TIME advice

How to Dress for Your Body

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Beginnier, intermediate, and advanced levels of style moves are available whatever shape you may be

It seems simple to classify clothing as either straight- or plus-size. One refers to styles available in sizes below a 16, as plus-size clothing designer and pattern-maker Trudy Hanson explains, and the other covers those above. It’s placing actual women under those umbrella terms that just doesn’t work for us, and with the plus-purchasing population dominating 67% of the market in 2013, according to Business Insider, there’s no way that group can be defined by a single physical descriptor.

So, we’re tossing it aside, in favor of full-figure style tips that take women’s unique sets of curves into account.

The task of dressing for your body type — pear or hourglass, for example — requires a slightly different approach when it comes to styling from the plus-size department. “For us, it is about choice,” Evans’ head of design Rebecca Vann Reicher says. “If you are plus-size you still want to follow trends.” With her help, doing so is as easy as finding flattering silhouettes and styling tricks tailored to your type.

In the spirit of offering as many sartorial choices as possible, we’ve also plotted out three different approaches for every curvy shape. “It’s fine and dandy to know and use the classic dressing tricks, which are all really designed to give the wearer a more traditional hourglass silhouette,” Hanson adds, “but the 21st-century girl often wants to dress in a more directional, high-fashion, or personal way.” With this in mind, we separated style moves into beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels — creating more daring choices along with a few easy and personalized ways to flaunt your shape.

Hourglass
The hourglass woman’s hips and bust are full, and her waist is naturally slimmer. Along with pear, this is one of the most common plus-size body types, Vann Reicher tells us.

  • Beginner
    As Hanson explains, hourglass-shaped women “tend to go for a retro look,” which makes perfect sense. As with a fit-and-flare dress, the silhouette exactly mimics yours. There is full coverage for your curves, and a subtle accent at the waist for definition.
  • Intermediate
    Further emphasize your curves in a peplum top. The flared waistline will enhance the proportions between your slim waist and more ample hips.
  • Advanced
    For the most enhanced version of your shape, go for a sexy, body-hugging option. “If you are an hourglass shape you can totally wear body-con this party season,” Vann Reicher says. “It accentuates the hips and bust.” We love the hourglass shape of this design; it will take your own to epic proportions.

MORE Beyond The Pear: Dressing For Your Tricky Body Type

Busty
Just like the straight-size version, a plus-size busty woman’s largest measurement is across her chest. Her hips and midsection may be curvy, but on a smaller scale.

  • The Beginner
    The V-neck top can be daring or demure, depending on how low you dip. Either way, it’s a busty girl’s staple. At its most extreme it can be a cleavage-boosting cut, but a small V can also help elongate your neckline and actually minimize your top.
  • The Intermediate
    Busty women often have to deal with the sack-of-potatoes problem (clothing that fits in the bust and hangs loose everywhere else). This waist-cinching dress will help highlight your upper body by slimming the middle with its knotted detail.
  • The Advanced
    Vann Reicher suggests that high necklines will draw the attention upward on a busty frame, so take it to the extreme and opt for a turtleneck. In general, this style will emphasize your top; this specific one does that double-time with the V-shaped zipper detail.

The Apple
Like its namesake fruit, the apple body type’s widest measurement is in the middle. Her shoulders, hips, and legs are slimmer in proportion.

  • The Beginner
    The tunic top is an easy choice for anyone who wants something that won’t cling to her middle. For the apple-shaped who prefer to minimize, it’s an essential.
  • The Intermediate
    Short sheath dresses work amazingly for a figure like yours. While the straight-lined cut plays down the proportions of your middle, the short (like, short) hemline also brings the spotlight to your great legs.
  • The Advanced
    If you’re looking to truly emphasize your apple shape, go with a slim pant. Pair it with an extremely oversized tunic — one even more dramatic than the beginner move. This kind of dramatic juxtaposition plays up your proportions in a more editorial way, Hanson recommends.

MORE Date-Night Essentials For Every Body Type

The Pear
“The pear shape is a classic plus-size shape,” Hanson tells us. As your most prominent physical attributes are your hips and butt, you have the option to balance your derrière with the rest of your bod or truly flaunt what ya got. Both options, ahead.

  • The Beginner
    “Jeans can be tricky, as a true Pear could be a U.S. size 12 on the waist but a 14 on the hip,” explains Evans’ head designer. While she recommends her own brand of denim that “sits higher on the waist and are more generous around the hips and thighs,” keep your eyes open for similar styles that provide support and stretch around your largest measurements.
  • The Intermediate
    Sometimes dressing for your body type is not about minimizing your largest proportion, but playing up your smallest one. In this case, the boxy top will give your smaller upper body a bit of a boost without minimizing the appearance of your bottom.
  • The Advanced
    “You could go A-line,” Hanson says in terms of skirt shapes, “or screw that and go for a HUGE skirt.” In this case, we choose the latter.

