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Surprise: Asteroids can go retrograde, just like the planets in our solar system. One called Vesta, for instance, will begin to track backwards in the sign of Virgo on 19th January, and it will continue its moonwalk until 20th April. And just like planetary retrogrades (looking at you, Mercury), asteroids’ retrogrades can affect us down here on Earth. First, a little info about Vesta: “In ancient Rome, Vesta was Saturn’s daughter and one of the three Vestal Virgins who were in charge of keeping the sacred burning fires that protected the city from strife,” explains Narayana Montúfar, senior astrologer for Astrology.com. Leslie Hale, psychic astrologer at Keen.com, adds, “In this manner, the feminine was empowered — as it was all women who kept the sacred flame alive, in spite of the fact a man was at the top of the hierarchy.” As an asteroid, Vesta is one of the four goddesses that express different dimensions of our sexuality, says Montúfar. “In the birth chart, Vesta represents our fire within, what is most sacred to us, as well as how we express our spiritual devotion,” she explains. Vesta is also often called the Goddess of Healing. Astrologer Lisa Stardust says that Vesta is “the light within that motivates us towards achieving our goals.” She says the asteroid is also connected to family and home, adding, “Depending on what house and planets this asteroid aspects, it can show you where you shine in life and your personal achievements.” When planets go retrograde, they typically offer a chance for reflection. Vesta’s retrograde isn’s so different: It can point to a shift in our dreams and our goals, a change in residence, or transformation in our relationships with family, Stardust explains. But Vesta’s retrograde is bringing Big Nostalgic Energy to those shifts. “More often than not, it means that we are going back to an old dream and dealing with old familial issues or even reminiscing,” she says. “The need for coddling from our family is strong, as we want to feel comforted by others.” What’s more, because Vesta is retrograde in logical, systematic Virgo, we’ll have a more critical and discerning eye when we’re looking backwards, Stardust says. You might suddenly be reminded of some 2020 resolution that seems laughable now — but that inspires you to make a new, more relevant set of intentions for yourself. Maybe you’ll sit down to reevaluate where you’re at in your career and make a plan for how to move forward. “For those who are lucky enough to currently have a job, this is also playing out as a devotion to our work and careers,” Stardust explains. “After all, Virgo is one of the worker bees of the zodiac.” Obviously, this retrograde can be a time of huge growth: It will encourage move forward with lessons we learned in the past, and help us reconnect with rituals that help light our inner fire. But it can also make us feel more judgmental of ourselves, so try to take it easy and don’t let your expectations get the best of you. “This retrograde could be an opportunity to chill out and ask a little less from ourselves,” Montúfar says. You might even find joy in catering to the nostalgia and popping on your favourite early 2000s rom-com — might I suggest The Holiday or She’s The Man? Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Your Horoscope This WeekYour January Horoscope Is HereEveryone's Getting Lucky This Aquarius Season
Aquarius season is finally here. I can’t help but feel that this is one of the most wonderful times of the year — and not just because I’m an Aquarius rising. During this season, which starts on 19th January this year, our innovative, progressive, activist energy comes out to play. We asked astrologers exactly what we could expect over the next month, and it turns out that this is an especially potent Aquarius season, says astrologer Lisa Stardust. That’s because the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are all currently residing in the sign of the water bearer. Stardust points out that each of these planets are also forming squares with unpredictable Uranus in Taurus, meaning that many surprising changes will be coming our way this month. That’s not a bad thing. “The good news is that our eyes are being opened,” she says. “We’ll have shifts in the way we think and feel.” Stephanie Powell, head of content for Horoscope.com, warns that Aquarius season is starting with a bang. “On 20th January, Mars, the Planet of Anger and Motivation, connects with Uranus, the Planet of Disruption and Revolution,” she explains. “This isn’t your typical chill, let’s-hang-out-with-friends-and-schedule-more-Zoom-happy-hours kind of Aquarius energy that we’re used to. This is energy that is activated, charged up, and eager to express its frustrations.” (It also falls on US Inauguration Day — and after the incredibly divisive election and the tumultuous last few weeks, it comes as no surprise that tensions may be flaring.) The Aquarian energy will become more somber on 23rd January, Powell says, when the Sun meets with Saturn, the Planet of Structure and Responsibility. “There