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In 2020, ‘semi’ is the new ‘ex,’ because not every relationship is official

Maddy, a 24-year-old woman in New York City, defines “ex” as a past exclusive relationship.  

Well, most of the time. 

I spoke with Maddy after she completed a survey I created for this article all about the term “ex.” It was distributed over social media in February, and 283 people responded. During our conversation, Maddy discussed a woman she considers an ex — even though they were never exclusive.

“It does feel like she’s my ex, even though that goes against my own definition,” said Maddy, who requested to be referred by her first name for privacy reasons. “Just because of the level of closeness and the level of how much we expected from each other.”

Maddy is not alone. It’s 2020, and there are so many permutations of relationships beyond exclusive ones (not to mention those within polyamorous relationships, which I will not dive into here). We all have our own nebulous definition of “ex.”

There are so many paths a relationship can take, and there are just as many degrees of emotion we attach to them — even when they’re labeled outwardly as “casual.” When these types of entanglements end it can feel heartbreaking, as much as when you experience the end of a “real” relationship. But if those people are not exes, then what are they?

I propose we call these not-really-exes “semis.” It’s another prefix and incredibly fitting: Those people who got part of the way towards a “real” or “serious” relationship, but not quite all the way.

Here’s how it is used in a sentence: “Ugh, I got a 3AM text from my semi from last year.”  

I know, I know — yet another dating buzzword to describe our current dating landscape. There are, however, several reasons why I feel a word like “semi” is incredibly necessary. 

Our current state of dating

In retrospect, it does make some sense that the English language has not kept up with the various types of relationships we see ourselves in today. For a long time (and is still the case in some areas of the world), dating was something facilitated by parents, or at least one’s family. It usually culminated in marriage and the promise of children.

In the United States and many parts of the Western world, this shifted in the twentieth century in part due to social movements like the sexual revolution. Thanks to technology, however, dating in 2020 is far different from the courting of the nineteenth century and even dating in the twentieth century. It’s shifted the kinds of relationships we have with each other. And as our romantic interactions have changed, a plethora of terms to describe the scourge that dating has become have emerged. 

“It does feel like she’s my ex, even though that goes against my own definition”

Dating apps are certainly part of this. With a few swipes right and messages, you can get a date seemingly in an instant — and thus begins a new, unique relationship. Whether it be a one-night stand, a short-term relationship, or a life partner, it is in fact a relationship. That is even more true for queer people: More queer couples meet each other online than heterosexual couples.

But it’s not just dating apps that have contributed to an array of relationship permutations. Social media as a whole has had a hand in this. You may follow someone on Instagram that you dated years ago and haven’t spoken to since, for example. But something as ubiquitous as texting has also shifted our relationships. You can talk to someone for days on end and create a deep connection even if you barely had any face-to-face time. 

For better and worse, tech has made connecting much easier, and thus made forming deep connections with our fellow man much easier. On the upside, we can make friends online and keep in touch with faraway loved ones. The downside, though, is that we have tons of different relationships with people — and we don’t always know how to categorize them. 

Guy Winch, psychologist and author of How to Fix a Broken Heart, believes these loose definitions are generational to late millennials and Generation Z. The trend among young people is to not want to label relationships, to “see where things go.” Considering we are the first generations where apps and online dating permeated our dating experience, it makes sense. 

It’s this uncertainty that led Kate Wiswell, author of Full-Frontal Nerdity: Lessons in Loving and Living with Your Brain, to coin “eggplant” as a descriptor for someone who was not just a friend, but not a boyfriend, either.

Even six years after writing that blog, Wiswell believes the English language lacks language nuanced enough for the plethora of relationships we have. “I still feel incredibly frustrated by the lack of ability for us to have the right words to try and describe what we’re going through,” she said in an interview with Mashable. 

Millennial and Gen Z dating histories, according to Winch, are like the gig economy — patchworks of experiences. “There’s not the understanding of this linear process of you start dating someone, it intensifies in seriousness, and then either you get into a committed serious relationship or it drops off,” he said in an interview with Mashable. “That’s no longer the main model I think people are using.”

Labels do have their downsides, such as giving people false expectations or they can be seen as restrictive. But not labeling the relationship can also cause a lot of confusion. “People ‘go with the flow,'” said Winch, “but then they start to question, ‘Well, where is this flow going?'”

How people define “ex” now

Samantha Rothenberg, a comic artist who goes by @violetclair on Instagram, told me that she only considers someone an “ex” if they had that conversation where they label their relationship. 

“An ex must be someone who I had the relationship talk with where we firmly established that I’m his girlfriend, and he’s my boyfriend,” she said. 

In my survey, 73.4 percent of the 283 respondents agreed with Rothenberg and said they use “ex” only to mean a past exclusive, monogamous relationship. 

