The whole reason dating and relationships can be a nightmare is that you can do everything right and still wind up alone (for reference, see any stand-up comedy routine from the last 50 years). This is because, as we've explained once or twice or three times before, the road to a successful relationship is so filled with surprising potholes and dangerous crevasses that it's kind of amazing the human race hasn't given up and gone extinct millennia ago.
And the more science digs into it, the more we turn up facts such as ...
5A Man Can Get Erection Issues If His Partner Is Too Close With His Friends
For many straight men, the Holy Grail of relationships is the cool girlfriend -- the one who is not only completely fine with all of his hobbies and various vices, but who also gets along with all of his buddies and loves to hang out. But then, an odd thing can happen: The guy -- who gets exactly what he wants -- suddenly finds his boner disagrees.
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"It's not nearly as exciting when you have the same fetish."
Yes, we're saying that a man can be visited by the Erectile Dysfunction Fairy if his partner is on particularly good terms with his posse, and yes, we've got the science to back it up. The phenomenon is known as partner betweenness, and it appears to have something to do with traditional gender roles. Specifically, how much he feels like he controls his lady.
It's not so much that he automatically believes she's banging all of those guys behind his back -- like everything with gender and relationships, it's more complicated than that. There are a whole bunch of complex, unspoken rules in any social network ("Wait, you invited Steve to the party but not me?") and those rules follow you everywhere, including the bedroom. What the research found was that males are taught they need three things in their relationship with a woman: autonomy, privacy, and control. To put it bluntly, she may be a member of the group, but she "belongs" to him.
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"Don't forget guys, I legally own all of Ashley's jokes tonight."
"Shut up, Rob."
If she has more contact with his friends than he does -- even if it's not sexual -- then those three things are threatened and he feels like less of a man. How much less? Enough to increase chance of erectile dysfunction by a whopping 92 percent. It doesn't affect everyone (affecting about 25 percent, in their estimates), and it gets better with age and maturity, as the guy slowly figures out that a lot of what he had heard about masculinity was bullshit spouted by insecure grown-ups.
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"Son, I want you to know that it's OK to cry ... if you're a little bitch."
4The Size And Cost Of The Wedding Affects The Marriage (But Not How You'd Think)
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If we have our stereotypes right, the average woman has a "dream wedding" in mind that involves a huge crowd, six figures worth of decorations, a flock of doves, and the groom riding up the aisle on a white stallion. Meanwhile, the stereotypical male would be happy with a "wedding" that involves clicking the "married" box on Facebook from home and calling it done. After all, why go through all of that trouble when none of it matters in the long run?
Plus, if it all goes south, it's way easier to divide friends lists.
But it does matter, for what turns out to be some pretty cynical reasons.
First, The National Marriage Institute found that people who have bigger weddings report a higher level of marriage satisfaction over the first five years, and "bigger" is measured purely by the number of guests, not cost. That result is supported by another study that shows that the larger the wedding, the less likely it will lead to divorce. Some numbers: Weddings with only one to 10 guests are almost three times more likely to end in divorce than weddings with more than 200 guests. Hell, even a decent-sized wedding with 11 to 50 guests is still twice as likely to end in divorce compared to the 200-plus wedding, so we know it's not just those spur-of-the-moment drunk Vegas weddings skewing these numbers.
The theory is that larger weddings provide the couple with added support -- or pressure, if you prefer -- to stay together. In other words, you've invested in your relationship, and you want to protect your investment.
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"Look, if we make it to 20 years, we're totally getting your Grandma's lake house."
"Okay," you say. "So, the solution to an eternally functional relationship is throwing money at a huge wedding. That sucks, but, hey, at least we know one exists. That has to count for something."
Wrong again! You really should stop walking into these obvious traps, narratively convenient person we just made up. Shockingly, a huge money pit of a party that can potentially wreck your -- and, worse, your parents' and in-laws' -- finances is not the best way to enter forever after, either. So, as a final twist of fate, that exact same study also found that the more you spend on your wedding, the more likely you'll end up divorced. Weddings that cost less than $1,000 are about half as likely to end in divorce as ones that cost between $5K to $10K, which in turn are roughly two-thirds as likely to end in divorce as weddings that cost more than $20K.
If you find your napkins costing more than a small house, the relationship is probably already on the back burner, anyway.
The lesson is clear: If you want a statistically foolproof marriage, invite every person you know, but somehow keep the budget under a thousand dollars. This may seem depressing and even impossible, but look on the bright side: If you manage that, chances are you have a lucrative new career as the world's best party planner ahead of you.