will be a resistance to change, both on a personal and macro level,” she explains. But: Uranus’s various connections means shifts will keep coming, and a 26th January square between the Sun and Uranus will light up potential growth areas in our lives. Also worth noting: The first Mercury retrograde of 2021 will take place during Aquarius season. It starts on 30th January, with the pre-retrograde shadow beginning 15th January. Retrogrades get a bad rap, but they’re a good time to take stock. “Reflecting on your role in the collective and how you can make this world a better place is something we should be doing year-round, but you might find yourself spending more time ruminating on this topic [during this retrograde],” Powell says. On 10th February, Mercury, the Planet of Communication, will form a tense aspect with Mars, the Planet of Anger. “Our words have weight, Powell warns. “Be careful how you use them, and try not to project onto others.” This can be especially true in romantic relationships. As Valentine’s Day approaches, if you find yourself having trouble communicating with your partner, take a step back and breathe. Trying to get your point across while frustrated or angry is rarely beneficial — for either party involved. Closer to V-day, we’ll be blessed by a positive a conjunction between Venus, the Planet of Love, and Jupiter, the Planet of Abundance. “In astrology, Venus and Jupiter are known as benefics, the two luckiest planets in the sky,” Powell says. “When these two planets connect, positivity abounds and our ability to give and receive love increases.” This particular aspect might nudge you into making romantic plans or professing your undying feelings of love for someone (or, you know, just letting your crush know you’re into them). Friendships are also exceptionally important during this time, notes Leslie Hale, psychic astrologer at Keen.com. “For Aquarius, friendship and companionship is often more important than a romantic relationship,” she says. “In terms of one-on-one intimacy, Aquarius may not be the best, but when it comes to groups and the collective, Aquarius excels.” You may feel a pull to hang out with friends during the holiday of love — which could be more fun than another Zoom date. Bottom line: This Aquarius season is all about expecting the unexpected. So your best bet is to try to stay flexible, and to lean into your instinct to focus more on the collective good and making progressive change. As Powell says: “Releasing your expectations and embracing an open mindset will arm you well for the upcoming astro weather.” Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Your Horoscope This WeekYour Money Horoscope For 2021 Is HereYour January Horoscope Is Here
I’ve always been sporty and since being on the athletics squad, football and netball teams at school, the bug has stayed with me. I ran marathons well into my early 20s and (even with 25+ knees) still manage to log at least 10 miles a week. But the one thing that always grinds my gears is having to wash my 3C curls after every single workout. For the majority of Black hair, whether you’ve gone natural or opted for protective styles (such as braids, locs or weave), the maintenance process takes extra care, planning and preparation. It can put you off exercise entirely. One study found that 45% of Black women avoid exercise because of their hair, and that Black and Asian women are the groups least likely to get enough physical activity every week. The stats are disappointing, especially as we know the health benefits that exercise has on our bodies. Now, one brand is aiming to change this. Enter: AIRFRO. AIRFRO is the first and only natural haircare brand specially formulated for curls and designed with active lifestyles in mind. Cofounders Nneka Fleming and Catherine Radojcin launched the brand in September 2020 after becoming frustrated by haircare. They struggled to find products which were not overly perfumed, full of chemicals or felt laborious for their mixed race sons, and so the 00.3 DFY Curl Refresh, £14.95, was born. While there is currently only one product in the line, it has already made waves. The Curl Refresh is a multifunctional, gender-neutral, curl reviver spray which hydrates and brings curls back to life quickly without the need for water or any other products or tools. Packaged in a sleek, reusable aluminium bottle, the formula contains scalp-soothing aloe vera, moisturising vitamin B5 and hydrolysed honey, all of which work to reduce static and frizz, and give curls back their definition, even if sweat, rain or workout gear has left them flat. This week I decided to put the much talked-about product to the test. I went out for my second weekly workout, a four-mile tempo run, along the seafront in the rain. With my hair tucked under my hat, I was ready to sweat it out. When I got home, my curly hair was completely flattened and my scalp was obviously very sweaty and itchy. While I would usually wash my hair with a cleanser, instead I covered it with a shower cap and after my shower I applied the 00.3 DFY spray all over my dry