This is why Valentine’s Day matters, even if you’re single

This article appears on the Andrew Christian website. Click here to be taken to the full-length version.

No holiday has garnered as much skepticism as Valentine’s Day. And I’ll start out by saying I have no disillusionment about changing that fact with a blog post. Nonetheless, as someone who has dedicated their career to studying love and relationships, I do think we’re a bit too down on what is supposed to be a day dedicated to romance.

If people aren’t griping about expenses, then they’re protesting commercialism. And god forbid you’re single on Valentine’s Day!

A (FALSE) FIGHT AGAINST CAPITALISM

Truth is, these protests demonstrate America’s confusion regarding something as impractical as love. After all, our culture demands efficiency, practicality, and putting yourself first. On the other hand, love demands vulnerability, putting someone else first, and delving into unfamiliar emotions. Celebrating Valentine’s Day, it could be argued, is more rebellious than disliking the holiday based on your own capitalist biases.

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Is sex with an ex ever ok?

This article appears on the Andrew Christian website. Click here to be taken to the full-length version.

Being a romantic comes with its fair share of risks; over-idealizing someone you’ve never met, falling head over heels after a first date, watching rom-coms and crying yourself to sleep after a break-up. (Just me?) But along with all the idiosyncrasies of die-hard romanticism, sentimentalists tend to hold onto what a relationship means to them well after parting ways with their beloved.

We face the mix of rejection and wanton physical longing that encapsulates the “break-up”, and getting back with our ex, even if just for a night, can be tempting. But is this always a “bad idea”? Are we beating a dead horse? Eating day old cake out of the trash? Or—more admirably—are we simply getting closure, a quick fuck, or searching for familiarity in the midst of heartbreak?

I don’t think there’s a true golden rule when it comes to sex with a former lover, but there are important boxes to check-off before jumping back into bed with someone who’s potentially disastrous for your mental and emotional well-being. (And sneak preview: most of them have to do with motivations.)

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The (still) mysterious roots of female sexual desire

In a commentary piece for the Archives of Sexual Behavior, my co-author, Dr. Pepper Schwartz, and I debate the merits of the newly proposed Relational and Bodily Experiences Theory of female sexual desire.

Is sexual desire determined by how a woman was raised to value her sexuality? Alternatively, perhaps desire is biological in nature, having more to do with hormonal changes than oppressive or supportive childhood experiences.  Or maybe it’s all about her current relationship satisfaction, and when she is happiest she feels more interested in sex. These are all issues we take on in our newly published commentary.

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The opioid crisis is hitting the LGBTQ community

This article appears on the Andrew Christian website. Click here to be taken to the full-length version.

A new study out of New York University’s School of Medicine finds that LGBTQ people are particularly at risk for opioid prescription misuse. Some of us may not be that shocked by the findings—after all, gay men have been in the vanguard of recreational drug use for decades. But we aren’t talking about party drugs here.

Opioids are highly addictive painkillers that interfere with almost every aspect of human life (from eroding basic motor skills to disabling our mental capacity for undertaking important life events). The prescriptions’ potential for destroying daily life goes beyond our subjective well-being; in 2017 nearly 50,000 people died from an opioid overdose. That calculates to about 130 opioid deaths per day between 2016-2017 according to the US Department of Health & Human Services.

This new report sheds light on a rarely discussed piece of the opioid epidemic: how and why the opioid crisis is hurting LGBTQ communities more than heterosexual ones. Researchers found that reported misuse among straight men (5.3%) and women (3.7%) was significantly lower than rates reported by gay men (10%) and lesbians (6.8%). Even more troubling, bisexual women showed a markedly high misuse rate (13.5%) as did bisexual men (8.3%), though to a lesser degree than the bisexual women sampled.

NYU’s findings are particularly interesting because they illustrate how gender and sexual orientation interact to produce specific societal trends. In this case, bisexual women seem to be a sociological phenomenon. I say this because, historically, women have lower rates of drug abuse whereas men (especially single men) are considered the exemplar of “at risk” populations. However, when we use sexual orientation as a second level of analysis alongside gender, a frightening new trend is uncovered with bisexual women showing unprecedented rates of opioid prescription misuse.

Why are LGBTQ people experiencing this striking difference in opioid misuse?

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Gay marriage: Does a ring make a difference?

This article appears on the Andrew Christian website. Click here to be taken to the full-length version. 

There was a lot of built up anxiety (mostly from the right) surrounding how same-sex marriage would forever alter American family and mating patterns. TV pundits, conservative politicians and religious leaders often focused on same-sex parenting, adoption rights, relationship durability, and ominous “slippery slope” scenarios where hypothetically legalizing same-sex marriage would lead to a country where humans could marry whomever or, even more perplexing, whatever they felt like. Thankfully in 2015, sanity prevailed and the LGBTQ community achieved the right to marry.

But now, nearly four years after the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, can we say gays and lesbians getting married has really changed anything?

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