The Rectangle
Similar to The Ruler in our straight-size body-type guides, the rectangle has no obviously defined curves. In other words, there is not much distinction between her bust, waist, and hips.

  • The Beginner
    For creating more dimension along the body, Vann Reicher recommends the shift dress. “[They’re] really great at creating a fuller silhouette,” she says, “and statement necklaces or clever accessories draw the attention up.” Here, we opted for a high neck to do the same.
  • The Intermediate
    The boxy top of this jumpsuit plays up your natural, angular shape. But, with its layered waist and colorblocking, it will also create some subtle definition at your waistline.
  • The Advanced
    If you’d rather play up your straight-lined frame, choose a silhouette that’s shaped the same way. Namely, the boyfriend jean. On most figures, these bottoms would hide curve definition — on you, it’s next-level. Pair with a tighter top for a balanced look, or an oversized bomber to match boxy with boxy.

MORE 3 Perfect Party Dresses For Your Body Type

Carrot
“The terms apple, pear, busty, and hourglass have been in the public consciousness for a while now, but we are seeing some other shapes emerge. In particular, carrot,” says Vann Reicher. She describes this shape as one characterized by “wider shoulders and slimmer legs.”

  • The Beginner
    For this figure,Vann Reicher recommends a full skirt, for starters. The flared hem will automatically give your lower body more volume, creating balance head to toe.
  • The Intermediate
    If you’re not into drawing attention away from your upper half, bring some flash to it. A statement bomber will highlight your torso, while the soft, raglan sleeves will downplay the width of your shoulders.
  • The Advanced
    Finally, here’s a moment for your power-shoulders to shine. Hanson boldly recommends an embellished shoulder that will play up your own. “[Keep] everything else really skinny,” she says of skirts and pants, if you want to create the most drama.

This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com

TIME Television

26 Streaming Shows You Should Get Addicted to This Winter

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Check out this list of recommendations based on what you already watch

This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

Feeling the stay-inside vibe this weekend? This is all you need to pass the weekend by in a glorious TV trance. This story was originally published on January 12, 2013 (but we’ve added some new must-watch entries!).

We’ve been there. You’ve exhausted your Netflix queue, flipped through your entire spectrum of TV channels (twice), and seen every season of 30 Rock. It’s tough, but don’t despair. There’s still uncharted territory out there! In fact, there’s oodles of fun to be had from the comfort of your laptop this weekend. You just have to know what to look for.

These are our favorite finds on Netflix Instant Watch. Never heard of ‘em? Good! Heard the word, but haven’t gotten around to it yet? Now’s the time.

Love Television?
We’re guessing you do because here you are, reading a list of Netflix streaming recommendations. As an aficionado and appreciator of the finer TV series in life, we think you’ll also love The Writers’ Room. In this fascinating interview show, Academy Award-winning writer Jim Rash (who’s best known for playing Dean Pelton on Community) sits down with writers of some of your favorite shows to discuss how they’re crafted. In the first six episodes, he talks to the writers and creators of Breaking Bad, Parks and Recreation, Dexter, New Girl, Game of Thrones, and American Horror Story. If you’re a fan of television and love hearing about how it’s created, this is for you.

Love The Sopranos?
Watch Lilyhammer. Steven Van Zandt plays a New York gangster named Frank “The Fixer” Tagliano who tries to start a new life for himself in the titular isolated Norway town after he’s forced into the federal witness protection program.

Love Friends?
Cozy up with the wry Britcom Coupling. It’s a clever and humorous exploration of looking for love when you’re absolutely terrified of everything that comes with it.

Love Halloween?
Cue up Netflix’s horror series, Hemlock Grove. Executive produced by gore-lover Eli Roth, the show focuses on the mysterious goings-on in the fictional titular town, which range from the supernatural to the just plain sadistic.

Love Breaking Bad?
Take a gun-running thrill ride with Sons of Anarchy. Loosely based on Hamlet, it brings the intra-familial intrigue of Shakespeare’s Danish royalty tale to a motorcycle gang unofficially responsible for keeping things going in the fictional city of Charming, CA.

Love The Office?
Watch the British gem that is Peep Show. Part The Odd Couple, part The Office (British version), and filmed through each character’s eyes, the offbeat sitcom is perfect for a weekend binge.

Love Supernatural?
Tune your spidey senses into Psych. This playful show features the overly clever, extremely witty Shawn Spencer who uses his heightened powers of observation to serve as the resident psychic for the Santa Barbara Police Department. Come for the ridiculous fake clairvoyant act, but stay for the lovable characters like Gus, O’Hara, and Lassie. And, did we mention that there’s a musical episode? Because there’s a musical episode.

