TIME Sex/Relationships

The Best Movies For Getting Over Your Ex

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This post originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

Our goal here is simple: to help you curate the perfect Rolodex of movies that will help you deal if or when things with your loved one fall apart. And, to help us in our quest for catharsis, we’ve consulted the very academic Kübler-Ross model of handling grief, which divides the process into five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance (because, above all else, we here at Refinery29 are nothing if not academics, of course).

There are many different types of breakup movies: the ones that are actually about breakups in the literal sense and the ones that deal with the different stages of breakups metaphorically. For instance: (500) Days of Summer. That’s about breakups. The Hours, on the other hand, is about handling grief, an emotion that occurs after any loss — especially the loss of a relationship. Because a list of breakup movies exists around every corner of the Internet, we’re digging deeper into the films that will help you cope with those separations in a far less overt but no less helpful way.

Movies, above all else, are therapeutic. The best ones allow us to relieve, relive, or re-evaluate our most tender experiences in a way that no other art form can. Click through to see our picks for the films that will aid you in getting through every one of those five stages — and straight on to renewal.

DENIAL: Silver Linings Playbook

There’s nothing sadder than watching someone refuse to accept the end of a relationship, but that’s what makes the burgeoning romance between Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence’s manic lovebirds so darn powerful. It’s only once Cooper’s character learns to let go of the woman who abandoned him that he can see the woman who’s standing right in front of him.

DENIAL: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Have you ever wished you’d never met the person who broke your heart? In Charlie Kaufman’s oddball romance, Joel Barrish (Jim Carrey) has that wish granted via a mysterious procedure in which the memories of his ex-girlfriend (Kate Winslet) are erased. It’s only then that he realizes the love they shared was worth the loss, but simultaneously, we are destined to repeat our same mistakes — no matter how good our intentions may be. Sometimes, love is just not enough.

DENIAL: (500) Days of Summer

Who else but Zooey Deschanel’s crush-worthy manic pixie dream girl could take a man’s heart and totally pulverize it? In Marc Webb’s refreshing take on the rom-com, that man is Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a hopeless romantic who must suffer the pains of a disintegrating relationship, before he emerges clear-eyed on the other side.

(MORE: 5 Strange But Effective Ways To Breeze Through Your Breakup)

ANGER: She-Devil

Imagine the premise of The Other Woman, except, instead of the pretty and palatable Cameron/Leslie/Kate trio, you have a maniacal Roseanne Barr with an angry mole. After being treated horribly by her husband, Barr’s Ruth goes after her husband’s four assets — home, family, job, and freedom — taking down the campy, WASP-y Meryl Streep (who is in true comedic form), who stole her husband. Brutal, evil, and demonstrative that hell hath no fury.

ANGER: Desperate Living

Within the first half-hour of this grating, disgusting, absolutely filthy John Waters film, Mink Stole curses out children, kills her husband, and goes on the lam with her lesbian lover. This pic teems with an urgent sense of discomfort and proves that bad guys get what’s coming to them, often up their own butts. Literally.

ANGER: Heathers

“I just killed my best friend.”
“And, worst enemy…”
“Same difference.”

Of course, we aren’t advocating any sort of accidental-murder crime spree here, butHeathers is the perfect reminder that sometimes the people stuck in your life are the ones who are the most poisonous. And, nothing feels better than Winona Ryder telling the psychopathic Christian Slater that all she wants is “Cool dudes like you out of my life.”

ANGER: Legally Blonde

There is one major takeaway from Legally Blonde: The best revenge is busting your ass to challenge yourself, meeting your goals, exploring new ventures, and not changing who you are in the process. So, you know, do that.

ANGER: War of the Roses

No, this isn’t about pre-Tudor England, but about a couple with a seemingly perfect marriage that begins to fall apart. Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner bitterly turn on one another and harness their possessions, pets, and, um, chandeliers to destroy the other. Spoiler alert: It works, and it is darkly, morbidly hilarious.

(MORE: What I Learned When My Boyfriend Cheated On Me)

BARGAINING: My Best Friend’s Wedding

Watching Julia Roberts play a woman who wants what she can’t have is like watching a cow go swimming. It’s not supposed to happen. But, as a lifelong careerist pining for her best friend as he plans his, duh, wedding, Roberts convinces us that falling in love with the wrong person is just as hard as it sounds.

BARGAINING: Chasing Amy

Ben Affleck’s Holden ends the movie by actually bargaining with his best friend and his girlfriend, offering a pretty stupid solution for all of the tension between them. And, the thing is, you can’t persuade anyone — especially yourself — to accept the one you love.

BARGAINING: Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Yes, this is the one where Jason Segel gets naked. But, he bares a lot more than his private parts as a lovelorn sound mixer forced to get over his famous girlfriend (Kristen Bell). He kicks and screams and begs and pleads for her back, before finally realizing they were never meant to be. How does he get there? Two words: Mila Kunis.

(MORE: The Ultimate Post-Breakup Hotness Manual)

DEPRESSION: Blue Valentine

Derek Cianfrance’s autopsy of a relationship-gone-bad is a staunch reminder that all things fall apart. Please forgive us for our doom-and-gloom perspective, but after watching Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams trade gut-punch after gut-punch as a couple caught in a downward spiral, we’re sure you’ll agree. Relationships. Are. Hard.

DEPRESSION: Chinatown

Watching Jack Nicholson’s bandaged gumshoe roam through Roman Polanski’s bleak depiction of postwar Los Angeles is just as depressing as it sounds. This classic neo-noir — in which the rich get richer, the disenfranchised drown, and corruption is rampant — is a staunch reminder that the world we live in is a scary, scary place.

DEPRESSION: The Hours

One of the things this Oscar-nominated film does so well is depict the complex, isolating nature of depression. And, not just depression, but, particularly, feminine depression. Three different women, three different time periods, and one emotion connecting them all. The film is a deft reminder that, despite any perceived evidence to the contrary, no one is really alone.

