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The Future of Relationships

  1. THE 
 RELATIONSHIPS in collaboration with
  2. Everything evolves, including how human beings relate to one another in intimate relationships. Norms which have been relatively stable in this space have been mutating and changing rapidly over the past ten years - and will continue along this trajectory into the foreseeable future. In this report we will be sharing a snapshot of some of the forces and waves of change which are shaping the future of relationships. And while many of these data points may seem alien or downright strange, they point to a possible future of acceptance, openness and increased happiness through relationships that really work.
  3. Dating is different. Sex is different. Break-ups are different. Relationships, like most aspects of life, are undergoing exponential changes. Radical shifts in demographics, politics, religion and gender roles, coupled with technological leaps, big data and scientific breakthroughs, have permanently changed how humans relate to one another.
  4. We see three key currents of change that are shaping modern relationships…
  5. Technology Technological advances continue to shape and speed up all aspects of dating, falling in and out of love, communication and sex. Big data is changing the foundation of modern relationships. Data is volunteered, generated by apps, pulled from preference settings and pushed out by smart devices. Sensors in every space and in every thing not only track and intuit behaviors and predilections, but anticipate needs and augment experiences. On the other hand, technology has become so tempting and distracting that it has created a new kind of “love triangle.”
  6. Blurred Lines Americans are softening on same sex relationships. Polyamory - the practice of being in multiple consensual relationships simultaneously - is emerging as a more accepted (and out in the open) practice. Polysexuality (attraction to multiple sexual persuasions) is also a trending term, as is androgyny. Parents are allowing their child to select their gender. Male and female roles are blurring, making traditional classifications obsolete. Beliefs around marriage are shifting; divorce and multiple marriages, each fulfilling different needs, are becoming part of “normal” life.
  7. Kink Goes Mainstream As seen with the blockbuster success of 50 Shades of Grey and the provocative prime time performances of Miley Cyrus, formerly “deviant” sexual practices are becoming mainstreamed. Prime time TV programs explore sexual subcultures in the name of cultural anthropology, while shows like Masters of Sex demystify sex. A combination of relaxing moral codes and access to information about fetishes is galvanizing fringe groups, such as “yoga S&M.” Meanwhile, kink is la’s fashion runway lookbooks would have been wrapped in brown paper a decade ago.
  8. The following 16 slides illustrate key trends in relationships and sex sourced from the cultural strategy team at sparks & honey, in partnership with the Museum of Sex in NYC.
  9. Microbial Match-Making As we continue to map and explore our DNA and individual microbiomes, anticipate services that match people based on both. In an era where our biological makeup can be profiled, “chemistry” and “compatibility” take on entirely new meanings.
  10. Formula One Flirting The rise of instant gratification social media platforms like Snapchat, Vine, Tinder and Grindr have turned courtship into a fast and furious process. Seasoned speed daters find spontaneous snackable video snippets more authentic. Today, quick might trump cute.
  11. Selfie Scrubbing When image is king, nothing can be left to chance. We’ve seen a number of autocorrecting retouching services launch, such as Facetune, to fine-tune photos effortlessly. From profile writing to history cleansing, expect perfecting practices to become standard operating procedure for daters of the future.
  12. Quantified Relationships Moving on from finances and health, sex and relationships are one of the fertile new frontiers for tracking and measurement. Big [bedroom] data from sensors and apps, such as Spreadsheets, provide insights into your “performance” and why relationships (and sex) work or fail.
  13. Long Distance Foreplay We are no longer limited to physical comfort. Recent inventions such as sophisticated sexbots and Fundawear have compressed space and time, making virtual (or long distance) sex a physical experience. Virtual sex is no longer vicarious, but visceral. This stands to keep relationships intact as society becomes more mobile.
  14. Love Impact Metrics Metrics can now be applied to ephemeral concepts such as love. For the quantified self-inclined, stats help to optimize current relationships, extract learning from mistakes and guide planning the next encounter. Imagine one’s “love footprint” is not only measured but broadcast.
  15. Professional Cuddlers Science has confirmed the health benefits of intimacy and touch. In response, a modern (cleaner) spin on the oldest profession is a “Professional Cuddler,” who simply comforts with hugs a society of singletons. This must be loosely connected to the motivation behind the Free Hugs campaign. Hugging has also become a common greeting practice, sometimes replacing handshakes in US business settings. 

  16. Biometric Bonking Whether connecting with a distant loved one, living through another’s experience or having a fresh perspective on an encounter, wearables and virtual reality/augmentation innovations enable unparalleled sexual experiences. With so many different ways to track and manipulate biometrics (heartbeat, breath, sweat, electromagnetism, etc.), we expect “hooking up” to take on a whole new meaning.