Love Flight of the Conchords?
Get your New Zealand fix with Short Poppies, a mockumentary series created and written by Rhys Darby, who you’ll recognize from his role as Murray, the Conchords’ clueless manager. On Short Poppies, Darby plays David Farrier, an entertainment reporter. Farrier interviews people he deems “extraordinary New Zealanders,” who live in a fictional town known as The Bay. With just eight episodes, this is the perfect Sunday Funday binge-watch.

Love Friday Night Lights?
That’s a silly question; of course you do. You’re a human being with emotions and a heart, right? Also, you’ve seen Tim Riggins. Texas forever. Unfortunately, we don’t have any updates on the proposed movie (yes, that would mean a book that became a movie that became a show would be made into a movie again), but we do have a series currently streaming on Netflix that will make you feel as many feelings as FNL.

Jason Katims, the brilliant screenwriter who adapted Friday Night Lights for the small screen, also turned the 1989 dramedy Parenthood into a poignant drama now entering its fifth and final season on NBC. Warning: You will definitely need tissues for this one, but the emotional roller coaster of watching the Bravermans is so, so worth it.

Love The Mindy Project?
Check out the short-lived but hilarious Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23. Krysten Ritter plays the titular B, a hustler and legend in her own mind with a gorgeous apartment and a best friend/ex-boyfriend named James Van Der Beek. Yes, the Beek from the Creek. He plays a heightened caricature of himself complete with a tragic stint on Dancing with the Stars. Enter into the fray Dreama Walker, a small-town girl with a business degree who just wants to make it in New York City — plus a pervy neighbor across the air shaft — and you’ve got yourself a delightful little sitcom.

(MORE: An Ode To The Awkward Girls Of ’90s TV)

Love Twin Peaks?
After many requests, Netflix secured the rights to the newest British cult hit Happy Valley. Police sergeant Catherine Cawood is trying to cope with her daughter’s suicide, but things unravel when she spots the man she believes raped her daughter (which led to her death). She becomes obsessed with finding him, which uncovers an even larger mystery involving the kidnapping of a local girl.

Love Family Guy?
Or, any animated show for adults, really, including The Simpsons, The Critic, Bob’s Burgers, South Park, and Archer? Netflix debuted its first foray into original animated programming for grown-ups this week with BoJack Horseman. Will Arnett voices the titular character, a washed-up actor who starred in a popular sitcom called Horsin’ Around 20 years ago and has done nothing of note since. The world of BoJack is populated with humans and anthropomorphized animals alike, so it’s a bit surreal. Aaron Paul plays Todd, BoJack’s sycophantic perma-houseguest, and Alison Brie is Diane, who’s been hired to ghostwrite his memoirs. Can BoJack and his ragtag crew somehow turn his downward spiral of a life around? Watch and find out.

Love Downton Abbey?
If you’re especially attuned to the burgeoning role of women beyond the domestic sphere in Downton, cue up Call the Midwife. Imagine Sybil’s can-do nursing skills transported to a group of midwives in a convent in East London in the ‘50s. That’s exactly what you’ll find in this engrossing BBC series, which airs new seasons on PBS.

Also try The Forsyte Saga. Featuring Homeland‘s own Sgt. Nicholas Brody (a.k.a. British actor Damian Lewis), this show about a stuffy English family through the generations has all the period-piece drama of Downton, presented in a far more engrossing, realistic manner. Don’t be thrown off by the massive time jumps in the first few episodes — once this show falls into place, it’s unbelievably hard to turn off.

Love Pretty Little Liars?
First of all, read the books instead. They’re even more engrossing than ABC Family’s frothy mystery about Rosewood. When you’re done with those (or concurrently), cue up Skins. The British show made international headlines for the reckless lifestyle promoted by “Skins parties” and sent the U.K. into a nationwide panic about the hedonistic pursuits of Millennial teens. No matter what your takeaway, Skins will suck you right in.

Love True Detective?
If you love a slow-build, extremely tense, psychological thriller, watch The Fall. Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan, here causing much inner turmoil when you find yourself attracted to a deviant sociopath) is a serial killer terrorizing Belfast, and Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) is the detective trying to catch him before he strikes again. Season 1 is only five episodes, so you’ll burn through them in no time. Luckily, they’re filming ​the second ​​season right now.

(MORE: These New Ways To Watch TV Will Change Your Life)

Love Gossip Girl?
Guilty pleasures: We all have them. Gossip Girl (well, the first few seasons) was one of ours. The South Korean series Boys Over Flowers follows the whole fish-out-of-water setup, only this time Lonely Boy is Jan Di, the daughter of a dry cleaner who finds herself falling for the spoiled rich kid whose clique runs their elite private school. It’s somehow even more addictive than Gossip Girl — maybe it’s the amazing vintage Bieber haircuts all of the boys sport. And, because of the subtitles, watching it feels a bit more highbrow. Get watching. XOXO.

Love American Horror Story?
Dive even deeper into the uncanny valley with The Returned. The cult French show follows the lives — and afterlives — of a sleepy town where nothing is as it seems. Long-dead relatives return to life; residents try to leave — only to be thwarted by roads running in circles. There’s a serial killer on the loose, but no one seems to care. It’s a slow, eerie build but oh, is it worth it.

