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Realistic In Love: Younger Generations Delay Marriage, Online Dating Is Up

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0:00:01:>>UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Production support for Noon Edition comes from Smithville. Fiber Internet, streaming TV, home security and automation in southern Indiana. More information at And from the Bloomington Health Foundation. Partnering with local organizations and citizens to invest in programs that address our community's health needs. Bloomington Health Foundation, improving health and well-being takes a community. More at 


0:00:38:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: From the Milton Metz Studio in IU's radio TV building, this is Noon Edition on WFIU. I'm Bob Zaltsberg from WFIU/WTIU news, my co-host is Sarah Wittmeyer, the news director of WFIU, the news bureau chief WFIU and WTIU is her actual title. This week, we're talking about modern romance and new trends and committed relationships. We have three guests. It's Valentine's Day so we're doing this kind of show. We have three guests, two in the studio. Steve Sanders is a professor of law at the Mauer School of Law in Bloomington. He's also affiliated faculty in the Department of Gender Studies at The Kinsey Institute. We have Travis Lawson, a counselor in Bloomington who does couples counseling as well as other forms of counseling. And joining us by phone is Dr. Helen Fisher, a senior research fellow with The Kinsey Institute, and she's calling us from her office in New York. If you have questions or comments, please give us a call at 812-855-0811 in Bloomington or toll free at 1 1-877-285-9348. You can also send us questions for the show at And I'm going to start with Travis and I'm going to start with Dr. Fisher and just say what is the of romance and marriage in the U.S. today. Travis. 

0:02:03:>>TRAVIS LAWSON: You know, it's, like - it's so interesting looking at the - and Dr. Fisher can speak to this, too - looking at the trends of marriage within the U.S. You know as you mentioned earlier, one of the things that we're seeing is people are getting married much later than what they were before. And there are kind of a myriad of reasons that people are doing that. From a developmental perspective, you know, they're sort of delaying this entrance into what we traditionally had considered, like, adult roles before. And so, you know, there are financial implications behind that and people pursuing more educations. They're just a bunch of reasons why people are doing that. And that is particularly interesting among LGBT people, which I know we're going to get into a little bit later. But yeah, it's a really interesting trend that we're seeing. 

0:02:49:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right, Dr. Fisher. 

0:02:51:>>HELEN FISHER: Well, I will go on with Travis. That's very - that's exactly right. And it's around the world, it's not just the United States. It's almost 10 years later. I mean, a woman used to marry at age 20, and now she's married at almost age 28. And I've looked in 80 cultures, so the demographic both of the United Nations. And the later you marry the more likely you are to remain married. So we may be heading towards some relative family stability. And I think there's many reasons. I mean, I'm the chief science adviser to So I collect a lot of data for them. I don't collect the data on their match members. I collect it in national representative samples based on the U.S. census. So it's a real science. And just as Travis said, there's many, many reasons. But among them, one-third of people in their 20s are still living at home. It's not because they're lazy. It's because they're saving money. One-third of singles today want to be financially stable before they wed. And get this, 40% of singles today want self-acceptance before they wed. So they're working on themselves. They're cautious. This is a cautious generation. Today, millennials are cautious. In fact, I am extremely impressed with them. 

0:04:06:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Now, Steve, I know you've done a lot of work on LGBT marriage. It's five years since the Supreme Court ruling, roughly five years. 

0:04:15:>>STEVE SANDERS: Yeah. I mean, gay marriage has actually been legal in at least a few places in this country since 2004. Massachusetts became the first state, Iowa followed a few years later. And then in the - you sort of had a cascade of states increasingly legalizing marriage often by court order, culminating in the Supreme Court decision in 2015 that this is something that states cannot deny people. So we've been living with the reality of same-sex marriage. You know, one consequence of marriage is that people have kids and reproduce. And that's provided a host of interesting legal questions. But another issue that I think is floating above the things that Travis and Helen have already talked about and that is the government privileging of marriage. So if we have a rise of people living together without marriage, if we have more people living in single households as we know we do, that begins to raise some questions about whether all of the advantages and legal benefits and expectations that come with marriage, you know, should be extended to other kinds of relationships, other forms of caregiving. Is this something that - are we privileging something that is no longer necessarily in sync with what people need in the real world? 

0:05:31:>>HELEN FISHER: Well, your - I mean, I think a lot of workplaces deal with this - right? - with benefits that they're... 

0:05:37:>>STEVE SANDERS: Sure. I mean, yeah, sure. It's very common, of course, that, you know, in order to qualify for subsidized health insurance - you can put your spouse, your legal spouse on the subsidized health insurance policy. I think if you're an IU employee, your spouse gets to use you know, the campus gym and other sorts of privileges. So both in the private sector but as well as law. Law privilege is marriage in all sorts of ways. You know, it's kind of the world's greatest preferred customer card if you were married in lots of ways. It also carries to be sure responsibilities and obligations. But it is in many ways legally, financially a form of privileged relationship that - but we're talking about lots of different kinds of loving relationships, either romantic relationships or even caregiving to a parent and is our is our world keeping up with those needs. 

0:06:32:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Travis. 

0:06:33:>>TRAVIS LAWSON: And I think one thing that we - to go off that, I think one thing that we see when you look at this sort of data why people choose to get married, you know, generally it's - you know, people choose to get married because they're in love. And that kind of trend holds true for LGBT people and heterosexual people. But we're where the data gets really interesting with these sort of motivations why people choose to do what they do, you know, love, of course, companionship, all these things. Where you see something very interesting happen, it statistically is that LGBT people, more so than heterosexual people report that they are getting married for, like, more utilitarian reasons. You know, now that they can. You know, they report that they're getting married for the sort of the legal protections that you get that come along with having a spouse and the financial stability. So, you know, you see these more kind of utilitarian reasons that people are also choosing to do that now because they can, right? 

