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Relationships (107 posts)
What would it take to change your life for the better? It may be less than you think—we've got mini-makeovers to help you upgrade everything from your workout to your weekend. #30: 3 smart ideas for expanding your social circle.
You moved, you switched jobs, you lost your best pal to a new romance. Now what? Rachel Bertsche, author of MWF Seeking BFF, on how to solidify a new friendship:
Don't play hard to get.
You might need to make the first move, and the second, and the third. People are busy in their routines. If you wait for reciprocity, you could be waiting forever.
Skip the dissertation-length explanation of why you've got time to burn. A simple "I'd love to get together sometime; are you available for lunch or coffee this week?" should do the trick.
"Friending" is not befriending.
It's easy to get caught up in a virtual friendship, but monitoring her Facebook is not a real relationship. If she posts, "like" it—then meet IRL (in real life).
Coming to terms with painful situations can have a power that verges on miraculous. We've all heard the classic tale of, say, the woman who gets pregnant (after years of trying) once she reunites with her estranged family or the sick mother who gets better after a visit from her long-lost son. The Washington Post's story last Thursday about 9/11 widower Floyd Rasmussen begins like such story. After his first wife, Rhonda, died in the attack on the Pentagon, Rasmussen moved out west and started his life over by marrying another woman (the frank, insightful tale of how these two faced the losses in his past is itself reason enough to read the article immediately). Unfortunately, he also developed renal failure, which made travel not only difficult but perhaps fatal.
Regardless of the danger, he refused to skip the tenth anniversary event in Washington DC. He flew across the country, attended the ceremonies, and even met with President Obama to talk about what had happened that day, including the fact that he had only been two floors away from Rhonda and yet had escaped the wreckage unharmed. On the plane back home Rasmussen had trouble breathing, and, a few days later, passed away—but not before talking with his mother, other family and friends, to whom he declared that "he no longer felt any need for vengeance, no longer felt hatred for the men who had blown a hole in his life."
In the traditional miracle, he would have arrived home and found his condition cured. But that doesn't make his experience any less amazing. The forgiving of the unforgivable still qualifies as a marvel in my book—perhaps the kind most worth remembering and repeating, since we all can try to make that particular kind of magic happen in our own lives.
Making peace with yourself—no matter what
How to say good-bye
Like all of us, I've had a couple of rough times in my life—wrong job, wrong city, wrong direction, right guy but...whoops...he's not interested. Unfortunately, I also have a smile addiction. All through these less-than-happy periods, I'd slap on my cheerful face at work and at home. When people asked, I'd said, "Everything's fine. Thanks!" Or "just plugging along!"
The problem with this coping strategy is your day-to-day inner unhappiness quickly becomes the new emotional standard. You wake up unhappy every day but don't realize that you're unhappy because you're so used to it. One time, after listening to me talk on the phone for a while, my friend Elisabeth said, "Gee, you're really having a terrible time." A gong went off in my head. I was having a terrible time. What she had done was connect the dots for me, and the minute she did, I felt a whooshing—almost euphoric—sense of relief.
Now there's a site that will do your emotional charting for you. Moodpanda.com creates time graphs and charts from the "mood" data you insert daily. It may sound a little hokey, but looking at how you're feeling over the long term can be really interesting—and often different than short term. (For instance, this month, I'd probably say I'm "just doing okay," but actually, when you add up emotional scores from all 30 of my days, the consensus is that, surprise, I'm pretty happy!)
The added bonus? The little bits of mood analysis, such as the fact that weekends are universal happiest days of the week, while Wednesday—for some as yet still unknown reason—is the saddest. My advice is to buck the trend and, that day, buy yourself a lunch that ends in mood-lifting chocolate.
After watching the terrifying path of the hurricane up the East coast for the past four days, some of our all too human creations on television now seem a touch overwrought in comparison—for example, last night's MTV Awards.
Which is why this unexpectedly simply performance by Adele singing Someone Like You profiled on PopCrush—executed without gender-bending disguises, smoke bombs, sequins, flying trapeze wires, four french hens, three turtle doves, or even any mis-timed lip synching—seemed so poignant and moving. Even for those of us who no longer watch the MTV Awards or, okay, let's admit it, date back to an ancient time when MTV actually showed music videos....
Army boys put on their own musical
A love letter just for you
What would it take to change your life for the better? It may be less than you think—we’ve got mini-makeovers to help you upgrade everything from your workout to your weekend. #14: Spend time with someone you don't agree with.
"Otherising" is the dangerous act of turning someone into the enemy just because he or she looks different, prays different, speaks different, or thinks different. Some of history's most tragic events—wars, genocides, terrorist acts—began with ordinary people demonizing other ordinary people.
I noticed a remarkable amount of otherising during the 2008 presidential race. And there was one woman doing it who bothered me the most—me!
