Horoscopes Spilling The Zodiac Tea

Spilling the tea on the assumptions of compatibility in astrology

Follow our Zodiac series for everything astrology related. We’re Spillin’ the Zodiac T! Stay tuned for the juice.

Self-care. At this point, we’ve all heard the phrase, but how many of us actually practice it? No matter how busy our days are, self-care should always be a priority, especially because it’s a surefire way of mentally, physically, and emotionally de-stressing. Taking time for ourselves may seem selfish, but it’s necessary in order to maintain our mental wellness and wellbeing.

Trying to find that special someone in our lives, be it a friend or a lover there are many questions we find ourselves asking. One of those questions is most certainly on compatibility. When it comes to astrological compatibility, be it in romantic relationships, friendships, or even a parent-child relationship—it’s not only the sun sign that suggests whether you will be compatible. In fact, the sun sign is probably the last thing you should pay attention to when it comes to compatibility! The sun sign however does represent your identity, it is how you answer the question “I am” and how you experience life and express your individuality. 

There are other placements in your chart that make up who you are. Each placement plays a role in what you may find attractive, what does not appeal to you, and who you would be most compatible with. This means you need to look past the sun sign of someone and dig deeper into who they are.

The placements that you should be looking at when it comes to getting along with others are mainly your rising sign and your moon sign. Your rising sign is the sign that describes your personality and the type of person you project out into the world. The rising sign is who you are around people. Your moon sign deals with emotions and your interpersonal relationships. Your moon sign does not necessarily show outwardly like your rising sign but influences your emotional self. These two signs are very important when trying to find out whether you would be compatible with someone both romantically and platonically.

It is common that you will gravitate towards people with the same sign as you. To match up signs with similar elements, water signs with water signs or fire signs with fire signs. However, some of the best relationships are the ones where your partner, friend, or child, has a sign with a completely different element from you. This can bring a vibrant and new fresh take on things pushing you to grow beyond your limits. With each one of these out-of-element pairings comes out one of the most compatible combinations.

Now if you are curious about which elements may be the most compatible with one another, we may be able to guide you with some insight on that topic! And who knows, this could help you find your true love.

First up we have Aries and Libra. Fire and air ignite to start a fire! While Aries is impulsive and even hotheaded, Libra brings in the balance. Libra is known for being the one to restore harmony and peace as its symbol is the scales. Libras appreciate all perspectives and see all sides of the story and would likely never try to change their Aries partner. In return, the Aries can help the Libra to gain confidence in making bold decisions without spending an eternity weighing all the possible consequences.

Moving on to the next pair, Taurus and Cancer may be different but the two aren’t so far apart. Both the signs love taking care of loved ones, are homebodies, and appreciate the simple pleasures in life, good food, friends, and pleasant surroundings. What makes this pair so special, is that Taurus is protective of others, while Cancer longs for security. Cancers tend to be afraid to trust others and tend to withdraw into their shell. But if there is anyone that can earn and keep their trust, it is a Taurus. Like the banks of a softly flowing river, the earth meets water.  

Another earth and water pair are dreamy Pisces and firm Virgo. Spiritual Pisces is the one with the ideas, and practical-minded Virgo helps to bring in all the details necessary to put the plan into motion. When these two work together, they can pull off marvels!

The rule of physics says opposites attract. It is the same with Leos and Scorpios. While fire and water usually cancel one another, that is not the case with this unusual pair. While Cancer and Pisces can be gentle and soft, Scorpio is not your typical water sign. So, what could Leo and Scorpio have in common? Both signs are complex and can be prone to drama, but Leos wear their hearts on their sleeves and, are Scorpios secretive and to themselves. In this relationship, Leos can help the slightly-too-intense Scorpios to lighten up while the Scorpio can provide encouragement when Leo becomes fiery and volatile.

A guide and tool that many would swear by astrology when viewed with an open mind can teach you a thing or two about who you would most get along with.

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Sexuality Love + Sex Love

I can’t believe it took me this long to talk to my friends about masturbation

The first time I masturbated I didn’t know whether I had orgasmed or not. I come from a conservative family in a conservative society. I did not grow up hearing about masturbation or sex at all. What I knew about orgasms was only what I had read in romance novels. And honestly, mine was kind of underwhelming compared to what I had read. “Is that it?” I wondered. I wanted to know how an orgasm is supposed to feel, how it feels for other people. Do they also take ages to reach climax? Is it kind of disappointing for them too?

(This piece is going to be littered liberally with rhetorical questions, much like life.)

But I didn’t feel like I could ask anyone. I knew a couple of my college friends would be willing to tell me, but for some reason I was hesitant. It was a combination of a deep hesitance to bring up the topic at all and the slight shame of being so inexperienced that I didn’t know what an orgasm should feel like.

I had a vague conversation with one of my school friends (who was also my roommate in college) once, on a rooftop bar two drinks in. Let us call her Rhea*.

Rhea is a part of my school friend group. We have known each other for 10 years, some of us even longer than that. Rhea and I discussed how it took me a long time to reach orgasm while it took her only a few minutes. This was my only point of reference – I wondered if there was something wrong with me.

And somehow even in that open and trusting environment, with one of my best friends in the world, I could not ask about her orgasm.

As I write this article, I am a little surprised at myself. I know she would not have judged me. We knew everything else about each other’s lives. I also considered myself to be a liberal, well-read, and worldly person, someone who understood the restrictions placed upon me by the conservative society I lived in.

I thought I had moved past these restrictions in my head, but now I know that that was not true. Even when we were already on the topic, I hesitated.

A couple of years later, I was drinking tea with another friend from the same group. Let’s call her Luna. I don’t remember how but the topic turned to masturbation. Maybe it was because I was older, or that Luna and I had been getting closer over those few months, but I mentioned something about not knowing whether what I feel are “proper” orgasms or not.

She matter-of-factly told me what it feels like and I felt a rush of affection for her. It was literally that easy. (And yes, my orgasms were fine, I was worried for no reason)

“How come we haven’t talked about this before?” Luna asked me, amazed. She told me that masturbation has a way of stimulating her and making her feel more alert after climax.

I told her that it’s the exact opposite for me – I just feel pleasantly tired and ready for bed. If you had asked me before that conversation I would have told you that of course orgasms are different for different people! But it was more theoretical in my head rather than from any actual knowledge.

The conversation was pretty fun and we decided we should talk to our other friends too, to find out how it was for them. On our next video call with the whole group, Luna brought the topic up again. There was a moment of surprise, followed by a very fun and open conversation. Everyone expressed the same surprise that this was the first time we were talking so openly about masturbation. One of them pointed out that it was probably because we had known each other when we were children – it is difficult to change the tone of conversation when you’ve known each other for so long.

Whatever the reason was, I am glad we had that talk. It was funny and supportive and made me feel closer to these girls that I already felt incredibly close to. Talking about masturbation not only helped me learn more but also helped reduce the taboo and shame I felt about it. It was a healthy conversation to have with friends and I could not recommend it enough!

*Names are changed for anonymity.

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Best Friends Forever Life

11 warning signs that you are actually the toxic friend

I often see Instagram posts giving advice on how to handle a potentially toxic friend or relationship. These posts say things like, “walking away from toxic friends is an act of self-love” or “detox your life from negative people.” So naturally, traits you associate with “toxic people” are malicious individuals who exude negative energy. People who tend to intentionally disrupt your energy and your day.

However, toxic people aren’t monolithic. What if I told you that you have also, at some point, exhibited toxic traits? Of course, it is easier to identify the demons in your own life, but it can be difficult to admit that you could be a villain in someone else’s story.