0:07:34:>>STEVE SANDERS: Which, again, goes back to the issue of all the government provided and private sector provided... 

0:07:39:>>TRAVIS LAWSON: Sure. 

0:07:39:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: ...Benefits, rights, subsidies privileges that go with marriage. 

0:07:42:>>SARAH WITTMEYER: Is that true with older couples, too? Do they get married for the same sort of reasons? 

0:07:48:>>TRAVIS LAWSON: Well, I think one thing that's really interesting about that in terms of sex or, like, kind of gender is when you look at older Americans in particular, you know, and this goes back to that sort of wage disparity between women and men. So that sort of underpins this whole kind of thing. I mean, one of the things that you see is that comparatively same-sex couples, women who are in same sex relationships compared to men who are in same sex relationships and heterosexual counterparts tend to live in poverty more than the other two populations. And this is also true of women who are women who are older, right? In part, that sort of part because of that kind of partnership. But also in part because as well as men and women age, there tends to be a lot more older women than there are older men. And so that makes that pairing up more difficult, right? 

0:08:49:>>SARAH WITTMEYER: I'm curious, Dr. Fisher, in your research if we're talking about people waiting till they're more financially secure to get married, are we really changing this idea of marriage in that you're creating almost like the haves and the have nots in marriage because do you have the wealth to get married at a younger age? Does that... 

0:09:09:>>HELEN FISHER: Yeah, it's very interesting. I mean, it's people who are college educated are more likely to get married and less likely to divorce. And I can really see why. Because the thing is if you're going to divorce and you don't have very much money, you might be paying alimony to somebody who you were only married to for a year or a year and a half and you've got - you know, I mean, I am fascinated with what I say what Steve said about the fact that we're going to need some changing legal systems just for all of this. I mean, there's so many different kinds of relationships as I think that he said. I mean, there's one thing that I'm interested in called LAT, living apart together. And these are two people who love each other, are faithful to each other but keep separate homes and really meet almost by appointment. And I do think that we're also going to need more different ways to divorce. I know that in France now they've got something called PACS, P-A-C-S, PACS. And you can divorce by just really handing in a sheet of paper, which would, you know, bypass the incredible legal issue of divorce that we have today. And I would think that if we begin to have more realistic marriage and divorce laws just as has been suggested here that we will see more people marrying. I know that the vast majority of people of reproductive age in America today do want to marry. And all of my data on this 45,000 Americans shows that after your reproductive years are over, you're less and less inclined to actually marry. But that doesn't mean you aren't still creating all kinds of partnerships, which I agree should be equally privileged. 

0:10:57:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: You have questions or comments about the topics we're getting into today, which is love, marriage, relationships, legal issues involving those things. We'll get into some technology issues involving those things, political issues involving those things? You give us a call at 812-855-0811 in Bloomington or 1-877-258-9348. You can also send us questions at or on Twitter @noonedition. 

0:11:26:>>SARAH WITTMEYER: We got a question from Emma who is wanting to know about moving in with a significant other. She says, what advice do experts have for someone who's going to move in with their significant other for the first time? Is cohabitation before marriage really a predictor of divorce? Travis, go ahead. We'll let me let Travis start and then Doctor... 

0:11:50:>>HELEN FISHER: Sure. 

0:11:50:>>TRAVIS LAWSON: And Dr. Fisher you may know a little bit more about this than I do, but generally, you know, cohabitation has been a predictor of divorce. And so when you look at sort of all these different populations, people who cohabitate, people who are married, people who are married with kids, kind of all of these things, the group that really reports being the most satisfied in their relationship are people who are married with no children. And so, you know, it's really interesting. But again, going along with Dr. Fisher and I know that she - this is a topic that she's going to discuss, you know, kind of the longer you date somebody, you know, the more that's correlated to the likelihood that you'll stay together. So, you know, it's very complex. 

0:12:41:>>SARAH WITTMEYER: Why would that be? Yeah, that cohabitation could lead to divorce. 

0:12:47:>>HELEN FISHER: Well, I actually don't - the data that I've said is that when you look at all of the other things, it's actually not the predictor of divorce. What is the predictor of divorce is more the fact that you chose to do this, that you're the kind of personality type who's either more cautious or more careful or maybe even more flamboyant. I mean, you know, 25 years ago, it was almost - it was a horrifying thing for people to live together before they wed. And now it's actually routine. And so I'm not convinced that it's actually the fact that they are living together that's creating the divorce. It may be personality styles that led them to this lifestyle, that is actually what's leading them to divorce rather than the actual fact that they're living together. But anyway what we're really seeing today is a different courtship pattern. What we're seeing is people start out as just friends or we're just friends, then they slowly move into friends with benefits. You learn a lot between the sheets about somebody, not just whether they're good in bed but whether they can listen, whether they are kind, whether they can be patient, etc. And then they slowly move into telling friends and family. Then they have the official first date, not way in the beginning, like in my day. But then they have the official first date. Thirty-four percent of people who have their first date today have already had sex with the person. They already know the person on a lot of levels. Then they're slowly moving into living together before they wed. They are cautious. And if I were that girl, I would - personally, you know, I mean, I'm not in the should business what you to do in your life. But the bottom line is, I think it can be really quite healthy to get to know somebody before you tie the knot because boy, it's hard to get out of a bad marriage and particularly after you've had children. And the more you get to know somebody, In my opinion really, the more you are likely to not make terrible mistakes in wedding. 

0:14:45:>>SARAH WITTMEYER: She does ask for advice from the experts. 