Love Silicon Valley?
Try turning your machine off and on again, then booting up The IT Crowd (that’s a joke you’ll get when you start watching). This hilarious British sitcom chronicles an odd couple of IT guys trying to do as little work as possible in their dungeon of an office at a horrible corporation. Chris O’Dowd (before he became a household name in Bridesmaids) plays Roy, the ringleader, while Richard Ayoade is Moss, his introverted, nebbishy foil. And, just like the Pied Piper guys on Silicon Valley, Roy and Moss’ world is rocked when a female enters their daily routine. Fire up the Internet and get watching.

Love The Killing?
You’ve undoubtedly heard of Top of the Lake — everyone, or at least everyone in this office, is talking about it. Like Twin Peaks and The Killing, it centers around a mysterious, troubled young girl and a small town with a lot of secrets to hide. Recipe for a good time, right?

Love Archer?
If you’re a fan of dark cartoons, this one is a must-watch. In the same way that Archer plays with the spy genre, The Venture Bros — which actually pre-dates Archer, but never seems to get as much recognition — is a vintage-inspired take on superheroes and stock characters.

(MORE: TV’s Highest Paid Actors Include A Lot Of Ladies)

Love Law & Order?
You’ll go crazy for Swedish crime show Wallander. Though it doesn’t cover sex-based offenses in particular, this thriller reminds us of SVU (our favorite iteration, obviously) because of its focus on the cops’ and detectives’ personal lives. There’s also a Masterpiece Mystery version, but we recommend starting out with the original Henning Mankell.

Love House?
Well, this is basically the exact same concept, but British. And that’s usually a good thing. Doc Martin follows the antics of a curmudgeonly MD after he moves to a provincial town, abandoning his prestigious London surgical post for unknown reasons. Weird diseases, even weirder people.

Love Curb Your Enthusiasm?
Check out The Larry Sanders Show. This early-90s HBO comedy featuring a different guy named Larry also reminds us a bit of 30 Rock, with its focus on on-screen/off-screen drama in the television business.

Love Parks & Recreation?
If you’re a fan of all things dysfunctional, British sitcom Black Books is perfect for you. Focused on a perpetually down-and-out bookstore owner who regularly puts a mid-afternoon drink over customer service, this show should be heartbreaking — but instead, it’s hilarious. Plus, if you’re missing the glory days of TV, you’ll dig the distinct early-2000s vibe.

Love Homeland?
British series House of Cards is chock-full of political drama and underhanded scheming, guaranteed to get your blood pumping. It’s also great if totally inappropriate and unethical sexual relationships are your thing. This is a great pick if you’ve already binged through the American version, but are still hungry for more!

TIME advice

One Easy Way to Tell if You’re Susceptible to Stress

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Heart rates correlate with levels of psychological distress

This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

Stress affects us all in different ways. But, some of us are just a little more vulnerable to the nasty ways stress can mess with us. And, now, researchers at Concordia University have found that variations in heart rate may be a predictor of stress susceptibility.

In the study, published in this month’s issue of the journal Stress, 76 undergraduate students first completed an online questionnaire to assess their levels of stress, anxiety, and depression during a low-stress period of the academic year. Then, in the lab, they had their baseline heart rate measured for seven minutes. Next, while their heart rate was still being monitored, participants were asked to worry about something in the future that could potentially have a negative influence on their life for five minutes. After this “free worry period,” the participants were interviewed about their personal worries, and were asked to rate how likely and how awful each future consequence would be. Then, about three months later, right before finals week, the participants were given another mood questionnaire.

(MORE: The 9 Worst Ways Stress Messes With You)

It turned out that the variation of participants’ heart rates was correlated with their levels of psychological distress. Specifically, a lower resting rate during the low-stress time frame, combined with a higher level of reactivity in respiratory sinus arrhythmia (the way our heart rate naturally varies with our breathing patterns) in response to the worry conditions, was linked to more drastic changes in psychological distress during the high-stress time period. This means that those participants with lower variable heart rates (but also higher levels of change) had higher increases in anxiety ratings.

(MORE: Target Heart Rate: You’re Doing It Wrong)

So, this suggests that health professionals might be able to use our heart rate variability (based on the interbeat interval, which is pretty easy to measure) to screen for people who are particularly susceptible to the negative effects of stress. It also suggests that heart rate might be a good target for those of us trying to relieve anxiety — which indicates that breathing techniques and focusing on the present rather than the future could be especially useful stress-relief tips. And, there’s already technology on the way to help us out. But, even without the gadgets, finding your zen should be a definite priority.

(MORE: This Is The Best Way To Beat Stress)

TIME advice

The Thank You Note Isn’t Dead

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You should break out the pens for thank you notes. So retro, right?

