The Date of the Union 2024: Men think liking a selfie is cheating but sleeping with someone isn't???

Forbes released a survey on "The State of Dating in America" and some of these results seem downright bizarre!

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Courtney: Hello, everyone, and welcome back. My name is Courtney. I’m here with my spouse, Royce. And together, we are The Ace Couple. And this is our Date of the Union address. [laughs] Well, I didn’t think you were going to make that face.

Royce: I didn’t think you were going to do that intro.

Courtney: But did you really expect me not to take the pun before me? Listen, we found an article discussing a survey out of Forbes Health called “The State of Dating in America in 2024.” So, missed opportunity: they should have called it the Date of the Union address, and I’m simply correcting their mistake. And I haven’t fully combed through this yet. I opened it long enough to realize that there were lots of statistics, lots of questions asked, that I’m interested in knowing the answers and the percentages here. So we’re going to go through it and be surprised together.

Royce: Yeah, this should be interesting. Do you know how this was conducted? It looks like they just polled people in general about their experience with online dating, so it could be a variety of sites or methods or things like that.

Courtney: Method I did not read. I only skimmed long enough to see that this was Forbes Health and one poll and I want to say 5,000 people.

Royce: That’s what I’m seeing, yeah. I think I’ve mentioned on an episode or two before that, many years ago, I had seen some statistical studies coming out of OkCupid specifically, who would publicize some of their internal research, and some of those were interesting. Some of them just put numbers to things that everyone understood was happening. But a while back, a little over two years ago — this was in January of 2022 — I had started doing some research to talk about online dating, mostly with a focus in how sites work or don’t work for people who have very specific needs in their relationships, with the focus there being on Ace or Aro identities and then things like that — people who can’t just, you know, walk into a bar and find someone that fits their personal needs for a relationship with any remotely high probability.

Courtney: Mhm. Because we’ve even gotten that question a lot. Because obviously we’ve been married nearly 10 years at this point, and we’ve gotten, over the years, a lot of younger Aces saying, like, “I am also Asexual, but I do want to date, I do want a relationship. But it’s hard, and it sucks. And how do you do it? How can I go about trying to find someone that is compatible for me?”

Royce: And yeah, we didn’t end up doing an episode on that. Because I had sort of outlined a few different sites and I created accounts where I very blatantly mentioned, like —

Courtney: You went undercover! [laughs]

Royce: — “This is a test account,” which was interesting because it got me banned on Hinge. Hinge’s terms of service say, like, “Only usable for serious things.” So the very publicly test account, “I’m snooping on your interface” account, got banned after three days.

Courtney: Yeah, Hinge meant it!

Royce: But I also looked at Bumble and Coffee Meets Bagel. Bumble I don’t have completely marked off here because supposedly, the interface works differently for men and women.

Courtney: Oh!

Royce: That’s, like, their whole thing.

Courtney: Fascinating.

Royce: And that was something where the research just sort of stalled out, so we never made an episode. But the running thesis was basically: if you know yourself well enough to know that there are particular needs that you have in a relationship — whether that is you’re an Ace spectrum person looking for someone who is also Ace, or, you know, similar enough or accommodating for that, or even just do you know you don’t want kids, or do you have certain aspects of your life that you hardline know will not work for you — does the site give you the tools to filter down the population to actually make your time worthwhile spending on that site combing through people? And the broad answer is no. [laughs quietly]

Courtney: [laughs] No.

Royce: Sites don’t really do that. Some of them have the ability to, but it seems like the trend is to try to replicate the in-person experience online, and that the tools seem to be focused for the getting the majority population into relationships as fast as possible.

Courtney: Mmm.

Royce: So, like, Coffee Meets Bagel, for instance, had a thing where, if you talk to someone for more than a few days, you had to start using in-app currency to continue the conversation on their site.

Courtney: What?!

Royce: One of them… I’ve lost in my notes. It may have been Hinge — which, dropping into Hinge was the most overtly allo mainstream place that I saw.

Courtney: Yeah?

Royce: My feed was just instantly thirst pics and mentions of sex and things like that — which, not surprising. I mean, that’s kind of what Tinder was, too. But instead of large profiles, there were quick prompts. Some of them had voice notes instead of text.

Courtney: Mmm.

Royce: And one of the sites that I looked at had an option to immediately jump on a voice chat instead of messaging someone.

Courtney: Interesting. Yeah, I don’t know. We might have to… When we have enough time — things have been hectic around here for a while, but if we ever find ourselves needing a project and time to waste, I feel like we should dive headfirst back into this project. Because there are, as far as I know, not especially well-populated — like, there aren’t millions and millions of people on there, but there are some sites now that are specifically for Aces. Or there are even Facebook or Discord groups that are for, like, Ace dating and things like that. And I am very curious about that.