0:14:48:>>TRAVIS LAWSON: Right. 

0:14:48:>>STEVE SANDERS: Well, in the realm of the somewhat more practical, I don't know if the writer is talking about sort of short-term cohabitation as a sort of a test before getting married or long-term cohabitation. But one way the law has innovated is, you know, people don't have to be married in order to have agreements about once they do split up how their property is going to be divided or whether somebody is going to be obligated to continue to support the other person. You know, those things are contemplated in marriage and you can have a premarital agreement and so forth. But it's been the law now for a long time in almost every state that unmarried couples can also either by oral or written contract sort of come to agreements about look, if we split up, here's going to be what we owe to each other. Now for, you know, younger people who may not have a lot of property or assets that maybe all sort of irrelevant. But unmarried people can in many ways, you know, mimic the legal infrastructure around marriage, whether it's agreements about support, property division, powers of attorney about, you know, whether you're going to make medical decisions for the person inheritance rights and so forth. 

0:16:03:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: I wanted to ask - I guess I'll ask Dr. Fisher first. The idea of technology has sort of changed the game with, you know, online services like I mean, how much has that changed the idea of, you know, romance or of people getting to know one another. I mean, how much of an impact does that have? 

0:16:25:>>HELEN FISHER: Well, that's very good. I mean, I really studied that. And by the way, you know, I put - I and my colleagues have put over 100 people into a brain scan and studied the brain circuitry of romantic love and also studied the brain circuitry of feelings of deep attachment, which are different brain systems but often related. And you can't change those brain systems. They lie away in the base of the brain. You know, they're like fear and anger. Actually they're not even emotions. They drive. In fact, the basic factory that triggers feelings of romantic love lives right next to the factory that orchestrates thirst and hunger. Thirst and hunger to keep you alive today. Romantic love drives you actually to seek out a partner to win life's greatest prize, which is a mating partner. So the bottom line is, that brain system is not going to change whether you swipe left or right on Tinder. But courtship is changing. That is what - and courtship has been constantly changing throughout human evolution and even through prehistory. But it's changing dramatically today. I mean, but, you know, a lot of people don't understand these dating sites. These are not dating sites. They're not dating sites. They are introducing sites. You've got to get out and meet the person. The only real algorithm is your own brain. That's not going to change whether you met somebody on a park bench, whether you met him on - I don't know - on an Internet site. But you've got - it's still the responsibility of your own brain, which really hasn't changed. It's just this new way to do the same old thing, which is to meet people. But there's problems to it. I mean, we got too many alternatives now. I mean, for millions of years, you didn't have - you couldn't swipe left or right a thousand times. We don't know how to use these services. As matter of fact, the brain has a sort of a sweet spot between five and nine choices. And after you got onto your tenth choice, your brain gets swamped. It's called cognitive overload. So it's not a problem with the technology. We just - it's so new we haven't learned how to use it. 

0:18:21:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: OK, I have to ask this question because that's what I'm paid to do. But can you explain these swiping left or right for those who might not understand? 

0:18:33:>>HELEN FISHER: Oh, sorry. So I've never done it. But when you go on Tinder, which I've never done, you swipe - I don't know. I think it's right if you want to enter, if you want to say I'm interested and you swipe left if you're just getting off your thing and you don't want to want to meet the person. So you'll see a pile of girls, they'll go into a bar. They don't even go into a bar to pick people up in the bar. They go to meet each other and swipe left or right on Tinder. And they are looking at everybody's face in a very, very short profile and saying all right, I'd like to meet you I'll swipe right. And I don't want to meet you, I'll swipe left. 

0:19:08:>>SARAH WITTMEYER: So what happens then after you swipe? I'm just.... 

0:19:12:>>HELEN FISHER: Oh... 

0:19:12:>>STEVE SANDERS: Well, then it's over. 

0:19:13:>>HELEN FISHER: I haven't opened that site, but my understanding is, and tell me if I'm wrong somebody but the real key, and it's a brilliant key I think, the real key is that they - the other person has to swipe right, also. And if you both swipe right, then it's the beginning of the process of connecting. And that's how it works. It's very interesting. I always thought it might be for older people, but the young are really getting into it. I read an article - I don't know last week - and it was about a lot of college students who don't feel like going out on Friday night and having 10 beers and having sex with somebody they don't even know. They would prefer to go onto an online site actually meet because you know a little bit more about them. At least they're on a site, at least they're interested in it. As a matter of fact, you know, I do these studies as they say with Match and every single year for the last - I don't know - several years now more people have met their last first date online, not just necessarily Match but online than offline. And there's a new study out of Chicago, University Chicago, which was fascinating, which shows that if you meet somebody online as opposed to offline you're more likely and marry them, you're more likely to have a stable marriage. And I wondered why could that be? I mean, you know, why - what is it - what difference does it make if you meet somebody on a park bench or on a dating site. So I did a study, a national study on this and as it turns out if you meet somebody, the people who are dating online are more likely to have a full-time job, are more likely to have higher education and are more likely to be interested in a committed relationship. So it's just dramatically changing, we just have to figure it out. 

