TIME relationships

5 Strange But Effective Ways to Get Over a Breakup

heartbreak
Getty Images

This list of breakup rituals will entertain and inspire

This post originally appeared on Refinery 29.

Beware those weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s when breakups skyrocket. As we’re reaching the tail end of this precarious season, some of us undoubtedly are finding ourselves casualties of the trend. But, fear not. We bring you stories from women who worked through their breakups, well, just a little differently than most.

From upping your workout schedule to taking an exotic vacation, there are many ways to deal. That being said, some breakup rituals are a little more extreme and unique than others. Sometimes it hurts so bad that a run on the treadmill or that brand-new-you hairstyle just won’t cut it and you find yourself doing the strangest things to get your mind off of “he or she who shall not be named.” But, hey, whatever works.

For those of you going through a breakup right now, whether you need a good giggle, a little comfort knowing you aren’t the only one behaving a bit out of sorts, or new ideas to help you move on, this list of breakup rituals will entertain and inspire. We found five women with some unusual reactions to exiting their relationships and got the down-low on what it takes to really move on.

5_ways_to_get_Over_breakup_1

Get New Sheets

Alexis, 24, strips after her breakups. No, we don’t mean she picks up pole-dancing classes (although that would be awesome). She strips her bed. “I can’t bear the thought that he had slept in these sheets, so out they go, and in I go to Bed Bath & Beyond for new ones.” When it’s a particularly bad breakup, she’ll go so far as to get a new mattress. So, in the last four years, she’s replaced two of them — and not because they had lost their bounce. Sounds expensive, but it works. And, it’s very sanitary.

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

5_ways_to_get_Over_breakup_2

Scrub The Floors

For Callie, 32, breakups are really good for her apartment. “I put my focus in the floors. I get down on my hands and knees and scrub every last inch of floor until I’ve forgotten about him, or until the floor sparkles, whichever comes first.” She finds focusing on something really specific helps take her mind off of her ex. Also, setting a basic goal for herself that she knows she can achieve boosts her self-esteem when the task is done. Next time she’s looking to work out some relationship woes, our floors are available to clean…er…we mean…our shoulders are available to cry on.

5_ways_to_get_over_breakup_5

Read The News

Facebook sure knows how to rub a breakup in your face. During her recovery, Megan, 30, did the usual unfriending and blocking, but that wasn’t enough. Like many of us, Megan was a little bit addicted to scrolling through her Facebook News Feed, but post-breakup, this habit became truly painful. All she saw were happy couples and their posts felt like salt in her wounds. But, she couldn’t kick her scrolling addiction, so she turned to another media outlet: CNN. To keep her fingers happy, she would scroll through the news stories just as she would her News Feed and get her fill of information. The difference was this information was actually useful and important (no offense, all you newly engaged or expectant couples). “It was weird, but I found myself reading the news all the time, which I never did before. That time of my day was usually spent Facebook stalking. It was much easier for me to read about unromantic and often terrible things going on in the world than it was to see happy people in Facebook land. It was a welcome distraction.”

(MORE: The Ultimate Post-Breakup Hotness Manual)

5_ways_to_get_over_breakup_3

Get Lost

A vacation or adventure can mend a broken heart in no time. After a breakup, writer Ana, 29, goes anywhere new — whether it’s a foreign country or a new neighborhood around the block — and just gets lost. She doesn’t look at her phone, doesn’t ask for directions; she just wanders until she feels cleansed. It serves as a distraction from what is going on back at home and also reminds her that there is more out there, an entire world, in fact. “When dealing with a breakup, I want to be somewhere where no one knows who I am, who he is, and, especially, who ‘we’ were,” says Ana. This method sounds so foolproof that we have a feeling she might not only come home totally over her ex, but perhaps with a new paramour she picked up along her travels?

5_ways_to_get_over_breakup_4

Watch Scary Movies

What’s the perfect cure for a bad breakup? A night in with movies, ice cream, and wine, of course. But, Maria, 26, couldn’t watch just any old movie. While it is smart (for obvious, tear-inducing reasons) to avoid rom-coms after a breakup, Maria didn’t stop there. She couldn’t bear to watch any semblance of romance and happiness, so she turned to the polar opposite: guts and gore. “I didn’t care for them before but I became somewhat of a scary-movie fanatic.” When those weren’t available, she turned to Lifetime thrillers or Law and Order. Months later, she’s successfully over him and back on regular movies. However, horror flicks will always hold a special place in her heart. Next time you need a distraction from a breakup, Maria recommends The Village.

