flowing. Searches such as “gifts for horse lovers” or “Valentine’s gifts for a new boyfriend” will reveal a long list of ideas to peruse.
  2. Keep it simple. Although the advertising industry works hard to convince consumers otherwise, Valentine’s Day isn’t really all about the bling. Sure, a pretty bauble is a welcome gift, but there are plenty of ways to show your affection that don’t require spending a month’s salary. A heartfelt card paired with a memento of a meaningful event or place in your relationship sends the same loving sentiment.
  3. Make it a (different) date. For many couples, navigating the demands of work, kids and life make spending time together a luxury. Instead of fighting crowds at busy restaurants on the official date, celebrate your love on a day of your own choosing, when you can relax and enjoy the time together without the pressure to rush through dessert so your table can be flipped for the next waiting couple.
  4. Give blooms a boost. A dozen long-stem red roses is a beautiful gesture, but unless your intended rose receiver is a strictly traditional type, try adding a little spice to your floral arrangement. Go for a bouquet in her favorite color, or have the flowers arranged in a practical vessel she can reuse to remember the occasion, such as a cocktail shaker or a watering can.
  5. Go ahead, gift yourself. It may seem counter-intuitive, but finding a gift you’ll enjoy may inspire an idea for your loved one. The trick is finding something you can share together, whether it’s tickets to a show or his and hers mugs for enjoying your favorite brew. Just be sure the item is something your intended will share your enthusiasm for, or you may as well go buy a blender.

Find more ideas to simplify every occasion at eLivingToday.com.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images


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adult relationships

7 Valentine’s Day Date Ideas to Break from the Norm

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(Family Features) If you’re feeling pressure to plan the perfect Valentine’s Day date, it may be time to veer away from tradition. While flowers, chocolates and dinner for two is a classic, thinking outside the box can make for just as romantic of an experience.

Consider these simple date ideas to reduce stress and make your day extra special.

Take a Dance Class
Learning something new together can be a great way to bond with your significant other. Research dance studios in your area and book a lesson for a night out. Many studios offer new or first-time discounts and typically have a variety of lessons available from ballroom to salsa, cha cha and more. If dancing isn’t really your thing, consider another skill-building class you can do together like pottery, cooking or painting, for example.

Recreate Your First Date
Take a trip down memory lane and go back to the beginning of your relationship by recreating your first – or a favorite – date. Whether you went bowling, mini golfing, to dinner and a movie or something else entirely, reliving the past can be a special way to connect and show your partner how much you care.

Plan an Indoor Picnic
If it’s too cold outside for an actual picnic, clear some space in your living room and throw down a blanket. Pack a basket of finger foods like sandwiches, cheese and crackers, fruit, a bottle of wine and dessert for a romantic meal for two in the comfort of home.

Book a Staycation
A getaway doesn’t have to mean going far from home. Become tourists in town by booking a night at a nearby hotel and visiting some local landmarks you’ve been wanting to check out or haven’t experienced in a while. A simple break from routine can make for an enjoyable escape, even if you’re only a few miles from home.

Schedule a Photoshoot
If the last time you had your photo professionally taken was on your wedding day or a family vacation, hire a photographer for a couples photo session, and use it as an opportunity to create fun memories together. Many photographers offer mini sessions, which only take 15-30 minutes, leaving time for a night out afterward. For an inexpensive option, have a friend take a few casual pictures or use a selfie stick to help document your date.

Cook Dinner Together
Restaurants are often booked up on Valentine’s Day, so try something different this year and make a special home-cooked meal together. Whether you make a tried-and-true favorite or whip up something new, like a heart-shaped dish, you’ll bond over the experience while creating a tangible (and hopefully tasty) reward once the oven timer dings. Then dim the lights, play some soft music and light some candles to create a romantic ambience while enjoying dinner together.

Go On a Road Trip
Take a day – or a weekend – and venture to a destination you haven’t been before on a romantic Valentine’s Day getaway. Even if traveling far away isn’t possible right now, exploring a town or two over allows you to check out new restaurants, stores or other attractions and get out of your comfort zones.