0:20:55:>>TRAVIS LAWSON: Yeah, and I think what's so interesting about that, too, you know, these sort of subsets of the population that you think about, you know, lesbian and gay people and bi people and trans people - I'll talk a little bit about here in just a bit. But when you think about these sort of alternate, what we would consider, like, alternate forms of dating that have become commonplace, now, you know, they've been doing this, using apps and these sort of things for much longer than what heterosexual people have. And so that's sort of commonplace in that culture. But really when you think about, like, what would motivate somebody to do that or what would motivate somebody to utilize these apps, of course, you know, a capacity of dating partners is one or, you know, having a diffuse pool of people to choose from. So that makes it - that simplifies the process a little bit more. You know, if you're living in that sort of area where there aren't a lot of viable partners, you know, it simplifies That. But more than anything, you know, it's like people are very busy. And so what that allows people to do is sort of cut to the chase, right? And especially for young people. They report - you know, they report being very busy. So these sort of thing, these sort of apps, you know, they do a lot. They cut through a lot of time-consuming kind of mechanisms. But again, you know, we see this - you know, these have been sort of prevalent in the queer culture for, like, for a while. 

0:22:20:>>STEVE SANDERS: I mean, I'm certainly not an expert on this, but your instinct is always that this is a bit dehumanizing, that this must be at least a cousin of the whole phenomenon of, you know, sort of young people really can't have a conversation in person because all they know how to do is converse and message on their phones. But I suspect related to what Travis has said I - you know, I'm old enough to remember this term singles bars. And, you know, you had to go out to a public place in order to meet somebody. And it had you had to like to sort of drink alcohol and be in noisy environments. And another upside maybe of this online culture, whether it's Match or Tinder or Grinder or something like that is, you don't have to go. And we don't really have places that are called singles bars anymore. 

0:23:02:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right, we're about halfway through our program today. We're talking about - you know, it's Valentine's Days, so we're talking about marriage, romance and all things related to those topics with Steve Sanders, a professor of law at the Mauer School of Law in Bloomington, Travis Lawson, a counselor who does a lot of couples counseling and Dr. Helen Fisher, a senior research fellow at The Kinsey Institute. If you want to join us after the program, our phone numbers or 812 - I'm sorry. After the break, 8128550811 - or toll free at 18772859348. You can also send us questions for the show at And you can follow us on Twitter at @noonedition. We'll be right back. 


0:23:57:>>UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: From the Milton Metz studio at IU's radio TV building, this is Noon Edition on WFIU. WFIU News covers South Central Indiana and the state throughout the day at and on Twitter at @wfiunews. You can watch unfiltered video of breaking stories on Facebook Live. And you can get a digest of all the day's top stories delivered to your inbox each afternoon - it's a free and easy way to stay on top of the headlines, plus the in-depth audio, video and print news stories you can't get anywhere else. Subscribe now at 


0:24:48:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Welcome back to New Edition. I'm Bob Zaltsberg from WFIU and WTIU along with Sarah Wittmeyer, the news bureau chief of WFIU and WTIU, and we're talking with three experts today about romance, marriage - all things that are related to those things as sort of our tribute to Valentine's Day. If you want to join us on the program, give us a call at 8128550811 or toll free at 18772859348 or you can send us a question at, just as somebody did. 

0:25:23:>>SARAH WITTMEYER: We got another question about online dating, wondering about all the anxiety that comes with learning about tech. Does this create anxiety with seeking a relationship and end up being a deterrent? 

0:25:35:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Anybody want to tackle that? 

0:25:37:>>SARAH WITTMEYER: Dr. Fisher, maybe you could take that one? Maybe Dr. Fisher is not with us. So then Travis, I'm going to look to you. 

0:25:47:>>TRAVIS LAWSON: OK. Well, I'll run with it then. You know, it's - I - thinking about that question more globally, you know, it's - younger people are much more comfortable using technology than older people are, and so I can see how that would be - would impose - or could potentially impose a barrier in terms of using that as a modality. And - or in terms of how comfortable someone would feel doing that. I hope that answers the question. 

0:26:17:>>SARAH WITTMEYER: I think so. I mean, I guess - even Bob and I just kind of learning the basics of Tinder - you could see how... 

0:26:23:>>STEVE SANDERS: Yeah, there's a... 

0:26:24:>>SARAH WITTMEYER: ...There could be... 

0:26:24:>>STEVE SANDERS: ...I mean most of these things are not complicated, right? I mean, if you... 

0:26:27:>>TRAVIS LAWSON: Right. 

0:26:27:>>STEVE SANDERS: ...If you swipe left, it's not going to delete your phone data or something like that. 

0:26:30:>>SARAH WITTMEYER: Right. 

0:26:31:>>STEVE SANDERS: I mean, if you can an iPhone or if you know how to browse a website, you can probably know how to use these things. 

0:26:37:>>TRAVIS LAWSON: Yeah. 

0:26:38:>>STEVE SANDERS: My guess, though, is there might be just as much or more of a disconnect with what's the etiquette on these things. We were talking, during the break, about how it's become kind of a joke that, even on Tinder, so often, when you match with people, they don't end up talking to you anyway. You just - you don't end up having a conversation and, you know, what are the norms and expectations and etiquette about, you know, having a conversation or what you're supposed to reveal to a person before you meet them - I suspect the age disconnect might have more play there than just, like, how do you use this thing? 

0:27:11:>>SARAH WITTMEYER: Yeah. 

0:27:11:>>TRAVIS LAWSON: And I think that would be challenging if you don't have kind of a schema or a script for how to do something like that, right? Which, again, you know, would be - or it could be age dependent. 

0:27:23:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Right. So I want to switch gears and just... 

0:27:25:>>HELEN FISHER: Can I say one thing? 

0:27:26:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: ...Oh, yeah. Sure. 

0:27:26:>>HELEN FISHER: Courtship is always complicated. It has always been complicated. It will always be complicated. All these things are is introducing you to somebody, and then you create that complicated process. I mean, you know, the - and the etiquette is changing, you know, not only on the Internet but on a date. You know, 60% of singles do not want you texting while you're out on a date with somebody. They don't want you bringing your phone to the bathroom. They don't want you to bring it outside where you're - you know, even the way you text - they don't want all capital letters, they don't want something too short - a whole pile of new taboos are revolving along with this new technology. 