Since it is often easy to be shortsighted regarding your toxic flaws, here’s a list of red flags signaling you might be the person on the wrong side of a friendship. 

1. You talk more than you listen

[Image description: Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks talking with a serious expression. ] via Giphy
Have you ever returned home from meeting a friend and wondered why they didn’t update you on their life? Well, it might be because you were talking about yourself the entire time. Although many of us have a tendency to be slightly self-absorbed at times, being excessively self-involved is definitely a toxic trait. To combat this, lend an attentive ear every now and then.

Make sure you ask about how your friend is doing and make sure you don’t occupy more space in the friendship than the other person. After all, friendship is about equality. You might be the lead role in your life, but your friends are certainly not the supporting cast! 

2. You play divide and rule to conquer social groups

[Image description: GIF of character from Mean Girls saying "you can't sit with us!" Via GIPHY
[Image description: GIF of character from Mean Girls saying “you can’t sit with us!” Via GIPHY
You often find yourself amidst other people’s drama because you love exclusionary social politics. You’ll corner one person, only to later pretend to be sympathetic towards them. You also tend to turn people against each other so that you can benefit from their mutually degrading friendship. All of this chaos makes you feel alive, relevant, and perhaps even powerful. 

3. You love giving unsolicited advice

[Image description: Regina George, played by Rachel Mc Adams, in Mean Girls saying her iconic line.] via Giphy
Here’s the thing about unsolicited advice: it’s typically unwanted! Learn to keep your opinions to yourself, and only give advice when it is asked for. You might have your heart in the right place when you call somebody out on their sartorial choices or when you criticize your friend’s appearance. You may even tell yourself that you’re only helping your friend improve so that someone else won’t give them harsher criticism or insults.

However, being perennially critical does not help anyone. Instead, it often comes off as mean-spirited.

4. You find it easier to talk about people behind their back rather than to their face 

[Image description: Rachel, played by Jennifer Anniston and Amy Green from Friends gossiping.] via Giphy
Have you ever been guilty of intentionally breaking someone’s trust? Do you relish in idle gossip? You tell yourself that you’re only “talking” about your issues with someone else. But guess what? That counts as backbiting too! The more mature and kinder route to take when having issues with someone: talk to them face-to-face. Address the person who the issue concerns. And don’t gossip about someone else’s business with parties not directly involved in the conflict. 

5. You often find yourself projecting your own unresolved issues onto other people

[Image description: Blair Waldorf, played by Leighton Meester making an angry face.] via Giphy
Simply put, your coping mechanism is to project your deepest insecurities onto other people. You may also interfere with other people’s mental well-being by planting seeds of self-doubt in their minds. For a moment, your confidence and mood are boosted with a false sense of superiority. But that is short-lived. Your unhealed trauma persists, still disrupting your mental peace. And the cycle continues.

Here’s the catch: immense self-awareness is needed to even recognize this pattern. Projecting onto others is so deeply ingrained in your behavior that it feels normal for you. So, how do you prevent this cycle from continuing to consume your mental health? You seek therapy. You discuss your childhood traumas and address them in a healthy manner with a professional.

This is the most effective way of ensuring you do not further propagate your own wounds, especially onto others. 

6. You neglect genuine friendships for social media clout

[Image Description: Best friends in Vegas taking a selfie.] via Giphy
Imagine this scenario: you’re at a party or social event with your closest friend. You then neglect your friend whilst taking way too many selfies with people who you think make you look better on social media. All the while your friend is sitting in the corner, bored, and regretting their decision to go out with you.

There’s no harm in indulging in socializing and networking while out, especially if your friend has no interest in the matter. But should disingenuous socializing come at the cost of your actual friend’s feelings? Next time while you’re out, try to spend more time investing in genuine conversations with the friend(s) you came with. Or befriend people because you click, not so that you can tag them in your Instagram posts, only using them for social media clout.  

7. You struggle to respect boundaries 

[Image Description: Michael Scott from The Office.] via Giphy
The concept of consent is important in friendships too. Do you get infuriated when a friend says no? Do you get offended when they stand their ground and try to protect their financial, emotional, and physical boundaries? Being entitled to impose onto others while disregarding their boundaries is toxic behavior. So is guilt-tripping your friends when they say they are busy.

In addition, while we’re on the subject of practicing self-awareness, next time you call a friend to rant about your day, ask if they have the mental capacity to listen to you, or if they are overwhelmed by their own problems. 

8. You think the world revolves around you 

[Image Description: Kim Kardashian takes a selfie next to Kris Jenner in an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. ] via Giphy
Think of a situation in which your friend is going through something and needs you. Maybe it’s a relationship gone wrong or a personal tragedy. Do you find yourself doing a mental eye roll when the subject is not on or about you? Do you become tempted to then redirect the narrative to involve yourself? In the future, consider: if you have the right to occupy space within a friendship, what about the other person? Friendships should look more like a democracy, not a one-person dictatorship. 

9. You find it hard to be genuinely happy for others 

[Image Description: Rachel, played by Jennifer Anniston, giving her version of the middle finger.] via Giphy
When a friend breaks good news to you, are you happy for them? Or do you find yourself questioning outcomes surrounding your own problems? Thinking, “when will those things work out for me?” While it is natural to feel slight pangs of jealousy sometimes, it is important not to allow the occasional jealousy to develop into full-fledged envy. Don’t let schadenfreude get the better of you! Now is your time to be a supportive friend. Trust, that your time will come. 

10. You like to control people

[Image Description: Khloe Kardashian talking to Kylie Jenner in an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.] via Giphy
You struggle to be around opinionated individuals, and you thrive off more submissive personalities. You prefer having someone who will blindly follow instructions rather than having a friend with more autonomy. Someone with their own views and ideas. You struggle to accept people the way they are and feel the need to micromanage them completely.

All of these are red flags, so beware!

11. You love comparing some of your friends to other friends 

[Image Description: Kim Kardashian makes a funny comment in an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.] via Giphy
Do you find yourself uttering phrases like, “[insert name here] is so much more fun to be with compared to [insert another name here]?” Instead of appreciating individuality, you try to assess all friendships with the same yardstick. Little do you realize, comments like that prevent friendships from developing naturally. 

These are just some of my humble learnings throughout life. So if you feel like you identified with any of these tips, reflections, and suggestions, consider this article an intervention. Don’t corrupt your friendships with toxic behaviors or attitudes. Ultimately, it is important to be the kind of friend you want to have!

For those of you who are at the receiving end of a toxic friendship, there’s no shame in asking for positive vibes only! 

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Feel-Good Love + Sex Love

Valentine’s, Galentine’s or Palentine’s? Our editorial team spills it!

Valentine’s Day is coming up – lovebirds and palentines – follow along with our Vday series right here

You can always feel the air around you changing as the world dresses itself up in red and the internet is dolled up in hearts, affirmations and words of love and promise. It’s that time of the year again: Valentine’s Day.

There’s something about Vday season that makes you want to share and revel in all the love around you. It may be a simple gesture of sending a box of chocolates to your best friend, treating yourself to a much needed day of self-care, or cuddling up with your boo, but the holiday is here in all its shining red glory.

Heart shaped chocolates and balloons, flowers galore, cheesy cards and sappy rom coms are the mood of this season.

We hope you’re shining, no matter what your plans may be!