Royce: I did take a look at, which is still up.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: But it is not free. There is an annual membership. It is UK-based. When I looked at this two years ago, I wrote down that it had around 5,000 members globally, and —

Courtney: That’s not a lot.

Royce: It’s not a lot. It’s also… I couldn’t really understand what it was trying to be. It was set up more like a community site than a dating site, based off of how the tools worked.

Courtney: Mmm.

Royce: And maybe that’s changed, but it seemed to be very simple: forming groups or tagging things based off of shared interests and individual messaging.

Courtney: Well, something like that with such a narrow pool of people might be okay for someone who wants or is okay with a long-distance relationship.

Royce: Yeah.

Courtney: But that’d be really difficult if that’s not what you’re looking for.

Royce: One other thing I think is worth noting before we move on to the actual article. But I noticed that many of these sites had really, really expansive lists of pronouns and gender identities and sexualities.

Courtney: Mmm.

Royce: But they seemed to just be at face value — like, at at face level — and the underlying tools were still binary.

Courtney: Ohhh.

Royce: So you’d say, like, “My orientation is this,” but set the underlying algorithm to man, woman, or bi — or both.

Courtney: Gotcha. So if I went on one of these apps and I said I’m nonbinary, they’d still basically assign or make me choose a male or female… experience?

Royce: Yes.

Courtney: Okay.

Royce: Because the underlying matchmaking tools don’t reflect all of that complexity.

Courtney: Mmm.

Royce: And part of the problem on top of that is most of these sites didn’t have the tools for you to go in and form your own hyper-specific search to look around.

Courtney: Mhm. Well, a lot of them probably existed before they had these more descriptive tags, too.

Royce: Mhm.

Courtney: Because even with the two of us — we’ve mentioned that when we were on OkCupid, Asexual was not an identity option, but nowadays it is. So a lot of these sites are adding new options as they go along, probably without changing much —

Royce: True. Yeah —

Courtney: — on the backend.

Royce: I think that’s the model, is just face value accommodation.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: But the thing is, going back to OkCupid, you could text search the entire database worth of sites, and I had a couple of conversations with Ace people in different areas of the world because either I or they typed in “Asexual” and saw who had written that out on their profile.

Courtney: Mhm. Which is another way to do that. But also, I think a big reason why we ended up connecting was because of all the questions they had you ask. Because there were questions about, like, “On a scale, how important is sex to you? How important is this?” And when it got into the more sexual questions, obviously, I was putting very negative on all of them. You might have been a little more neutral on some of them, but definitely not positive. And so they’re like, “You two might be compatible!” And so there was a little more to it than just, like, looking at a photo and deciding if you’re attracted to someone. [laughs]

Royce: Right. And some of these… Let’s see. I did write some of this down. Like Bumble, for example, has a character limit on the profile. It was, like, 300 characters. Unless Tinder has changed in the last decade, it also had very short profile information —

Courtney: Ugh, Tinder!

Royce: — and only a couple of prompts with, again, limited space to put that in, so they’re artificially limiting the depth you can get into on a profile.

Courtney: Mmm.

Royce: And a lot of these prompts were, like, standard icebreaker questions.

Courtney: Gross.

Royce: So, like, you’re getting a little bit of small talk out of the way, but that doesn’t really help you filter through, you know, red flags or things that are just not going to be acceptable in a relationship for you.

Courtney: Did I ever tell you… Because [laughing] you just said icebreaker. Did I ever tell you the most memorable pickup line that has ever been tried on me? [laughs]

Royce: I don’t remember. What was it?

Courtney: It was when I was working at the zoo. We had a couple of different types of bears, but we did not have any polar bears. I think I was by… I was by the grizzly exhibit. I was just coming out, because we’d fed them, like… We’d like to make the bears, like, Bomb Pops, basically. We’d take giant buckets [laughs] and fill it with different layers of, like, juice and things and put some fish inside so they could lick around and get to the fish. And so I had just finished putting one of these Bomb Pops in their enclosure, and I come out. And someone’s, like, reading the little bear, like — the facts that you see at zoos, like, “Here’s their lifespan. Here’s where they live.” And it had a weight for the bears. And this guy, like, flags me down and was like, “Oh, I see here that these bears weigh this much, but do you know how much a polar bear weighs?” And I was like, “Oh, you know, off the top of my head, I’m sorry, I don’t know. We don’t actually have any polar bears here.” And he said, “Well, they’re heavy enough to break the ice,” and holds his hand out to shake my hand and says, “My name is Kyle.” [laughs]

Royce: My immediate thought were that arctic ice sheets are thick enough that that’s not actually a problem that most polar bears face.