(MORE: The Best Movies For Getting Over Your Ex)

TIME Books

9 Ugly Lessons About Sex From Big Data

Dataclysm
Dataclysm Courtesy Random House

Christian Rudder, author of Dataclysm and a founder of OkCupid, dives into the numbers and surfaces with some revelations on love, sex, race and culture

Big Data: the friend you met at a bar after your usual two drinks, plus one. You leaned in, listening more intently than usual. “Digital footprint.” “Information Age.” You nodded and smiled, even though you didn’t understand. “Change the world.” “The future.” You were impressed—and even if you weren’t, you faked it well.

Come morning, you have only fuzzy recollections of Big Data, its tag lines and buzzwords. You also find it vaguely reprehensible.

If you’re still up for it, there’s another side of Big Data you haven’t seen—not the one that promised to use our digital world to our advantage to optimize, monetize, or systematize every last part our lives. It’s the big data that rears its ugly head and tells us what we don’t want to know. And that, as Christian Rudder demonstrates in his new book, Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking), is perhaps an equally worthwhile pursuit. Before we heighten the human experience, we should understand it first.

Rudder, a co-founder of OkCupid and Harvard-educated data scientist, analyzed millions of records and drew on related research to understand on how we search and scramble for love. But the allure of Rudder’s work isn’t that the findings are particularly shocking. Instead, the insights are ones that most of us would prefer not to think about: a racial bias against black women and Asian men, or how “gay” is the top Google Search suggestion for “Is my husband… .”

Here are 9 revelations about sex and dating, courtesy of Rudder, Dataclysm, and, of course, big data.

1. Straight men think women have an expiration date.

Although women tend to seek men around their age, men of all ages are by far looking for women in their early 20s, according to OkCupid data. While men often set their age filters for women into the 30s and beyond, rarely do they contact a woman over 29.

2. Straight women are far less likely to express sexual desire than are other demographics.

On OkCupid, 6.1% of straight men are explicitly looking for casual sex. For gay men, it’s 6.9%, and for lesbians, 6.9%. For straight women, it’s only 0.8%.

3. “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

Like any good data scientist, Rudder lets literature—in this case, Thoreau—explain the human condition. Rudder cites a Google engineer who found that searches for “depictions of gay men” (by which the engineer meant gay porn) occur at the rate of 5% across every state, roughly the proportion of the world’s population that social scientists have estimated to be gay. So if a poll shows you that, for instance, 1% of a state’s population is gay, the other 4% is probably still out there.

4. Searches for “Is my husband gay?” occur in states where gay marriage is least accepted.

Here’s a Big Data nugget you can see for yourself: Type “Is my husband” in Google, and look at your first result. Rudder notes that this search is most common in South Carolina and Louisiana, two states with some of the lowest same-sex marriage approval rates.

5. According to Rudder’s research, Asian men are the least desirable racial group to women…

On OkCupid, users can rate each other on a 1 to 5 scale. While Asian women are more likely to give Asian men higher ratings, women of other races—black, Latina, white—give Asian men a rating between 1 and 2 stars less than what they usually rate men. Black and Latin men face similar discrimination from women of different respective races, while white men’s ratings remain mostly high among women of all races.

6. …And black women are the least desirable racial group to men.

Pretty much the same story. Asian, Latin and white men tend to give black women 1 to 1.5 stars less, while black men’s ratings of black women are more consistent with their ratings of all races of women. But women who are Asian and Latina receive higher ratings from all men—in some cases, even more so than white women.

7. Users who send copy-and-paste messages get responses more efficiently.

OkCupid tracks how many characters users type in messages versus how many letters are actually sent. (For most users, it’s three characters typed for every one character sent.) In doing this analysis, Rudder found that up to 20% of users managed to send thousands of characters with 5 keystrokes or less—likely Control+C, Control+V, Enter. A little more digging showed that while from-scratch messages performed better by 25%, copy-and-paste messages received more replies per unit of effort.

8. Your Facebook Likes reveal can reveal your gender, race, sexuality and political views.

A group of UK researchers found that based on someone’s Facebook Likes alone, they can tell if a user is gay or straight with 88% accuracy; lesbian or straight, 75%; white or black, 95%; man or woman, 93%; Democrat or Republican, 85%.

9. Vermont doesn’t shower a whole lot, relatively speaking.

Rudder has doled out some heavy info to ponder, so here’s some that’s a little lighter: in general, according to his research, in states where it’s hotter, people shower more; where it’s colder, people shower less. Still, the Northeast is relatively well-washed. Except, that is, for Vermont. Rudder has no idea why. Do you?