ACCEPTANCE: The First Wives Club

Yes, this movie does work on the premise that, after a certain age, your husband will probably leave you for a younger woman, which kind of sucks. But, it also affirms the power of a womanly bond and what happens when determined, strong women focus on something other than men.

ACCEPTANCE: An Unmarried Woman

Another man-leaving-for-a-younger-woman tale, this snapshot of New York in the ’70s doesn’t just address the end of a relationship but the sexual liberation of women as well. Jill Clayburgh, who was nominated for an Academy Award for this role, goes through the same five stages of Kübler-Ross outlined here, but she emerges from the other side empowered — and sexually fulfilled.

ACCEPTANCE: Postcards from the Edge

Adapted from Carrie Fisher’s true life story about getting clean and heading back to acting, Suzanne (Meryl Streep) has to sober up in order to continue with her film career, which means confronting sleazy producers, coming to terms with her overbearing mother, and dealing with addiction. Messy Meryl is both earnest and darkly dry. The film has a wise assumption: Many of us have dysfunctional relationships with our mothers, and the sooner we realize it, the sooner we can start laughing.

ACCEPTANCE: How Stella Got Her Groove Back

Terry McMillan’s life-affirming tale of a middle-aged divorcée (Angela Bassett) who (what else?) gets her groove back is the kind of movie that will convince you that sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side. Especially when the other side is made up of a wise-cracking Whoopi Goldberg, the sun-drenched island of Jamaica, and Taye Diggs with his shirt off.

ACCEPTANCE: To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar

While this movie has no real romance (Chi-Chi’s fling hardly counts), the lesson is powerful: You are who you are, and grace, class, and a sense of goodness are the best ways to be fabulous. That, and a “Say Anything Hat Day.”

RENEWAL: Breaking the Waves

We don’t normally turn to chronic pessimist Lars von Trier for tales of redemption, but in this mesmerizing tearjerker, he puts Emily Watson’s fragile, young Bess through an emotional firestorm before bringing her back via a spiritual epiphany that will stay with you for days, months, and years.

RENEWAL: Up

The opening montage of Pixar’s modern classic is admittedly one of the most devastating sequences ever put on film. But, after our curmudgeonly widower develops an unlikely friendship with a pudgy Boy Scout, our faith in humanity is restored.

RENEWAL: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Thematically, this is a story about beginnings. Just think about what a magical journey Harry (and film fans) have ahead of them. Let’s all take the opportunity to start again.

RENEWAL: Waitress

This poignant tale of redemption features Keri Russell as a stuck-in-neutral baker who finds new life in the form of a handsome doctor (Nathan Fillion) and a bun in the oven. No, not the kind that’s cream-filled, but the kind that takes nine months to be done.

TIME relationships

Why It’s So Hard to Make New Friends

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This article originally appeared on Refinery 29.

So, you’re an adult now (even if you don’t always feel like one). Maybe you eat popcorn and fro-yo for dinner on the regular, but you’ve also learned — we hope — how to keep both your plant and pet alive and kicking. If you’re lucky, you might have an actual love life, as well as a decent job, maybe even in a city you like.

But, despite all that good stuff, if you’re like lots of 20- and 30-somethings today, there might be one area of life that feels a bit lacking: your platonic friendships. At 37, I’ve noticed a trend: As more and more of my friends — both guys and girls — have gotten married and had kids, I, in turn, have started feeling more and more alone. I’ve often found myself wracking my brain to find people to hang out with on weekends. It’s been even tougher since I moved back to my hometown last winter, to be closer to my mom. I hadn’t lived here since I was 18, so it truly felt like starting from scratch.

Rachel, 36, a writer and also single, can commiserate. Naturally shy and still adjusting after a move of her own, Rachel doesn’t just have a hard time reaching out to form new friendships; she also feels “less likely to make an effort to connect with women who seem to be in different [life] places than me.” Understandably, she has started gravitating toward younger friends because she finds it somewhat difficult to relate to most locals (South Carolina folks) her age, who tend to be married with kids.As Rachel and I can both tell you, gone are the days when scoring a new BFF was as simple as walking up to that cool misfit in your math class and demanding to be his or her buddy. Oh, how times have changed. Until now, explains Andrea Bonior, PhD, author of The Friendship Fix, “we spent our lives being around people our age. In school [and] in college, [we had] natural proximity to an immense amount of people to choose to befriend.” As grown-ups, though, we’re so busy muddling through the daily grind of managing our lives — landing jobs, booking as many vacations as possible, navigating in and out of relationships, fitting in exercise, moving to new cities. It may feel easiest to keep in touch primarily through texting, Facebook, and Instagram instead of actually catching up face-to-face.

(MORE: How Not to Be a Toxic Friend)

See People in Person

But, if you’re mainly relying on virtual avenues to sustain your friendships, you could be doing yourself a disservice. “We may feel like we know a lot of people [online],” Dr. Bonior says. “[But,]… typing ‘LOL’ under someone’s Facebook status [is not] connection. You feel too busy to go out and see friends, but you have time to spend three hours a night looking at people’s Facebook vacation photos?”

No one’s suggesting you jump up and close shop on your social accounts right this second. But, if you’re feeling lonely in your real life, you might want to try using those avenues solely for what they are: networking hubs to help you keep track of old school rivals and camp friends. Random Facebook acquaintances won’t be there to hold your hand through a family meltdown or when you’re laid off from a job you love.

Skimping on in-person social time can also be detrimental to both your soul andyour body. Experts claim that up to one-fifth of Americans currently define themselves as “lonely” (and, according to AARP, that number rises to about 35% for people over age 45). Approximately 20% of adults lament having only one buddy to talk to, and depressingly, another 25% say they have no one at all.