hair. As per the instructions, I concentrated the product on my roots and mid lengths, and combed it through to the ends. The scent instantly grabbed my attention: a relaxing lavender fragrance which isn’t overbearing or sickly. Actually, it reminded me a lot of the essential oils that I pop in my diffuser. The formula is free from silicones, parabens, sulphates and artificial fragrances, and it was kind to my hair. After a quick spritz, I could see my curls bouncing back to vitality. My roots were no longer flattened but there were no crunchy curls. My scalp wasn’t itchy or greasy from the sweat, either. I also rate the packaging. The spray handle was easy to use, so I could spritz it around my head easily. If I had to choose between the AIRFRO and dry shampoo after my next workout, I’d definitely opt for the former. It’s small enough to fit in your gym bag and is so convenient to use in between wash days. I was impressed by how quickly the formula revived my curls even though they were covered for an hour and had caught the rain. This product has been really great for my natural hair but I can’t wait to try it out when I finally get my braids. Just knowing that there is a product which can instantly refresh my roots without drying them out or causing dandruff makes me happy. I’ll be throwing my dry shampoo in the bin for sure. As I’m trying to reduce my carbon footprint and opt for more sustainable options, the packaging was also a major selling point for me. The brand offers a refill option, which can be purchased either once or on a monthly subscription for £12.95. And there’s good news: Nneka and Catherine are planning to add to their smart product range, including the launch of products 002 and 001, which are functional for afro and curly hair. Watch this space. Refinery29’s selection is purely editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items we love! As part of our business model we do work with affiliates; if you directly purchase something from a link on this article, we may earn a small amount of commission. Transparency is important to us at Refinery29, if you have any questions please reach out to us. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?What These 12 Natural Oils Do For Black HairBlack Women's Shocking Hair Discrimination StoriesWhy I Gave Myself The Big Chop In Lockdown
“The doctor said, ‘She’s fine. She’s entering puberty. It’s a hormonal thing. This happens to young girls – they faint.'” Vanessa Semple, 28, started fainting for no apparent reason when she was 12 years old. While her mother suspected there was something wrong, the response from medical professionals was sexist, dismissive and nonsensical. Her fainting was attributed to puberty at first, her breathing problems to asthma and other symptoms like headaches, urinary issues and problems with digestion were assumed to stem from anxiety disorder. It was only when Vanessa heard about a friend’s mum with a similar condition that she finally got on the path to understanding what was going on in her body. Postural tachycardia syndrome (commonly known as PoTS) is an abnormality in the functioning of the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is in charge of all the bodily functions that we don’t think about – everything from breathing to blood pressure to digestion to stress response. Symptoms are far-ranging. Just standing up can lead to heart palpitations, fainting, shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, shakiness or chest pain. Other symptoms can include gut problems, bladder problems, tiredness, brain fog, headaches and poor sleep. The symptoms can range from mild to severe and tend to be worse in the morning. Some people notice that a hot environment, food, strenuous exercise or having a period can make their symptoms worse. The prevalence of PoTS is unknown. It is thought to affect nearly 150,000 people in the UK and is far more prevalent in women than in men, with some estimating it is five times more common in women. This number could be even higher as the condition is thought to be frequently misdiagnosed. The cause, too, is often unknown. We don’t know why it is more prevalent in women or why periods exacerbate symptoms. However, a few of the known causes are syndromes which are more common in women such as hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome, which is four times more likely to affect women. Other potential causes include underlying conditions like diabetes or lupus, some forms of poisoning or inheriting a faulty gene. Some medical professionals are even drawing a link between PoTS and long COVID as they share many similar symptoms. While it is still too early to reach any conclusions, this potential link highlights the fact that chronic illnesses, especially underreported ones like PoTS, need to be better understood by both the NHS and the general public. As women’s pain continues to be dismissed on a societal and clinical level it is crucial to raise awareness around conditions such as PoTS in order to guide people towards the help they need. By sharing her experience with R29, Vanessa hopes