This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

Just a couple of weeks after sending out your wedding invitations, the RSVPs will start to arrive… as will the wedding gifts! (Which makes checking the mail in the month before your wedding so much fun.) And, thanking each and every guest not only for giving a gift, but also for attending your wedding, is an etiquette must. Here’s exactly how to nail your wedding thank yous.

The Basics

Purchase thank you cards before your wedding. You’ll likely be completely overcome with gratitude in the days after your wedding and will want to send thank you cards immediately, so don’t put off buying them. If you like the look of the modern thank you cards that include a wedding photo, at least choose the card you’ll send as early as possible; then you can quickly complete the order once you have then photos from your photographer. And buy notes to send for shower or engagement gifts in the meantime.

Send thank yous as gifts arrive. There’s no sense in waiting until you have dozens of presents to sort through.

Send them within a few weeks of your wedding. You do not have a year to send out thank-you cards — you have three months max. Start writing and mailing your notes when you get back from your honeymoon. (But don’t stop sending thank-you notes even if it takes you more than three months!)

(MORE: Local Stationery Line Suitor Gives Us A Lesson In Manners)

Handwrite them. We have nothing but love for e-cards, but you should break out the pens for thank you notes. So retro, right?

Send a thank you to everyone who attends your wedding. And yes, that includes people who may not have given you a gift. There’s no doubt that attending your wedding involved their time (and, most likely, some money), so let them know they helped you feel special and loved.

Send photos if you can. If you have a few early prints from your photographer, include one of your portraits or a picture of yourselves with the guest you’re thanking, or a great shot of the guest in the photo booth. You could also take a photo of yourselves using the gift and send that along.

Try not to stress about it too much though: Just because you’re following an etiquette rule by sending thank yous doesn’t mean you have to adopt an unnatural tone. Stick to conversational language that’s authentically you.

(MORE: Modern Manners: The New Rules For Real Life)

Not sure what to write? Here’s a thank you card breakdown that our friends at Sugar Paper LA shared with us. And keep in mind that many of the tips below are universal and can be applied to all types of thank-you cards.

1. The greeting. Address your guests (and be sure to spell their names right).

2. The gratitude. Note: While you should say thanks for the generous gift towards your honeymoon, or a gift card to Bed, Bath & Beyond, refrain from mentioning the amount given.

3. How you’ll use it. Guests want to know they’ve given you something you love and can use, so thank them for giving you cash towards your first home, or for the new KitchenAid mixer you plan to use to make fresh pasta.

4. Thank them for their presence. If they were at your wedding, let them know how much you appreciate it and how nice it was to spend time with them. If they weren’t at your wedding, thank them for their long-distance good wishes and let them know you hope to see them in person soon.

5. More gratitude. Finish your note with “Many thanks!” or “Thanks again!”

6. The good-bye. You can sign off with “Love” if you’re comfortable, or just use a dash and then sign your names.

(MORE: Everyone’s Getting Married; Here’s What To Buy Them)

TIME Dating

When It’s Okay to Walk Out of a Date

Why had I stayed when my gut was telling me to leave?

This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

Walking into the new, chic bar in Harlem, I had the usual jitters that arrive when you’re about to meet someone you’ve been talking to online. I was nervous — but also excited — to learn more about J.R., the guy I’d been chatting and texting with for a few weeks.

From the moment I saw him (sitting, hunched over his phone, texting), I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. I approached him in spite of it. We introduced ourselves, but instead of getting up and heading to the bar with me, he stayed fixated on his phone. After about 20 minutes of this — his phone getting way more attention than me — he excused himself to take a call. You can probably predict what happened next: He never came back. I sat alone in the bar, fighting back angry tears.

(MORE: Dating Nightmares Come True)

And yet, from the moment I’d laid eyes on J.R., my instincts had told me I wasn’t walking into a good situation. My Jerk-O-Meter had gone off, and I’d ignored it. Why had I stayed when my gut was telling me to leave? Why had I made feeble attempts at small talk when his body language was clearly telling me he wanted nothing to do with me? Well, I did it because it was the polite thing to do. I let manners trump my instincts. And, I realized with some dismay, it wasn’t the first time I’d allowed my inclination to be considerate overrule my need to stand up for myself.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. Women are practically trained to “be nice.” We want to be liked, and so we often act politely — even in the face of someone’s rudeness. Being nice to guys I dated, including ones I knew didn’t deserve it, was something I’d just always done. When J.R. defended his phone fixation with a sarcastic remark and still wouldn’t give me the time of day, I could have — and obviously should have — turned and walked out. But, I kept fighting to be polite. I’m not to blame for J.R.’s bad behavior, but my sitting down and continuing to engage with him indicated that I was okay with how he was treating me, which probably only made him think he could disrespect his future dates, too.

