There’s no denying that relationships can be very hard to pull off. So much of our world comes down to whether you’re alone, or with someone, and how that affects your day to day life. So, what if science could tell us whether our relationships will last or not? A new study claims that there are two basic traits that govern the longevity of your relationship. These are generosity and kindness.
No doubt most people think they are generous and kind. The problem is that every summer, thousands of American get married… and half, or more than half, of those marriages eventually fail. In other words, the chances your relationship WON’T work out are much greater than the chances that it will. Now, a new book by Ty Tashiro, “The Science of Happily Ever After,” asserts that being generous and being kind can make all the difference when it comes to improving your relationship and maintaining it over the long term.
The divorce rate first noticeably climbed in the sixties and seventies. Researchers have looked at thousands of couples over the years trying to figure out just why this is so. They’ve gone so far as to watch people who are married interact in laboratories, connecting them to sensors to try and collect data on what is going on with their heart rate, perspiration, circulation, and so on. Some studies have also looked at whether the same couples studied remained married several years after the fact. They found that some couples were still together happily, while others had either split or, worse, the people in those relationships were absolutely miserable together. Interestingly, the one thing the bad relationships had in common was that the bodies of the people in those relationships showed the same types of signs, physiologically, as someone experiencing a fight-or-flight emergency when those couples tried to talk to each other. Being in these states makes the couples behave with aggression, which sabotages their relationship.
By contrast, couples who don’t feel this same state of fight or flight are less aggressive and more calm, so they treat each other better, and even if they get into disagreements, those disagreements don’t get as heated or nasty. This helps create a climate in which the couples establish better intimacy, better trust, and generally a better relationship experience overall, so they are more satisfied with each other and less likely to see themselves as anything but happy. The need to feel connected to someone in relationships, it turns out, is extremely important, and when two people try and fail to connect over and over again during the day (because they treat each other aggressively), then this makes the situation worse and creates a cycle of bad behavior that defines a miserable relationship.
One of the biggest factors in souring a relationship, it turns out, is when a woman responds negatively to an attempt from her husband or boyfriend to establish a connection. In the course of a couple’s day, the man will make numerous attempts to connect with his partner. If she rejects him, if she does not respond positively, then this harms their relationship further and helps perpetuate this cycle of negativity. Of course, women will also make these attempts in some cases, but men are much less likely to reject the attempt to connect. This is due in part to the fact that men express affection through physical intimacy, whereas women express affection through a variety of means (not all of which are apparent) and frequently withhold affection as a means of holding power over their partners.
Over time, constant rejection of one’s partner turns into criticism and contempt. Contempt, in fact, is the single biggest factor, emotionally, when a couple breaks apart. This is when one partner sees everything the other partner does negatively, and frequently comments on it. A spouse who feels like he or she can “never do anything right” is experiencing this contempt. Freezing out a partner, refusing physical intimacy, is another way to kill the relationship, and many women use this as a way to feel in control of a relationship. Ultimately, women are far more often the cause of a relationship breaking up compared to men. They also initiate divorce more often than men do.
Generosity and kindness, though, help a couple to become more close, and makes their relationship much more likely to hold up over a longer period of time. One way to interpret kindness is that when a partner expresses a need, the other partner acts to fulfill it, and sometimes acts to fulfill that need without being asked (because he or she has anticipated the need). Researchers were quick to point out that a couple that experienced a great deal of kindness and generosity, and thus was close, did not necessarily have a relationship in which they never fought. Other research has shown that couples who fight from time to time are actually healthier, overall, than couples who do not, probably because these periodic fights act as a “pressure valve” that prevents resentments from building up and growing worse over time. The chance to “clear the air” with ones’ partner definitely makes a difference in such cases, and contributes to relationship longevity overall.