Courtney: That is why I married you and not Kyle. [laughs] Sure, Kyle’s smooth with the pickup lines, but Royce has the logic. [laughs]

Courtney: But yeah, all that to say, we should get on to the main event here. Although I am going to, once again, rant about Tinder, because I’m still mad about them. Because there was a period of time — and I think it’s all taken down now, I don’t think they even have this anymore, but they were writing blogs and news articles for a bit on Tinder’s website. And they contacted me years ago wanting to interview an Asexual person. And I was like, “Of course! We can do that.” And I spoke to this person. We shared emails. I had a very lengthy phone conversation — very lengthy phone conversation — about Ace experiences. And then I ended up being quoted off-handed a couple of times in an article about virgins. And you know what question wasn’t asked in this interview process? If I am, in fact, a virgin. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, I think they did ask if I was a virgin, and I think, instead of giving them a yes or no, I went on a tangent about how harmful the concept of virginity is. [laughs]

Royce: Checks out.

Courtney: Which also went on into probably some notes about the conflation of celibacy and Asexuality. And, like, I was offended that they asked, and I gave them an entire thesis about why the very question was harmful. And they never once thought, “Maybe this person isn’t right for this article” [laughs]. Which was also wild, because I was the only one quoted in the article who gave my real name. Everyone else, they were like, [laughing] “Names have been changed to protect the identities of the virgins.” It was a thing. Which I also thought was weird, because they were trying to say in the article, “Hey, we should be nice to virgins. We shouldn’t make fun of people because they’re virgins.” But then they’re like, “Everyone except this one person gave us fake names [laughing] because they didn’t want to be quoted in an article about virgins.”

Courtney: But, anyway. The first thing that grabbed my attention about this article is that it says, “Emotional cheating ranks higher than physical cheating.” And emotional cheating is a thing that I think a lot of people have different definitions of — like, people have different levels before they consider something emotional cheating — but a lot of it is confusing to me.

Courtney: So some statistics right off the bat: 64% of individuals polled are actively dating, but nearly 36% of respondents reported not to be actively dating — which, that’s… “reported to not be actively dating.” I want to know — because I think there are two different things here. Are you not actively dating but you might date if someone comes along, if you just happen to meet someone organically? Or is this 36% of people being like, “I am not dating! I refuse.” Because those are two very different things to me.

Royce: Yeah. I’m inclined to take that as passive. Like, maybe you are in areas or, in this case, like, have a profile, but you’re not putting a lot of energy into it. Otherwise, [laughing quietly] I don’t know why they were questioned.

Courtney: Possibly! And that’s what I thought, too, is that it was just a much more passive. But then it’s sort of sprinkled into these quotes from a licensed professional clinical counselor and sexologist, who says, “The current state of dating in America is trending toward dating yourself first.” So that’s what made me wonder, like, are these people who are like, “I’m focusing on myself first, and I want to get myself happy before I even consider dating someone else”? Which, this is also just an interesting sort of, I guess, split attraction thing, if they’re just talking about dating in general. [laughing] They quote multiple sex therapists in this.

Royce: So there’s already a bias.

Courtney: There’s already an assumption that dating and sex go hand-in-hand. Okay. Okay. So here’s the survey pool: “5,000 Americans who have actively dated in the last five years.” So, this could be someone who was actively dating a few years ago but not in this last year.

Courtney: General feelings about dating: “Nearly 60% of Americans feel either very or somewhat positive about dating.” Which is wild, because I don’t even think the allos I know [laughing] feel very positive about dating. So that might just be my bubble, but that’s over 50%, actually. “Some 23% feel indifferent to dating, with just over 13% reporting negative feelings toward it.” I guess that’s also fascinating, because I’ve dipped into weird allo reality shows, that we did an episode on. And things like Love is Blind or… What’s the matchmaking one where they actually assign someone to you and you don’t meet until your wedding day?

Royce: I don’t know.

Courtney: I don’t either. I guess I’ll have to go back and find the transcript of that episode. But every single prospective person that auditions to these shows talks about how horrible the dating scene is and how impossible it is to date and how “I’ve tried everything.” So, those are lots of people that do not feel particularly good about the current dating scene. Which, I don’t know, maybe some of our future statistics on this article might help fill in some of those gaps. But these are clearly people who want to be married. Like, that is the end goal, is to get married by going on these shows. And I know there are a lot of them who have, at one point, said, like, “Oh, nobody’s looking for a serious relationship. Everyone’s just looking for hookups.” And so it’s like, I don’t know if they are indeed saying that dating and finding sexual partners are inherently the same thing or the poll is treating them that way. Maybe there are more people looking for casual hookups than long-term dating. I don’t know.