So to share our celebrations with you, our editorial team has given you a glimpse into their Valentine’s Day plans:

It has become sort of a tradition for me and my boyfriend to spend Valentine’s Day apart, as it usually fell during our university’s Reading Week, and therefore one of the few times where both of us could go home and spend time with our families. There is no university holidays keeping us apart this year, but he’s still over 3,000 miles away and the UK is on lockdown anyway. My plans include Zoom Scrabble, long hours in front of the computer, chocolates and rewatching Valentine’s Day for the 10000th time. And who knows, maybe I’ll receive a hand-made present by mail.

Bea, Senior Editor of Pop Culture

2021 is the first year in two years that I will be single for Valentines Day, though I am kind of glad about it! I always spent the holiday longingly watching my friends from a distance celebrate together in perfect “galentines” fashion via champagne, chocolate, bundles of flowers, and our favorite movies – while my ex and I acted as if it was any other day: Fast food and video games. I am a hopeless romantic, so this reality definitely gutted me. This year I plan on spending the day with my roommates laughing, singing, dancing, and loving!

Vanessa, Senior Editor of The World

This is the very first Valentine’s Day I’ll be celebrating with my husband. Although we won’t be able to do the typical romantic things we had envisaged – a weekend getaway, candlelight dinner, going to the movies – due to national lockdown here in the UK, we’re grateful that we can celebrate this day together after months of being apart. We’ll go for a walk in the morning around our nearby park, order a Domino’s pizza and watch our favorite sitcoms. I’m pretty sure we’ll rewatch Friday Night Dinner, Friends, and Brooklyn 99 throughout the day!

Rebecca, Junior Editor of Lookbook and Weddings

This will actually be my first Valentine’s, since I was a teenager, that I’ll be spending at home (courtesy of the pandemic). So that leaves me celebrating a mini Gal-entines with my mom. While other people might find that a bore, my mother is the person who taught me—in the wise words of Parks and Recreation—to treat yo’ self. For us, that means we’re picking up some pink balloons for house decoration. Then we’re going to go to our local patisserie and get either a cake or some pastries. And, let’s be real, we’ll probably end up watching Pride and Prejudice or Notting Hill. After all, who needs love when you have cake, balloons, Mr. Darcy and Hugh Grant?

Helena, Junior Editor of Now + Beyond

My boyfriend and I have been together for about four and a half years now, but his birthday falls on the 13th! So we’ve had to find creative ways for him to have a special birthday, then turn around and do something romantic for both of us the next day. Living together during the pandemic has made that extra challenging, since we can’t go out anywhere and it’s nearly impossible to buy a gift or plan a surprise without the other one finding out. Last year we went to a pinball arcade and had an amazing dinner at our favorite restaurant, but this year we’ll probably get curbside pickup (from the same place we went to last year) and create a romantic night in!

Megan, Senior Editor of History

I am pretty sure that I have been single for as long as I can remember… Nonetheless, I still think that Valentine’s Day is a super cute holiday! I like the idea of a day that focuses on spreading love, giving love, and receiving love. It also serves as the perfect opportunity to watch a rom-com, drink some wine if I am in the mood, and eat desserts. Last year around Valentine’s Day, I watched To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You with my friend while drinking rosé and eating cookies. With the pandemic, I won’t be seeing my friends, unfortunately. However, unless I magically find myself in a relationship before Valentine’s Day, I am still planning to watch a movie, drink champagne, and eat dessert like I normally do with my friends! I think this year’s film will be Bride Wars starring Anne Hathaway and Kate HudsonIt is one of my favorite rom-com’s!

Tatayana, Junior Editor of Love and Health

This is the first Valentine’s Day that I’m going to be spending at home after a long time, so I ordered some clothes online and if they deliver on February 14th, I’m going to spend Valentine’s Day getting dressed up at home, feeling myself, and then spending the rest of the day calling my college friends. This time last year, I was living with them so it is going to be a little disappointing, but I can’t wait to drown myself in chocolate and cute t-shirts that I found on an online sale. I’m actually looking forward to being able to dress up, even if its to just click pictures at home.

Natalia, Junior Editor of Pop Culture

This Valentine’s Day, I’ll be spending time at home with my immediate family because of the pandemic. I’ve never been in a proper relationship before, so that’s how I’ve spent most Valentine’s Days anyway. But my mom, in particular, has always made up for my non-existent love life by going out of her way to make the day special nonetheless with gifts, snacks, and cute cards. I’ve also been reading romance novels this month; namely, “The Princess Trap” by Talia Hibbert and “Written in the Stars” by Alexandria Bellefleur (highly recommend both). And to keep feeding my hopeless romantic heart, on Valentine’s day I’ll also watch some of my favorite romantic comedies. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, 10 Things I Hate About You, and The Love Birds are definitely on my docket for Valentine’s day paired with a glass of wine and chocolate-covered strawberries to top it all off.

Ebony, Junior Editor of Life

Self-love is the first and most important form of love. And I know while I haven’t been looking after myself constantly, this Valentine’s Day gives me a chance to reflect on that. Every year, my friends and I do a cute galentine’s day celebration. Last year, we watched To All The Boys 2: P.S I Still Love You, and so this year, it seemed fitting to watch part three. Let’s see if we actually end up watching the movie though, since the second one was a bit of a let down. But who doesn’t love a good Noah Centineo pick-me-upper? Along with the movie, we’re doing a bring-your-own pasta night, where each of us make our own pasta, revel in the beauty of the rom-com genre and just enjoy ourselves.

Maheen, Senior Editor of Love and Health

I’ve been single for 21 Valentine’s Days and we are continuing the tradition for the 22nd year! 😀 I am actually home for a Valentine’s Day for the first time in two years, so I’ll probably just bake some cookies with my mom, and curl up with a romance book and some hot chocolate. I’ve been reading so much of historical romance books, so I’ll continue to spend some time with a duke or some regency era scandal. Right now I am bingeing through Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove series, and I hoping to reread some Lisa Kleypas classics when the weekend comes around.

Mishma, Senior Editor of The World

The worst Valentine’s Day I’ve had was when my ex didn’t wish me the entire day, got us discount burgers (that I ended up paying for), then he left me alone in his house while he went out drinking with his friends…so basically the bar is set low on what would make any future Valentine’s Day a good one! This year I plan to do nothing. I wish I had a tale of how I was going to buy myself flowers and watch cheesy rom-coms while binging on chocolate but, in all honesty, I will be spending 14 February 2021 like any other average day (with the added feature of trying to not obsess over why my crush isn’t texting me back). And it’s going to be amazing.

Kajal, Senior Editor of Now + Beyond 

This is the first Valentine’s day I’m away from home, and not spending it with family and friends, so I’ll really be focusing on self-love. I plan to take a walk through chilly London, grab some delicious takeout on the way back, and pop in for a game night with a few of my flat-mates. After that, I’ll get in bed with some chocolate, watch some Modern Family (my current obsession), some fanfiction, and an Agatha Christie Novel. Really, a perfect night for me.

Sahar, Senior Editor of Lookbook + Weddings

I’ve been single for every Valentine’s day and this year is no different! Luckily for me, my friends are in the same boat. Since I live in New Orleans, Valentine’s Day tends to overlap with Mardi Gras festivities. Last year, we were able to pass the day by watching the parades, but unfortunately due to the pandemic, that’s not an option this year. Our plan at the moment is to buy a large king cake, order a bunch of food, and watch as many cheesy romances as our hearts desire. 

Apoorva, Senior Editor of Life

Regardless of how you’re spending the day, we hope there’s time for a lil extra love somewhere in there!

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Dear Madame Lestrange Love Advice

Do you have any advice on how to be single?

Dear Madame Lestrange is The Tempest’s love, sex, and relationships advice column. Have a question? Send it to Madame Lestrange here.  It’s anonymous!