0:28:03:>>SARAH WITTMEYER: I think there was a Kinsey study that showed that, if you text with emojis, then your relationship does better. 

0:28:10:>>HELEN FISHER: Right. That's right. 

0:28:12:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: So... 

0:28:13:>>HELEN FISHER: I'm on - I think I'm on that one. 

0:28:16:>>SARAH WITTMEYER: Were you on that one? Yeah. I guess it makes sense... 

0:28:17:>>HELEN FISHER: But we collected the data and my wonderful friend, and now the director, Justin Garcia and his staff - his team really crunches all the data and gets the article under control. 

0:28:28:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: So I want to ask about politics because, you know, we're in such a divisive world these days and I just wonder, what kind of impact is that having on relationships? Anybody? 

0:28:41:>>HELEN FISHER: Well, I've done a whole study on it, but I'm happy to hear everybody else's - should I go with that or... 

0:28:47:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Yeah, go with that, please. 

0:28:49:>>HELEN FISHER: ...Well, anyway, yeah, it's a - and we've asked - I do an annual study with Match called singles in America, and as I mentioned we do not poll the Match members. This is a national representative sample of singles based on U.S. Census. So we've got the right numbers of blacks, whites, asians, latino, gay, straight, rural, suburban, urban - every part of the country and every age - age 18 to 71 plus. And I've just been looking very carefully over the politics of it, and there's two things - there's several things that are happening. One is that the people in the center are moving left or right. And more women are moving to the left and more men are moving to the right, and fewer and fewer people - singles today are willing to date somebody from the other side of the aisle. It's gone down 26%, but 78% of singles in the - four years ago, right before Trump was elected, 78% would consider dating somebody on the other side of the aisle. And now, in 2019, only 52% will. So that's a 26% drop in the number of people who are willing to go out with somebody on the other side. What's interesting to me is that 49% of singles actually want a partner who will discuss both sides, and so they seem to be a relatively mentally flexible group. And - but don't forget what they're doing is courting. I mean, there's something more important than somebody's political beliefs. It's whether they want to have children, whether they want to marry you, whether they're a good kisser - it's things that are more, you know, central to the moment. But anyway, we are seeing some political civility. When I ask the question, you know, do you try to understand the other - if you're on a date with somebody, do you try to understand their perspective if they're from the other side? And 45% of both men and women would say yes. So - and even more interesting to me is that 1/3 of singles today have been in love with someone with very different political views. So that's something. But what - the really interesting part is, of those 1/3 who have gone out with somebody with very different views, 73% would do it again. They would do it again. So basically, once you've found love - once you've experienced this, that brain system for romantic love and the feelings of remembered love seem to be stronger than one's political views. 

0:31:16:>>STEVE SANDERS: But then there's the issue about meeting the parents. There's a - just an - a poll I found that said, in 1960 - looks like - you know, the question is people who would be displeased if their child married someone from the other political party. In 1960, it was, like, you know, 4 - 5% percent of both. By 2010 - that's the most recent number in this poll - 49% percent of Republicans and 33% of Democrats said they would be very displeased of their child married somebody come from the other political party, and chances are that's just gone up since 2010. 

0:31:48:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Travis - and I want to ask - obviously, you have all sorts of confidentiality things you can't talk about, but do you find, in your practice, that this has become a bigger issue with people who may be having problems in their relationship? 

0:32:04:>>TRAVIS LAWSON: You know, it's been so interesting. Actually, like - I was posed this question sort of in a preliminary way before coming on, and I was trying to think about it, and actually I haven't seen that be a large problem. You know, it's not something that's sort of pressing or prevalent. You know, the problems that were sort of pre-existing in the sort of pre-Trump era - or however you want to kind of look at that - are still kind of the same. Yeah - and amplified, of course, in certain domains. 

0:32:31:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: And what are they? What are the biggest problems? 

0:32:34:>>TRAVIS LAWSON: You know, it - like, when people come - and the biggest problems - you know, people report - communication problems, right? Communication problems - they feel like they can't communicate - or what, you know, in literature is called, you know, sort of, like, making a bid to your partner that your partner doesn't accept. So it's, like, this idea that we, you know, can't communicate well with one another through report - right? There are other things that kind of underpin that. 

0:33:00:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Is that thought to be at all related to - again - like, the use of phones and kind of the way people - younger people are more isolated and aren't having the sort of social contact and building the sort of social skills that they used to? 

0:33:13:>>TRAVIS LAWSON: You know, I don't know the research on that and - I really don't, and so I don't have a definitive answer to you. 

0:33:22:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: We have a researcher here. How about... 

0:33:23:>>TRAVIS LAWSON: I know, let's ask her. 

0:33:24:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: ...Dr. Fisher, what do you think? 

0:33:26:>>HELEN FISHER: Well, first of all, I agree - I think - as Travis said. I - it's not my data, but I have also read that, once you're in a marriage, political differences is not a large problem and that it is communication. So, I mean, here, in that business - but I've certainly read the same thing - that, you know, by the time you marry somebody, you know what their politics is. You've already decided you can cope with that. It is this issue of communication. But there's a lot of new data that people - that we are not losing our ability to communicate. I'm not positive we've ever been that good at communicating, and I actually don't think that our modern world is sort of depleting the brain's ability to have a conversation. Very new data - I think it came out last week - that people who date on the Internet and who spend more time on the Internet actually have more friends, more networks, more connections, and more communication. So I think that's just a modern fear. You know, anytime there's new technology, everybody gets scared that this is going to destroy the brain. But the bottom line is, you know, our communication ability has been around for quite a few million years - certainly thousands and thousands of years, and we're just doing it a little bit differently. But I would think - and I don't know, Travis, you must know this - that - I mean, you must - I'm asking you - I would imagine that communication was the main issue long before the Internet came around. 