Royce: Well, a little bit further down the article, I did find data from a 2022 Pew Research Center survey saying that 44% of people reported looking for a long-term partner, 40 said they were dating casually, and 24 mentioned casual sex.

Courtney: 24% of people! That seems so high just because it’s so foreign to me.

Royce: And, yes, that all added up to 108%, so there must have been some people mentioning multiple.

Courtney: Fascinating. Because to me, even trying to approximate putting myself [laughing] in the shoes of an allosexual person, like, the idea of a one-night stand — like, you’re going on an app to find a one-night stand or you’re going out to a bar to find a one-night stand — even if I’m saying, like, alright, put all of my Asexuality and sex-repulsion aside and say I like sex and I want to have it, [laughing] doesn’t it seem like an awful lot of work for very little reward? I don’t know. I don’t know.

Courtney: But here’s another thing that is kind of surprising to me. This survey seems to have the same bias that a lot of the dating apps themselves have, where it’s very binary, men and women. But men appear to have more positive sentiments toward dating compared to women. Is that surprising to you? It says men have — 68% feel positive, compared to 55% of women.

Royce: Not really. I think that’s the nature of it. Looking at this chart, the difference there is there are significantly more women who feel neutral. The negative comparisons aren’t that far off.

Courtney: Gotcha.

Royce: There are a few more women who feel negative about dating experience, but most of the difference there reported neutral as opposed to positive.

Courtney: Interesting. Because, yeah, I guess I was just thinking in terms of, like, obviously, I know women on dating apps sort of have a tendency of saying, like, “Oh, you get a lot of creeps, you get a lot of weirdos.” Which is true. That happens. If you are a conventionally attractive woman on dating apps, you do get flooded by a lot of messages. But I’ve heard men on the flip side of that be like, “I am messaging so many women, and no one ever responds back to me!” And so it just seems like, even though women in this situation might be annoyed by all the dead ends they’re getting, they have prospects to wade through and hopefully find, like, that one gem. But I’ve heard so many men be like, “I just can’t find anyone because nobody’s responding to me. And no one preemptively reaches out to me. I have to do all the reaching out, but what do you do if they don’t respond back?” So I guess that just gave me the impression that, I don’t know, men would not feel particularly positive about the dating scene.

Royce: Yeah. I’m also a little surprised that that frustration isn’t bubbling up here. But maybe in the past decade, some of these sites are working a little better, or maybe people are just going to other avenues — like, we talked about LinkedIn recently.

Courtney: Oh, gosh. If we get further in this and people are saying that they’re meeting people on LinkedIn in, like, a relatively high percentage, I’m going to lose my mind. [laughs]

Courtney: Here’s a question for you. It says, “U.S. daters prioritize personality and appearance equally.” Do you think that’s bullshit? Do you think they are lying? Do you think they want to be [laughing] the kind of person who prioritizes those two things equally?

Royce: I think people would say that and they might believe that, but in practice, that’s probably not what’s happening.

Courtney: Yeah. Even on shows like Love is Blind, there are always some people that are like, “Wow, I fell in love, but then I saw them. And I’m not attracted to them, and that’s an issue for me.” Oh my gosh. Which, I mean, is wild to me, is wild, because to me, appearance is nothing at all. And I know I’m on the extreme end — like, I know I am weird in that regard — but I don’t know. I just…

Courtney: Dr. Litam — she was the one quoted earlier; I think I forgot to mention her name — but she says these numbers are “hardly surprising,” that 50% of respondents claimed both looks and personality were equally important. And is that hardly surprising?

Royce: I’m not surprised that people voluntarily report that.

Courtney: Okay. I also feel like, if we’re assuming these are primarily allosexual people who do have sexual attraction, they do have preferences for their aesthetic and their attraction, there’s probably, like, a sliding scale. Like, “If your personality’s really great, maybe I can handle it if you aren’t, like, a 10 for me, but maybe I’ll go down to an 8.” I hate that we’re using, like, the 10. I’m trying to get in the mind of the allos, okay? [laughs] Give me a break.

Royce: You’re trying to hack the allogorithm?

Courtney: I’m trying to hack the allogorithm here. Because I would assume if an allosexual person shows up to a date and they are not sexually attracted to this person one ounce — if it is, like, a zero — but their personality is, like, a perfect 10, they probably still will not stick with that person, because a lot of them might want to say that they will.

Royce: They will probably check out mentally, not really pay attention to what’s going on, and then leave the date early.