to improve that awareness. DashDividers_1_500x100 We’d moved to Portugal when I was 12 and it was that summer I passed out for the first time. I was sprinting in PE in the 40 degree Portuguese heat when everything went dark, I couldn’t hear anything and I remember saying to my PE teacher, “I think I’m dying. My mum’s gonna be really upset.” He assured me I wasn’t dying and then I fainted and woke up at the nurse’s office. We’d already been to the doctor before – my mum had noticed I had trouble breathing and I’d get very tired – but they said I was fine because blood tests didn’t show anything wrong. But when we went after I fainted my mum was hoping for some kind of answer. Instead the doctor said, “She’s fine. She’s entering puberty. It’s a hormonal thing. This happens to young girls – they faint.” My mum knew from her life that this wasn’t just a ‘part’ of puberty but didn’t have any option but to accept what he said. We lived in quite an under-populated area and there wasn’t really much access to any medical care. I continued to see this doctor for six or seven years until I moved and during that time I started fainting constantly. Every few days I’d pass out. By the time I was 16, I left school for a year because I became too unwell and I had to lie down the whole time. At that stage, the doctor started to question me and said that my mum had Munchausen syndrome by proxy. This led to my school trying to expel me. They sent me an expulsion letter saying that I hadn’t shown up to school for no reason – that this was in my head. I managed to get a bit better and finish school before moving to London. I started seeing more doctors because I’d developed more symptoms as well as fainting and trouble breathing: I had a headache, was tired, sweating a lot and throwing up too. One doctor said I was asthmatic but that didn’t make sense. Then others said a lot of my symptoms were similar to anxiety and I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. The doctor started to question me and said that my mum had Munchausen syndrome by proxy. This led to my school trying to expel me. They sent me an expulsion letter saying that I hadn’t shown up to school for no reason – that this was in my head. My mental health spiralled out of control: they were saying that this is in my head so [I thought] it must be in my head. I almost started playing the part of someone who had a really bad mental health problem as well as developing really bad mental health problems. It was then that my insides – my stomach and my colon – basically stopped working, at which point I developed an atypical eating disorder. It felt like I finally had an answer to what was going on and I started eating disorder treatment. It was there that I met somebody whose mum had PoTS and finally discovered my diagnosis by complete accident. I was still being completely dismissed by GPs at that time, except for one GP who wanted to send me to a diagnostician. So I googled this PoTS condition – not because I thought it sounded like me but because I was curious – and I found that I ticked off all 12 potential symptoms. It recommended you go to the GP if you have three. I was so traumatised by that stage that I was terrified the next GP I spoke to would think I was diagnosis shopping and dismiss me again. My mum had to say the words out loud – luckily the GP agreed that it sounded like what I had and referred me to the London PoTS specialist who’s a cardiologist. He was pretty certain I had it but had to confirm so he booked me in for emergency testing and, sure enough, within a couple of days I was diagnosed. I was 23. My mental health has improved so dramatically since my diagnosis. I found out I have hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome too, which they think could be the cause of PoTS. I still have moments where I question it and ask myself, Do I really have anything wrong with me? But other than that it’s improved so much. Now I actually understand what’s happening and have access to the care that I need. I’m under the care of about five different teams now, one for each system in the body that doesn’t work properly: cardiology who prescribe the medication for fainting and blood pressure; urogynaecology for my bladder retention issues; gastroenterology for my digestive issues; neurology for the headaches; and orthopaedics for my joints and bones. Physically, I do still struggle but with the medication and the correct treatment, my conditions are much better controlled. I take medication two to three times daily, go into the hospital about once a week, and I follow a high salt diet which helps with PoTS symptoms. A lot of the treatment is corrective – I can’t empty my bladder properly because of my PoTS and I get a lot of infections. Before my diagnosis I kept saying that I had urinary symptoms, and they said that was anxiety. Now I’ve been left with bad infections that need to be treated. Likewise my gastroenterology treatment is corrective. But I’m much more able to do things independently. I’ve gone back to university and I work part-time. My pain and my symptoms really