0:34:59:>>TRAVIS LAWSON: I think it's the main issue. And I want to say something really interesting about communication. Again, like, kind of under this umbrella or under this realm of looking at - you know, heterosexual couples and same-sex couples - is that, you know, communication is really bound by sexual scripts. Who does what? Who says what? Right? And one thing that we see - and it's very interesting, like, when you look at sort of work divisions - who does what, like, physically - in a relationship, who takes on what task? - is that, in particular - and I'm reminded of this all the time - that communication is really bound by sexual script - what women are supposed to do and say, what men are supposed to do and say. Because where you see that get really interesting is, like, when you look at same-sex couples - when you look at men - it's, like, generally speaking, same-sex couples who are men and same-sex couples in general tend to communicate better to one another than heterosexual couples do. And the idea behind that is they're not so bound by scripts. And you see that also - and it's actually very, very prevalent when you have a division of labor within a family. Every bit of research indicates that same-sex couples - when there's a division of labor within a family, they actually are a little more polished - a little better about doing it. And the idea behind that is because they can communicate a little more freely with one another because, again, they're not so bound by these kind of gender roles that people take on, so they're better able to sort of permeate boundaries and move back and forth between, you know, who does what, right? 

0:36:45:>>SARAH WITTMEYER: We've got a question on Twitter that's for you, Travis. If you go to counseling, is your relationship already doomed? 

0:36:52:>>TRAVIS LAWSON: You know, I - actually, I was talking to one of my best friends, who's a psychologist here in town, and we were talking about this. And I meant to look at the data on this, and I don't know the data. I will tell you - and this is very anecdotal - it's like - I think - and I think this is true of counseling in general. I don't think most people, when they seek counseling, are doing it because they're doing it in a proactive way, where they want to sort of, you know, proactively kind of buffer things. I think - you know, whether it's a couple that comes to counseling, whether it's an individual, whether it's a family - you know, they're sort of doing it because things have - you know, things are kind of in shambles. And so, you know, I think the best way to get ahead of any problem is by being as proactive as you can. So I know that's sort of a - I don't mean to speak in hyperbole and I know that's sort of a roundabout way of answering the question, but I really think, a lot of times, by the time a couple ends up in counseling, at least from my experience - and I would bet - venture to guess, if we sort of survey a lot of other clinicians too, they would agree - that things are, you know, relatively bad, right? And so the idea is that you get ahead of things, you know, when things are still, you know, good and learn how to, you know, sort of establish these, like, very functional communication patterns - establish sort of these ways of existing in your relationship early on that sort of will predict how things go. 

0:38:22:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Our phone numbers again are 8128550811 here in Bloomington or 18773859348. You can also send us questions to and you can get ahold of us at - on Twitter at @noonedition. What is the economy doing in this? I know, you know, at least anecdotally - I've always heard that, you know, money is one of the things that is a big issue with couples who are having problems. Dr. Fisher, you know, in the research that you've done or the research that you've seen, where does sort of - where do economic issues fit in? 

0:39:06:>>HELEN FISHER: Yeah. I haven't studied - actually, I have studied quite a bit of this, but it was some time ago and I - with the Singles in America study. But I do - I know that I mentioned that 1/3 of people in their 20s don't want to get into a relationship - don't want to - what they say - catch feelings until they are financially stable. So that's one of the reasons that they're marrying so much later. So I do think that that - but, you know, the brain system for romantic love is going to happen no matter what. I was very concerned, wondering whether - you know, we had that great economic disaster in 2008 and the stock market went down and people were losing their jobs and, you know, we thought we were going through a real recession. And so we asked whether singles, you know, were stopping dating, and they weren't. They were spending less money on it. They were going to cheaper restaurants. But that drive to love just, you know, is paramount. 

0:40:02:>>SARAH WITTMEYER: How do you see love changing as women start to earn more degrees than men and out-earn men in some cases? 

0:40:12:>>HELEN FISHER: Apparently, over 1/3 of people who are married today - the woman makes more money than the husband does. And it's really - you know, I did a study in which I asked, and the vast majority of men actually want a wife or a partner who has not only just a job but a career - something that she's interested in. You know, it's so interesting that you ask that because everybody is talking about - oh, technology is changing everything. Technology is just enabling us to do the same old thing. What's really changing is women piling into the job market in cultures around the world. That's what's changing the way the family is built, the way we caught, the way we marry, and the expectations in a marriage. And what's interesting to me is that - I'm an anthropologist, of course. So bottom line is we're moving forward to the kinds of people that we were almost a million years ago. I mean, for millions of years on the grasslands of Africa, women commuted to work to gather their fruits and vegetables, they came home with 60 to 80% percent of the evening meal. The double income family was the rule, and women were regarded as economically, sexually, and socially powerful as men. And we began to settle down on the farm, men's rules became much more important, women became sort of second class citizens, and we see the rise of a lot of beliefs that are going - leaving - disappearing before our eyes. Virginity at marriage - that belief system is gone. The belief that the woman's place is in the home - that's disappearing. The belief that the man is the head of the family - that's disappearing. And this concept of 'til death do us part - that's disappearing. We're moving forward to the double income family and the rise of women economically, socially, and sexually, and that's the real story about today. 

0:41:55:>>SARAH WITTMEYER: I'm curious about religion. I mean, we've talked about politics and economics and how - I think Steve had the data about politics and how people would be disappointed. But what about if you're a Catholic and you bring home a guy who is Muslim. What kind of data do you have on that, Dr. Fisher? 