Keep Reading to find out to open your mind
Men! What are they thinking? We can't always answer that, but we'll be posting our favorite glimpses into their world in this space every Thursday.
* Comedian Andy Samberg channels McEnroe, Borg, Agassi and other tennis greats for The New York Times Magazine this weekend, and this behind-the-scenes video shows how he got into character. (NYTimes.com)
* "So frustrating because, if [you were outed], there was no ability to assume that your record stood for itself. All of a sudden there was this mystical discovery that made your record go into the trash." As Don't Ask Don't Tell comes to an end, GQ's Chris Heath interviews gay service members, and the results are fascinating and heartbreaking. (GQ)
* Are you ready to meet the perfect groom? This guy surprised his girlfriend with a proposal and her dream wedding on the same day. (Glamour.com)
* "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world."—Jack Layton, a Canadian politician who died of cancer this week at the age of 61, in a letter to his country. (CBC)
We all believe in change at Oprah.com. But when you're in jail, that change is all the more difficult—if not, in many cases, impossible (one study found that 52 percent of all offenders in America end up re-incarcerated). This summer, as the Today show originally reported in this moving, altogether inspiring interview, an organization called Hope House reconnects kids with their incarcerated fathers by offering both parties a chance to catch up at an in-prison summer camp, complete with sing-alongs and art projects.
Much of the news coverage focused on the kids and how they become more open and loving to their dads after the weeklong experience. But listen to what counselor Rachel Foley says about the fathers toward the end of this clip.
Just to recap, Foley describes how putting a child in front of his dad transforms "the man from the nothing the prison makes him believe he is to the father he knows he is."
Which serves a great reminder to all of us. Sure, not all of us are in prison. Sure, there may be big differences between our lives. But the goal is the same: getting to that split second of visible change where we become who we want to be.
The best advice I've ever received on dealing with a break-up was to write a long, emotional letter to my ex, seal it up, and put it under my pillow. After sleeping on the envelope for a few days, I not only felt better about expressing my feelings (if only to myself), but I wanted to rip up the letter into a million soggy pieces and flush them down the toilet. I couldn't even bear to look my own hysterical, mortifyingly honest words.
Who writes letters these days? We let the world know how we're feeling through blogs, Facebook, Twitter feeds—and perhaps that's not always the best idea. The New York Times Magazine recently covered a conference that the Boston Public Health Commission sponsored on "healthy breakups" which helped over 200 teenagers deal with tricky issues like changing a relationship status and tagging photos of exes.
But teens aren't the only ones who need need pointers. When I heard about the conference, I immediately thought of a friend's friend who changed her last name on Facebook before she'd even filed for divorce, and another guy who had posted photos of himself on vacation with his new girlfriend while still married to his wife. So I asked Casey Corcoran, director of the Boston Public Health Commission’s Start Strong Initiative (which organized the conference) for advice on adapting my old-fashioned break-up rule to the digital age.
What would it take to change your life for the better? It may be less than you think—we've got mini-makeovers to help you upgrade everything from your workout to your weekend. #2: Martha Beck has a simple trick to help resolve conflict.
You're mulling the night's TV options when your significant other grabs the remote and starts clicking away like a sugar-fueled 5-year-old. When you mention this, he asks how your OCD is going. Your counterstrike that his mother raised her sons to be boorish louts—eliciting his usual rant about your mom still serving him meatloaf when he's been a vegetarian for years.
When the hilarious, heart-warming book Unlikely Friendships came out this month—documenting a rhino and a goat that were best buddies, as well as an orangutan and a tiger cub—we were instantly reminded of very human "odd couples" we've observed at restaurants, befriended on vacation or even been in ourselves. For example, the Cheetah and the Anatolian Shepherd.
The Animal Version: "The dog—calm, loveable, adaptable—helps the cheetah relax and accept unfamiliar situations."
The Human Version: She's the head of a massive real-estate company. He's a carpenter who dabbles in guitar. During dinner at a restaurant, she gets upset about their table and asks the hostess to move them. When it's time to order, she gets the tacos without tortillas and the salad with extra, extra, extra ripe avocado. Then she requests three lemon slices in her water. Meanwhile, he sits there, humming a random tune and playing with his fork.
When her water arrives with two lemon slices, she openly fumes. He smiles very politely at the waiter but asks for the third one, plus gives her his slice from his glass. By now, you might be thinking, "This guy spends his life running around after this woman, cleaning up after her demands. He's the nice one but...maybe kind of a wimp?" Then the tacos arrive with tortillas. A look of outrage and panic crosses the woman's face. She opens her mouth, just as he pats her hand—tenderly but firmly. She shuts her mouth and smiles at him, as if nobody else exists. There it is: the comfort of being reminded that somebody knows who you are...and who you want to be.