Dear Madame Lestrange,

So, I’m a serial monogamist. I’ve finally come to admit it after years of denying it. I have an incredibly hard time not being in a relationship. So far, I’m a month strong, which is great, but being home for the summer is really lonely, and I’m having the urge to hop on Tinder or OkCupid and find the next one.

I know this would be bad, but I’d like to tell myself, “what’s the harm?” But I know the harm; I need to work on myself this summer, and really spend some time with myself, something I haven’t done in years.

Do you have any advice on how to be single? I love being in relationships, and I love to hang out and get to know someone really well. But in the end, I always end up losing myself in it and distracting myself from my real problems. Can you help?!


—Your Single Gal

Dear Single Gal, 

You’ve already recognized what you need to do and that is to stay single. It’s always good to take some time out for yourself to figure out what you want and what you are looking for. 

My advice would be to figure out why you feel the need to always be in a relationship, do you miss the companionship? The sex? Or intimacy? This is the first way to figure out how to be single! Try finding things that ignite your passion, if there is something that you have been ignoring whilst looking for a relationship push your free time towards that. 

It’s not easy being single when you’re so used to being in a relationship and it can be really lonely. This is something that you have to push through in order to make sure that you are working on yourself. It’s important to recognize the things that you enjoy doing in a relationship you can do on your own.

You can go to the cinema and go to restaurants. You don’t need someone to be with you. Equally, grab a couple of your friends and head to the movies! 

Your welcome, 

Madame Lestrange 

More Dear Madame Lestrange

I’m planning on having sex with my boyfriend soon. It’ll be my first time but not his and while I’m very excited, I’m also very nervous. I want to make this a pleasurable experience for us both and I have no idea what I’m doing. I gave him my first handjob too and while he did cum, I feel like I could’ve done better. Do you have any tips?

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TV Shows Pop Culture

25 Christmas episodes to binge this Christmas… and then some

Read more of our holiday stories here!

If you’re feeling lonely this holiday season because of the COVID restrictions, here’s a good way of bringing that festive feeling without actually seeing people or stepping foot outside. How about curling up with a cozy Christmas episode? Are you feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of shows out there? No fear, we’ve got you!

Here are our top 25 picks for Christmas episodes from everyone’s favorite TV shows.

1. Friends: “The One With the Holiday Armadillo” (Season 7, Episode 10)


Ross tries to replace Ben’s obsession with Christmas jingles and Santa with some knowledge about Hanukkah. The result? A Chrismukkah featuring Ross as the Holiday Armadillo, Chandler as Santa Claus, and Joey as Superman. Rachel calls this hilarious mix the “Easter Bunny’s funeral”. 

 2. Modern Family: “Undeck the Halls” (Season 1, Episode 10)


While Phil and Claire threaten to cancel Christmas and tear down their home Christmas tree to discipline their children, the Pritchetts argue over American and Colombian Christmas customs. But all ends well with a family feast, as Jay says: “This was the year the word ‘tradition’ got a lot bigger for me”. Watch if you’re in the mood for a major Modern Family throwback! 

3. Gilmore Girls: “Forgiveness and Stuff” (Season 1, Episode 10)


Ah, Gilmore GirlsThe whimsical snow-covered Stars Hollow is as magical as fictional Christmas sets can be. Throw in the town’s performance of the nativity scene, Christmas jingles, and fairy lights and you got yourself a wholesome Christmas episode. But what is Christmas without some family drama? Lorelai’s tension with her family peaks and is resolved by forgiveness, in true holiday spirit. 

4. How I Met Your Mother: “Symphony of Illumination” (Season 7, Episode 12)


This personal favorite flips the title of the show on its head and gives us an episode of “How I Met Your Father” narrated from Robin’s point of view. In this exceptionally profound Christmas special, Robin panics through a pregnancy scare and is pulled in different directions: maternal instincts, her career, her individuality, and her independence. Recommended for the twist at the end! 

5. Hitchcock special: “Back for Christmas” 


Who says Christmas specials can only be about good cheer? If you enjoyed Psycho or The Birds, watch this nail-biting suspense in Hitchcock’s signature thriller style. His story of a Christmas gone so very wrong will leave you on the edge of your seat. It’s a Wonderful Life is not the only black and white vintage Christmas throwback you can watch over the holidays! 

6. Gossip Girl: “It’s a Wonderful Life” (Season 2, Episode 12)


While the show’s Thanksgiving episodes are more memorable, this Christmas episode is certainly up in the ranks. There’s no Christmas like Christmas in the Big Apple, and Gossip Girl shows us how to celebrate it pure Upper East Side style. Thinking of holiday presents on a budget? Take some tips from Dan and Serena who seek out personalized presents under $50. If not, consider it a catalog for holiday looks. After all, nobody does fashion better than Gossip Girl.

7. Cheers: “Christmas Cheers” (Season 6, Episode 12)


Searching for something refreshingly nostalgic? Check out this episode from Cheers, the Friends of the 80s. In this Christmas special, the entire ensemble cast makes an appearance. We catch the characters in their habitual bar where everybody knows their name. Rebecca makes the bartenders work long hours, but hey! At least they have It’s a Wonderful Life playing on the bar TV to cheer them up. 

8. Everybody Hates Chris: “Everybody Hates Christmas” (Season 1, Episode 11)


This rare Black spin on sitcoms was way ahead of its time. Airing in 2005, this Christmas special addresses the intersections of class and racism. Chris wants a walkman (millennials, you know what I’m talking about!) but can’t afford it. His sister Tonya comes to face the reality that Santa isn’t real. It is one big reality check, sugar-coated with humor and childhood innocence. I feel if this episode had come out this year, it would have gotten the attention it deserved. 

9. Downton Abbey: “Christmas at Downton Abbey” (Season 2, Episode 5)


Americans aren’t the only ones obsessed with Christmas. The BBC production Downton Abbey’s second season finale is proof of that. Weaving together loose strands of subplots, the episode is like a Pinterest palette of vintage Christmas inspiration. Touted as “retro festive wallpaper”, the episode is truly eye candy culminating in the ultimate romantic moment (SPOILER ALERT!) – Matthew’s snow globe inspired proposal to Mary is a sight to behold!

10. Seinfeld: “The Strike” (Season 9, Episode 10) 


This episode begins in Hanukkah, is set in the Christmas season but demands a holiday for the secular and invented, “Festivus”. In true, cynical Seinfeld fashion, the witty humor and abundance of inside jokes make the mundane 23rd of December a day of importance through Frank Costanza’s slogan of “Festivus for the rest of us!” 

11. The Simpsons: “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”  (Season 1, Episode 1) 


An ultimate throwback dating back to Season 1, Episode 1, with Homer as Santa and the rather broke Simpson family singing “Rudolph-the red-nosed reindeer”, might be THE animated Christmas special you need to see! The Simpson family does not give presents to each other, they play pranks on each other. And Bart removing Homer’s beard is the kind of slapstick I’m in for!

12. Friends: “The One Where Rachel Quits” (Season 3, Episode 10)


Rachel quits her job at Central Perk as a waitress. Meanwhile, in true Christmas spirit, Ross helps a Brown Bird sell boxes of festive cookies to help send her to space camp. Phoebe’s conscience about wasted conifer trees will make you question the environmental hazards of Christmas decoration altogether! 

13. The Office: “Christmas Party” (Season 2, Episode 10)


This episode has almost unanimously been voted the internet’s favorite out of all the Christmas episodes of The Office, a show which has given us gem after gem of memeable content. This is an iconic episode too, featuring the legendary teapot that Jim gifted Pam during the gift exchange, which Michael hijacked, as Michael would. 

