A new study found 4 different categories of couples. Where do you belong?

Ever fallen into one of those Internet dating quizzes? You know, the ones that promise to categorize you? Like "what your astrological sign says about your relationship style."

They can be fun, but we all know they're mostly fluff.


Those quizzes are the Internet version of this, basically. Image from Cuppysfriend/Wikimedia Commons.

What if I told you someone did find a way to "categorize" your love style but with actual real science?

Three relationship scientists asked about 400 couples to track how they felt about their relationship and how committed they felt to marrying their partner. They followed each of the couples for nine months. Not, like, literally followed them — that would be creepy. Instead, they just asked them a few questions and asked them to keep track of how committed they were feeling over time.

At the end of the nine months, the scientists collected all the couple's responses and delved deep into the data. They found that couples did indeed tend to fall into one of four categories.

Prepare yourself for some soul searching because you might just be:

1. The Conflicted, but Passionate

Scarlett and Rhett from "Gone with the Wind." Image from Insomnia Cured Here/Flickr.

This is the couple Facebook made the "It's Complicated" relationship status for. Their levels of commitment tend to go up and down over time, especially after arguments. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. These folks use those conflicts to help them make decisions about the relationship, and in fact, they didn't appear to be any more destined for a breakup than any of the other groups.

Also, as a bonus, they tend to follow those turbulent downs with passionate ups. "These couples operate in a tension between conflict that pushes them apart and passionate attraction that pulls them back together," said study author Brian Ogolsky.

2. The Partner-Focused

Image from Yiannis Theologos Michellis/Flickr.

If your idea of a perfect date night is a long walk followed by eight hours of binge-watching "House of Cards" together, you might fall into this category.

Partner-focused couples tend to spend a lot of time together and share hobbies or leisure activities, and it's that shared time that tends to propel them forward. They tended to be more careful and thoughtful about their relationship decisions — more likely to build from the inside out — and tended to be the most satisfied overall.

3. The Social Butterflies

Image from Esther Bubley, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection/Wikimedia Commons.

On the other hand, if your perfect evening with your partner involves grabbing all your friends and hitting the bars or breaking out Settlers of Catan for the hundredth time, this might be the category that best describes you. Social couples usually share a friend group and use that time spent with friends to inform and build their relationship as a couple.

"Having mutual friends makes people in these couples feel closer and more committed," said Ogolsky. They also tended to be pretty stable and have higher levels of love based on feelings of friendship toward each other, which can be a good indicator for long-term happiness.

4. The Dramatic

Image from Sofi/Flickr.

Unfortunately, not every couple's path is easy. Things may start out good, but tend not to stay that way for dramatic couples. This type of couple tends to make decisions based on negative experiences or stuff from outside the relationship.

"These couples have a lot of ups and downs, and their commitment swings wildly," said Ogolsky. "You begin to see little things eroding, and you start to see the relationship in a negative light, and soon you give up," said Ogolsky.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, dramatic couples tended to break up the most, twice as much as other couples.

So what's best? Well, here's where this article differs from a lot of those Internet quizzes. Because the answer is that there isn't a "best" kind of relationship.

Image from Maryam Mgonja/Wikimedia Commons.

Different couples work and grow differently. These are different pathways and it'd be a mistake to assume there's a "correct" way to love someone. Or even that you're forever locked into a certain style of relationships. "These are not predefined, for-life patterns," said Ogolsky.

And even in a single relationship, these patterns aren't predictors of destiny — a dramatic couple may, in fact, outlast a social one, and a partner-driven couple may be as passionate as anyone you could ever meet.

And the researchers willingly admit in their paper that their study doesn't cover all relationships. Many very happy couples have no desire to marry, for instance. And, it should be noted, that it wasn't too long ago that the U.S. didn't even allow all couples to get married!

Wait, you're not going to tell me how to find the perfect, golden, eternally-happy relationship?! Why even study this then?

Because, in our hearts, humans are social creatures, Ogolsky explained. Love, friendship, passion, and commitment are part of the human experience. Understanding relationships can be as important to understanding ourselves as studying chemistry or biology. They can even affect your health!

As for what you can learn from all this, the important takeaway is that what you use to make decisions — whether from conflict, from the inside, from the outside, or from friendship — can influence your level of commitment. It might be useful for couples to think not just about their choices but how they make their choices.

So ... what's your category?

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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