But that is not the whole story. While many felt the same way, others have a looser definition of the term. Over 37 percent said they refer to someone they’ve dated in the past for a certain amount of time as an ex, and 20 percent said an ex is someone they’ve dated for any amount of time.

Since we live in a time of friends-with-benefits and fuck buddies, I also asked about sexual relationships. Around 19 percent of respondents say they consider an “ex” a past, non-exclusive sexual relationship for a certain amount of time, while 6 percent consider an “ex” a past, non-exclusive relationship for any amount of time.

Additionally, Rothenberg polled her some 200,000 followers about the subject. The majority of the 4402 respondents, 54 percent, said they use “ex” more loosely than just past “serious” relationships.   

Not only is our definition of “ex” all over the place, but so is the amount of time we feel necessary to deem someone an ex. When asked about how much time is “a certain amount of time,” respondents answered anywhere from a month to six months to years. 

While Rothenberg has a tight personal definition, she said that it makes defining past relationships that did not have “the talk” harder to talk about. “It does kind of leave this weird gray area when I’m referring to one of those relationships,” she said, “I’m never sure what the correct term to use is.”

The “ex” conversation becomes even more layered once you consider queer relationships, which can take varying degrees of platonic and romance at any given time. This is something heterosexual people cannot seem to wrap their heads around even decades after When Harry Met Sally

Maddy said she does not know how to define the word when it comes to other queer people. “If ex is based on relationships,” Maddy said, “the only real model for relationships that we’ve had for hundreds and hundreds of years is straight relationships.”

Why “semis” deserve to be named

There is an argument that we don’t need to name these relationships, that they are unnamed for a reason: They are not significant enough to have their own names. If you were not in an “actual” relationship, why legitimize them with language?

It’s because these relationships, even undefined, are significant. We invested enough time and attention to have genuine feelings for this person — why else would we be talking about them? If they were insignificant, this gap in language would not exist because we would simply forget about them, they would not come up in conversation, we would have no need to truncate “that Tinder guy I hooked up with for six months but then it got weird…” or what have you. 

If it takes a paragraph to explain someone’s role in you life, it’s a lot easier to just create a word for them rather than will those feelings and memories away. 

“Even if someone is not officially your boyfriend or girlfriend, it can still hurt so much when it ends”

“Even if someone is not officially your boyfriend or girlfriend, it can still hurt so much when it ends,” said Rothenberg. She described how the emotional pain of a “situationship” ending could be brought on because you’re left with the fantasy of what could have been — rather than the reality of how a relationship could have played out where you see that you were not a compatible couple. 

Furthermore, your brain cannot tell the difference between those “not really” relationships and “real” ones. Breaking off a friends-with-benefits arrangement or with someone you dated but never DTRed — it’s painful. “Those relationships hurt because the fact that they’re nebulous doesn’t mean that our mind doesn’t fill in the blanks at some level,” said Winch, “With all kinds of hopes and expectations and anticipations.” 

Even if we do not know the future or the other person’s intentions, our mind fills that void. Winch commented, “Psychology hates a void. Something’s going to go in there, even if you’re not fully articulating it.” That’s what makes our hearts break over semis: it’s not about what actually happened. It’s about what we thought would happen, or what we thought about what was happening. If you pour your hopes and dreams into a friend with benefits you believe will for sure want to marry you, and then they don’t, of course it’s going to hurt. 

That is why we should not brush these semis aside, and why we should label them. 

“We need to find a way to embrace the uniqueness of various relationships,” said Wiswell. “There aren’t just a few little buckets that we can put everything into.” 

Where do we go from here? 

It’s difficult to say whether this relationship trend will continue. Wench believes trends to be a generational pendulum — perhaps those who come next will balk at the way millennials and Generation Z labeled or did not label their varying relationships, and the tides will shift. 

Furthermore, we don’t know the technological developments that will change dating. The landscape got a complete overhaul in the 2010s, and it may, and probably will, happen again. 

Our language should change with the times. I want my and others’ feelings validated by the words we use; I want there to be words to use, period. I do not want to have to rattle off a paragraph to describe someone who meant a lot to me — so instead, they’ll be my semi. 

Sony unveils its new DualSense controller with improved triggers

The age of the DualShock has ended. Welcome to the age of the DualSense.
The age of the DualShock has ended. Welcome to the age of the DualSense.

Image: sony

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With every new console, Sony has released a new DualShock controller to go along with it. Not this time.

What you’re looking at is the new DualSense controller, revealed Tuesday by Sony, a gamepad for the upcoming PlayStation 5 that looks like a cross between the DualShock 4 controller, the Xbox One controller, and a Stormtrooper helmet.

The most apparent features of the controller are the color and the size. The sleek white and black combo is a new direction for PlayStation aesthetic, which tends to stick toward a single color. It may point to the aesthetic of the yet-to-be-revealed console.