14. New Girl: “The 23rd” (Season 1, Episode 9)


I will stand by this opinion for eons, Nick Miller and Jessica Day’s arc on New Girl is one of the best on TV, ever. This episode is a prime example of how much they cared for each other, without even dating (I won’t give any more spoilers). It also features significant developments with Schmidt and Cece, as well as Jess and her boyfriend. Meanwhile, Winston just does his thing, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. 

15. Schitt’s Creek: “Merry Christmas, Johnny Rose” (Season 4, Episode 13)


Every episode of Schitt’s Creek just gets better and better, but this one hits you in all the feels. Johnny Rose, the benevolent father of the Rose family, wants to have Christmas together this year, after reminiscing about the grand parties they used to have when they were rich. His family members are less than enthused, however, and Johnny has to come to terms with letting go of his extravagant past. Like all its other season finales, this episode is packed with hilarious one-liners, delightful Moira-isms, and just all-round wholesomeness – a perfect package for Christmas!

16. Brooklyn Nine-Nine: “Christmas” (Season 1, Episode 11)


In this episode of everybody’s favorite cop show, Captain Holt gets death threats and assigns a delighted Jake Peralta to protect him. Jake loves his new role and uses it to lord over Captain Holt while he can, but he soon realizes the gravity of the situation. Throw in Charles worrying about missing his flight, and Amy trying to get Rosa to smile for a Christmas card, and you have yourself a merry Nine-Nine Christmas. 

17. Glee: “Extraordinary Merry Christmas” (Season 3, Episode 9)

via Tenor

You know a Glee episode is going to be amazing when it opens with a Mercedes solo, as Whitney Houston, singing the classic “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. It’s a triple treat! Christmas is synonymous with Christmas music, and this episode is filled to the brim with classics like “Let It Snow”, “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” and “Blue Christmas”. The Glee kids are faced with choosing between having a Christmas special aired on PBS, or serving food for the homeless. Because the club disagrees on which one to do, we get to see both situations – a delightfully corny Christmas special in the style of Star Wars and Judy Garland, as well as heartwarming scenes at the homeless shelter. Klaine fans get plenty of material to swoon about too! 

18. Community: “Regional Holiday Music” (Season 3, Episode 10)

via Tenor

This is a controversial choice to put on this list, because everyone knows the definitive one out of all the Community Christmas episodes (and possibly television as a whole) is “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas”, where the episode is shot in stop motion animation and deals with profoundly bittersweet themes. However, “Regional Holiday Music” is the very antithesis of the Glee episode mentioned just earlier on the list, so I felt it was fitting. This was not the first or last time show creator Dan Harmon has poked fun at Glee, and in this episode, the study group is lured into Glee Club one by one by the increasingly manic Glee Club director (Taran Killam). Complete with classic Community running gags and warm Christmas spirit, this episode is a must-watch (after Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas, of course). 

19. Arrested Development: “Afternoon Delight” (Season 2, Episode 6)


Ah, Arrested Development. What a gem of a show. In this gag-filled episode, Michael and Maeby begin to spend time together after feeling ignored by their respective family members. Meanwhile Gob discovers that his attitude has been annoying his employees, and that they would not be toasting him at the Christmas party like he had expected. Lucille misses Buster. There’s not much one can describe about Arrested Development episodes in words, so I’m just going to let you watch it.

20. Fresh Off The Boat: “The Real Santa” (Season 2, Episode 10)

Jessica pretends to be Lau Ban Santa, Fresh Off The Boat
[Jessica pretends to be Lao Ban Santa, Fresh Off The Boat] via Imgur
In typical fashion, Jessica Huang wants to ‘fix’ Santa for her son Evan. Why? He doesn’t have an advanced degree, he’s only a toymaker or a glorified delivery man, and either way he’s labor, not management. When she finally blurts out that Santa is Chinese, the show then asks the question, why can’t Santa be Chinese? Fresh Off the Boat has always created light-hearted but refreshing conversations about race, and this episode is no different.

21. 30 Rock: “Ludachristmas” (Season 2, Episode 9)


30 Rock has proven on several occasions to be one of those rare shows that do absurd comedy exceedingly well. In “Ludachristmas”, the 30 Rock gang is planning their annual Christmas party, but Tracy (like in real life) has been ordered to abstain from alcohol, which he finds difficult. We also have a delightfully spiraling meeting between Liz Lemon’s family and Jack Donaghy’s mom, and you’re sure to be in stitches by the end of the episode!

22. Superstore: “Christmas Eve” (Season 3, Episode 7)


Superstore has been touted by many as the spiritual (albeit not equal) successor to that pinnacle of workplace comedy, The Office. Set in a big box store similar to the likes of Walmart, Superstore is a very underrated show providing hilarious jokes along with timely addressal of socio-political issues. In this episode, Mateo is not too excited about the prospect of Christmas, and Glenn sets out to prove him wrong. Meanwhile, Amy wants to show everyone that she’s more than the stuffy person they think she is, and Sandra gets a Christmas miracle. The whole episode ending not quite how one would expect, but definitely in line with the wacky core of the show.

23. Veep: “Camp David” (Season 5, Episode 8)

Gary and Selina look at each other, Veep
[Gary and Selina look at each other, Veep] via IMDb
Anyone who knows Selina Meyer would know she would be the last person to get sentimental about holidays. Which is why, when she suggests a family getaway to the presidential retreat of Camp David, you know she has her personal agenda in mind. A Chinese diplomatic envoy, tough negotiations and colorful hijinks ensue in this hilarious episode also featuring the ever-welcome Minna Hakkinen.

24. The Middle: “Christmas Tree” (Season 5, Episode 9)


The Middle has always been about finding the joy in the ordinary and the usually crappy moments in life, and what better time for these themes than 2020? In this episode, Frankie is disappointed, for the umpteenth time, in Mike’s usual lack of outward affection for her. Brick has begun questioning the Bible on Christmas, which horrifies Sue, who recruits Reverend Tim Tom to help out. Meanwhile, Axl makes a new friend. In the end, it all ties together for a Hecking lovely Christmas.

25. Blackadder: “Blackadder’s Christmas Carol” (Special)


To many, the show Blackadder represents the very pinnacle of British humor (aside from Monty Python, of course). It brought together Rowan Atkinson, Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, and Tony Robinson, with frequent cameos from other British greats. Loaded with sarcasm, elaborate insults, and its trademark wit, Blackadder’s Christmas special is a parody of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It opens with Ebenezer Blackadder, the nicest man in England, being visited by the Spirit of Christmas (Robbie Coltrane a.k.a Rubeus Hagrid), and seeing how successful his life might have been if only he had been meaner to everyone around him. 

BONUS – 26. Mr. Bean: “Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean” (Season 1, Episode 7)


More Atkinson! His most loved character remains the iconic Mr. Bean. Atkinson has the rare ability to make you laugh without uttering a single word, and the Christmas episode (available on YouTube) is no different. However bad your day might be going, a good dose of Mr. Bean’s antics would definitely cheer you right up, from his new and improved version of the Nativity scene to his newfound choir conducting skills. Gather around with the whole family for a good dose of nostalgia and light-hearted fun!

BONUS – 27. Dash and Lily – the entirety of Season 1

‘Dash and Lily’ is the genuine cheer you need in 2020, even if you hate Christmas

Seriously, this show is for everyone. No matter if you love or hate Christmas. You should watch it, because it will warm your heart.