That kind of isolation can cause lasting damage. Dr. Bonior notes that “having good, quality friendships improves your longevity [and] your mood, puts you less at risk for depression, helps you get over trauma, and helps your blood pressure.” The problem is that most of us don’t adequately prioritize our friendships; heading out to meet a pal at happy hour can start to feel more like a luxury than a necessity. Instead, Dr. Bonior urges that we treat our friendships as a healthy part of our routine, “like going to the gym.”

Using Tech as an Asset

But, what if you’re one of those people who honestly feel they have no one to hit happy hour with? We daresay it’s time to get out there and find yourself more friends. We know the idea might sound overwhelming (you couldn’t pay me to approach a stranger in Starbucks, whether male, female, or monkey), but isn’t your health enough of an incentive to nudge you beyond your comfort zone?

Janis Kupferer had to do just that after moving to Denver a few years back. While scoping out men on a dating site, she decided to check out some of her straight-female “competition.” Kupferer realized that some of the site’s female members seemed, well, cool — like the kind of people she’d want to be friends with. Inspired, Janis decided to launch a new social networking site, SocialJane, which is devoted to helping women meet like-minded buddies. The site looks like your average dating site, with boxes to add a profile headline, photos, your favorite activities, and more. “[It has] all the same features and benefits that [can make] looking for love online a success (ease, convenience, and community)…but for platonic friendships,” she explains.

So, does it work? I tested it for myself: I joined the site, created a profile, and messaged some women who seemed to share my interests. It’s been a few weeks and, as of now, none of the women have written back to me (sadface). I do realize that a lack of response is par for the course on dating sites, but I guess I was hoping for a change of pace in the friendship zone. Still, it’s a cool idea, and one of a handful of similar sites that are springing up, promising to help with the ever-difficult friend search.

(MORE: An Ode to the Best Kind of Friends)

Make an Effort to Engage

When it comes to real-life strategies for meeting people, though, Dr. Bonior says you needn’t look much farther than your corner cafe, record shop, yoga studio, or coworking space: “Frequenting the same places over time [is a good approach]… You’ll [eventually] feel like member of a community.”

You can also try volunteering, attending spiritual services (meditation clubs, support groups, or 12-Step groups work, too), joining clubs based on your interests (check out Meetup.com — there’s a meetup for EVERYTHING), taking classes, traveling alone, wine- and beer-tasting, joining adult athletic leagues (bocce! kickball! roller derby!), professional and special-interest conferences (gaming, writing, you get the picture), getting a new job…the list is long. Dr. Bonior also recommends joining “listservs for your apartment building, [commenting] on a blog you like…lots of people meet some of their best friends on the Internet” — provided you vow to take those budding buddies off your laptop and into the real world.

As for me, I’ve been in my new home base of DC for eight months and I’m still trying to pin down more solid friendships. I made one local writer-friend via Twitter, but the tactic that’s worked best for me has been asking friends in other cities if they happen to know any cool people in my re-adopted hometown — i.e., getting set up on blind, but pre-vetted, friend-dates.

The takeaway? Some folks are natural introverts who may be content hanging out alone, or with just one close friend or two. If that’s you, that’s great; you keep doing you. But, if you’re unhappy with your present social-support structure — as lots of people are — it’s up to you to push yourself to do things differently. As Dr. Kupferer notes, you’ve “got to stick your neck out.” Think of it as the first day of kindergarten all over again, and strike up a conversation with a stranger — over coffee, perhaps, instead of crayons.

(MORE: 6 Relationship Talks Made Less Awkward)

TIME Food & Drink

6 Refreshing Labor Day Cocktail Recipes

This post originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

You will most likely be headed out to a Labor Day barbecue of some sort this weekend (your small balcony equipped with grill counts, too), so it’s about time you start thinking about what to bring. While it’s just too easy to grab a case of beer and call it a day, we suggest you impress your friends and family with something a little more enticing than Miller Lite.

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We’ve gathered six festive cocktail recipes from some of Chicago’s top mixologists that are guaranteed to liven up any party. Don’t worry about regretting that decision to skip bartending school, these libations are super simple to put together. In fact, navigating the weekend shoppers at the grocery store will prove to be more difficult.

Labor Day libations are only a click away.

(MORE: The 10 Best Rooftops In NYC)

  • A Quiet Smoke in the Woods

    Created by Mike Ryan, Sable Kitchen & Bar.

    2 oz. The Black Grouse
    .75 oz. Madeira
    .25 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
    Two hard dashes Angostura bitters

    Stir and strain, serve up in a coupe glass. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry.

  • Clean Break

    Created by Benjamin Schiller, GT Fish & Oyster.

    2 oz. NOLET’S Silver Dry Gin
    .75 oz. Pimm’s No. 1
    .75 oz. Lemon Juice
    .75 oz. Simple Syrup
    3 Dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
    3 Cucumber Wheels
    2 Grapefruit Swaths

    Combine all, shake hard, double strain into a coupe.

  • The Royal Mile

    Created by Charles Joly, Aviary.

    1.5 oz. The Black Grouse
    .5 oz. Benedictine Liqueur
    .5 oz. Earl Grey Syrup
    .75 oz. Lemon Juice
    Egg White
    Rare Tea Cellars Bitters

    Combine all ingredients aside from bitters in a mixing glass and dry shake to combine ingredients. Add ice, shake, and strain into an old-fashioned glass with ice. Decoratively add bitters to top of cocktail.

    (MORE: Master the Grill This Weekend)

  • Dry Lime In The Coconut

    Created by Thomas Mooneyham of Henri and The Gage.

    1.5 oz. Brugal Extra Dry Rum
    1 oz. Ginger Syrup
    .75 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
    2 oz. Coconut LaCroix Sparkling Water

    Combine Brugal Extra Dry Rum, ginger syrup, and lime juice in a mixing glass, shake and strain into a Collins glass with ice. Top with Coconut LaCroix, quick stir, and garnish with a lime wedge.