 

Rudder has a few takeaways from beyond the realm of love, too…

— On an insignificant July morning, Mitt Romney gained 20,000 Twitter followers within a few minutes.

Rudder dives further into social media data to show that Mitt Romney gained 18,860 new followers at 8 a.m. on July 22, 2012. Nothing particularly interesting happened on that day, and that spike in followers was about 200 times what he was getting immediately before and after. The secret? Likely purchasing followers. And Romney isn’t the only politician to do so—it’s a common practice, Rudder says, as we seek to strengthen our “personal brands.”

— Obama’s election and inauguration caused a massive spike in Google searches for “n-gger.”

According to Google Search data, search volume for “n-gger” more than doubled when Obama was elected in Nov. 2008, then fell rapidly within one month. When Obama was inaugurated in Jan. 2009, it similarly spiked, and then immediately fell. We don’t have national conversations on race, Rudder suggests, just national convulsions.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Dating

Women Seek Fall Boyfriends in Perfect Craigslist Ad

Activities include "Sunday Fundays"

Based on the theory that every fall activity is done better in pairs — apple picking, watching football, coordinating Halloween costumes — two women posted a joke ad on Craigslist about their search for ‘fall boyfriends.’ Because what better way to find the perfect guy whose sweater you can steal in the chilly weather? The two women told BuzzFeed that the post is indeed a parody, “unless [they] find love, and then it’s for real.”

Good luck, ladies! Here’s the entire ad:

Needed: Fall Boyfriends – 27 (Manhattan)

Seeking Fall Boyfriends

2 smart, funny, attractive girls each looking for a fall boyfriend with chill group of bro friends, now is the time you must start dating someone in order to spend the holidays together/go on ski trips/have a NYE kiss you’re stoked on.

Labor Day has happened, we are saying goodbye and filtering out our casual summer, meet up at 2 a.m. hook ups and are looking for boys we might be able to stand being sober around.

Needed: 2 males interested in something steady/serious-ish as the weather fades from hot, humid, and care-free to crisp, chill Patagonia vest season. Interested parties should have a window in their bedroom and want to cuddle with the window slightly open to let the fresh autumn air in while a fall scented candle (that I’ll buy for you, babe) fills the room with cozy comfort.

Requirements

Chill group of guy friends (preference will be given to bros who come from the same group of friends, just because that makes it easier and more fun for double date brunching)
27 and older
6 feet or taller (if you’re 5’11” but have a personality to make up for the height difference, willing to consider it. Any shorter? Don’t apply.)
Wardrobe should include: Driving mocs, Barbour coat, Half-Zips (at least 3, please send pics if possible), Ray-Bans (Wayfarers or Clubmastesr preferred, but open to other styles), loafers, Patagonia vest(s), Vineyard Vines, basketball shorts for me to sleep in
College education. Ivy league preferred. Def in a frat or played a sport (lacrosse, crew, tennis, etc.)
Probs spent at least 4 weekends in Montauk over the summer

Activities can include but are not limited to

Apple Picking
Sunday Fundays
Borrowing your pullover and returning it after an indecent amount of time, if at all
Taking selfies in Patagonia vests/taking selfies while doing all activities #fall #boyfriendweather
Watching football (aka me getting drunk while you watch football, and you thinking it’s so adorable when I wear jeans and Converse to the bar and get blackout in your team’s hat.) *sneakers show how chill and laid back I am < this is why it’s kinda essential for the two boys to be friends so me and my friend can blackout together and I won’t get bored.
Cooking – Instagramming dish with captions such as “Fall night with my babe @yourhandle *heart emoji all the fall emojis*”
Brunching outdoors until weather permits

Strange how the night moves, with autumn closing in
(If you don’t know that song, don’t apply)

Looking forward to meeting you!

TIME women

A Veteran Campaigner Reflects on 20 Years of Fighting Domestic Abuse

Teen Dating Violence Panel
Esta Soler speaks during the Teen Dating Violence panel at the Rayburn House Office Building on February 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. Kris Connor—Getty Images

Esta Soler, who advocated for the Violence Against Women Act to become law in 1994, talks to TIME about the NFL, rape culture, and how to tackle abuse

Esta Soler, a veteran crusader in the fight to protect women and children from domestic violence, has a saying that “movements are made of moments.” One such moment came 20 years ago, when the media firestorm surrounding the OJ Simpson murder case lent urgency to Congress’s efforts to pass the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. And now, as the U.S. prepares to commemorate two decades since the VAWA’s historic passage, so it is again. At least, so the president of nonprofit Futures Without Violence hopes.