Courtney: Yeah. So I feel like there’s, like, a ratio — like, there’s a level here, where, like, if your personality is a perfect 10, then maybe if my sexual attraction to you is a 5, maybe we can work with that. Which, now I’m wondering how I’m reading this question. This is such a problem for me. I can’t do surveys. [laughs] I can’t answer surveys; I can’t analyze them. Because if they’re saying personality and appearance are equally important, I’m seeing this as a sliding scale on both sides. Like, if you’ve got a number on both sides, they both have to add up to a certain amount.

Royce: I think you need to just move on past this question and go on to the survey, because I think the 50% that you’re seeing is aspirational. I think this is what society has said relationships look like, and people are like, “Yeah, totally, I fit that.”

Courtney: Mmm. “Is love really blind?” Ugh. Well, so, they do get more specific with other respondents, but if 50% say looks and personality are equally important, I guess one could read that as “Both need to meet my standards,” or “I could take one or the other,” because they’re both equally important, you know? That’s two ways you could read that right there, and my brain went both directions.

Courtney: But “not everyone surveyed prized personality so highly, though: Nearly 13% of respondents were most concerned with looks. Looks were also slightly more important to men, with personality being slightly more important to women.” Because now… 13% saying they’re more concerned with looks than personality. Are these the people who are looking for casual hookups? Is that what they’re saying is dating?

Royce: This is an area of the survey where I don’t trust voluntary reporting.

Courtney: Mmm.

Royce: Like, it’s something where you would need to stage a series of tests and then look at the actual outcome and analyze it. Because I don’t think the average person has the self-awareness to separate and, like, break down the components of their attraction.

Courtney: Mmm. So then we have, “Where do people meet their dates?” And this is interesting, because we’ve got the overall statistics, but it also breaks them out into age groups, so… We’ll, of course, put a link to this in the show notes if you want to look through absolutely everything. But, yeah, highest percentage is online dating apps right now, overall 44.9% of people. But I’m surprised at how high online video games is: 25.5% meet people on online video games.

Royce: Seeing that number surprises me, but, I mean, video games have gone so much more mainstream than when we were kids, so it makes sense that that number has continued to rise.

Courtney: Why…? No, look at these numbers. So, online dating apps — the smallest percentage for age-wise is 78+, so 28.7%. But online video games for 78+ is 34.25%.

Royce: Oh, that is odd!

Courtney: What online video games are…

Royce: That’s actually the highest one!

Courtney: I know! [laughs]

Royce: Because the 59 to 77 is only 10.5%. There must be…

Courtney: What online video games are 78+ year-olds playing?

Royce: There must either be a small pool of 78 or older people in the survey that skewed the results, or there’s, like, some kind of casual, “also chat with people” online games.

Courtney: I’m so fascinated by this. Why is that the highest percentage? Wow!

Royce: It does make sense, though, that for the older crowd, speed dating is still a go-to.

Courtney: Oh, yeah, speed dating. Which, overall — because that’s a wide margin — 21%, 21.24% overall, but 57.53% for 78+. Are there online speed dating games? [laughs] I’m fascinated. Please, if we have any 78+ year-olds who meet people on online video games, tell us what games they are. And can I play them too? Can I show up not to date and just to meet people? They’re also the highest demographic for “At the gym”! 16.44%. Who are these 78-year-olds who are playing online videos and going to the gym? I love you. I don’t even think I’m going to be able to move my body at 78 years old. [laughs] And 0% of 78+ in a grocery store. That is the only 0% on the entire board.

Royce: Oh, wait, I see a pattern. There’s a numerical pattern here. Every line item in the 78+ chart is basically divisible by the same number.

Courtney: Hm.

Royce: Which means I think there were only 73 out of 5,000 people that responded.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: So that would have been a fairly small pool, which means 25 people over the age of 78 would have met people in online video games.

Courtney: I want to know what games. I want to know what games. Well, also — so, here’s a question. So we’ve got roughly similar numbers for meeting people through work versus through social media: 26.22 for work, 26.52 for social media. Which one does LinkedIn fall in?

[Courtney and Royce laugh quietly]

Courtney: I know it’s — I know you’re in there, LinkedIn! [laughs]

Courtney: So, the next interesting statistic for me is, “How long does it take to say those three words?” And apparently 29.4% said that you should say “I love you” within the first four to six months of dating, followed by 21% pointing to one to three months, and 14% saying seven to nine months. I think it’s weird that people have timelines established in their mind.

Royce: I’ve always thought that relationship or life timelines were just setting yourself up for failure.

Courtney: Yeah. [laughs]

Royce: Like, things are going to move at the speed that they move. Also, how do you measure dating? Because, yes, there are situations where you didn’t know someone and then you met someone and are instantly dating — like, that is the nature of your relationship for the whole time.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: But if you think of someone that you’ve been in the same friend group of, or you’ve known platonically for a long time, and you sort of slowly move into something more romantic, where do you… where’s the line? Is it where you both agree, like, “We’re calling this a relationship”? Because you had time before that.

Courtney: I don’t know.

Royce: So how do you even measure?

Courtney: You cannot measure. Impossible task. But, yeah, “The four- to six-month period was most popular amongst all age groups except for those between the ages of 18 and 26, who felt slightly stronger about the one- to three-month mark.” So, younger folks want to say “I love you” faster. Everyone else is like, “Hey, give it a little more time.” Which, yeah, I couldn’t imagine not being in a relationship but dating and just, in my mind, being like, “Oh, it would be nice if we say I love you in four months after dating. That’s the right timeline.” It seems so arbitrary to me.

Courtney: Actually, here’s a fun little nugget: Back when I was managing a Things Remembered store, they were training me on a new engraving machine, and between customers, they’d encourage you to just, like, practice your engraving on scratch and dent things or things that had been returned, things we otherwise couldn’t sell. And a lot of the things we engraved were, like, wedding dates and names on champagne flutes or various wedding favors and stuff. So, they were encouraging us to, you know, “Oh, practice engraving wedding dates and names and things.” And I engraved us a wedding date. [laughs] I used our names and just picked an arbitrary day. And I think I chose October 18th of 2020, just because 2020 was such a nice round number. Could you imagine [laughs] if I was the kind of person that picked timelines and wanted to stick to them really well and was like, “This is actually going to be our wedding date. We’re not going to get married until 2020,” and then 2020 happened? That would be a nightmare! Don’t make arbitrary timelines. [laughs]

Courtney: So then we have, “Which state is quickest to say ‘I love you’?” Turns out: Arizona.

Royce: With Massachusetts and Connecticut coming up close behind. I was curious about this chart. I pulled up a separate chart of the median age in every state to see if what we were really seeing was —

Courtney: Ohh.

Royce: — younger states saying it faster, but I don’t see any correlation.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: So I don’t know if it’s something cultural or what, or just completely arbitrary.

Courtney: Apparently, Oregon says… Only 9% in Oregon would express their love for someone in the first three months. So, the Oregonians like to take it slow. Thank you very much.

Courtney: Okay, now, here’s what I was fascinated with, and I’m endlessly fascinated with: “What do people consider as cheating?” Which I also think is a weird thing to ask in a poll without establishing, “Are you completely monogamous? Do you do open relationships? Are you polyamorous? Like, where are you on that spectrum?: But here it says, “The largest percentage of survey respondents, at 42.3%, consider their partner intentionally dreaming about someone else in a romantic way (example: daydreaming) as cheating. This is followed by nearly 41% stating flirting and 38% considering it cheating if their partner still had an online dating profile. Just 36.3% said if their partner slept with someone once they would consider it to be cheating.” Does that seem low? [laughs]

Royce: That seems incredibly low. And I scrolled down a little bit. There is a 10% difference between men and women. 29.3 men would say that that was cheating and 40.9% of women. But the fact that that isn’t number one is the most surprising thing here.

Courtney: When I was growing up, like, sleeping with someone — that is the definition of cheating that almost everyone I knew considered.

Royce: I am very confused about this. Because, filtering down just for men on this survey, “My partner liking someone’s selfie on a social media app” is higher than “Having sex with someone once.”

Courtney: What?!

Royce: 5% higher.

Courtney: What?! Why?! Is it just the public aspect of it — like other people can see you liked that person’s…?

Royce: Maybe!

Courtney: But, like, if you secretly sleep with them once, no one has to know. Is this all about public perception?

Royce: That was for men. For women, it is not that way.

Courtney: Okay!

Royce: I still think the numbers are low. But…

Courtney: What? [laughs]

Royce: Yes. “Having sex with someone only once” was fifth on the chart for men, after “Dreaming about someone,” “Flirting with someone,” “Liking a selfie,” and “Still having an online dating profile.”

Courtney: What? Well, then, we also have “My partner kissing someone else of their sexual orientation” versus “My partner kissing someone else not of their sexual orientation.” So I guess that’s — if you take a straight woman, it’s the difference between her kissing a man and kissing a woman, right? That’s what they’re saying here?

Royce: Mhm.

Courtney: When I was growing up, straight men loved it when their straight girlfriends kissed women. [laughs] This is so… So, people are more upset about emotional cheating versus sexual cheating. But, like, I’m surprised so many people think sleeping with someone once is so permissible, because that is so foreign from any, like, cultural dating scene I was ever tangential to.

Royce: I don’t know if the logic here is that it’s once and only once, so they know it’s over, and it’s, like, no longer something for them to worry about. But I don’t know. That seems shockingly low to me.

Courtney: It seems shockingly low. Well, the thing is, too, and this is just where my brain goes: in terms of, like, literal health, potentially, if it’s a long-term enough relationship, shared financial interests, like, my partner dreaming about someone else in a romantic way, but they don’t actually act on that at all, they don’t actually flirt with that person, they don’t actually sleep with that person — like, in my mind, that is a thought, and people have thoughts all the time — sometimes thoughts that they can’t control, sometimes intrusive thoughts, sometimes thoughts that they don’t really emotionally identify with.

Royce: Sitting around halfway down this chart, at an overall 24.6%, is “My partner dreaming about someone else in a romantic way accidentally.”

Courtney: “Accidentally.” Like, when you’re literally sleeping?

Royce: Yeah.

Courtney: [laughs] So daydreaming and night-dreaming, both bad, but daydreaming a little worse.

Courtney: So, the thing is… And I know there are Aces out there who, by design, have relationships with people where their partner can sleep with other people — sometimes that’s in a polyamorous way, sometimes it’s just in a, like, “I’m your only romantic partner, but you can fulfill your sexual need with casual sex in other places” — that’s a thing that happens, absolutely. For me, I would really struggle with a partner sleeping with someone else. Because in my mind… Well, I guess I’m still putting myself in, like… I’m still putting myself in an allo’s shoes. Like, I’m thinking, “Do we know this person’s sexual history? Has everyone been tested and is honest about STIs and things like that?” Like, I know there are communities of people that are very good, very educated, very open and honest about that. But if we’re talking about, like, a one-off, like, you slipped up and you slept with someone, did those conversations happen? Did you do this responsibly? Like, there’s a health component to that. There’s, you know, did you use protection? There are all these questions that I would have that… Yeah.

Courtney: I don’t envy anyone who is trying to date during the pandemic, either. Because I know multiple people, multiple people, who lost relationships during the pandemic because they had a partner who was, like, not as safe or not taking precautions or even outright lying — like, “Oh, of course I always wear a mask,” and then they catch them not doing that. Like, I know so many people who lost relationships to dishonesty like that during a global pandemic, where, yes, everyone you are in proximity to — there needs to be some amount of trust, there needs to be some amount of safety and precaution. Especially if anyone has a partner or a friend or family member who’s immunocompromised, then you need to be even more careful. And so, I don’t know. I just feel like, when sex is involved, there’s an added layer of concern about health.

Courtney: And even if you take a situation where an Ace person who is completely celibate and they have a partner and they say, “Alright, partner, you can go have casual sex with other people,” let’s say it’s a long enough relationship — maybe it’s a marriage, maybe it’s just living together — what if there is some element of shared finances involved? Like, even if your partner gets sick and isn’t going to pass it on to you, like, are there medical bills? Do we have the same insurance? There are so many things to me where it’s like, a thought is a thought and a thought is not an action. And even if the thought is so advanced and there’s so much desire behind the thought that maybe it is causing a rift in our relationship, again, assuming this is a monogamous situation — at least romantically monogamous? [laughing] I guess there’s a difference between romantic monogamy and physical monogamy the way these people are answering these questions — I just feel like it’s a lot more complicated when health is involved and not just thoughts, you know? But I am a disabled, chronically ill person who is always concerned about my own health and concerned about the health of my loved ones.

Courtney: And obviously, you and I, we have shared insurance, we have shared financial interests, so that’s very much the perspective that I am coming from on this. But, especially after the pandemic, seeing how many people would lie about wearing masks or would give the wrong impression, the number of people who would have a conversation with me, who literally did not step foot outside of our house for, what, at least two years, not even once. When I’d be like, “Oh, no, I am very, very careful because I am exactly the kind of person who would end up in the ICU,” and then other people would be like, “Yeah, I’ve been really safe too, and I just I just don’t understand these other people who aren’t safe,” and then they’d post a picture of themselves at a restaurant eating food unmasked. It’s like, your definition of safe and my definition of safe are two very different definitions of safe. So, I don’t know, maybe the pandemic just gave me even more trust issues. [laughs] I don’t know.

Courtney: There must be something about Arizona. And you lived there, so please do share your insights if you have any. But 66% of Arizona residents said accidentally dreaming about someone else romantically was the biggest wrongdoing, and Arizona is the fastest to say “I love you.” So there’s something.