  • Dry Rum Cooler

    Created by Pete Gugni of Scofflaw.

    1.5 oz. Brugal Extra Dry Rum
    .5 oz. Aperol
    1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
    .75 oz. Simple Syrup
    Cucumber
    Tonic Water

    Muddle cucumber and add Brugal Extra Dry Rum, Aperol, fresh lime Juice, and simple syrup to mixing glass. Shake and strain into a Collins glass with ice. Top with tonic water, and garnish with fresh cucumber.

  • Highland Breeze

    Created by Lynn House, Blackbird.

    2 oz. The Black Grouse
    .5 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
    1 tsp. Fresh Grated Ginger
    2 tsp. Orange Marmalade
    1.5 oz. Tonic

    Combine lime, ginger, and marmalade in a mixing glass and stir until marmalade dissolves. Add The Black Grouse and ice, shake until well chilled. Double strain over fresh ice into a double old fashioned glass, top with tonic. Gently stir and garnish with a blood orange twist.

    (MORE: 19 Summer Cocktail Recipes to Perfect Now)

TIME career

What Not to Include on Your Resume

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This post originally appeared on Refinery 29.

When putting together a résumé, we usually wonder what to include — not what to omit. To start, don’t include a picture of your cat.While that might seem obvious, recruiter Kelsey Brown counts that image as one of the wackier things she’s witnessed in her job hiring for Trunk Club. She also says she’s seen driving capabilities listed as well as a “rap” a candidate submitted by mistake, neither of which helped the potential employee.Other résumé killers may not seem as obvious. Here’s what to leave off your résumé to best snag a recruiter’s eye.

Your Entire Life Story
A résumé is not the story of your life. Do not include every single internship, job, volunteer experience, extracurricular activity, class or skill in this document. Instead, tailor it to each specific job opportunity. Include the most relevant and recent work experience. Think about which activities and volunteer roles best demonstrate the skills needed for the position. And, consider breaking up your résumé into sections: Professional Experience, Education, Volunteer Activities, Leadership Experience, Skills and Interests are some examples.

Bland Vocabulary
Lose the boring action verbs and break out the thesaurus. Recruiters review tons of résumés every day and you need to make your accomplishments stand out with compelling language. Did you help put together an annual report? Great! Consider writing, “Designed and edited a 20 page annual report that was distributed to senior executives, the board of directors, funders and partner organizations.” Tell your unique story with strong action verbs and vocabulary.

(Related: 7 Cliché Phrases to Avoid on Your Résumé)

Fancy Formatting
Simplicity in formatting is key. “Sometimes candidates go slightly overboard with pictures, designs, and, oftentimes, ‘fluff’ in order to make their résumé look more aesthetically pleasing. Instead, this can easily become a distraction,” Brown says. Job seekers should focus on the content of the résumé and the value they will add to a company, rather than developing a fancy format. The exception: for highly visual positions like graphic designers, photo editors, or front-end developers, your résumé will help establish your individual brand identity. Keep it simple but unique to stand out.

References
Give yourself more real estate on the page by leaving off your references. Most of the time, employers do not even think about references until after the initial interview. Instead, use those extra inches to dive deeper into a job responsibility or showcase your skills and interests, which Brown says is her favorite part of a résumé. She once interviewed a female student who played hockey for the men’s hockey team. Those few lines conveyed a great deal.

An Objective Section
Old résumé wisdom says to include an objective line at the top of your résumé; however, it really is unnecessary unless you are changing career paths. Objectives are rarely that captivating and are often skipped over in favor of reading the professional work experience. A great place to include an objective-like section is not on your paper résumé but rather on your personal website or your LinkedIn summary. You don’t have that much space on a résumé to share your unique accomplishments, so be selective and thoughtful about what you choose to include. Other things to consider? Brown says to leave out the headshots and artwork — and definitely that picture of your cat.

(Related: How To Make Your Résumé Really Stand Out)

Whether you’re fresh out of college or just looking for a new adventure, the best thing about career-forming years is deciding what we want to do and how we’re going to get there. Fortunately, the resourceful folks at Levo League are full of advice & inspiration for forging your professional path. The social start-up promises to provide a backdrop for figuring it all out — no matter how you define success.

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TIME Dating

How Men and Women Should Behave on a First Date

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This post originally appeared on Refinery 29.

Does it pay to play nice in the dating game? It does if you’re a lady, according to a new study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Plenty has been written about what behavior men and women like to see on a first date or in the early stages of a relationship. While we’re inclined to recommend behaving like, well, yourself, this recent study sheds fascinating light on how different sexes perceive “responsiveness.” The researchers defined responsiveness as a trait “that may signal to potential partners that one understands, values, and supports important aspects of their self-concept and is willing to invest resources in the relationship.”

“Sexual desire thrives on rising intimacy, and being responsive is one of the best ways to instill this elusive sensation over time,” explains the study’s lead researcher, Gurit Birnbaum, PhD. She and her team of researchers from the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, the University of Rochester, and the University of Illinois hypothesized that responsiveness might be perceived differently by different sexes and in different contexts, and so they devised a series of scenarios to investigate.

(More From Refinery 29: Women Are Threatened By Women Wearing Red)

In their first study, designed to assess whether men and women tend to view a “responsive” person of the opposite sex as attractive, individuals were assigned partners and instructed to interact with them. (The study was limited to heterosexual singles — specifically, 112 undergraduate students.) Men, it turned out, evaluated conversation partners who had been coached to be “responsive” — to exhibit concern, understanding, and support — as the most “feminine” and sexually attractive. But, women did not associate responsiveness with “masculinity,” and even found more-responsive men (marginally) less desirable.