Over 30 years ago, Soler, a leading expert in violence prevention, founded the San-Francisco based organization the Family Violence Project (later renamed Futures Without Violence), which was one of the driving forces behind the passage of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. Over the years, the organization has led educational efforts, worked with lawmakers, and trained law enforcement on how to better address the issue of domestic abuse. On Tuesday, Soler joined Vice President Biden and many others in commemorating the work that has been done since the VAWA’s passage in 1994.

But the fact that the day’s headlines have been dominated by the dismissal of running back Ray Rice from the Baltimore Ravens for knocking his now-wife unconscious strikes Soler as moment to reflect on unfinished business. “We’re celebrating 20 years since the passage of the act,” Soler tells TIME. “And a lot of good has happened in that time. But this is a stark reminder of how much we still need to do.”

Much has changed in the 20 years since the Violence Against Women Act became law, with incidences of domestic abuse becoming markedly less frequent. Between 1993 and 2010, the rate of intimate partner violence declined by 67%, according to a White House fact sheet. The rate of women being murdered by men in single victim/single offender incidents has also fallen, by 26% between 1996 and 2012, according to a new report from the Violence Policy Center.

That’s partly because there’s a new openness among women and men to address incidences of violence at home. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has received over 3 million calls since 1996, and 92% of callers admit it’s their first call for help. In the late 80s and early 90s, when Soler was working to launch a nationwide campaign using the slogan there’s “no excuse” for abuse, “domestic violence was called a domestic dispute,” she says. “People just excused the behavior.” Passing VAWA, she says, “was a statement that this country and our policymakers were taking the issue of violence against women seriously… For me, that was the main victory.”

But Soler knows there’s work still to be done. For proof, she needn’t look much further than the initial response of the National Football League to Rice’s beating of his wife. Though the running back was released by the Baltimore Ravens following the video leak, he initially received a two-game suspension—a softer punishment than players who have violated drug policies have received. And while two players, the Carolina Panthers’ Greg Hardy and the San Francisco 49ers Ray McDonald have been arrested (and in Hardy’s case, convicted) for domestic violence, both joined their teams on the field last Sunday.

The movement to continue the fight to protect women and children from violence—and more importantly, keep it from happening in the first place—may have found another moment, Soler says. But it’s not enough to be reactive about such incidents. “While it’s important that we have a strong response system in place once something horrible happens, on the other hand it is not just ok for us to wait for something to happen,” says Soler. “We need to figure out more effectively how to stop this. And be super aggressive about that.”

In an interview with TIME ahead of the 20th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, which is coming up on Sept. 13, Soler laid out 6 things the nation can do right now to address the issue.

Confront College Sexual Assault

“I’m an optimist, and I do believe that violence is learned and you can unlearn it. The fact that we’ve been able to have a real impact on the problem [of domestic abuse] is really significant. The moment today is the crisis we now find ourselves facing on our college campuses. There’s an epidemic of sexual assault on our college campuses. The movement about what is happening is the activism—the student activists of today that are grappling with this problem. Demanding action, demanding better responses to cases once they happen. But also not waiting for a rape to happen. That’s what we need to do now with the Violence Against Women Act, really extending to a programmatic response so that our college campuses are safe.

Bring Young People into the Equation

The Violence Against Women Act and a lot of the work that we’ve done has focused on adults. We need to do a better job for our young people. Most of what we’ve done over the last 25 years is building shelters and rape crisis centers and changing the way our law enforcement and our judiciary responds to these issues, but at the end of the day we’ve got to start much earlier. We’ve got to start with our middle school and our high school kids and give them the tools so that they can have healthy relationships, so that they can go to college and not worry about the fear that they’re going to get raped or sexually abused. And we have to heal our kids. So many kids are still growing up in homes and neighborhoods where they’re seeing violence. You learn violence; it becomes a pattern. We have to interrupt it.

Stand Up to Rape Culture

There’s a crisis of social norms that’s allowing this really bad behavior to exist, but I am somebody who really believes that a cultural norm—if it’s addressed appropriately and comprehensively—can be shifted. There are programs out there that work and we need to make sure that every campus has it. That people understand what consent is. That people understand that it’s not ok no matter what state anyone is in to do this—that the behavior is bad. We have to reintroduce that. We have to take the rape culture down, and I think we can do it. But we can’t do it by having one 15-minute session during orientation week on the first week somebody arrives on college campus. That doesn’t work.