were dismissed a lot and I think that’s directly linked to me being a woman – when the men in my family go in for treatment, they’re taken seriously a lot sooner. I believe the way I was treated was massively shaped by my gender. My pain and my symptoms really were dismissed a lot and I think that’s directly linked to me being a woman – when the men in my family go in for treatment, they’re taken seriously a lot sooner. Even being told that fainting was what young girls and young women did. It was as though to them I was fainting because I was hysterical, or that girls are so precious that they faint at the sight of anything. It was absurd. All my friends who have PoTS have been misdiagnosed. It’s also taken them about 10 years from the onset of symptoms to get a diagnosis. The majority of them have left education, work, developed mental health problems as a result. There’s also the fact that even with conditions that affect women more, clinical trials or medical research focuses mainly on male patients. If you have a menstrual cycle that’s a write-off, apparently. How is focusing on cisgender men going to help when this mainly affects cisgender women? Then there’s the fact that my symptoms get a lot worse during my period. I get weaker, I get more lightheaded, I faint more, I get more headaches and I feel more tired. Before my diagnosis that’s just what I thought periods were like. I’m always dreading those six days a month – I’ve tried lots of different things to stop my periods but nothing I tried really helped. The pandemic has been quite positive in some ways because it created a lot more awareness. Treatment has been delayed, which has been really frustrating, and I was completely isolated in a hospital room for a week with a postoperative infection, which was hard. But I think the awareness this has brought to the experiences of people with chronic illnesses and disabilities is so important – it’s helped people realise that they can be more flexible with working arrangements and study arrangements and actually accommodate us. The theory that long COVID symptoms are actually PoTS symptoms will create a lot more awareness too. It’s a shame that it didn’t happen before because we’ve always existed and we weren’t really paid attention to, but I think it will help with the diagnosis and maybe getting better treatment. If there’s one thing I want from all this it’s for people to really take others seriously and really listen to what they’re saying pre-diagnosis. The condition is just as valid pre-diagnosis yet people don’t get the recognition they need if they don’t have a word to explain the symptoms they’re presenting. I think that particularly applies to women who are chronically ill. You shouldn’t have to fight for 10, 11, 12 years to be listened to. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?I Only Got Sympathy For Being Sick When I Was ThinInstagram Communities For Chronic IllnessesHow Chronic Illnesses Affect Your Mental Health
As a finance coach, I often find myself ruminating about money mindsets: those unconscious thoughts we have about money that we pick up when we’re young. When I reflect upon my own financial journey – going from being completely clueless about how to do the basics, such as saving and budgeting, through to the trickier tasks, such as paying down debt and investing – I think back to those early money lessons I learned while growing up in a Caribbean household. Money conversations, as well as other topics, were off the table within my Caribbean home. My mother was sent for (made to come over to the UK) as a teenager to be with her mother and younger siblings. She initially lived with her mum but the relationship soon broke down and she was kicked out. I often think about the strength it takes to fend for yourself as an 18-year-old in a new country: to find a job, somewhere to live, to earn money, to budget, to save, without any direction or guidance and no intergenerational wealth to rely upon. The Caribbean generation that came before us did not travel for weekend city breaks or gap years. Aside from how much harder it was to get around back then, most did not have the luxury of such frivolous pursuits. In fact, my paternal grandparents came to the UK from Barbados solely to work and earn a living for themselves and to support family back home, a tradition that still exists to this day. Money habits can start to form as early as 7 years old. When I was 7, my mother handled all the financial decisions for the family and she did so silently. These days, when someone gets on the property ladder or buys a new car, they post about it on social media and we all congratulate them. For my mother’s generation, it was different. When she got on the property ladder by herself, a single mother of five, there was no such fanfare. In my biased opinion she was the original boss woman who should have been celebrated but back then you were not supposed to be boastful about money. Money decisions were kept to herself. In hindsight, to be sat down and told how to save and budget, and to be included in money conversations, would