In a second study, participants chatted online with either responsive or non-responsive different-sex strangers. Beforehand, each participant viewed a photo of his or her partner. The catch: Each woman was given the same photo of a man, while each man was given the same photo of a woman. Participants were then instructed to share problems in their lives with their virtual-conversation partners via chat. The responses were predetermined: Non-responsive virtual dates glossed over their partners’ feelings (with replies such as “Doesn’t sound so bad to me”) while responsive partners offered more comfort and understanding (e.g. “You must have gone through a difficult time”).

(More From Refinery 29: Are You Settling In Love?)

After spilling their guts to online strangers, unwitting participants evaluated how sexually attractive they found those virtual dates. Again, while men rated responsive women as more desirable than non-responsive women, a significant number of women reacted negatively to responsive partners, viewing them as less-desirable than non-responsive men. “Some women may interpret responsiveness negatively and feel uncomfortable about a new acquaintance who seems to want to be close,” Dr. Birnbaum says. The researchers admitted that while the relationship between responsiveness and men’s sexual preferences appeared to be fairly straightforward, women’s desires seem to be more complicated. Are we surprised?

Trying to parse the reasons people find one another appealing is obviously difficult, since so many of our desires are culturally constructed. We’re used to media depictions of women as caring and nurturing, while men are far less often portrayed this way, and these representations influence our real-world expectations. What’s more, there are plenty of reasons why women might be skeptical of men who seem overly attentive. But, as long as it’s done without a hidden agenda, there’s nothing wrong with responding to others with empathy and encouragement — values that should have no gender.

(More From Refinery 29: Dating 101: The New Rules)

TIME advice

10 Tips Every Introvert Should Know

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This post originally appeared on Refinery 29

Lately, we’ve been talking a lot about what it means to be an introvert, kicking off with Susan Cain’s landmark book Quiet and culminating most recently in a New York Timesop-ed debunking the Myers-Briggs personality test (which may be the reason, flawed or not, that many people self-identify as introverts in the first place).

But, as much play as the topic of introversion has been getting, the original (though perhaps whispered) war cry of wallflowers everywhere hasn’t seen much action. That’s right, we’re still not talking much about simply being shy. And, maybe we should be.

“Being shy and being introverted are not necessarily one and the same thing,” says Harvard-trained psychotherapist and author Katherine Crowley. Shy people tend to be the observers, the listeners, and sometimes the hardest workers among us — and yet, the very qualities that make them especially valuable can hold them back.

So, what’s a shy girl to do in a be-agressive, ask-for-what-you-want world, when she feels a little lost in the crowd? Well, not change dramatically, for starters. We chatted with a couple of experts to find ways for you to work within your personality type and achieve professional and personal success — and also know when to challenge yourself so that shyness doesn’t hold you back. Read on for pro tips about how to speak up and stand out.

(Related: The Yes-Woman’s Guide to Being Assertive)

Learn To See Your Shyness As A Strength

Being shy is often described as a drawback, but it’s actually a really valuable quality and — especially when you’re a shy person who might be a little self-conscious about it — it’s important to understand why.

“Shy people are very good observers, not busy being known or making sure everyone sees them, so they’re usually very aware of others and good at picking up on themes in a meeting, and figuring out what other people’s motivations are,” says Dr. Crowley. And, this isn’t just the case in the office: Shy people have an advantage in their personal lives with social groups, because they intimately understand the dynamics at play — which often allows them to avoid missteps, faux pas, and other things that less-observant people might not be aware of, so that they can set themselves up to get what they want. Plus, when they say something, people tend to actually listen, since shy people don’t always assert an opinion.

Another great thing about shy people, says relationship expert and author Andrea Syrtash, is that they tend to be excellent listeners — so, people feel like they can come to you to help solve problems. And, being the person who others look to is a highly prized leadership quality that can easily work in your favor.

But Figure Out When It’s Holding You Back

Okay. We’re all on the same page; being shy can be a really good thing. But, it can also be something that keeps you from being noticed, even when you’re doing things that are unequivocally trophy-worthy. What to do in those cases? Determine what’s holding you back and find workarounds — even if it means going out of your comfort zone.

As Dr. Crowley points out, recognition isn’t doled out based on fairness. “The reality is that shy people are often the workhorses in the office,” she says. But, we live in an age where personality is king, and sometimes it’s the loudest voice that gets all the attention rather than the one that’s doing most of the work.

So, here’s how you make yourself heard. First, figure out which channels make it easier for you to assert yourself, whether that’s scheduling a one-on-one meeting with your boss every week to go over the progress you’ve made, or sending out a regular wrap-up email or to-do list.

On a personal front, you might be tempted to hold back from telling a partner how you really feel about something. Syrtash cautions against that impulse, saying that it often manifests in passive aggression that will ultimately hurt every kind of relationship. So, figure out what setting makes you most comfortable, and then be brave and try to discuss the tough stuff under those conditions.

(Related: A Hollywood Producer Dishes On How To Be Confident At Work)

Bring Back The Buddy System

Remember the days when going somewhere alone seemed like the scariest possible thing, and how adding a friend into the mix immediately helped? Well, it still works. If you won’t know very many people at a social gathering or are headed to an ever-dreaded networking event (where you’re expected to mingle with unfamiliar folks and also manage a little self-promotion in the process), think about bringing the buddy system back.

Dr. Crowley says it works the same way as it did in our younger years: Knowing someone is there with you really helps to set you at ease, and a friend or colleague who knows that you might have a little bit of a tough time warming up socially is the perfect cheerleader.

Of course, this trick doesn’t totally work when it comes to dating. Whether you’re out at a bar or just chilling in the park on a sunny afternoon, it’s just a fact that groups are less approachable than people flying solo. So, challenge yourself to do something on your own, suggests Syrtash — but make sure you’re in your literal happy place. “In spots that make you comfortable,” she says,” you’re going to be the less shy version of yourself, giving a suitor the opportunity to swoop in and say hello.”

Breathe. No, Seriously.