0:42:17:>>HELEN FISHER: We ask that every year when I do this national study, and something like 70% of men - when I ask, what are you looking for in a partner? They do not say that - about 70% of men and 60% of women, nationally, don't care very much about the ethnic background or your religious background. What they want now is somebody who's compatible, somebody who's kind, somebody who respects them, somebody who's physically attracted to them. They're looking for a companion, not a - you know, I would imagine it's much better if you can find somebody from your same religious background because we do seek people who have the same values. And, of course, your daily habits - I mean, if you're very Catholic, you're going to have different daily habits than if you're an atheist, I mean, in terms of how often you go to church, times you get dressed up, et cetera, et cetera. But it's playing less and less and less and less of a role. I mean, when you look back onto the farm, for example - a young woman - she had to marry a guy from the same religious background, the same social set, who could financially support her and hopefully lived in the farm next door. All of that is gone. We're now choosing to please ourselves, and religion does not seem to be a major part of that. 

0:43:34:>>STEVE SANDERS: Yeah. There's a Pew study from 2016 that indicates - and I guess this is completely intuitive, not counterintuitive - that people who scored more highly on being religious - a high index score of religious observance and so forth - were more likely to be married to someone that they shared a religion with. And if you were married to someone who did not share your religious tradition, it was more likely that you were someone who just - religion was not an important part of your life based on other measures. That seems to make sense. 

0:44:10:>>SARAH WITTMEYER: Yeah. We've got another question from Twitter - I think this is probably for you, Travis, too - asking, are prenups becoming more common with economic equality? 

0:44:20:>>STEVE SANDERS: There was a story on Marketplace about that just last night. 

0:44:22:>>SARAH WITTMEYER: Really? 

0:44:22:>>STEVE SANDERS: Yeah. 

0:44:22:>>SARAH WITTMEYER: What did it say. 

0:44:24:>>STEVE SANDERS: Well, just a young - it was just a young couple that was having a prenup, and they were - you know, they were just a normal young couple and they were talking a month before they were going to even, I think, get officially engaged about whether they would have a prenup or not. It was just kind of interesting story. 

0:44:39:>>TRAVIS LAWSON: And actually, I... 

0:44:40:>>HELEN FISHER: You know... 

0:44:40:>>TRAVIS LAWSON: ...I'll let the other two take this because I feel like they could do a little bit better job than I could answering this question. 

0:44:46:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: OK. Dr. Fisher? 

0:44:47:>>HELEN FISHER: ...Well, I know that, when I asked 5,000 Americans of every age and background whether they wanted to have a prenup, 36% said yes. And I was surprised at how low that was - other people think it's high, I think it's a bit low, only because - we've got a lot of property these days, and people have a lot of arguments over property. And it strikes me that that would - I don't know. I wonder what Steve says in terms of the law. But, you know, you go back to hunting and gathering groups, and they didn't have to fight over property. I mean, he was - she wasn't going to take his bow and arrow and he wasn't going to take her pottery bowl and her digging stick. And the - everybody knew who belonged to - where the child belonged because it was part of a particular clan, and it was going a stay part of that clan. So they didn't have this problem of so much property. But today, we do, and I'm sort of amazed that - and this is, I guess, the triumph of love. You believe this will last forever, so you're not thinking about it sort of rationally. 

0:45:45:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Steve? 

0:45:46:>>STEVE SANDERS: I certainly teach the law of prenups in family law. I don't have any particular data that is unique to me. I mean, I do, anecdotally, you know, hear from students - I sometimes have students who are married or who are engaged - I don't know if economic equality so much has to do with that. I think it just - you know, it makes sense that young people starting out who don't have a lot of assets and who may have, you know, relatively even incomes and earning potentials are probably less likely to imagine that they need a prenup as a practical matter. Prenups are more common among second - people getting into second marriages, people who are older, who are established, who have assets that they want to protect in some ways. So I think the variable is more - you know, do you have reason to anticipate that, as your situations changes in life, that it might be a good idea to have a prenup. There was a new york times article from 2018 that said millennial - lawyers who do these kinds of things report that more millennial generation clients seek prenups or are asking about prenups, but at least in part it was theorized that that has to do with the fact that they're older when they get married, and so probably - again, the older you are, the more established you are, the more you have an income or there might be income disparities between you and the person you meet, that's probably what's more likely to drive your sense of whether it's something you need or not. 

0:47:11:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Steve, if you could sort of continue on that mode, is there anything, you know, that we haven't touched on about marriage equality litigation that's just a hot button issue right now? I mean, what's the most - sort of the most common issue that comes up. 

0:47:25:>>STEVE SANDERS: If you're talking about same-sex marriage? 

0:47:26:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Yeah. 

0:47:27:>>STEVE SANDERS: Probably the most common issues are not about the marriage relationship itself - the two people. It has to do with - there's a whole basket of issues that scholars are writing about - about the consequences related to children - children, paternity, you know, relationships with your child and so forth. So just within the past couple of weeks, the Southern Circuit Court of Appeals - the federal court that applies here in Indiana - ruled in a case that had been sitting around for a long time that the state of Indiana had to recognize - if there are two women who are married who get together and have - who have a baby but one of them is artificially inseminated with a sperm donor - the way that is treated when it was an opposite sex couple - the father's name was just kind of presumptively put on the birth certificate - I'm sorry, the husband's name was presumptively put on the birth certificate as the father even though he was not the biological father, it was a sperm donor. But the state of Indiana was refusing to do that for married women - female couples, and the Court of Appeals in Chicago that applies to us said, no, you - that is part of what marriage equality means. You have to treat - child bearing and birth certificates are part of the basket of rights and privileges that you have when you are married. You know, same sex couples are more likely to need to use, for example, gestational surrogates if they want to have a child - that's particularly gay male couples. The law of surrogacy varies widely from state to state. In Indiana, surrogacy agreements are not even recognized legally. So there are other questions having to do with the fact that often, when same sex couples have children, one parent is not actually the biological parent but plays a parenting role - or the child was born into the family at the time of the marriage, and so there are issues like that that courts are still sorting out. 