Bring Men into the Conversation

We’ve been a driver of bringing men into this conversation, starting in the late ’90s. After doing some market research, we realized that when we talked to men, men felt divided and not guided into our conversations. The language we used was basically saying you’re either a perpetrator or a perpetrator in waiting as opposed to somebody who is not and also wants to do something right about this. So that’s when we created a national campaign called “coaching into men,” that ended up being a program later that showed conversation men could have with their sons and their daughters about the issue. In partnership with the National High School Athletic Coaches Association we created a program to really deal with the culture of bad relationships, but more importantly find ways to give young men the tools to create healthy relationships. So that when they see something bad they feel that they have the power and the strength to say, stop it. It’s not ok.

Hold Sports Organizations Accountable

It’s important that, like every workforce, every institution that has these problems [be it] the NFL [or] the NBA, grapples with the problem of violence against women in a highly responsible way. Players are seen as role models for the next generation. Our athletes are revered in our society and it’s really important that we give them the tools so that they don’t get in trouble. At this point I think the athletic associations are really grappling with these issues, particularly with the recent incident with Ray Rice and the NFL. The NFL needs a comprehensive program to address violence.

Keep Talking About It

Before the 1980s, we did a count. There were about 150 articles in major newspapers about the issue of domestic violence. In the decades of the 2000s, there were over 7,000. Yes, there are challenges—there are always going to be challenges—but we have support in so many different corners where people are actually trying to figure out how to deal with this. The story isn’t buried somewhere, it’s on the front page. Schools are talking about it. Congress is addressing it. The White House is acting on it. At the end of the day, this isn’t just about what government does. Governmental actions are critical, but you need the private sector and private persons to really push things through.

 

 

TIME Crime

1 in 5 U.S. Women Are Raped at Some Point, Report Says

woman silo
Getty Images

The majority experience sexual violence before age 25

About 1 in 5 women in the U.S. is raped during their life, according to data released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And another 40% experience another form of sexual violence.

“Although progress has been made in efforts to prevent sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence, these forms of violence continue to exact a substantial toll upon U.S. adults,” the CDC study said.

The problem of sexual violence is particularly acute at younger ages. More than half of female victims said they were violated before they reached age 25. This finding is consistent with a UNICEF report released Thursday that suggests that 1 in 10 girls worldwide is raped before age 20.

The CDC recommended a number of steps to combat sexual violence, including trying to change societal expectations and promoting safe relationships.

“The early promotion of healthy relationships while behaviors are still relatively modifiable makes it more likely that young persons can avoid violence in their relationships,” the report said.

TIME Sex/Relationships

The Best Movies For Getting Over Your Ex

woman-watching-tv-alone
Getty Images

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

This Video Perfectly Describes How People Feel About Online Dating

To lie or not to lie?

Just because you’ve found a great relationship through online dating doesn’t mean you’re comfortable with admitting how you met. This video (which is actually made by underwear company Me Undies, so go figure) perfectly nails the embarrassment surrounding online dating, even if you’ve met someone great.

And even if you did meet online, do you tell your friends and family the real story of how you met? Or do you make up a “meet cute” story that resembles something out of an ’80s romantic comedy? Watch this underwear-clad couple duke it out over whether they should be embarrassed that they met online:

TIME Dating

The Trick to Finding Your Soul Mate? Change Your Expectations

508652939
Young couple ride bikes in neighborhood. Pamela Moore—Getty Images

Sometimes finding the mate of our dreams requires a more realistic view of our prospects

This post originally appeared on Ozy.com.

In case you missed the buzz on Facebook, scientists recently determined that “beer goggles” do in fact exist, though not precisely in the way we thought. Consuming alcohol, it seems, tends to elevate desire and reduce inhibitions more than alter our actual perception of another person’s attractiveness.

But there’s another type of virtual eyewear that many of us spend even more time donning — one that has the opposite effect of beer goggles. Call them “expectancy spectacles” if you’d like, because wearing them causes us to raise our standards and expectations, often unrealistically, of everything from potential mates to job prospects.

The primary culprit behind this altered vision is not booze but a potent concoction of Hollywood movies, social conditioning and wishful thinking. And fortunately, there are a few scientists on the case.