Find more ideas for celebrating Valentine’s Day at eLivingtoday.com.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash


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5 Timeless Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

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(Family Features) On a day that signifies the importance of love and companionship, many people find it rewarding to show their loved ones just how much they mean. If you’re in the gift-giving spirit this Valentine’s Day, you may find a bit of inspiration with these ideas.

Just remember, whether you’re celebrating the relationship with your significant other or showing appreciation for a friend, the best gifts come from the heart.

  • Food – If your partner is a foodie, a Valentine’s Day date is an obvious choice. Make a reservation at his or her favorite restaurant or opt for takeout and enjoy quiet time together in the comfort of home. Satisfy that special someone’s sweet tooth with a classic box of chocolates or create a personalized candy basket full of guilty pleasures.
     
  • Jewelry – Whether you’ve been together a year, a decade or more, it’s a perfect opportunity to splurge for a gift he or she will cherish for a lifetime. Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, anklets, watches and more all make for perfect gifts that can often be customized with engravings like names or important dates.
     
  • Experiences – Oftentimes, the gift of moments together means more than a trinket. Consider the things you enjoy doing side by side and schedule a day or weekend to do nothing but your favorite activities. Book a tour at a local museum, find tickets to the next big game, sit frontstage for a favorite band or road trip to a nearby attraction for new sights and sounds.
     
  • Subscriptions – Gifts don’t always need to be sentimental. Sometimes, they can be downright practical. Creating an account for a new streaming service or music platform, signing up for monthly food or wine gift boxes and buying ticket packages for a favorite local team are all gifts that keep on giving.
     
  • Handwritten Notes and Flowers – Take time to write what you appreciate most about your special someone – personality traits, favorite memories, thoughtful gestures and why they’re important to you – and pair your note with favorite flowers. Gifts may spark a smile, but sharing a moment of connection offers a reminder of what you’re celebrating in the first place.

Find more Valentine’s Day gift ideas by visiting eLivingtoday.com.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash


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Singles in America: Match Releases Largest Study on US Single Population for 13th Year

Singles Say Better Sex Ed Leads to Healthier Relationships
Finances Rank as Top Stressor for 2nd Year in a Row
More Than 4 in 10 Young Singles Think AI Can Increase Partner Selection and Compatibility

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DALLAS /PRNewswire/ — Match today released findings from its 13th annual Singles in America study, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive annual scientific study of single adults, more than one-third of the U.S. adult population. This year’s study asked a national representative sample of 5,000+ singles their thoughts on dating and AI, non-monogamous relationships, comprehensive sex education, and more. Having run annually over the past 13 years, the study encompasses insights from 70,000 singles to date, showcasing major trends and new developments in sex, love and marriage.

“Single Americans are ushering in new trends in dating, demonstrating the influence and impact of their substantial demographic,” said Dr. Justin Garcia, Scientific Advisor to Match and Executive Director of the Kinsey Institute. “Findings show that singles are adapting to some of our most significant social and political challenges, by seeking financial stability in partners to getting serious about accurate education on sexuality and relationships. Despite the political rancor over sex education, the data shows that most singles haven’t received sex ed from reliable sources, with nearly half of single adults today saying that proper education would lead to happier and healthier relationships. Today’s singles are hungry for tools to help them find and maintain human connection.”

Singles Call Out For Better Sex…Ed

Nearly half of singles (44%) report that more sex ed (i.e. learning more about and communicating what you want, gender identity, consent, sexual orientation) in their younger years would have enabled them to have healthier and happier relationships today.