The DualSense seems a bit bulkier than the DualShock 4 and fills in the space around the two joysticks instead of having them stick out, which is very reminiscent of how Xbox has been designing their controllers since the beginning.

Naming it the DualSense instead of the DualShock 5 is a nod toward some of the new features of this controller. In the blog post, the company mentions new haptic feedback added to the controller  — which is likely more precise and localized vibrations similar to the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Con controllers — and adaptive triggers for the R2 and L2 buttons which, again, is how Microsoft has designed their triggers since the beginning.

Sony unveils its new DualSense controller with improved triggers

All of this is meant to improve immersion, the blog states.

“Our goal with DualSense is to give gamers the feeling of being transported into the game world as soon as they open the box. We want gamers to feel like the controller is an extension of themselves when they’re playing – so much so that they forget that it’s even in their hands.”

One other nice addition (or subtraction, really) to the controller is the lack of lightbar on the back of it. While there is still a large touchpad and some glow on the face of the controller, there isn’t a big light coming out of the back of it like on the DualShock 4. It’s not a huge issue, but sometimes that blue light will glare on the screen when playing.

Along with the new controller information, the blog mentions that we will be getting some information on the actual console’s design in the coming months.

The PlayStation 5 is planned to launch in the holiday season of 2020, and the company has previously mentioned that its launch should not be impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. 

Meet two adorable baby penguins in this aquarium livestream

Coronavirus social distancing has us sitting in front of screens a lot more than usual, which is rough considering that they’re largely filled with terrible things. Fortunately, an Australian aquarium is doing its part to fight the despair with the power of baby penguins.

SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium recently welcomed two King penguin chicks to the world, and is showed them off on a livestream today. One has already been named Sparkie, born to proud parents Skipper and Nancy, while Hudson and Terry’s chick will be named via a public competition on the aquarium’s social media

Suggesting a name will also put you in the draw to win a VIP Penguin Passport experience, which will let you meet the chicks in real life once the aquarium reopens. Like many businesses in Australia, SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium is temporarily closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic. Happily, since we cannot go to the penguins, the penguins are coming to us.

Iconic Bond girl dies

Legendary Bond girl Honor Blackman has died aged 94 from natural causes.

The star was famous for playing Pussy Galore in 1964 James Bond classic Goldfinger.

Honor Blackman in 2008. Picture: Getty Images
media_cameraHonor Blackman in 2008. Picture: Getty Images

Her family today paid tribute to the “adored mother and grandmother”, who also starred in The Avengers as Cathy Gale.

They also confirmed she died peacefully at home in Lewes, Sussex, from natural causes surrounded by her family, according to The Sun.

Honor Blackman in 1969. Picture: AP
media_cameraHonor Blackman in 1969. Picture: AP

A moving statement read: “She was much loved and will be greatly missed by her two children Barnaby and Lottie, and grandchildren Daisy, Oscar, Olive and Toby.

“As well as being a much-adored mother and grandmother, Honor was an actor of hugely prolific creative talent; with an extraordinary combination of beauty, brains and physical prowess, along with her unique voice and a dedicated work ethic, she achieved an unparalleled iconic status in the world of film and entertainment and with absolute commitment to her craft and total professionalism in all her endeavours she contributed to some of the great films and theatre productions of our times.”

Honor blackman and Sean Connery in a scene from Goldfinger. Picture: Supplied
media_cameraHonor blackman and Sean Connery in a scene from Goldfinger. Picture: Supplied

Honor also had roles as the goddess Hera in Jason and the Argonauts and Laura West in 1990s sitcom The Upper Hand.

She starred in a string of musicals too – including The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady and Cabaret.

More recently, Honor toured in Honor Blackman As Herself, which looked back at her life and career.

British actor Sean Connery kisses actress Honor Blackman during a party at Pinewood Film Studios, in Iver Heath, England. Picture: AP
media_cameraBritish actor Sean Connery kisses actress Honor Blackman during a party at Pinewood Film Studios, in Iver Heath, England. Picture: AP

Honor was born in Plaistow, East London, in 1925 to a civil service statistician dad.

Her parents gave her acting lessons for her 15th birthday and she then began training at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1940.

During the Second World War, she became a motorcycle dispatch rider for the Home Office.

She landed her first role on the stage seven years later in play The Blind Goddess at the Apollo Theatre.

After a series of minor roles, Honor landed herself a job as Cathy Gale in The Avengers, where she became a household name as John Steed’s first female partner.

Sean Connery as James Bond up to his tricks with actress Honor Blackman during the filming of 'Goldfinger'. Picture: Getty Images
media_cameraSean Connery as James Bond up to his tricks with actress Honor Blackman during the filming of ‘Goldfinger’. Picture: Getty Images

The role helped propel her to stardom and she was cast opposite Sean Connery in Goldfinger in 1964 – taking Judo for both feisty female roles.