Yes, this might seem a little yoga-teacher-y. But music therapist Maya Benattar regularly recommends it to clients who feel a little panicky in highly visible social or professional situations. Her tips include mindfulness exercises like noticing the top of your head and the bottom of your feet, and just getting into your body. It’s a good way to ground yourself in the present and remember that everything is just fine.

This works when it comes to public speaking and presenting, too. She recommends “keeping it short and sweet… and being gentle with yourself.” If you know you’re projecting a chilled-out persona, that will help you to feel calmer. It’s a self-fulfilling cycle.

Memorize the First Rule of Improv

If you’ve never taken an improv class, that’s okay. We’re going to tell you the most memorable takeaway right here: Never ask a question that might elicit a “no.”

Why not? Because it shuts down the conversation, and that makes everyone uncomfortable (shy people especially so, because then you have to figure out how to navigate over to the next subject). This is pretty easy to master in the workplace, where it’s easier to de-personalize…but what about when it comes to dating?

Great news: Being a shy date, when you go about it the right way, can actually be an awesome experience for the other person. Lots of people have what Syrtash calls the “opera singer complex” — where everything is about “Me! Me! Me!” (say it out loud, you’ll get it) — and if you pair two of these people, they’ll both walk away feeling like their date didn’t put enough focus or attention on them. So, you can mask your shyness a little by asking questions, remaining curious, and really listening to the person sitting across from you while talking to them about their life and keeping the conversation going.

“Being a shy dater really allows your date to shine,” she points out. But, she also cautions against asking questions all night without answering any yourself. Sure, it’s good to be a little mysterious, but dating is a two-person game, not a one-way interview, and in order to make an impression you have to do more than listen: You have to share.

Know When You Have To Speak Up For Yourself

This is admittedly the toughest thing for shy people to do; but sometimes you have to have your own back to accomplish your goals. And, that can come at the cost of your own comfort.

All three of the pros interviewed for this piece emphasized that sometimes putting yourself out there is the difference between getting what you want — whether it’s a promotion, a job, or the significant other of your dreams — and not. So, make a practice of knowing the best ways to make yourself stand out at work, get things off your chest with your friends, and tell your partner what’s in your heart and mind. It’s your job to find the microphone in the way that’s most manageable for you. You don’t have to do it all the time, but you should be able to pull it out when it matters.

(Related: The “Confidence Gap” That’s Holding Women Back)

Face Your Fears

No matter what you need to say, or to whom, sometimes you just need to face your fears. The good news is, practice makes perfect.

Because, here’s the thing about shy people: They’re like old-fashioned Edison bulbs. It might take some time to warm up, but once they do they burn just as brightly as anything else. Think of dealing with a tough situation as a warm-up to help you handle it when it comes around the next time. Practice, in this case, can make (almost!) perfect.

One more thing: Confidence often comes from fulfilling the commitments you make to yourself — and trusting yourself to keep the pact — so if you want to be less shy, commit to it and deliver, and you’ll become more comfortable over time.

Let Your Passion Drive You

“It’s important to remember that people will connect with the intention behind your words, so if you stumble a bit when you speak, or get nervous, simply let your passion shine through,” says Benattar. “Passion doesn’t need to be perfect.”

How does that actually work? For one thing, try asserting yourself in situations where you already feel passionate. If you love working with animals, volunteer at a shelter with a group, where it might be easier for you to take the lead because you’re doing something you care about. And, translate it to your love life by guiding plans to play to your strengths and interests. If you’re doing something you enjoy instead of just sitting at a restaurant where you have to make conversation, communication will come more naturally, and the awesome parts of your personality can take center stage.

Channel Your Vacation Self When All Else Fails

This is an amazing Syrtash-ism and we love it. “When you’re on vacation, you’re a little more open,” she says. “You’re not in your head the whole time, and you tend to be more present.”

Basically, you’re a breezier you on vacay-mode — and why not? Suddenly, the everyday bullsh*t is suspended and you only have to think about the “now” instead of next week and the week after that. “We’re not in our heads as much on vacation, and we just let things happen in the moment,” she says. Vacation brain is a good thing to hold onto, when you’re trying to meet new people, especially, because it helps to offset the pressure.

An added bonus? “The next time you see someone you met as ‘vacation you,’ you might be comfortable enough to take a few more risks and show more of yourself.” Cheers to that.

When You Need Help Get Help

Sometimes — even with a full toolkit to help you deal — shyness just holds you back and there’s nothing you can do about it, even with the help of friends, coworkers, partners, and support networks. That’s when it’s time to call in the pros, Dr. Crowley says.

“The most important thing is to check your interpretation of reality. You might feel almost stuck inside yourself, inside of the box” — and that makes dealing with situations head-on next to impossible. In this case, you might want to explore your options for career or executive coaching, which will equip you with the skills to get out of your head and achieve your goals.

If you’re not quite ready to go the coaching route, talking about your personality quirks and communication needs with friends, coworkers, or even your boss can work. If you ask for help, people are usually more than happy to come to your aid. All you need to do is take the first step, but remember: Getting past your shyness will require admitting out loud that you’re shy. But, you can totally do that.

More From Refinery 29:

TIME health

6 Major Myths About Hydration

Louise Morgan—Getty Images/Flickr
Louise Morgan—Getty Images/Flickr

Summertime, and the living is…sweaty. As the temperature rises, our bodies lose more water (thanks, miracle of perspiration!). So, it becomes increasingly important to chug lots of liquids and stay hydrated throughout this ever-sweltering season.

Why Hydrate, Anyway?
Millions of your body’s core metabolic processes rely on water; it helps regulate temperature control, fluid volume, and overall lubrication. Staying hydrated also helps your system flush out waste and maintain proper blood pressure / heart rate. Water can even aid your body in keeping up a healthy metabolism. How (and when) to hydrate, though, is the million-dollar question — and the stuff of some often-overheard health myths.

