Scientists learned a lot in 2017. Altmetric, a London-based company that publishes the top 100 papers of the year based on their online popularity, concluded that the “most discussed” scientific article of 2017 was The Lancet’s study about diets, which found that limiting the amount of fat you eat may not actually reduce your risk of heart disease and death.
The top 10 most-discussed studies also covered topics like mental health problems in PhD students, pathogenic gene mutation in human embryos, flying insects, Ebola vaccines and a feathered dinosaur tail. There’s no telling why this heterogeneous array of topics was so hot in 2017, but its diversity proves just how much progress science has made across all fields.
We’ve learned a lot about sex and dating, too. Some of the top 100 studies considered how pubic hair habits correlate to STIs, declining sperm counts and even AI robots—and how humans may potentially start falling for them.
Knowing what we now know thanks to 2017 science, we’ve rounded up some harrowing sex and relationship predictions for 2018. Consider yourself warned.
1. If you’re not careful, you could catch a disease.
In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that, in 2016, Americans were infected with more than two million new cases of gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia—the highest number of these sexually transmitted infections ever reported. Only these three STIs and HIV need to be reported by physicians, so the CDC estimates that, including unreported cases of infections like herpes, there are more than 20 million new cases of STIs in the United States each year.
Might have something to do with the fact that almost half of 16-to-24-year-olds who are sexually active aren’t using condoms with new partners, according to a new YouGov survey. Oh, and that study about the correlation between pubic hair and STIs—it found that the more people groom, the more likely they are to catch something. So you can also probably expect a lot more bushes in 2018.
2. If you’re up there in age, your wife might just murder you.
According to a study by the University of Padova and the National Research Council’s Institute of Neuroscience in Italy, older widowed women are happier and healthier. The study was published in the Journal of Women’s Health and analyzed data on 1,887 men and women over the age of 65 who were randomly selected in northern Italy and studied for at least four years. The results suggest that widows experience less stress and frailty than married women—23 percent less, to be exact. The findings come in stark contrast to the age-old theory that a happy and healthy marriage leads to good health by lowering the risk of heart attacks and depression and by increasing cancer survival.
So, if you’re over the hill or getting close, you may want to keep an eye on your wife.
3. You might get the boot if you’re not fit enough.
As 2017 started wrapping up, researchers went ahead and asked 160 women to rate the attractiveness of photographed headless male torsos. Every single one of them chose the men with gains.
The study was published in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B. The women were shown one set of photographs of male university students and a second set of men recruited from a gym, who worked out between three to five times each week. The men were also given a strength test, which proved to be the strongest predictor of whether or not they were rated as attractive.
Researcher Aaron Lukaszewski, an evolutionary psychologist at California State University, said that researchers before him have been misled. Previous studies have used line drawings of the male body, as opposed to photographs, “which have shown hulk-like freaks of nature, that are at the borderline of looking like a human.” This study, he said, is more realistic and therefore presumably more factual.
If she’s already dating you, you could be in the clear—just be wary when she hits the gym alone.
4. Expect a lot less sex unless you do something about it.
Sex might seem more available to you than ever with the prevalence of dating apps, but the truth is that Americans are having a lot less sex than ever before—like less than their parents were. A March 2017 survey published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, found that American adults had sex about nine fewer times per year in the early 2010s than they did in the late 1990s. The researchers noted that they can’t even blame the decline on longer work hours or increased use of pornography. They theorize that, because people are having children later in life, they’re just too tired to have sex—a notion referred to as “the parenting effect.”
But come on, it doesn’t take that much energy or time. A 2017 survey by Saucy Dates found that women want to enjoy sex for 25 minutes and 51 seconds, while men are good with 25 minutes and 43 seconds. You can do it.
5. The chances of your woman leaving you for another woman are not not slim—and vice versa.
Research presented at this year’s North American Menopause Society’s annual meeting in Philadelphia revealed that sexual fluidity over time is a thing, and that it occurs in women much more than it does in men; even if they’ve never felt same-sex attraction ever before, it can come out of nowhere. These women, sometimes called “late-in-life lesbians,” are not uncommon. Lisa Diamond, PhD, professor of developmental and healthy psychology at the University of Utah, said that sexual fluidity may be due to “a complicated dynamic between hormonal changes, physical experiences and certainly sexual desires.”
But sexual fluidity isn’t just happening in women. You might leave her for another man, too. In November, the book Mostly Straight: Sexual Fluidity Among Men by Ritch C. Savin-Williams detailed mostly straight men’s sexual interests. Typically, they weren’t interested in long-term same-sex relationships, but they were certainly open and even “enchanted” by the idea of one.
6. Your woman might also leave you for a robot.
Apparently, a quarter of millennials think that human-robot relationships could soon be not just a thing, but a normal thing. And with sex bots becoming more and more lifelike, this idea isn’t so unfounded.
French advertising firm Havas studied 12,000 people between 18 and 34 years old. A total of 25 percent of them said they actually believe that it’ll be normal for humans and robots to develop deep friendships and even fall in love. The results were published in the firm’s latest Prosumer Report, which explores the ways in which emerging technologies impact humanity.
What’s robot speak for “good times!”?
Photo: iStock/Getty Images Plus/Mike_Kiev