At 38, Honor was one of the oldest actresses to play a Bond girl – five years older than Connery at the time.

She also starred in the ITV comedy series The Upper Hand, which ran from 1990 to 1996, as a glamorous grandmother with a taste for toyboys.

As well as acting, Honor enjoyed a singing career – recording a hit version of song Kinky Boots with her Avengers co-star Patrick Macnee, which referred to the boots she wore in the show.

Paul O'Grady and Honor Blackman attend the launch photocall for the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of The Avengers. Picture: Getty Images
media_cameraPaul O’Grady and Honor Blackman attend the launch photocall for the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of The Avengers. Picture: Getty Images

She also recorded a full album of tracks after her appearance in Goldfinger.

Honor married twice – the first time in 1948 to Bill Sankey in a marriage lasting eight years.

In 1961, she wed British actor Maurice Kaufmann and the pair adopted two children together.

They split in 1975 and Honor later revealed she preferred staying single.

Tributes have since flooded in for the star from co-stars and celebs.


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Actor Joe McGann, who starred alongside Blackman in the ITV series The Upper Hand, tweeted: “Just heard the very sad news that dear Honor has died.

“What a woman she was- fiercely bright, superbly funny and a wonderful actress on screen and onstage.

“I loved every day of working with her and I loved and respected her with all my heart. RIP.”

David Walliams tweeted: “Farewell Honor Blackman. She will live forever as Pussy Galore in


Film director Edgar Wright described her as the “ultimate Bond Girl and original Avenger”.

This story first appeared in The Sun and has been republished here with permission.

Originally published as Iconic Bond girl dies

Coronavirus: YouTube tightens rules after David Icke 5G interview

YouTube has moved to delete any coronavirus conspiracy videos violating the Google-owned service’s policies. The video sharing platform had attracted criticism to previously only limited itself to reducing the frequency it recommended them in its Up Next section.

YouTube’s latest move follows a live-streamed interview with notorious conspiracy theorist David Icke yesterday.

Mr Icke used his appearance to linked 5G technology to the coronavirus pandemic.

During the interview, which YouTube said would be wiped, Mr Icke falsely claimed there “is a link between 5G and this health crisis”.

When asked for his reaction to reports of 5G masts being set on fire in England, he added: “If 5G continues and reaches where they want to take it, human life as we know it is over … so people have to make a decision.”

Several users subsequently called for further attacks on 5G towers in the comments appearing alongside the feed.

Mr Icke also falsely claimed a coronavirus vaccine, when one is developed, will include “nanotechnology microchips” allowing humans to be controlled.

The discredited conspiracy theory added Microsoft founder Bill Gates – who is helping fund Covid-19 vaccine research – should be jailed.

His highly controversial views went unchallenged for much of the two-and-a-half-hour show.

The bombshell interview was viewed by approximately 65,000 people as it was streamed.

Some of these viewers tapped an on-screen button to trigger payments to make their live chat reactions more prominent.

YouTube only deleted the content after the session had ended, despite the site being aware of the broadcast while it was underway.

A spokeswoman for YouTube told the BBC: “We have clear policies that prohibit videos promoting medically unsubstantiated methods to prevent the coronavirus in place of seeking medical treatment, and we quickly remove videos violating these policies when flagged to us.

Alien technology discovered on Mars? Conspiracy theorist claims to find UFO part

UFO hunters have long targeted Mars as the place where they are most likely to find life. One alien enthusiast believes he has now found that elusive evidence which would indicate intelligent life on the Red Planet.

Prominent conspiracy theorist Scott C Waring has claimed that he has found a piece of technology on Mars which came from an advanced aircraft.

The finding appears to be a smooth rock, but Mr Waring believes that the smoothness indicates that it is a manufactured item.

In turn, Mr Waring argues, this suggests that an intelligent species resides, or resided, on the Red Planet and built the spaceship.

The alien enthusiast found the items while browsing through NASA’s Midnightplanets site, and was quick to share his supposed discovery on his blog.

Mr Waring wrote on ET Database: “I found this strange part of a structure in a Mars sol 3 photo. The photo is on the NASA site Midnightplanets, an official site run by scientists working at NASA.

“The object I found has smooth edges and is rounded at its ends, almost like part of a wing from an aircraft that has been perfectly sliced open. “

“The object is too smooth and too perfectly proportioned to be a natural.

“There is a rock like substance that appears to have flowed out of the inside of the wing and solidified into a solid hard substance.

“This is absolute proof that an intelligent civilization once thrived on Mars.”

However, sceptics and NASA would say the item and other similar findings are just the effects of pareidolia – a psychological phenomenon when the brain tricks the eyes into seeing familiar objects or shapes in patterns or textures such as a rock surface.