  17. Cosplay Courtship As Cosplay goes from fringe to mainstream, we are seeing the emergence of in-character courtship, like Comic-Con speed-dating events. It seems like Second Life has evolved into “second skin” with costumes becoming important expressions of self. We foresee people discussing the pros and cons of inter-character relationships as they once did about inter-racial relationships.
  18. SIRI The Sex Surrogate As Augmented Intelligence and video games become increasingly sophisticated, expect humans to get attached to and develop real relationships with their hardware and software. The movies Her and Ex Machina deal with love in the age of seductive operating systems.

  19. Celibacy Syndrome Finding modern relationships too emotionally complicated, many men and women are choosing not to become romantically involved in any serious way. In Japan, a 2011 survey found that 61% of unmarried men and 49% of women aged 18-34 were not in any kind of romantic relationship.
  20. New Erogenous Zones In an overstimulated world, we seek new forms of heightened stimulation in the hope of discovering new erogenous zones. A bogus story about eyeball licking, also called “worming,” in Japan went viral and subsequently created interest in erogenous experimentation in the US.
  21. Porn Programmed Minds Large numbers of men are no longer physically aroused by real women due to overstimulation by too much pornography. The growth of erectile dysfunction drugs mirrors the growth of porn media, while the US birthrate has dropped. Today, men and women can choose to subsist solely on porn. Cindy Gallop’s Make Love Not Porn organization aims to promote “real sex” and bring back a sense of humanity and connection for sexual partners. 

  22. ASMR: Mental Massages and Braingasms A growing number of people are discovering the benefits of ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response). ASMR is a tingling sensation some people feel when exposed to soothing environmental sounds and soft talking. Proponents of the practice use videos and audio recordings to induce these brain tingles and promote relaxation. Prominent ASMR practitioners such as Lilium make their living making ASMR videos - a kind of therapist/digital friend.
  23. Dinosaur Erotica And Beyond How strange can it get? While some of the “sex with mythical creatures” genre was likely inspired by a joke, “Rule 34” is hyperbolically infecting every possible niche of culture. The more absurd and shocking it is, the more viral it goes. Some argue this is having an impact on real life expectations.
  24. Revenge Analytics We are a culture obsessed with forensic science; introducing, “relationship forensics.” This is not the future, but reality: daters are using sophisticated systems to discover dirt (or rave reviews) about their potential mates. From confessional websites to revenge porn posts, the Internet can be both fierce and forever. Never mind your Digital Death, you need to worry about your Dating Death.
  25. Six Second Breakups It's a story as old as time: boy meets girl; girl becomes Facebook friends with boy; boy and girl hook up after finding each other through Bang With Friends; boy likes some other girl's Instagram photo; girl unfriends boy; boy vines his breakup with girl and uploads it to Reddit. Relationships implode as fast as they begin.
  26. Artisanal Sex Toys With the advent of easy scanning and mobile phones with object recognition software, virtually anything smaller than a breadbox can be scanned. Combined with 3D printing and new fabrication technologies driven by material innovation, custom and artisanal sex toys take on a whole new dimension.
  27. Memory Sifters Through lifelogging devices such as the Narrative Clip, all aspects of a relationship can be coded and cataloged for review. Imagine reliving your entire relationship, or savoring key moments, with one push of a button?
  28. 28 SOCIAL AGENCY PR AGENCY DIGITAL AGENCY SEARCH AGENCY EVENT MARKETING AGENCY ADVERTISING AGENCY agency of relevance - Social & Cultural Listening - Competitive Intelligence & War Gaming - Segment Analysis & Tracking - Topic Deep Dives - Event Tracking - Issue Monitoring - Real-time Burst Identification - Channel Analysis - Content & Influencer Strategy - Editorial & Cultural Calendars - Macro Trend Identification & Quantification - Projecting Segments into the Future (Consumers of the Future) - Product, Service & Packaging Development - Business Model Design & Reimagination - Business Context Analysis - Futurism - Whitespace Identification - Brand/Partner & Acquisition Recommendations - Pre-Planned (70/30) Content Production - Online and Offline - Real-Time Content Production - Real-Time Commerce - Social Media Content (short and long form) - posts, tweets, vines, videos, blogs, etc. - Community Management - Influencer Outreach - Channel Optimization & Fan Base Development - Analytics & Measurement - Real-Time Media Amplification cultural strategy at the core cultural intelligence innovation content & distribution powered by BRAND
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