The implications are clear. Managing to find someone to fall in love with, falling in love with them, initiating a short-term or long-term relationship, and then nurturing that long-term relationship into something that lasts a good long while takes a lot of effort. Why, it almost takes a miracle. It takes two people who are so very committed to never being negative with one another. It takes endless amounts of energy, hope, patience, and support. Now, ask yourself: Has any man on planet Earth been able to say he found such a woman? Is it likely you’re going to find that kind of connection with absolutely anyone in this life? If it seems unlikely, that’s because it is. After all, if the majority of marriages end in divorce, there has to be good reason for it. There has to be a reason that most relationships fail and far more people are unhappy in their relationships than the other way around… right? Well, maybe, just maybe, the answer is that relationships are hard. Maybe the answer is that relationships are almost impossible to hold together. Maybe the answer is that if you have to work so incredibly hard at something to hold it together while it’s always on the ragged edge of flying apart… maybe it’s not something that is worth doing in the first place.
Now, there will be people who read that and think that it’s crazy. There will be people who read that and think that it’s giving up. But what, really do relationships give a man? What does a guy get out of putting in all this work and doing all these crazy things to please someone? Is it worth the constant nerves? The constant effort? The constant worrying? But of course you’re probably thinking that’s only the case if you pick the wrong person. You’re probably thinking, hey, if you just select the right person for a relationship, you don’t experience any of those negative emotions. Well, that’s certainly true. But ask yourself this: Do women who can be that kind, that supportive, and that loving, actually exist? There’s a meme called “Good Girl Gina.” If you don’t know what a meme is, it’s those funny pictures you see people post on the Internet with captions attached to them. The term meme is pretty funny in and of itself. It’s based on evolutionary psychology. And evolutionary psychology holds the key to this whole relationship deal, for good reason.
The folks who formulated theories about evolutionary psychology were looking for a way to explain how men and women behave in relationships as a function of their DNA, a function of their genetics. How does evolution and how people have developed down through the centuries account for how people behave and treat each other? Well, the fact is, most men and women are very much products of their genetics. They make decisions and they exhibit behavior based on what they are as people. We like to think we’re all free to make our own choices, but it’s possible we’re all a lot less free than we think we are. It’s possible our freedom is an illusion and our behavior is all driven by our genetics. Evolutionary psychologists point out that men developed as hunter gatherers and warriors. They were the people who defended the weak of the tribe and, most importantly, the women. Women were vulnerable because they were the ones that carried the children. And carrying children was very important is the species was going to survive and, on a selfish genetic level, if an individual man was going to pass on his genes and thus achieve immortality through his DNA.
So all men have this drive to pass on their genetic legacy, and in ancient times, the way to achieve that was to impregnate as many women as possible. The more women you impregnated, the better the chances you had of passing on your legacy. This is why men are very much not monogamous by nature. Men desire to have sex with many, many women and, given the opportunity, they will. It’s only a modern conceit that we’ve decided men want to have sex with only one woman for the rest of their lives. Genetically, this is not true at all, and this is why men stray. It’s built into them. They see an attractive woman and on a genetic level they want to procreate with her. Everything in their beings screams at them to get that sexy lady pregnant. Is it any wonder that they give in to the urge to have sex with as many women as they can, or that attractive woman command so much male attention?
Now, consider women by comparison. Women are driven by their evolutionary heritage in much the same way men are. Because women were tasked by their biology with child birth, they must be very selective in whom they choose for mates, or they had to be in terms of history. A woman who was pregnant would be helpless for many months, during which she carried and then raised a newborn. And because she was giving up a huge part of her lifetime (in terms of ancient lifespans) she was essentially making an investment. That meant she not only had to choose a good mate to carry on his genetic legacy (or else she was squandering her womb resources) or she had to at least choose a mate who could protect her while she was helpless. That means she had to choose someone who was strong and powerful, a high-value male with good resources to see her through.