0:49:22:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right. So we've got just a couple of minutes to go, and I guess I wanted to ask Travis and Dr. Fisher - you know, what - it's Valentine's Day. So do you have any advice? We had one one question that asked for advice before about cohabitation. Do you have any, you know, last thoughts that we haven't gotten to about this whole idea of marriage, romance, relationships - on this Valentine's Day here in Bloomington? 

0:49:50:>>SARAH WITTMEYER: Advice for a long, happy relationship? 

0:49:52:>>TRAVIS LAWSON: I know. So, you know, it's like - this is all I was thinking about. You know, it's like - the way in which - if you look at, you know, a sort of marriage over a lifetime, it follows sort of a U-shaped curve, right? It's like - so marital equality sort of starts high and then goes down, and it sort of like - sort of bottoms out around the time, like, you know, late adolescence that people have kids, and then it goes back up, right? And so the idea is that, you know, it's - the way in which people love each other shifts over time, right? It's like - it goes from being this sort of, like, passionate thing to being more, like, a - sort of a companionship, right? And so it changes. And what's really related to that is this idea of, like, intimacy. And intimacy is related to frequency of sex, and those things really tie into, like, how satisfied people are. So I think, at the end of the day, what's really important is that you're actually friends with the person that you're married with - that you're married to or that you're in a relationship with. It's - you know, having a good friendship - you know, a really solid foundation And being really good friends with the person that you're with, like, matters a lot. 

0:50:53:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Dr. Fisher, we have less than a minute to go, but why don't you take us back - take us home here. 

0:50:57:>>HELEN FISHER: Sure. All right. Well, we - I and my colleagues have put over 100 people in this brain scanner, and we've put in 15 people who had been married - happily married for over 20 years, and we looked at what's going on in the brain in a long-term happy marriage. And these are the three brain regions that become active - a brain region linked with empathy, a brain region linked with controlling your own stress and your own emotions, and a brain region linked with positive illusions - the ability to overlook what you don't like about somebody and focus on what you do. So psychologists will say all kinds of great things about sustaining a happy marriage - don't show contempt, don't threaten divorce, listen actively - but this is what the brain says. Express empathy, control your own stress and your own emotions, and overlook the negative. 

0:51:42:>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Thank you very much. That was Dr. Helen Fisher, a senior research fellow from the Kinsey Institute. I've also been talking with Travis Lawson, a counselor who does couples counseling - Steve Sanders, a professor of law at the Mauer School of Law here in Bloomington and an affiliated faculty member with the Department of Gender Studies at the Kinsey Institute. I want to thank our guests for joining us, and also for co-host Sarah Wittmeyer, producer Bente Bouthier, and engineer Mike Paskash. I'm Bob Zaltsberg. Thanks for listening. 


0:52:13:>>UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Noon Edition is a production of WFIU Public Radio. A podcast of this program is available at Production support for Noon Edition comes from Smithville - fiber internet, streaming TV, home security, and automation in southern Indiana. More information at And from the Bloomington Health Foundation - partnering with local organizations and citizens to invest in programs that address our community's health needs. Bloomington Health Foundation - improving health and well-being takes a community. More at 

love scupture

Artist Robert Indiana's "LOVE" sculpture. (WFIU/WTIU News)

Noon Edition airs on Fridays at noon on WFIU.

New trends in marriage and dating are emerging as millennials enter adulthood and older generations transition into new stages of life.

Millennials are getting married at lower rates and later in life than their predecessors. The top reasons younger generations cite for the delay are financial worries and wanting to live together before walking down the aisle.

According to the Pew Research Center, the average age of marriage for millennial women and men is 29.2 and 30.9 years old respectively.

In 1965, the average age to get married for women was 21 years old and 23 years old for men.

Some researchers say emerging trends look promising, citing longer courtship periods and prioritizing financial security as reasons for lower divorce rates among younger generations.

But this also indicates lower wages as a reason young people wait or opt out of marriage altogether; the Pew Research Center says as many as 25 percent of millennials won’t ever get married.

The number of unmarried couples cohabiting in 2016 was up 29 percent from 2007.

Among adults older than 50 years old, divorce rates have nearly doubled since 1990. Second marriages are more likely to end in divorce than first marriages.

In 2013, about 4 in 10 marriages involved remarriage.

Meanwhile, use of online dating is a new norm for finding romantic partners.

According to eHarmony, 40 percent of Americans use online dating. Of these users, a majority are looking for a long-term commitment rather than causal dates.

Around 20 percent of current committed relationships stem from a dating site.

People’s attitudes towards marriage in Western culture are revealed through when and why they choose to commit.

Join us this week as we talk about the changing culture surrounding marriage and what to expect as more romantic interaction moves online.

You can follow us on Twitter @NoonEdition or join us on the air by calling in at 812-855-0811 or toll-free at 1-877-285-9348. You can also send us questions for the show at

Our Guests:

Steve Sanders, professor of law at Maurer School of Law, affiliated faculty- Department of Gender Studies at the Kinsey Institute 

Travis Lawson, counselor

Dr. Helen Fisher, senior research fellow, Kinsey Institute 


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