Here you have it! Everything you need to indulge in for a seasonal delight. Watching Christmas specials of your favorite shows can now be your new essential holiday tradition. These episodes will have you feeling all kinds of things- from holiday nostalgia to uninhibited laughter. Lucky for you, we selected the ones with the widest of cheers, the loudest of laughter, and the warmest of sentiments!

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Shopping Gift Guides Unique BFF

11 uncommon gifts for the friend that already has everything

Read more of our holiday stories here!

We all have that one friend who already has everything and never knows to drop hints. I have several of these friends, and always end up spending hours upon hours of pointless window-shopping trying to figure out what to get them. Things got more complicated this year with all the COVID restrictions.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably already scoured through various websites for unique and personalized gift ideas. If you still couldn’t decide what to buy, here are 11 uncommon gifts to give your friends this holiday season:

1. An engraved wooden lantern that can be personalized to project images and words onto a wall

[Image description: An engraved lantern projecting butterflies onto the wall. ] Via Etsy
[Image description: An engraved lantern projecting butterflies onto the wall. ] Via Etsy 
With this beautiful lantern, you can send a magical message to your loved ones for them to cherish forever.

Get it here for $49.55 

2. A personalized illusion lamp to turn a photo into a night light

[Image description: An acrylic illusion lamp made from a photograph.] Via Etsy
[Image description: An acrylic illusion lamp made from a photograph.] Via Etsy
You’ll never forget memorable moments with this personalized lamp!

Get it here for $70.20 

3. A Feel-Good Box full of all-natural spa goodies

[Image description: A box full of spa goods for self-care.] Via Etsy
[Image description: A box full of spa goods for self-care.] Via Etsy
We could all use some self-care during these times. This is the perfect gift to comfort your friends through a breakup, when they’re dealing with a loved one passing and so much more.

Get it here for $87.93

4. A holiday scented candle to get in the holiday spirit 

[Image description: A holiday-scented candle with a cute message on it.] Via Etsy
[Image description: A holiday-scented candle with a cute message on it.] Via Etsy
This candle will make a COVID holiday season seem more normal.

Get it here for $15.99


5. A moon phase necklace that can be customized to reflect the moon phase on a special date

[Image description: A customized moon phase necklace created for a birthday.] Via Etsy
[Image description: A customized moon phase necklace created for a birthday.] Via Etsy
This necklace is meaningful but also versatile enough to go with many outfits. It’s Perfect for astrology loving friends.

Get it here for $44.36 

6. Long-distance friendship lamps that light the other one up when touched 

[Image description:Two long-dstance friendship lamps sitting on a desk.] Via Etsy
[Image description: Two long-distance friendship lamps sitting on a desk.] Via Etsy
These lamps are perfect for long-distance friends to stay in touch with each other! Have your Tangled moment.

Get it here for $235.20 

7. Handmade Succulent Soap to spice up any bathroom

[Image description:Handmade succulent soaps on a bathroom sink.] Via Etsy
[Image description: Handmade succulent soaps on a bathroom sink.] Via Etsy
These uncommon handmade soaps will look absolutely adorable in the kitchen or next to the bathroom sink.

Get it here for $12.70

8. Picasso-face earrings for your artistic friend 

[Image description: Bejeweled earrings on a white background.] Via Etsy
[Image description: Bejeweled earrings on a white background.] Via Etsy
These Picasso-face earrings will add color to any outfit.

Get it here for $9 

9. Trump Coffee and Biden Tea Boxes for your woke, politically active friend

 [Image description: Sleepy Joe Tea and Fake News Coffee on a table.] Via Etsy
[Image description: Sleepy Joe Tea and Fake News Coffee on a table.] Via Etsy
These coffee and tea boxes come with mysterious gifts hidden inside them too.

Get it here for $25 

10. A silver quiver and arrow ear cuff for your badass friend 

 [Image description: A silver quiver and arrow ear cuff on a ear.] Via Etsy
[Image description: A silver quiver and arrow ear cuff on an ear.] Via Etsy
This statement piece will instantly make any outfit look more badass. 

Get it for $46.76 

11. A DIY Whiskey Making Kit to end the night with. 

 [Image description: A whiskey making kit on a mirror tray.] Via Etsy
[Image description: A whiskey making kit on a mirror tray.] Via Etsy
This DIY Whiskey-Making Kit makes it possible to customize your own alcoholic beverage with different flavors. 

Get it here for $79.80 

Have fun being creative! Hopefully this list inspired you and you’ve decided what to get. We hope your friends enjoy these cute and personalized gifts. Wish them happy holidays from us at The Tempest too!

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Feel-Good Sexuality Love + Sex Love

You’re doing amazing, sweetie: Tinder messages to let your ex know that you’ve totally moved on

You’re swiping on Tinder while procrastinating taking a shower. Your greasy hair keeps flicking into your eyes as you judge all of these people that you have never met, and will never meet.

Oh no!

Then you see him. The last time you saw his face was when you were giving him back his Laker’s jersey which you borrowed for that couple’s Halloween costume. You know you shouldn’t, that this is going to hurt your feelings. But you just can’t help yourself, and like Pandora, you open that box of shit. You knew it was too early for Tinder, and this just proves it.

Are. You. Serious?? His first picture, you remember, is that his mom took while he was home for Thanksgiving and the second is one of him and his dog (it’s still an excellent dog, there’s nothing negative you can say about it). But the third picture? It’s one you took together when you took a weekend trip to the shore with your friends. And this little shit has cropped you out!

You can’t believe it!

You were the center of that photo, the muse. You drew people in and honestly you looked incredible and glowy that day. You can still see your arm wrapped around his waist! Would it have been that hard for him to just choose another photo? Why was he able to crop you out of his life so easily! You don’t want him to be struggling, but honestly, he could still be a little more upset if you’re being honest. Why is he already on Tinder? I mean you’re on Tinder but it’s different.

You know you have no right to be mad. You know that. You keep repeating that fact over and over again. It doesn’t stop your blood from boiling. You think of all the girls he’s matched with because of that photo that currently only displays your right arm. Jealousy is well inside of you in a way you haven’t felt since your friend went to 7th-grade homecoming with the guy you said you didn’t like, but you really DID like!

Back to the problem at hand (or rather IN your hand)

You are an adult. And you will act like it. You decide to swipe right, what’s the worst that could happen? We’re friendly, we’re cool. You match. You take it back, you’re not friendly OR cool. None of those words have ever been used to describe you and it was naive to believe they would now. You want to throw your phone, specifically at that photo of your arm.

Well, now you have to message. There’s really no choice if you think about it. It would be weird not to, right? You can make it totally chill. You just have to think of a totally chill message. The chillest message, really. You’re going to win this.

What says “Haha, I just think it’s so cool how cool I can be about all of this”? But also “I no longer have any romantic or honestly platonic interest in you”?

What about “Lol nice third pic.” No. He’ll know you’re pissed, you never say lol! Maybe, “How have you been?” Nope. You don’t care and also you don’t want to start a conversation. “Long time no cropping me out of your third picture”? Ok, are you even trying?

Before you have time to come up with the absolutely perfect message your phone dings. He’s sent “lol I’m pretty sure I took your second pic” followed by 14 emojis. You remember why you broke up. You do not respond.

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College 101 Best Friends Forever Life

I considered myself a loner until I started university

Something I didn’t realize about my friends in primary school was that they, with the exception of one girl, were all white. Of course, it didn’t matter then and doesn’t matter now, but I never realized how much my ethnicity had alienated me from most of the school.

I only realized my struggle to integrate with the other kids at school when I had gotten to secondary school where I was labeled a coconut; a brown girl with white girl-isms. My school was mostly white back then – it probably had something to do with the area I grew up in. For context, my neighbor used to be Tony Blair. My primary school had an estimate of 10-15 non-white kids so you can imagine the clashes I had with a lot of the kids when they would make fun of my culture and beliefs. I could refer to the boy who decided to rip my hijab off my head when I first started wearing it at eight years old, but I’ll put that down to him simply being Islamophobic. I thought I was the brownest kid you could possibly get in the area until I walked through the halls of secondary school, an experience that continues to haunt me even now. 

In primary school, I struggled to make lifelong friends because I was brown and different. Surely secondary school was set to be easier? After all, my parents had made the conscious decision for me to integrate more with the people of my culture. Yeah, that’s not how it went. 

I developed social anxiety at a very young age – the thought of meeting new people terrified me and I had the worst timing for becoming timid. Going into secondary school made me realize that perhaps people who I had previously considered my friends weren’t really – not to blame them though. We were all young and knew nothing about keeping in touch. Well not with me anyways, my previous friend group are still friends to this day. I was apparently more difficult to reach because my parents were ‘too strict’ for their liking. In reality, they were just Asian. Their parenting ideas were a little different from their parents and that made ‘my friends’  uncomfortable. 

Oddly though, I had the opposite problem when I got to secondary school. The brown kids would bully me saying my parents weren’t Bangladeshi enough and I failed as a Bangladeshi girl – something I hadn’t heard before. My accent was ‘too white’, my sentences too complex, I didn’t speak a word of slang and I read for fun. Somehow, that was really white to them. It didn’t help that my lovely sister was a beautiful and intelligent individual while I was quite the opposite; shy, fat and recused. It’s safe to say I didn’t make any friends in secondary school either. Does it get better for me in sixth form? No. Secondary school left too many scars for me to focus on making friends. I was beside myself trying to pull myself out of a really dark place

My parents forced me to go to university – I know what you’re thinking “your parents can’t make you do anything”. Wrong. My parents could but not in a malicious way that benefits them.  Rather in a way that always filled me with hope. 

My dad had told me that everyone was an adult by this stage, if they had time left to bully someone, consider them pathetic and walk past them. Always easier said than done but in September of 2015, I walked through the hallways of the university making my way to orientation, nervous as heck. Thankfully for me, this girl who had come into the lecture late wasn’t. I felt a light tap on my arm and a voice asking if this was the right place. Denying eye contact I nodded only to be smacked in the arm as she pushed up a seat next to me. “You and me? We’re friends now. You’re stuck with me” the girl said. I was stuck with her and we are friends, even now. But I didn’t luck out at just one friend. There’s my friend who calls herself the fish and chip kid (apparently that’s what people in Somalia call British-Somali kids), my friend who takes enjoyment in towering over me with all six feet of her and my friend who decided that the best way to become my friend was to hold my hand while staring at a video of BTS’ Jimin dancing blindfolded. Sure, my friend group is small but it’s all I’ve ever needed – a kind face or two. My background meant nothing to them unlike it did to the kids back in my early stages of education. I could finally, unapologetically, be myself. 

My friends mean so much to me; after all my years of struggling to connect with people, I learned that it’s not impossible and there are genuinely good people out there in the world. The thing I’ve yet to learn is to go pursue friends myself as all my friends had to approach me.  It’s ok though. Knowing that I have friends that have my back is all I need for a long while.

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TV Shows Aww Nostalgia Pop Culture

It’s time we all admit Monica and Chandler are the true OTP of “Friends”

I am willing to fight for this statement: in Friends, Monica and Chandler have a much healthier and romantic relationship than Ross and Rachel.

Why? Because it wasn’t based on whether they loved each other – they knew they did – but on the real challenges that couples face. This is why they are the real OTP of the show.

Yes, Ross and Rachel were dramatic and intense, and they kept you wondering throughout the whole show whether they would end up together. However, their relationship was very unhealthy and full of drama.

Monica and Chandler’s friendship is the basis of their relationship.

Ross and Rachel can never seem to be on the same page, and they always argue about the same issues. All of their fights show a clear lack of respect and trust in each other.

They never seem to sit down and have a conversation about how they feel or what they want despite seeing each other every day for 10 years.  They are always coming back to the fact that Ross smothers Rachel and whether he cheated on her or not (he did).

Ross and Rachel don’t work on day-to-day life. They depend on grand gestures to get together: their Vegas marriage, Ross saying her name at his wedding (with someone else), and even Rachel’s decision to not go to Paris.

Let’s be honest, if you met a couple in real life that had as much drama and Ross and Rachel you would never root for them. We need to stop believing that fighting with someone is a sign of your love for them.

Instead, Monica and Chandler’s relationship comes from a place of friendship and respect for each other. By the time that they sleep together, they know each other’s personalities and quirks. They fall in love with full knowledge of who the other person is and never try to change them.

They support each other’s dreams and careers.

The plot around them is not based on the will-they/won’t-they trope but on the development of a real relationship and the challenges that come with it.

For example, one of the main conflicts that they have is Chandler’s fear of commitment, with contrasts with Monica’s desire to get married and have a family as soon as possible. They never doubt whether they love each other but whether they are ready to commit for something as big as marriage.

Despite their different personalities, they learn from each other and put the other person’s needs before theirs. Monica tells Chandler that she is willing to wait for as long as it takes for him to feel comfortable in their relationship, and he eventually realizes that he loves Monica enough to want to build a family with her.

[Image Description: Monica puts her hand on Chandler's shoulder and says "Welcome to an adult relationship".] via Giphy.
[Image Description: Monica puts her hand on Chandler’s shoulder and says “Welcome to an adult relationship”.] via Giphy.
They face real-life relationship problems, such as infertility and long-distance relationships. They both respect each other’s careers and dreams enough to be long-distance so that neither of them has to lose on a professional opportunity (take note, Rachel). Eventually, Chandler decides that it is not worth it and moves back to New York, without any pressure from Monica. She is there for him when he’s looking for a new job and he supports her when they learn that they can’t conceive children.

One of the most moving plotlines is their infertility journey. They support each other through it and Chandler even suggests that they get a sperm donor so that Monica can get pregnant, as she always dreamed. However, Monica states that she doesn’t want to carry a child that is not Chandler’s and lets go of this dream. Together, they decide to adopt. The way they handle this problem, always being there for each other instead of blaming each other, is incredibly touching.

A real relationship is based on communication and respect.

Of course, they fight, and there is jealousy, but it never leads to a breakup and none of them cheat on the other. They talk through their fears and insecurities and come out as a stronger couple.

The main reason for their fights is Richard, Monica’s ex-boyfriend. After all, it is a TV show and they need to throw in some drama. Although Chandler’s reaction to the news that Monica has been seeing Richard is not a model of conduct – to the point of doubting whether he is being overly possessive, Monica stands for herself and stresses that she doesn’t love Richard anymore.

For me, the scene that is most telling of their relationship is when Monica is upset because she feels like she and Chandler don’t have the same passion that Phoebe and their new boyfriend. Chandler replies that he is more excited about where they are themselves. Monica agrees and they both joke about each other’s personality.

That is a real relationship; one that has lower and higher points but that is grounded on love and respect. One where you can laugh about each other’s obsessive behavior and confess your fears. All in all, one where there is COMMUNICATION and respect.

Monica and Chandler’s drama was never based on whether they loved each other – they knew they did – but whether they had the same goals in life. Friends shows them facing every-day and big issues. Real relationships are much more similar to that.

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Best Friends Forever Life Stories Life

I took a break from my best friend, and now we’re closer than ever

Holding the phone at my ear, I picked at a frayed thread on my couch throw.

On the other end, a close friend of many years was recounting a story about her day, how she had run across the whole city for an assignment then gotten lost with her group members.

“And then what?” I asked, but I was thinking of something else, I had called her to say something. But I quickly found myself doubting it mattered, plus she seemed to have a lot to share. The story eventually shifted to her family at home.

“Why do you think she said that?” I robotically asked her. 

After a while, I got up to blow out my candle, still cradling my phone. My phone lit up against my cheek, the battery was drained. It dawned on me, at that moment, that an hour had passed and I had scarcely said much more than, “But why?” or “Okay, then?”

Something was completely off. Or had it always been like this? The balance between giving and taking had, somewhere along the way, been skewed.

I was slowly turning into a sounding board, an echo that answered back.

It had been a tough time in my life. I felt adrift in college. My roommates were dispersed around the world studying in their chosen fields while I stayed behind, picking up the pieces after a last-minute change of plans with my major. I was mentally drained from my own struggles, so hearing my friend constantly speak about hers exhausted me.

“My ears are bent.”

This is the life-changing phrase that stumbled upon me in a Journalism class. Through it, I realized that I was always the ‘listener’ in relationships, and I couldn’t ignore this fact any longer. I was slowly turning into a sounding board, an echo that answered back.

I knew I wasn’t being a good friend. Good friends don’t get tired of listening, do they? I knew she also needed my support but I couldn’t find the energy to do much more than listening. 

After that night, our conversations felt– and it hurt me to admit this to myself– tedious. I felt irritated that she didn’t notice that there was no space for me to contribute anything. Not knowing how to bring it up, I kept it deep inside. Until I found my chance when one day, there was a lull in the conversation. My friend seemed to search for something to say while we sat across from each other on the couch.

“Do you know anything about me anymore?” I asked. I wasn’t exactly sure wanted I to say, but I needed to say it. She looked at me, perplexed.

Figuring it out as I went, I told her, “Listen, for the past month, I hadn’t been able to get a word in.” 

She seemed ready to interject, but I wasn’t ready to stop speaking again. “When I’m with you, I just listen. And it’s fine, I care about you. But at the same time, I am taking in all your problems when I have enough of mine.”

She suddenly seemed so far away.

“What do you mean?” she asked me.

“I don’t know when, but spending time with you has started to feel like a task, a job,” I replied. Seeing the look on her face, I immediately wanted to take it back and say it wasn’t true. But it was.

“Do you know anything about me anymore?” I asked.

 And that’s when I received the biggest reality check.

“Well, if I don’t say anything, we’ll sit here quietly.”

She was honest, maybe even brutally so. She admitted that she was filling in for my silence. From her perspective, I was still reluctant to open up and she was exhausted from trying to pry me open. Where could we go from here? 

Sometimes it takes a little discomfort and time apart can help things heal. 

Our friendship had met a standstill and, for a while, we took some time apart. I had to confront my hesitance with being vulnerable which was rooted in the fear of not being taken seriously or worse, sounding boring.

My deteriorating sense of self-worth was eating away at my relationships. I didn’t feel what I had to say had value, so I just let myself fade away. As a consequence, those around me had to be taking up all the space in the foreground. 

I reached out to her after a couple of weeks because I knew I couldn’t change without my closest friend. We both agreed to make a conscious effort to try to keep a balance between us, which at first was incredibly awkward.

She paused ever so often to ask me, “Well, what about you?”

Yet, eventually over time, it became organic. Once again, I confided in her about the big things like relationships and anxiety about the future, as well as the smaller things. 

As we grow closer and we can add more years to our friendship, I am so glad I was able to bring it up when I did. Had I let all those feelings fester away inside my head, I would have not only never confronted my own self-worth but also could have lost someone very important to me.

Sometimes it takes a little discomfort and time apart can help things heal. 

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I am more my true self on my fake Instagram account than on my real one

Linda leaned against the glass window of a used book store, her cheeks painted red under the gleaming neon light. The glowing “BOOKS” sign reflected in her tiny white shades which were balanced precariously at the edge of her nose. She peered over them in the direction of the camera, grinning. The accompanying caption was the starting point for many jokes to be had throughout her account: “She can’t read”. This was mostly amusing due to the fact that was Linda, a then-junior English Literature student.

It was my roommate that came up with the tasteful name, Linda, as soon as I put on those white shades for the first time in an Urban Outfitters. They were so unlike me, a girl who exclusively wore black. They were a very “bitchy accessory” that drew attention. With their encouragement, I created a finsta (a fake Instagram account) embodying Linda and her bold fashion choices– the list of which grew gradually as I was in New York City after all.

Is having an alternative online persona or a finsta dishonest? We’ve moved on from thinking that everything we are being presented online is genuine. We know social media warps our expectations of each other and is not a true reflection of someone’s reality (although there has been a call for users to show more authentic versions of themselves). 

I pressed ‘share’ more times in a day than I blinked.

Having an alias, finsta account, spam twitter or any other side account allows you to let loose. I believe that they allow you to explore different parts of yourself. Your unbothered side, that unironically enjoys Tik Tok videos, gets to shine through. Or your liberal views get to be made known despite the sternness of your conservative home. Who is to say which is more authentic? And does it matter? 

In my online persona case of Linda, I could play with inside jokes. I could post whatever I wanted whenever I liked. Gone were the days where I had worried about any curated scheme or began overthinking about whether the content seemed like ‘me’. I didn’t have to care if people from high school (who I don’t even speak to anymore) or my mother’s cousin’s nephew’s friend got the ‘wrong idea’ about me. 

Having an alias, finsta account, spam twitter or any other side account allows you to let loose.

My online persona was confined to my private finsta account and I only followed people close to me. I enjoy having a page that I can look forward to posting on. It wasn’t about the likes or comments. It was about the joy that came with the account itself. The fact that it was clearly a finsta made it clear that I was saying, “Don’t take me seriously. Not here at least”. 

In propagation for finstas, I’d like to make it known that the ‘share’ button is always a site of anxiety for me. That looming moment just before you press it often fuels a lot of tension within. I know that it isn’t a real social interaction, not in the same way as a handshake. But it would rather be eternalized in the digital realm – something a finsta can combat. Having an alternative persona allowed me to overcome this anxiety and let me share whatever came to mind. I pressed ‘share’ more times in a day than I blinked. If the post contained a poor fashion decision or an ill-received spoken word video, it was Linda’s doing. 

In my experience as a Muslim woman, we, as well as other women with more conservative backgrounds, use finstas and online personas as a personal outlet. An alternative account is seen as a haven away from the male gaze or even their family’s eyes. The accounts become a way to have a presence online while also remaining private.

Other friends of mine use twitter accounts with aliases to release any pent up thoughts. They read like journal entries. They aren’t forgetting who they actually are or trying to fool anyone. Instead, it is simply a space for us to put ourselves out there while not fearing anyone’s judgement.

The accounts become a way to have a presence online while also remaining private.

There is the fact that any of these side-accounts could turn into a breeding ground for gossip. I can’t deny that I haven’t seen the dark side of being unfiltered and unencumbered by social judgement. People tearing each other down behind aliases and exploiting anonymity to be cruel to those around them or other strangers. But there is a potential for so much more. 

We need these spaces. We need to be under-the-radar and ourselves…or maybe someone else entirely. It may be an illusion, but finstas and alternative accounts do feel more private and personal. Linda can attest to this.