Myth #1: Drink Eight 12-Ounce Glasses, Every Day
One thing people tend to get wrong about hydration is that eight 12-ounce glasses per day is the ideal requirement for everybody. Humans are all different, and eight (glasses of water, hours of sleep) is a variable number. The amount of water you actually need per day depends on climatic conditions, what type of clothing you’re wearing (yes, really), and your exercise intensity and duration (every pound of sweat you lose is a pint of water you’ll need to re-supply). Generally speaking, The Institute of Medicine recommends about 91 ounces of water per day for women and 120 ounces for men. Still, the Institute suggests that in everyday life, most folks can meet their bodies’ hydration needs by simply following their thirst.

Myth #2: Just Drink When You’re Thirsty
Thirst can be a sign of dehydration, but not always — sometimes it can just mean you’re craving a soda. Drinking when you’re thirsty is all well and good, but don’t hold out for a thirst-alert when you’re working up a sweat; exercise can actually blunt your thirst mechanism, causing you to feel un-thirsty even when your body is screaming for water. So, stay on the safe side and drink up during physical exertion.

Myth #3: A Sports Drink Is Your Best Bet
What to drink depends on what you’re doing. If you’re engaged in high-intensity outdoor exercise like distance running, a beverage containing sodium and electrolytes (such as Gatorade) can be replenishing. But, it’s even healthier to stick with good old-fashioned water and then nosh on a nutritious, post-workout snack that’s rich in sodium or potassium: bananas, orange slices, or unsalted nuts are great options.Other (non-alcoholic) beverages can contribute to your body’s daily hydration needs, too. In news that’s sure to thrill coffee snobs worldwide,The Institute of Medicine has determined that a few daily cups of caffeinated beverages can help you meet your daily water requirement. We repeat: It’s been proven that moderate amounts of caffeinated drinks do NOT negatively affect your hydration levels, hallelujah. Still, plain water is your best bet when it comes to hardcore hydration. Research shows that water can be digestion-boosting; plus, it’s calorie-free (because who needs sugary sodas, anyway?).
 
Myth #4: There’s No Such Thing As Too Much Water
Celebrities and laypeople alike have claimed that consuming extra water can improve your skin, help you sleep, and boost overall health by “detoxing” your body. But, it’s not necessary. “There is no evidence that excess water makes your body more clean,” saysStanley Goldfarb, M.D. of the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.Also, water poisoning is actually a thing: You may have heard about the risk of hyponatremia (a.k.a. low sodium levels), which can result from drinking too much water. Though hyponatremia is rare, it’s a dangerous condition that can develop when athletes dilute their bodies’ natural sodium content by downing excessive H20 — causing their water levels to rise and their cells to swell. Prolonged-endurance athletes, like the ballsy folks you see at marathons and triathlons, tend to encounter this ailment most frequently; it’s generally not something you need to stress about during barre class or a power-walk through Central Park. No need to go overboard and try that extreme-water-drinking thing that was hyped for a minute.

You’ve probably heard that proper hydration leads to completely-clear pee. That’s true for the most part, but you can cut yourself a bit of slack; a healthy urinary hue can range from fully clear to a light, lemonade-ish yellow (mm, refreshing!). Dark urine does indicate dehydration, though, so pay attention to what’s in your toilet bowl, especially during the summer — and drink more water if your pee is more deep-gold than pale-yellow (you should be drinking enough to make you hit the bathroom every two to four hours, by the way).
 
Myth #6: Severe Dehydration Is An “Old-People’s Problem”
Although dehydration is a bigger risk for children, older folks, and people with chronic illnesses, it can and does happen to healthy adults, too — especially those who live in high altitudes or who exercise vigorously in hot, humid weather. Other than thirst, signs to watch for are heightened temperature, a flushed complexion, rapid pulse, fast breathing, dizziness, and overall weakness. If you notice any of those symptoms, stop what you’re doing and replenish your fluid levels, ASAP.
 
You’ll want to seek out immediate medical care, though, if you notice signs of extreme dehydration, such as: super-dry mouth, skin, or mucus membranes; sunken eyes; little to zero urine output; pinched-looking skin; low blood pressure; and confusion, delirium, or unconsciousness. Complications of this kind of dehydration can be frighteningly severe: seizures, brain swelling, kidney failure, coma, and even death, to name a few.
 
Sounds Scary — Here’s How To Deal
The best way to deal with dehydration is to drink enough liquids to prevent it from happening in the first place. Other ways to stay hydrated this summer are to eat water-rich fruits and veggies such as celery, pineapple, watermelon, kiwi, citrus fruits, and carrots; they won’t meet your hydration needs on their own, but they can help give a boost. Coconut water is great, as are some forms of dairy, such as yogurt and kefir. Soup, oatmeal, and smoothies are also good choices.
 
No matter how you opt to keep your body fluid-filled this July, make hydration a priority. The summer months may be all about fun in the sun, but there’s nothing more fun-squashing than having to hide out in your apartment (or beach house, or hotel room, or cabin in the woods) with a bad case of the dehydration blues.
 

TIME

5 (Good) Reasons to Skip Your Workout

Here’s a fitness rule you shouldn’t follow: “Never skip a workout.”

Forcing yourself to stick with an extreme program that tells you to “never, ever deviate” (we’re looking at you, restrictive diets and aggressive fitness plans) isn’t sustainable. And, at R29 Wellness, we believe that living healthfully and staying active is a lifestyle — not just a month-long commitment.

With any regular training program, you should be taking one to two days off per week to allow your body to recover, explains performance coach and exercise physiologist Pete McCall. This helps prevent burnout and ward off injuries by giving your muscles time to heal. As McCall points out, a rest day doesn’t have to mean spending hours on your couch; you can recover actively by taking a low-intensity walk or scheduling a restorative yoga class.