In newly released findings exploring America’s sex ed dilemma, singles report that if they had received more information on sex ed topics early on they would:

  • Have more sexual confidence now (40%)
  • Know how to talk about sex with partners (32%)
  • Know how to date more effectively (30%)

While singles report having received sex ed on concepts like reproduction (91%), puberty (89%), pregnancies (89%), testing/preventing STIs (84%), and abstinence (77%), they also identified key areas of intimacy where they didn’t receive sex ed, including:

  • How to talk about what you want (39%)
  • Gender identity (38%)
  • How to talk about sex in general (35%)
  • How to give and ask for consent (31%)
  • How to establish and/or discuss sexual orientation (26%)

When it comes to their sources of information on sex, singles have more often learned about sex from inconsistent and unreliable sources, including peers and pornography:

  • How to have a positive or healthy romantic relationship: 25% learned about this from friends/peers, 26% from family, 24% learned somewhere else; while 7% learned from school.
  • Sexual orientation: 31% learned about this from friends/peers, 16% from family, 28% learned somewhere else ; while 18% learned from school.
  • Consent: 25% learned about this from friends/peers, 18% from family, 25% learned somewhere else; while 17% learned from school.

Monogamy has Staying Power

“Polyamory and other forms of sexual exploration are thriving. But this practice is far from undermining traditional monogamy—it’s enhancing it. These singles say their sexual adventures have given them meaningful insights into what they really want in a long-term, stable partnership. In fact, nearly 50% of singles still want a traditional sexually-monogamous relationship. This cultural trend can’t kill the human drive to find the one,” says Dr. Helen FisherMatch’s Chief Scientific Advisor.

Half (49%) of singles say that traditional sexual monogamy is their ideal sexual relationship. But nearly 1/3 of singles (31%) have had a consensually non-monogamous relationship at some point – 16% of whom saying they would have a non-monogamous relationship again in the future. Among those who have practiced non-monogamy, singles reported the diverse relationship structures involved:

  • Monogamish (21%): Committed relationship that allows sexual variety with others
  • Polyamory (11%): Where relationship partners agree they may have a romantic relationship with other people
  • Open relationships (13%): A committed primary relationship that openly allows for romantic and/or sexual activity with other
  • Swinging (12%): Expanding an exclusive romantic relationship to seek out other sexual partners together

Many singles who have engaged in consensual non-monogamy felt the experience had a positive impact on their dating life:

  • 38% say their non-monogamous experiences have made them better understand what they do and don’t want and need in a relationship
  • 30% of single people report becoming more open sexually
  • 29% say they became more emotionally mature
  • 27% say they were able to have more frequent sex

But not every single American is expanding their sex life. Just over one in five of today’s singles (21%) state that they don’t want a sexual relationship right now. 

PS. AI Love You

“A new trend is emerging: Artificial Intelligence is helping singles connect more effectively. 14% of online daters have already used AI for dating. And that’s most likely just the beginning––because 32% of these men and women say that AI has helped them get better matches and meet potential partners faster,” says Dr. Helen Fisher. “AI is positioned to become a vital new tool for finding love.”

How are daters using AI?

  • AI in dating is still in early stages, with 6% of all single daters using AI in their dating life.
  • 43% of AI users used the technology to write their dating app profile
  • 37% of AI users used it to help them write a first message

How efficient do daters find AI? Of those who have harnessed AI for dating:

  • 27% reported that using AI helped them get better matches
  • 26% received more matches using AI

While the ancients relied on Cupid, 1/3 of all singles surveyed, including 43% of young singles, think AI can be their matchmaker, capable of assessing partnership compatibility.

When asked what they would want from AI when it comes to dating:

  • 34% want help sorting their matches
  • 29% want help creating their profile
  • 30% want help coming up with conversation topics on a date

Singles Seek Savers

Americans’ social lives respond to an unpredictable economy. For the second year in a row, singles listed money issues as their top stressors: Personal day-to-day finances (24%) topped the list, followed closely by concerns over the economy and also over inflation (both at 21%). But singles are also ushering in new norms for managing these money-related stressors: 64% of singles say they have a monthly budget, and 73% of singles say a potential partner’s financial stability is important to them. The days of not discussing finances on a date are long gone.