It was this horrible date with J.R. that gave me the impetus to throw my good manners out the window when I deemed it necessary. From now on, I was going to put myself first — even if it meant I had to be a little rude. Enough with the niceness all the time! I was quickly learning that it was not always the best policy. Now, if a date makes me feel disrespected, I have the right — and the obligation — to leave. And, I’m proud to say that’s just what I did the last time a guy I went out with turned out to be an asshole.

(MORE: What To Do After A Great First Date…)

I’d met Pete online, and after some nice email exchanges, we decided to meet in person. Pete picked a coffee shop downtown, which fit my rule about meeting in neutral, safe locations. When I walked in, Pete waved at me, with a smile, from a table in the corner. “What’s up, CeCe!” he said, giving me one of those cool-guy chin nods. I hesitantly sat down. We’d barely said hello when Pete began to talk about himself, non-stop, while also checking out other girls right in front of my face. I looked at my watch (never a good sign during a date), which confirmed that the date had been going on for exactly six minutes. I waited for Pete to ask me something — anything — about myself. But, that never happened.

If this was Pete putting his best foot forward, I’d seen all I needed to. “Actually, I’m going to head out,” I said. “It was nice meeting you!” I picked up my purse and went to get a manicure.

Sometimes, being nice is overrated.

(MORE: Perfect Outfits For Every Fall Date)

TIME relationships

How Social Media Makes Breakups Uglier for Everyone

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Oversharing isn't any good for the sharer

This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

We get it. When you’re in the throes of a breakup, a public display of affection or hate seems like the only logical move that could possibly capture the emotions bubbling up inside your being. But, in reality, a Twitter rant about your ex is usually more pathetic and off-putting than touching or convincing. And, ever since the breakup Post-it became the breakup Facebook post, our various networks seem to be making this already-difficult process even more agonizing.

(MORE: How To End That On-Again, Off-Again Relationship — For Good)

To get a picture of what it looks like when a relationship ends on social media, researchers at Aalto University in Finland went to Twitter. They looked at tweets posted during a 28-hour period from users whose profiles mentioned another user along with a word like “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” (Wisely, the researchers made sure not to include people whose proclaimed S.O. was a celebrity.) This left 40,000 pairs of users who seemed to be romantically linked IRL. After following these users for a period of six months, the researchers were able to pick out the ones who had broken up — and hone in on the language used in tweets before and after the uncoupling. As pictured in the resulting magnificent word clouds, the researchers found that phrases like “I hate when you” and “shut the f**k up” replaced “I love you” post-breakup.

Obviously, as our feelings towards our partners change, so do our interactions with them. But, what’s less obvious is how much of an effect that public exchange has on its audience, a.k.a. all your other followers. Sure, some of us are probably drawn to (or at least entertained by) that drama, but another study suggests the majority of your Facebook friends would appreciate if you kept your relationship news to yourself. For this one, researchers showed 100 participants fake Facebook timelines and asked them to rate the person’s levels of relationship satisfaction and commitment, based on their posts. Participants thought the Fakebookers who dished a lot about their relationships were the most satisfied — but, they also disliked them the most.

(MORE: Does Your Brain Feel The Effects Of A Breakup?)

Oversharing isn’t any good for the sharer, either, especially after the breakup. Forgetting about our exes (at least partially) seems to be an essential step of moving on. And, according to at least one small study, that’s even harder to do when your relationship details are scattered across the Internet. Here, the researchers took an in-depth look at the post-breakup behavior of 24 participants and found they could sort them into three categories: keepers, deleters, and selective disposers of their relationships’ digital artifacts. It seems those who were able to selectively disengage from their online interactions with their exes were the most well-adjusted.

So, although social media does have the power to bring us closer together, it makes it harder to forget about each other, too. But, we’ll forgive the post-relationship over-sharers, because we all know breaking up is hard to do — online or off.

(MORE: What To Do When Your Friends Break Up)

TIME Recipes

The Only 7 Kale Recipes You’ll Ever Need

Kale
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This chameleon-like superfood has many culinary uses

This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

It’s no exaggeration to say that kale has reigned supreme in the vegetable kingdom for the past few years. With a fan base that encompasses everyone from Hollywood stars to chain restaurants, it’s one of the most buzzed-about foods of our time. And, a rumored shortage nearly caused a mass frenzy. You’d be hard-pressed to find people who haven’t devoured a kale dish or two.

(MORE: The Official Cronut Recipe Is Here)

The truth is, the chameleon-like superfood has many culinary uses. It has taste and texture that make it an ideal ingredient for so many dishes — it can be tossed in a salad, blended in a smoothie, or boiled in a soup. Yes, these crunchy greens are definitely here to stay. In celebration of National Kale Day, we looked back into our archives and found seven recipe standouts that make for a healthy, green-leaf dinner tonight or breakfast tomorrow morning. You’ll want to keep this list handy at your next grocery store visit.