(MORE: If You Use Facebook, You’re 32 Percent More Likely to Leave Your Spouse)

One is Ty Tashiro, a psychologist and relationship expert at Discovery Health, whose recent book, The Science of Happily Ever After, explores what “advances in relationship science” can teach us about the partners we choose. Almost 9 in 10 Americans believe they have a soul mate, says Tashiro, but only 3 in 10 find enduring partnerships that do not end in divorce, separation or chronic unhappiness. Clearly something is going wrong — and it starts with our expectations.

That’s because in real life the pool of potential partners looks rather different from the cast of The Bachelorette something Tashiro hopes to address by putting some cold figures to the mating game, employing an approach similar to the one used by scientists who calculate the chances of life on other planets.

For example, say a bachelorette enters a room of 100 male bachelors who represent the broader U.S population. If she prefers a partner who’s tall (at least 6-foot), then her pool of possible prospects immediately shrinks to 20. If she would like him to be fairly attractive and earn a comfortable income (over $87,000 annually), then she’s down to a single prospect out of 100.

If you choose to specify further traits, such as kindness, intelligence or a particular religious or political affiliation, well, let’s just say we’re going to need a much bigger room. And then, of course, there’s the small matter of whether he actually likes you back.

(MORE: The Future of Sex Looks Awesome/Terrifying)

Such long odds are the product of misplaced priorities, says Tashiro, but it’s not strictly our fault. Our mate preferences have been shaped by natural selection’s obsession with physical attractiveness and resources as well as the messages our friends, families and favorite shows transmit about sweethearts and soul mates. And it is at the start of relationships, when we need to make smart long-term decisions, that we are least likely to do so because we’re in the throes of lust, passion and romance.

Or, as Tashiro puts it, returning to our alcohol analogy: “It would seem wise to hand off the keys to someone with more lucidity until your better sensibilities return.”

Which is why Tashiro advocates a new approach to dating, one that is not so much about lowering standards as giving yourself better ones. Call it “Moneyballing” relationships (Tashiro does); it’s all about finding undervalued traits and assets in the dating market. And, just like with baseball, it starts with trying to ignore the superficial indices of value — attractiveness, wealth — in favor of hidden attributes with a stronger correlation to long-term relationship success.

Citing research that finds no reliable link between income level or physical attractiveness and relationship satisfaction, Tashiro steers his readers towards traits such as agreeableness. With married couples, he points out, “liking declines at a rate of 3 percent a year, whereas lust declines at a rate of 8 percent per year,” so the smarter long-term investment is finding someone you genuinely like. Plus, he adds, studies also suggest that agreeable partners are in fact “better in bed” and less likely to cheat over the long haul.

But can nice guys and gals really finish first? And is it possible to make thoughtful, strategic choices when it comes to relationships?

Perhaps you agree with Crash Davis, Kevin Costner’s character in Bull Durham, who doesn’t “believe in quantum physics when it comes to matters of the heart.” But that shouldn’t mean you ignore the science altogether, especially when it can improve your chances of hitting a home run.

(MORE: Three Tips to Improve Your Love Life)

TIME Dating

How Men and Women Should Behave on a First Date

woman-hands in lap-Refinery 29
Refinery 29

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 relationships

Sigh: Men Think Women Who Listen to Them Are Sexier

165550303
Listening woman Image Source RF/Wonwoo Lee—Getty Images/Image Source

A new study shows that men think women who are aware of their feelings are attractive, but it didn't necessarily work the other way around

Dusty Springfield was right all those years ago when she said the best way to a man’s heart was to “show him that you care.” A new study shows that men are more sexually attracted to “responsive” women who tend to their needs, but the same can’t be said about what attracts women to men.

The study, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, found that after just meeting, men were more likely to be sexually attracted to a woman who was “responsive,” which meant “aware of what I’m thinking and feeling” or “listening to me.” Men perceived responsive women as more feminine, and therefore more sexually attractive.

Dr. Gurit Birnbaum, one of the authors of the study, said that “responsiveness” could also indicate which women would be viewed as long-term partners vs. short term hookups. “A responsive partner may be perceived as a warm and caring and therefore a desirable long-term partner,” she said in an email.

Unsurprisingly, the female attitude towards male “responsiveness” was more complicated. On the one hand, some women saw responsiveness as an indication that the man would be a desirable mate, while others suspiciously viewed it as a ploy to manipulate them into sex. Still others thought that “responsiveness” was un-masculine, and therefore not sexy.

So there might be actually some science behind the whole “nice guys finish last” thing.

What a bummer.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser