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Issue Date: February 2006 Issue


The Meaning of Love


Amber Mathenson

We are a randy city.

The results are in, and they confirm what few may have suspected: If you're an average Clevelander in your 30s, you've slept with more than seven people in your lifetime (7.5 to be exact). In your 40s, the average jumps to 8.8.

Whether it's the six months of cuddle-up weather or the hopping Warehouse District nightlife, Clevelanders are above average (the national average for men 30-44 is six to eight, for women, four) in the number of people we've "gotten to know biblically" as the kids say these days.

How do we know" During a two-week period in December 2005, we asked a statistical sample of you. Thanks to everyone who gamely answered a telephone survey from our pollsters at TRIAD Research Group about love, sex, past infidelities and the traits that really matter (while we love to hit the hay with a partner, knowing the Kama Sutra apparently doesn't make that much of a difference; "adventurous personality" was the quality ranked lowest on our list of must-haves in a mate), we present our first-ever "Definitive Cleveland Love Survey," which discloses the answers to some of the things you always wondered about the normal-looking Average Joes and Janes sitting next to you in traffic on I-77 every morning.

Our city does conform to some stereotypes, we found. With a marriage rate of 59 percent, Cleveland is on par with the national rate of 60 percent. In many ways, we're an old-fashioned city still holding onto romantic idealism; a third of us say there's more romance in our relationships now than there was in the beginning. Thirty-two percent of our married population says they've only been in love once, almost 80 percent of us deny ever cheating on a partner and 10 percent of us firmly believe in waiting till marriage to have sex.

We learned just how many of you are still nursing an old heartbreak (10 percent) and where your affections lay (turns out most of you crave nothing more than a little honesty in a potential partner).
We discovered that almost a third of Clevelanders with an annual household income between $75,000 and $100,000 found love by the watercooler at their job.
We found that men and women don't always see eye to eye: 30 percent of the single guys polled say they're in a committed relationship, compared with 44 percent of the single women in the survey.

"Sure," some of you naysayers are probably smirking, "like you can really tell us the meaning of love."

We understand. After all, love is anything but solid. For some lucky souls love is eternal, close at hand, even ' easy. But for most of us, love is intangible, a fleeting enigma and, like the rest of the best things in life, definitely not easy.

Numbers are solid; throw a number out there and all of a sudden you're an expert. Seventy-three percent of Americans approve of Laura Bush; Britney Spears is the most-searched person on the Internet; 14.6 million Americans are on a low-carb diet.

See Numbers sound great.

Of course, we know love cannot be quantified. Love is elusive, precarious and tricky, as are all the incarnations of affection " romance, sex, marriage " that make up so many of our emotions and take up so much of our life. But we asked specific questions, and got some solid answers. Within the numbers were some telling bits of data that begin to reveal who we are as a city in love (or very much not in love: 1 percent of married Clevelanders say they've never been in love).

The survey results spread through the following pages are, at various turns, eyebrow-raising, engrossing and very candid. They were culled from an extensive phone poll conducted over a two-week period by TRIAD Research Group. The results are correct to a +/- 5 percent margin from a data set that includes almost equal parts men and women, East Siders and West Siders, married folk, singles, the divorced, the widowed, young people (starting with age 21) and older Clevelanders (who, surprisingly, were very frank with their answers and no more unwilling than anyone else to let us know how many one-night stands they'd had over the years).

Thank you, Clevelanders, for allowing us into your hearts. Thank you for supplying us with your intimate amorous escapades. Your honesty and willingness to spend 10 minutes on the phone with our researchers has provided us with a peerless snapshot of this city's approach to love, and extensive fodder for our beloved letter-writers.

Of course, we couldn't stop there. On our February pages, you'll follow our resident single gal as she hunts for love in Cleveland's nooks and crannies. You'll see another, even more primal mating ritual in the animal kingdom. You'll get some tips from a couple who've been together more than half a century, and you'll learn about divorcees who haven't written love off yet in our handy, tuck-in-your-Gucci chart of Westlake's "Divorce Row."

Watch out, ladies and gentlemen; we're going straight to the (ahem) heart of the meaning of love.

The Definitive Cleveland Love Survey

Age Range 21-30 31-40 41-50 51-70
What is your current status?    
Married 29% 71% 63% 67%
Single 66% 20% 25% 14%
Divorced 3% 7% 12% 11%
Widowed 0% 0% 0% 6%
Cohabitating 3% 2% 0% 1%
Is Cleveland a better city for singles or married couples?  
Married 41% 47% 43% 51%
Single 39% 21% 27% 11%
Don't Know 20% 32% 31% 38%
How many times have you been in love?    
Never 7% 0% 1% 2%
Once 39% 35% 25% 28%
Twice 33% 30% 24% 25%
Three Times 13% 19% 21% 26%
Four Times 1% 4% 9% 6%
Five Times 1% 4% 7% 2%
More Than 5 3% 4% 8% 4%
How often would you say you and your partner have sex?  
Once a year or less 2% 0% 0% 4%
2 to 3 times per year 0% 0% 4% 4%
About every other month 2% 4% 6% 7%
Once or twice a month 8% 18% 11% 16%
Once a week 20% 23% 24% 24%
2 or 3 times a week 43% 33% 28% 15%
More than three times per week 16% 7% 11% 3%
Refused to answer 10% 16% 17% 26%

East vs. West
We hate to keep the East-West split alive.. but all's fair when love is involved! (Plus, almost 90% of Clevelanders would travel across town for love.

East vs. West    
We hate to keep the east-west split alive ... but all?s fair when love is involved! (Plus, almost 90% of Clevelanders wouldtravel across town for love.)
  West East
Singles who say they go on five or more dates a month 0% 11%
Say they have been in love only once 39% 22%
Say intelligence is one of the most important traits in a mate 28% 45%
Say honesty is one of the most important traits in a mate 35% 28%
Say they would date someone from the other side of town 89% 87%
Say they have or would date someone from another race 70% 77%
Say they have met someone to date online or through an Internet dating service 11% 6%
Say they have met someone to date through a traditional dating service 3% 8%
Say they have had 6 to 10 sexual partners 15% 25%
Say it is appropriate to have sex after four dates 7% 12%
Say they have sex with their partner more than 3 times per week 6% 11%

Battle of the Sexes
What's gender got to do with it (love that is)? Apparently a lot, since men and women seem far apart on most things - including what they're looking for in a mate.

  Men Women
Say there is more romance in their relationship now than when they first met 29% 35%
Say they met their current or most recent partner in school 13% 22%
Say they have been in love only twice 22% 33%
Say they have been in love more than three times 17% 10%
Say they got over their first heartbreak in a month or less 27% 15%
Say they it took more than two years to get over their first heartbreak 4% 12%
Say physical attractiveness is one of the most important traits in a potential partner 51% 15%
Say financial stability is one the most important traits in a potential partner 15% 38%
Say it is very easy to meet someone in Cleveland 16% 6%
Say it is very difficult to meet someone in Cleveland 8% 17%
Say Cleveland is a better city for singles 19% 27%
Say they would not date someone from the opposite side of town 7% 13%
Say they would not date someone from another race 19% 28%
Say money is the greatest barrier to romance in their life 5% <1%
Say they have had more than 20 sexual partners 17% 2%
People who refused to answer how many sexual partners they've had 9% 24%
Say it is appropriate to become sexually intimate after three or fewer dates 32% 10%

Almost half of Cleveland's guys say it's at least somewhat easy to date in Cleveland. Maybe women really are too picky: only a quarter of the ladies think it's easy to find a date.

At 39%, the group making less than $25,000 per year was most likely to say our fair city is better
for singles than for the married folk.

On average, single Clevelanders have had 7.8 one-night stands.

Either somebody's lying, or there are a few ladies in our city who are really ... friendly: 17% of men we surveyed said they've had sex with more than 20 people. Only 2% of women were willing
to brag about having that amorous of a history.

 

Perception vs. Reality Where do you think is the best place to meet a potential mate Where did you meet your current or most recent partner?
Through family or friends 39% 27%
Bar or nightclub 13% 19%
Church 9% 2%
Singles groups or events 12% 1%
Online or Internet dating service 4% 6%
At a store 3% 1%
Traditional dating service 3% 3%
Personal ads in a paper or magazine 2% 1%
Other (work, school, etc) 11% 29%


Singles in the City  
People making more than $100,000 per year who are single 7%
Singles who date less than once per month 42%
Singles who say they've never been in love 8%
Singles who say the biggest age difference they had with a partner is 15 years or more 22%
Singles who say they are still nursing their first broken heart 16%
Singles who say they've never had their heart broken 8%
Singles who say honesty is the most important trait in a potential mate 30%
Singles who say their ideal Valentine's Day date is a quiet evening at home 48%
Singles who say they have had more than 20 sexual partners 24%
Singles who say they have never had sex 4%
Singles who say 'time' is the biggest barrier to romance in their life 23%
Singles who say it is OK to have sex on the first date 6%
Singles who say sex should wait until marriage 8%

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