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  1. Kale & Avocado Summer Rolls: Not just for summertime, this fresh and zesty combo is delicious year-round.
  2. Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowl: This fresh take on a traditional burrito bowl substitutes cauliflower for beef and kale for lettuce. Delicioso.
  3. Citrus Ginger Tofu Salad With Buckwheat Soba Noodles: This super easy recipe’s ingredient list includes soba noodles, cabbage, kale, carrots, broccoli — in other words, everything you’ll ever want to eat in one bowl.
  4. Low-Fat Kale Pizza: The only thing better than a pizza is a low-fat kale pizza.
  5. Kale Chips: An oldie but goodie, these chewy chips pack a salty punch.
  6. Kale Chef’s Salad: With supporting ingredients like egg, avocado, and vinaigrette, this kale salad makes for an ideal office lunch.
  7. Butternut Squash, Kale, and Crunchy Pepitas Taco: Time to give your carne asada tacos a creamy, high-fiber upgrade.

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TIME advice

The Best Way to Approach a Tough Conversation With Your Significant Other

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Licensed master social worker Jennifer Gatti has the answer

This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

Question: My girlfriend’s parents are very involved in her life. She’s an only child, so I get it, but she talks to them every day and wants me to talk to them every day, too. I don’t even talk to my own parents that much, so why should I be expected to talk to hers? How do I get them to back off and give us some space?

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Response by Jennifer Gatti, Licensed Master Social Worker: Every day, huh? Well, on one hand, it’s nice that family is important to her, and her efforts to share those values with you is a good indicator of how she feels about you and your future together. On the other hand, if your present time together is dominated by struggling to make small talk with middle-aged Midwesterners about what happened on The Big Bang Theory, then it’s time to set some boundaries.

First of all, people can be extremely sensitive when it comes to their families, so you shouldn’t approach her as if there’s anything wrong or weird about their close relationship. Because, first of all, there isn’t. Second of all, you risk offending her. An accusatory “Why do you talk to your parents so much?” might not be received as well as an observant “Wow, your family seems so much closer than mine.”

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In general, making gentle, curious statements will get you closer to understanding someone’s behavior than asking antagonistic questions will. Have a casual talk about her family’s dynamic, and then try sharing your own experiences about how and when you interact with your own parents. Remember that the goal isn’t just to get her to stop shoving the phone in your face, but to manage your expectations about each other individually and as a couple.

I’d also recommend that this discussion be had at a time when you’re not feeling upset about having just had your usual, perfunctory conversation with your girlfriend’s parents. It’s best to pick a time when you’re not feeling irritated, a time when you’re both feeling safe and loved. Freaking out and suddenly screaming, “I don’t care about your dad’s cat!” will only make you seem like a jerk. But, if you speak to your girlfriend in a calm manner and with the idea that it will ultimately bring you closer together, you are more likely to have good and productive conversation.

It could be that your girlfriend just loves talking to her parents so much that she wants you to love it too. So, do your best to tread lightly and honestly, making sure to express nothing but respect for her and her parents.

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TIME relationships

Why You Need to Talk About Your Partner’s Credit Card Debt

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This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

The modern dating scene is tough — we know that all too well. Finding a great partner feels like hitting the jackpot, so you might be tempted to overlook certain serious red flags in the name of love. But, what if you’re ready to take the next step with your partner and discover that he or she is deep in credit card debt? This is an issue you definitely shouldn’t dismiss — money is one of the main reasons couples fight. Failing to address your partner’s debt before you move in together or get married could cause heartache down the road. So, should you move forward or hit pause? Here’s how to decide.

Consider The Why
Discuss your financial situations. It’s important to get to the bottom of why he or she is dealing with debt. Asking specific questions about how the balance was incurred will give you a better sense of your beloved’s overall level of financial responsibility.For instance, did your partner face a major emergency that they didn’t have the cash to cover? In this case, the debt can be chalked up to an expensive, one-time event. It doesn’t indicate a pattern of irresponsible financial behavior. But, if your partner carries credit card debt due to reckless spending, you should give this some thought. If you budget carefully and live within your means, you might have a hard time coupling up with someone who doesn’t share your values.

(MORE: Why I Don’t Feel Guilty About My Credit Card Debt Anymore)

Consider The How
Next step? Consider how your significant other is dealing with the shortfall to decide if the relationship is worth pursuing. Even if a mountain of credit card debt is the result of frivolous spending, your partner may have realized the blunder. If your mate is taking steps to pay off the balance — moving to a smaller apartment, going out less, taking on an extra job — count these as good signs. Everyone makes mistakes, and working hard to correct a financial misstep means your partner is trying to get on the right track.However, if he or she seems unconcerned about the debt and isn’t making an effort to pay it off, you should take a step back. Credit card debt is a serious financial burden, and your partner should be treating it as such. Ignoring a lingering balance could signal a lack of judgment when it comes to money.

(MORE: Do You Really Need A Credit Card?)