have been helpful but I recognise that money lessons were not passed down to her. So while I was able to pick up my mother’s work ethic, lying about my age to get my first job at 14, it didn’t mean I knew how to save, budget or invest. The lack of money conversations in the household meant that, like my mum before me, I had to figure things out myself. The truth is, I had to hit financial bottom (actual debt and default) before I recognised that my money habits were poor. Once I noticed, I was able to start fixing them – and if you’ve had a similar upbringing to me, you can too. The first thing I did was notice my negative self-talk about money and replace it with empowering internal dialogue. “Stop telling yourself that you are broke,” I would say to myself over and over again in a bid to alleviate the guilt, the head in the sand, the connotations of failure conjured up by the word ‘broke’. After this, I looked at my numbers and created a budget. Before I did this, I was constantly busy and if I knew payday was coming, or I could borrow a little extra to keep going, I did not stop to budget and it caught me off guard every single month. Stop and pay attention to where your money is going. Do your budget. Next, I paid off high interest debts. I finally repaid my credit card and university overdraft. Depending on what you earn, paying off debt can be approached slowly, slowly like a snowball or in big chunks like an avalanche. Losing money on high interest debts is a terrible feeling and chipping away at them will build confidence. I started paying myself first. Each month, my first transaction was to my savings account. Building up the habit of saving has been transformational. Eventually, it allowed me to step off the rollercoaster of work and to pursue other passions. You would not be reading this article if I had not started saving. With zero savings, I would not have created Black Girl Finance. Start saving, even if you begin with a small amount each month; you can always increase the amount being saved as your finances improve. I took time to improve my credit score. Check for errors, utilise less than 30% of credit, get yourself on the electoral roll and do not miss payments. Finally, I was ready to invest. Investing makes your hard-earned money work for you. Start young, invest regularly and often, and think long term. Getting your money mentality together may be daunting, especially when you didn’t grow up talking and learning about things like budgeting and saving. But as a Black woman, it is key. In 2020, for every £1 of wealth in a white British household, a Black Caribbean household had 20p thanks to an unforgivable history of racial injustices and systemic inequalities. The educational money tools we arm ourselves with today mean we go some way to closing that wealth gap tomorrow. All you’ve got to do is take that first step. Selina Flavius is a finance coach and author of the personal finance book, Black Girl Finance: Let’s Talk Money, which is published by Quercus Books on 21st January, £12.99. Buy it now. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Jupiter Is Entering CapricornFinancial Self-Care For Black Women Is CrucialBlack Women Founders On Becoming Your Own Boss
‘Compatibility’ has become something of a buzzword when it comes to talking about modern relationships. Gen Z in particular prides itself on looking at romance through this pragmatic prism, which focuses on things like shared values and does away with the pesky irrationality of chemistry. We’re savvier than ever at figuring out what traits make a good partner, thanks mainly to the sheer volume of helpful content available online and in print. But with great knowledge comes great responsibility and actually finding a ‘compatible’ partner in among all this can feel a little overwhelming. Gen Z women itch to compare birth charts and Myers-Briggs types on the first date with a potential partner. These sorts of tests certainly aren’t used by a niche few either: roughly two million people a year take the 16 Personalities test (based on the Myers-Briggs personality test); Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages, has sold over 12 million copies worldwide; and Co-Star, an astrology app which assesses the strength of your relationships using birth charts, has over 7.5 million registered users with an average user age of 24. Whether rooted in science or the stars, compatibility tests are a serious part of the modern dating scene. Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari (@dr_kalanit) is a psychologist and relationships expert who says there are a number of reasons why so many young women use compatibility tests. “Often, they can be a bit of fun and be used to raise thoughts about the type of partner they are seeking,” she explains. “Perhaps [the user is] unsure of their wants and needs, so are hoping for some answers. They could be looking for predictability or a sense of control to maximise their chances of success.” Twenty-two-year-old Molly lives in Bristol and says she’s “always been interested” in star signs, personality types and love languages. “At first, I thought it was just a bit of fun. With my previous partner, we often joked about how the tests always showed how incompatible we were – which was a great joke until we split up a few years later. Since our break-up just over a year ago, I’ve been obsessed with using compatibility tests.” Molly has recently started seeing someone new and has found that compatibility tests help guide her thinking and clarify her emotions. “I was getting mixed signals and couldn’t decide how I felt either, so I thought I would compare our star signs to see how we fared. We were 98% compatible and I was over the moon,” she says. “It really helped guide me through my confused feelings.” Lydia, 22, lives in Greater Manchester and also enjoys using compatibility tests. “When I first started seeing my boyfriend I really wanted to know what Myers-Briggs type he was,” she says. “Just before we got together, we both did the 16 Personalities test over text – it was a real bonding session. He’s an ENFP – the extroverted version of me – which is perfect! It’s the exact balance I need as sometimes I can become too withdrawn and I need someone to pull me back out of that space.” Lydia feels more confident in her choice of partner with the backing of the Myers-Briggs test. “You can’t argue with a personality analysis,” she tells me. Like Lydia and Molly, 23-year-old Amber* from Cambridge also uses tests to gauge compatibility with potential partners. “I’ve started seeing someone and I’ve been trying to figure out his Myers-Briggs type to determine our compatibility. I’ve managed to figure out he’s an ESTJ – possibly ESTP – which is cool because I’m an ENTJ and I think we’d make a great power couple,” she says. “I struggle with expressing my emotions, asking difficult questions and getting to know people on an intimate level,” Amber explains. “For me, these tests are a shortcut to getting to know people and getting to know myself.” I’m with Amber – I love doing these kinds of tests to get to know myself more than anything. When I found out that my love language is ‘words of affirmation’, I realised just how much I was fixated on people expressing their feelings to me verbally, while completely missing the other ways they showed they cared. It helped me to stop being so anxious and in constant need of verbal reassurance once my eyes were opened to the fact that love can be expressed through things like quality time or physical touch. While I would never rule out pursuing a relationship with someone with, say, a Myers-Briggs type that clashes with my own (ENFJ, if you’re interested), these tests are valuable in that they help me to understand my shortcomings and learn what I need to work on. Dr Ben-Ari also believes that using these tests to get to know yourself can be beneficial. “In my opinion, anything that encourages one to think about their desires and expectations serves a purpose of some kind,” she says. “My advice for those seeking a relationship would be to get to know yourself first.” But Dr Ben-Ari suggests a cautious approach to applying results from compatibility tests directly to real-life relationships. “I don’t believe that a compatibility test provides adequate detail for someone to make an informed decision on a prospective partner,” she says. “Compatibility tests often fail to address many elements that are crucial to knowing how well we are suited to a partner. Examples of these include family values, views on gender roles, careers, hobbies, the importance of religion, trust and emotional intelligence.” Where previous generations were mostly limited to colleagues and friends of friends when it came to finding love, in 2021 the dating pool is limitless. Of course it’s great to have such ample choice when picking a partner but perhaps we’re so overwhelmed with possibilities that we’re turning to compatibility tests to take these decisions out of our hands. But we’d do well to exercise caution – as Dr Ben-Ari points out, romantic relationships are complex and there’s no nuance in assuming that because your partner is Cancer and you’re Aries, it simply won’t work. Judging by Molly, Lydia and Amber’s stories, it doesn’t seem as though Gen Z is using compatibility tests in this way. Rather than taking them as gospel, these tests are used for guidance. As Molly says: “I like to use these tests to clarify my own feelings.” If compatibility tests are making Gen Z women feel empowered in their choices as they use them to clarify – not dictate – their feelings, that can only be a good thing. *Name has been changed Like what you see? 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If you're not enjoying work right now, try these tips to re-energise yourself.
We all know getting outside and going for a walk is great for our wellbeing – but what else can you do to boost your mood?
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Story and video from SWNS These two well-trained sausage dogs move in perfect unison as they perform a synchronised dance to 'If you're happy and you know it'. The clever dachshunds' owner Jo Hart, 31, taught Ollie and Hugo