Royce: I was a broke college student when I was in Arizona.

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: I didn’t do much. But, yeah, the numbers on this are weird. I do find it interesting that for almost every question, women were more likely to see something as cheating than men. The exceptions were the two questions about dreaming and the “liking someone’s selfie on a social media app,” which, all three of those men considered cheating at higher percentages than women.

Courtney: The liking thing is so bizarre to me.

Royce: It seems like that is seen by — apparently, given these numbers — a fairly decent percentage of people as a means of flirting — a passive means of flirting, is how I’m interpreting it.

Courtney: Hmm.

Royce: Because here we have flirting, which, what is or isn’t considered flirting can be vague.

Courtney: Very vague.

Royce: But that is at 40.7% overall, about five points higher in women. And then we have “liking a selfie” at 31.2%, with that one being about five points higher in men responding.

Courtney: Hmm.

Royce: But, yeah, it seems like, from the men who responded here, they put a lower emphasis on physical interaction and a higher emphasis on the idea of their partner wanting someone else. Although from a communication standpoint, there’s one on here that says, “My partner being too emotionally connected with someone else, i.e. sharing deep thoughts and feelings with each other.”

Courtney: See, that… Uh… Do you not share deep thoughts with your friends?

Royce: Overall, that was pretty low on the chart — well, mid to low — but it was one of the biggest differences. 30.6% of women said that that would be cheating and only 18.6% of men.

Courtney: Whaaaaat?

Royce: Which kind of feels like, to me, women are like, “I want my partner to talk to me about these things,” and men are like, “Nah, you go talk to someone else about those things.”

Courtney: I mean, in the very heteronormative sense, that checks out, unfortunately.

Royce: That is not one that specified “of their sexual orientation,” like many other questions did. I don’t know if that’s implied. Yeah, I have a lot of question marks on this data here. Some of this doesn’t make sense to me.

Courtney: See, this is why each individual relationship, you really need to have conversations about how you define things, because you’re gonna get in trouble. If one person thinks liking someone’s picture on social media is cheating and the other person doesn’t think even sleeping with someone once is cheating, you’re gonna get into trouble. [laughs] And if I had a partner who was upset that I was sharing deep thoughts with friends of mine, well, I hate to break it to you, I am an open book with my friends. Like, my friends know [laughs] a lot of things about me, and I share those deep thoughts because I enjoy having deep conversations with a variety of people. I don’t know. I’m flabbergasted.

Courtney: Well, that was fun. I hope you all are as thoroughly confused as we are. And to end, that will bring us to our featured MarketplACE vendor of the week: Feeping Creatures. Say it with me, it’s lovely” Feeping Creatures. I don’t know what it means to Feep, but I am so glad that these creatures are doing it. Let me tell you, these are so cute. It is all ages monster-themed original artwork and merchandise created by an Asexual, Grayromantic, transmasc artist. The artist in question is Dylan Edwards. A link to all of the information will be in the show notes.

Courtney: But these are just adorable. We purchased a little clay monster. It’s just a little black and brown ball with a single cyclops eye and just, like, rainbow swirls that it’s peeking out of. And it is so cute. I love it so much. I like to look at it. I like to touch it. And I kid you not, my grandmother had a curio cabinet with mostly, like, glass eggs and hummingbird things, but she had a couple of little clay figurines in there — like, little clay wizards — so there’s a little clay amongst the glass. And I inherited the cabinet and a few of the pieces in it. Some of them went to other members of the family, but I have the cabinet itself. And this little Feeping Creature looks so cute next to these little clay wizards in my grandmother’s curio cabinet. It’s the first thing that I have bought for myself that I have put and added to in my grandmother’s curio cabinet, so it is very special to me. They’re very cute.

Courtney: If you’re not a little clay figurine type person, there are tons of stickers: there are little bats, there are little monsters, little pumpkin things. There’s even a laser cut bat necklace that I strongly considered buying myself, but I had to hold myself back and just stick with my cute little clay monster. So, there’s all kinds of great little things here. So, please do check out Feeping Creatures.

Courtney: And do come back next year for our next [laughing] Date of the Union address. Could you imagine? Should we do that every year? Should we give a Date of the Union address? [laughs] How much would that change if we did this podcast for, like, another 10 years? [laughs]

Royce: Annually, probably very little from year to year, unless there was another pandemic and it’s like, “Well, this year…”

Courtney: I don’t know, over 10 years — I mean, dating now is still different than dating 10 years ago, even though online dating did still exist then. I don’t know, maybe in 10 years, we’ll have more genuinely queer-friendly dating apps. Who’s to say? We’ll all just have to stay tuned. Alright, goodbye!