But, there are times when doing nothing at all is your best bet for mental and physical health. (Unfortunately, having just bought a bottle of wine doesn’t quite make the cut.) Ahead, five common scenarios where sleeping in (and/or eating the damn cookie) will leave you more refreshed and energized than pushing through your regularly scheduled sweat session would.

This post originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

TIME career

10 Tips For Being Happier at Work

It’s Thursday. Meaning: Only two more days between you and the weekend. But, there are probably a thousand meetings, deadlines, and co-worker spats between here and there. Awful, we know. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. In an alternate universe, you could be happy at work — even on the days when your boss is being unreasonable and you’re stuck in the office absurdly late.

We hit up Nataly Kogan, cofounder and CEO of Happier (a wellness company that’s all about helping people get happier and healthier in every part of their lives), for a no-BS guide that could legitimately change the way you see your job. Because, here’s the thing: It’s all about perspective, and finding a smarter way to deal with the mundane stuff.

Sure, if you’re truly miserable, you should find a new gig. And, if you’re medium-unhappy, maybe you should still be looking. But, until you find that next job, you’re most likely stuck with this one. Even if you love your job (like we clearly do — after all, we have balloon hats at our company meetings), some days are harder than others. Which is where our handy-dandy guide comes in.

The 10 simple tips to upgrade your daily grind, right this way.

This content originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

TIME health

How Dieting Changes Friendships

Dinner table illustration
Illustrated by Sydney Hass

Diet, whether we like it or not, plays a role in our social lives. Think about the culture of your office lunch — there’s the gluten-free faction, the microwave Easy Mac-ers, and those February Fridays when everyone just goes crazy and orders burgers because it’s snowing again?? Remember that one group dinner when no one could tell if anyone else wanted dessert, so you all just stared each other in silence while the waiter stood, clutching menus, hating you harder by the second? And, how about the dietetic minefield that is brunch?

Food has a way of drawing lines between friends, and it sucks. How many times have you started a diet with a friend in the hopes that you’d support each other and keep each other honest? Sometimes it works, and you spend a few weeks hitting the gym together, reporting every froyo skipped and every cocktail made “skinny.” And then, someone starts to deviate. Here’s a semi-true text I’ve both sent and received on more than one occasion: “My back is really bugging me. I think I need to skip yoga tonight. I’m so, so sorry! Are you mad?!” (Side note: My 30th birthday present to myself and all my friends was to quit it with the “are you mad” stuff.) Sometimes their response is “Thank God, I WANT WINE NOW PLEASE,” and then you just bring your mats to the wine bar and everyone is happy. Other times, you’re not on the same page. That’s when you’re no longer cheating on the diet, you’re cheating on your friend. At least, that’s what it feels like. And, it feels like that because that’s how you set it up.

(MORE: 10 Buzzy Superfoods That Work)

Okay, that’s not entirely fair. (Man, is anything fair with this food stuff?) Even when we’re not doing the buddy-diet thing, the way we eat always seems to be a part of the conversation. It’s a natural social inclination to discuss this kind of stuff, but it’s certainly been perverted by the diet-centric culture in which we live. Our great-great-grandparents might have sat around each other’s kitchens discussing food in different terms — the best recipes, the nutritional content, the economic value — and we might as well, to a degree. Goodness knows I get pretty excited when I find an avocado for less than $3. But, I’m pretty sure my great-great-grandmother never boated ‘cross the fjords to tell her bestie she’d found a sick recipe for low-carb smørrebrød.

(MORE: The Mindful Eating Trick That Saves Me)

People often say that it’s hard to have a social life when you’re on a diet: You can’t go out for cocktails because of the cals, you go home early so you can hit the gym early, you opt out of your own birthday cake. It sucks. The rude awakening I’ve had over the last six months is that giving up dieting is the opposite side of the same sucky coin. Have another cocktail, sure. Have a mudslide, if that’s what you really want! But, be prepared for raised eyebrows — even if you’re only imagining them.

 

Dinner table illustration
Illustrated by Sydney Hass
Illustrated by Sydney Hass

Food-related socializing can be challenging now. Even trickier? I’m finally realizing just how many of my social interactions are food-related. In the old days, I had friends with whom I was “bad” — those friends I’d associate with cheeseburgers and a back-up bottle of wine in the fridge. Then, I had friends that spoke the language of food-fear, and together we made guilt-free soups and counted out portions of baked chips. In all these relationships, we had more in common than food, thankfully. Though, because food was the axis I spun on, it became the center of these interactions, too.

(MORE: The Science of a Perfect Relationship)

But, the more I become an intuitive eater, the less food is my anchor. I don’t “cheat” anymore, and so gone is the thrill of the “cheat night.” I don’t constantly crawl the internet for low-point guacamole recipes, and now guacamole is just the thing we eat while we hang out, not the entire reason for hanging out (spoiler: that’s kind of the goal). Sometimes it’s as simple as not being hungry at the same time as my friend. I know, call Dr. Phil, how will we ever get through a crisis of this magnitude?

When you go against the grain, you will be challenged. Your usual support system might take a while to adjust. The one in your own head is what you really need to focus on. Because there will always be naysayers. There will always be moments when a friend might set you off on a diet-minded tailspin with her no-cheese, no-yolk omelet, accompanied by salad with the dressing firmly on the side. Faced with your perfectly acceptable pancakes in those moments, there’s no other back-up but you. And, you, if you’re me, is the toughest nut to crack.

My friends have been there for me from day one, but some of them didn’t necessarily get it. If I’m honest, I think some of them still don’t. But, what a relief to discover that that’s okay. My friends, my coworkers, my boyfriend and I don’t necessarily need to be on the same track about absolutely everything. Just because I’ve jumped off the bridge doesn’t mean my friends have to, too. This feels like something I should have learned in middle school, but I’m glad I’m getting it now.

This post originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

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