In The End, It All Depends — But Tips Help
Money is a highly personal and emotional topic, so only you can decide if your partner’s credit card debt is a deal-breaker. The important thing is to discuss the issue before taking a major step in your relationship, and keep the lines of communication open. This will help you assess the direction of your partnership and keep you informed about how your mate’s financial situation is evolving.If you want to help improve your partner’s credit card habits, consider sharing these tips: Keep a budget and track your spending — this will keep you from spending more than you can afford to pay off. Pay your bill in full by its due date — you’ll stay out of debt and keep your credit score healthy. Never use more than 30% of your available credit — this will help you achieve and maintain good credit. Read your monthly statement carefully — you’ll be able to spot fraud if it occurs.

The Takeaway
Understanding why your partner is in credit card debt and how he or she is dealing with it is an important step to take before getting serious. Consider it one more stepping stone on the road to finding “the one.”

(MORE: How to Keep Your Finances Safe After a Breakup)

TIME health

4 Ways Health Tracking Apps Can Change Your Life

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This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

Virtually every kind of digital program or app we use is modeled on an analog predecessor. Spreadsheets are the digital iteration of accountant logs, and word processing software is modeled off the good-ol’ sheet of paper. We’re human after all, and we’ve always used record-keeping to help deal with uncertainty and the unknown. Now, throw clever entrepreneurial activity into the mix, and you’ve got some of the most helpful, beefed-up quantified self tools on the market. Being able to track exact data in the ways that apps have enabled us to is one of the most modern ways of curtailing the worries that come with personal data guestimation. Tracking our lives may not be a new concept, but it’s certainly shinier. Here’s how our quest to conquer our own data has evolved on a variety of fronts.

Fertility

Before: bare bones calendars, pee sticks, or the pull-out method that seventh grade sex-ed rightfully taught us to avoid (personal shout out to my teacher who made us all think that a foreskin looked like the sleeve of her chenille sweater).

Now: Apps like Clue track important signs of fertility cycles like discharge consistency, fertility windows, menstrual regularity, and of course, attempts at fertilization. On a calendar interface, handy color-coordinated graphics display those quantifiable elements in a cohesive, easily digestible visual. In a world divided over the necessity of women’s health initiatives, it feels empowering to be in tune with cycles — a knowledge that provides transparency in regard to the way our reproductive systems function in our daily lives. Tracking the minutiae that apps allow takes this empowerment and the decision-making to a greater level of security and certainty in the things our bodies are doing.

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Exercise

Before: the Casio stopwatch whose memory will live on in the minds of all who consumed electronics in the ’80s and ’90s. If you don’t remember them, we suggest you watch WarGames to see what kind of technology impressed us then.

Now: Anything we do with our bodies is better when customized, and exercise is no exception. We may suck at some sports, and be incredible at others. This is why the vast array of exercise apps are so exciting. Are you sedentary, and feeling lost on where to start? Apps like Couch-to-5K teach you techniques from square one, keeping track of progress and goals. Are you a seasoned pro who wants to streamline outings? Other apps like RunKeeper serve as simultaneous timekeepers and route-mappers. Tracking the very personal activity that is exercise provides a level of support that could be equated to that of a coach. Literally — many apps have pre-programmed motivational comments that are set to play at various intervals in a workout.

Food

Before: a dog-eared, Weight Watchers-inspired logbook with only the most basic functions of food tracking in the layout. Oh, and a separate book was needed with a list of foods and their proprietary nutrition information.

Now: The most central function is the same across the board. A list of food and meals are entered into their respective breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack slots, and their calories, fats, and proteins, and other important nutrients are tracked. But, instead of shuffling through pages of small guidebooks, a food item’s nutritional information can be sourced through vast databases of restaurant and grocery store goods, as well as preset listings for favorite meals. There’s even barcode scanners for the elusive few items that aren’t listed. These features are standard in apps like MyPlate and LoseIt — and are great even if you’re not trying to lose weight. Tracking food means that we can keep an eye on some of the details about ingredients or sustainability that both greatly affect our health, yet often manage to slip through the cracks.

(MORE: 10 Fitness Apps That Get Results)

Medical Conditions

Before: regular, often-expensive trips to the doctor’s office or crossing your fingers and hoping that apple a day actually contains immune-boosting properties.

Now: Medical tracking — which has been around since the days Bayer enabled diabetics to measure their own glucose levels — goes beyond the level of personal empowerment seen on other fronts to a place that’s vital to our very existence. Having real-time data about the state of our physical existence is a way to catch health hiccups before they become emergencies; this helps to maintain a top quality of life. With fewer guestimations and more exact data, we know when to act and when to relax. Of course, if something really seems off, seeing a professional is still your best bet. But, having the ability to keep tabs on things like sleep cycle measurements or medicine dosages puts more control in the hands of the patient herself, which means less time spent on some of the more menial medical checkups. Even the original diabetes tracking methods have seen a spiffy new user interface on mobile apps.

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