Well, the genetic legacy of all that in women is something called “hypergamy,” in which women are driven by their genetics to choose their mates based on resources. Whereas men, genetically, chose their mates based on attractiveness (when you are driven by your biology to spread your genetics far and wide, you choose who you sleep with based on who turns you on most, and men are very sexually visual anyway), women chose their mates based on resources, and that means that today, women are still driven by the impulse to “trade up.” They will always prefer men who have wealth and power, and that is a genetically driven fact of existence. Now, many a man has told himself that, no, his women loves him for him… but this isn’t actually true. Ask yourself how many people you know, couples, actually survived a devastating problem in which the man was no longer able to work, or when he had money but then lost it all in some kind of financial catastrophe. How often did women stand by their men? Now look at it from the other direction. How many times have major scandals rocked wealthy couples… but the women have at least temporarily stayed by their men until they secure resources for themselves in the form of divorce? A certain basketball player comes to mind. He was accused of rape, and then claimed the sex was consensual, but in neither case was the sex with his actual wife. He famously bought her a diamond ring worth a fortune by way of paying her off, and they stayed together, at least for a while. Women can always be counted on to be swayed by money and resources, which is why very rich men, no matter how old or unattractive, are surrounded by attractive women all the time.
So: A man in a relationship may choose his woman based on how attractive she is, but he must always worry that she will leave him for somebody better if she gets the chance. This is at the heart of why women cheat on otherwise good men. They are always looking for a better deal, always looking to trade up, and always happy to be with someone who has more resources over a man who has fewer. They are not supportive when a man shows weakness because, genetically and in ancient times, weakness was something that could get them killed. That’s right: They had to stay by strong mates because the alternative was to be killed in ancient times. That life or death reflex still informs how they behave to this day. A man who shows weakness, who gets upset and cries, who gets depressed, who doesn’t like his job… that man can expect no sympathy from the woman in his life. Why do you think the “man flu” is such a running joke among women? When a woman is sick, a man is expected to wait on her hand and foot because, gosh, she doesn’t feel well, and she deserves to be taken care of and supported. But if a man is sick, he is showing weakness and that is unacceptable. So women joke about the fact that men are somehow exaggerating their illness and aren’t really as sick as they claim to be.
What point are we making? Well, it’s a fact that what men and women want is fundamentally different. But the greater reality is that women are greedy when it comes to relationships. They don’t want to be kind. They don’t want to be supportive. They don’t want to be nurturing. They don’t want to be friendly and loving. They don’t want to make a connection. What they want is to be supported and taken care of. They will stay with a man who can do that for them, and they will leave a man who cannot do that for them. Now, remember when we said a relationship, to be sustained, essentially had to be with someone who exemplified the Good Girl Gina meme? The term is ironic because “meme” was originally coined to refer to a discrete piece of cultural information, much like a gene relays a discrete piece of genetic information. So are you going to find a Good Girl Gina with whom you can have a lasting relationship? Well, you have to understand that the meme is controversial. The reason it is controversial is that women are actually offended by the notion of a woman like “Good Girl Gina” who is actually friendly, kind, generous, and supportive to a man! That’s right: Men want Good Girl Gina, but women think Good Girl Gina is offensive… and the reason she is offensive is that she is actually NICE to the man in her life. She pretty much represents what those researchers say you have to have in your life to be happy and healthy and have your relationship last over the long term.
A famous radio advice columnist wrote a book on how to make husbands happy. The book was wildly controversial. The reason for that is that the advice columnist actually said women should be nice to their husbands: They should not punish them or be critical of them, and they should actually give them sex when they want sex. You would think the woman had said women should be slaves to their husbands or something. It is a sad fact that the majority of women in today’s society actually think it’s a horrible thing to be nice to their men. Do you honestly think you’re going to find a supportive, generous, kind woman in a landscape where just being nice to your husband is considered a terribly controversial thing to do?
All of this adds up to one thing: Relationships aren’t just hard. They are almost impossible to work out. And while you may be able to make a short-term relationship work, it’s next to impossible to make a long-term relationship work. So what are you going to do? Are you going to live at the mercy of people who refuse the kindness and generosity that it takes to make a relationship work? Or are you actually going to take your life back and live on your own terms? Would you like to be able to have sex whenever you want, without worrying about trying to maintain an impossible relationship?
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