With Love and Gratitude

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Dating, Infidelity, Kissing: New Poll Points to Confusion

Singles might consider marrying someone who was unfaithful to them while dating.

Yale Digital Commons, Robert Indiana
A new survey has found that people are confused over the definition of dating. While thoughts on cheating have relaxed a bit, passionately kissing someone other than one's love is looked upon as infidelity. As expected men and women have different points of view. I rarely report on online surveys because when it comes to infidelity, the definitive source is the General Social Survey from NORC at the University of Chicago. Dr. W. Bradford Wilcox, director, National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, has analyzed and reported on the data: Low Infidelity, Shock Statistics, and the Forgiveness Factor.

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However, what is so intriguing about this new poll has to do with the ambiguity of dating and change of opinion on cheating. According to the online poll, some 2,647 singles between the ages of 18 and 59 were queried and 69 percent were unsure as to what constitutes a date. The poll was conducted by the Second Annual State of Dating in America(TM) Report which was commissioned by ChristianMingle.com and JDate.com.

Online poll results

As reported by the Wall Street Journal.

  • In 2014, 90 percent of women, vs. 100 percent in 2013, agree passionately kissing someone else is cheating. The number decreases for men as well,  with only 75 percent agreeing vs. 86 percent in 2013.
  • Cheating is not always a deal breaker. Nearly a quarter of singles would consider marrying someone who was unfaithful to them while dating.
  • Is this a date? Sixty-nine percent of singles are at least somewhat confused about whether their outing with someone they're interested in is in fact a date or not. Sussman says, "My clients are often telling me they're confused about whether they're on a romantic date or casual meet-up, which makes it difficult for them to go into the situation with a clear strategy." ChristianMingle and JDate Release State of Dating in America 

Regarding the methodology: According to the report respondents consisted of non-online daters and recruitment of online daters. Results were interpreted by Quonundrums which says it is accurate within ±3% confidence interval: State of Dating in America - Findings

Bias is often a problem with infidelity surveys

Four major problems arise when infidelity information is compiled:

  1. Bias: Self-selection bias takes place when those who want to participate in a survey make the choice to do so. There is oftentimes no control group.
  2. Dishonesty: Oftentimes those who participate in a survey are not truthful with their answers – either over-reporting or under-reporting.
  3. Sample size – 100 to 200 people surveyed is usually too small a sample for definitive data. With online surveys, while you may hear of anywhere between 2,000 and 20,000 respondents, with no controls, the data is likely to be flawed.
  4. Interviewers: With the Internet today we have many self-appointed experts who have no formal training, no knowledge of statistical research, and no publications in peer-review journals to assure oversight. They may conduct interviews, but without a control group, and without the type of instrument design that assures reliability and validity, responses are suspect.

Digital dating Pew Research and Online expert Julie Spira 

According to a Pew Resaerch report issued in October 2013, it seems that 11 percent of adults and 38 percent of those currently looking for love have used online services: Dating digitally | Pew Internet & American Life Project

If you are inclined to online dating, be safe -- turn to Julie Spira for guidelines: Cyber Dating Expert - Online Dating Expert - Dating Advice.

Problems with definition

Infidelity and Marriage - Deal Breaker or Wake-Up Call? -- comprised of interviews with marriage therapists and scientists analyzing the GSS and funded in part by the National Science Foundation --notes that definitions and exact numbers, in this day and age of marital infidelity, emotional infidelity and financial infidelity, might be confusing.

Looking for love

As an incurable romantic here are some thoughts on taking a personal approach to finding someone special.

Get out there and meet people. Join volunteer organizations. Sign up for courses at museums or colleges. Take up golf or sailing. Make an effort to meet a person who makes you feel good about yourself.

If you do meet someone, even if not perfect, but who is kind and generous with a trusting circle of friends, have the courage to ask early on, “Are you ready for a serious relationship, because I am?”

If this scares that person away, love yourself enough to move on without fretting. Why? Because one day, when you ask that question, the right person will answer, “Yes, I am.”

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Copyright 2014 Rita Watson

 

Rita Watson, MPH, is an Associate Fellow at Yale's Ezra Stiles College and a columnist for The Providence Journal.

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