Dating Gets the Gen Z Glow Up

Gen Z is feeling pressure in life when it comes to the economy, their careers, and their mental health, but less so when it comes to dating: 90% of Gen Z feel significant stress, specifically due to their finances (24%), physical health (22%), and mental health (22%), while their dating lives fall lower on the list (16%).

This generation of singles is working on themselves, know what they want in a long term partner, and believe in marriage and the future of relationships: 

  • 45% of Gen Z singles have been working to better their mental health
  • 57% were interested in attending a therapy session or had already done so this year, compared to 48% last year
  • 39% say their physical health is poor or fair, but 41% are working to improve this
  • 58% report they feel lonely on a typical day
  • 57% want to get married
  • 83% believe they can have a lifelong marriage
  • 78% have been passionately in love
  • 64% want a partner who wants to marry
  • 57% want a partner who wants children

Relationship and Dating Discourse

“Boundaries,” “trauma,” “feeling triggered,” “gaslighting” – therapy language has infiltrated dating conversations, but singles think you can take it too far!

  • 1 in 3 singles (33%)—regardless of age or gender—feel that therapy speak is a mixed bag: it can be useful, but can also be detrimental
  • Nearly 40% of young singles think that therapy language promotes a better understanding of mental health (vs. 28% of Gen X, 20% of Boomers)

Healthy Relationships: Singles identified their top three most important factors in a healthy romantic relationship as trust, effective communication, and mutual respect.

Past Relationships Prove to be Stepping Stones to Better Future Relationships: 76% of singles reported that their past dating experiences helped define who they are today, and what they want in future relationships.

To help shape future relationships, singles are counting on a wide variety of important resources for dating advice, including: 

  • Friends: 65%
  • Family: 46%
  • Therapist: 26%
  • 1 in 10 asked an ex-partner
  • 23% of Gen Z turn to influencers/content creators (vs. 19% Millennials, 10% Gen X, 11% Boomers)

Singles at the Ballot Box

With adult singles representing over 1/3 of the U.S. population, 2024 election candidates and pollsters may be overlooking the power of the single voter. 14% of all singles don’t plan to vote in the upcoming presidential election, a figure that jumps to one in five of Gen Z singles (20%).

The overturning of Roe v. Wade has impacted the dating and sex lives of nearly 9 in 10 singles (87% of daters under age 50) since the 2022 ruling to reverse the landmark legislation, a jump from 78% last year. How have singles been impacted?

  • 12% of singles say they feel more hesitant to date and 11% report having sex less often. 10% of singles feel more nervous or anxious during sex (9% of men, 12% of women, while 13% say they are more afraid of getting pregnant or getting someone else pregnant. 13% of singles (14% of men and 12% of women) also report using condoms more often since the overturning.
  • 22% of singles say abortion legislation will completely determine their vote (including 26% of women, 18% of men; 30% of Democrats, 20% of Republicans and Libertarians, 19% Independents, and 14% of singles with no political affiliation)
  • 70% of singles say a candidate’s view on abortion will have some impact on how they will vote
  • Overall, 60% of singles report being pro-choice, while 23% are pro-life/anti-abortion

“American Singles are reckoning with the impact of Roe v Wade and abortion legislation on their lives, with these startling findings showing that legislation has entered people’s bedrooms to alter behavior, comfort, pleasure, and the meaning of intimacy in today’s relationships,” said Dr. Justin Garcia.

To see the full findings, including additional demographic breakdowns, please visit: www.SinglesinAmerica.com

About Singles in America

Singles in America (SIA) is funded by Match and conducted by Dynata in association with renowned anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher and evolutionary biologist Dr. Justin Garcia of The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University. The 2023 study is based on the attitudes and behaviors taken from a demographically representative sample of 5,305 U.S. singles between the ages of 18 to 98. Generations are defined as: Gen Z (18-26), Millennials (27-42), Gen X (43-58), and Boomers (59+). Young singles are defined as the combination of Gen Z and Millennials. Singles in America remains the most comprehensive annual scientific survey of single Americans.

SOURCE Match.com

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