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A new Valentine’s Day service helps you remove exes from photos – but should you do it?

A new service lets you remove your ex from old photos (Picture: Edit My Ex)
(Picture: Edit My Ex)

Generally, when we end a relationship, there’s a ritual known as the ‘ex-partner purge’.

Often, and especially if you weren’t the one who initiated the breakup, it’s a painful experience where you go through the physical items collected and cherished during your time together.

You throw out that cute cactus your ex got you for your birthday, that was meant to represent your ‘growing love’; you toss out your the jumper he or she left behind that smells just like them or get rid of that bottle of champagne that you’d saved for your anniversary.

If you were together for a long time, married or have kids together, this process can be even more difficult (and with more items to sort through).

But there’s one area of the ex-partner purge that isn’t as easy to throw in the bin – partly because it’s often digital – and that’s the photos.

You’ve taken countless pics together and they’re everywhere; in a carefully organised album on your phone, on social media and you’ve even printed a few out and put them around your flat.

Removing the digital trace of your ex is time-consuming, and if your lives were especially intertwined, these photos also carry memories that you might like to look back at in 20 or 30 years.

Like that time you went to your best friend’s birthday party and took a photo of the three of you together.

There’s always retouching, but if you’re not confident in your Photoshop skills, there is now a new solution.

Edit My Ex – a service launched this Valentine’s week that helps remove your ex for you (or at least from your photos).

The principle is fairly simple; upload a photo, it gets sent off to the team and they send it back to you, minus one ex, for the price of £6.99 per photo.

‘After presenting my friend with an ex-less image as a gift, I saw just how powerful the effect of removing an ex-partner from a favourite digital photograph could be,’ said creator Mark Rofe.

‘As someone with a background in design, I thought that I could put my skills to good use to make someone going through a breakup smile, and with my team of designers, we can’t wait to start helping others regain their favourite photos without any unwelcome additions.’

It’s an interesting idea and it would allow people to keep photos without painful reminders of a past relationship, but is it healthy to do this?

By removing people from photos, whether an ex, a friend or a family member, you’re effectively erasing them from a part of your life.

New service lets you remove your ex from old photos Credit: Edit My Ex - https://www.editmyex.com/
Now you see him…(Picture: Edit My Ex)
New service lets you remove your ex from old photos Credit: Edit My Ex - https://www.editmyex.com/
Now you don’t. (Picture: Edit My Ex)

‘Removing exes from photos makes practical sense if you have a photo that you particularly like and you would like to use it for online dating purposes,’ Rachel Maclynn, chartered psychologist and founder of The Vida Consultancy, tells Metro.co.uk.

‘Is this healthy? Well, the question lies in the emotional attachment you have to the context around which the photo was taken and also any attachment you may still have with your ex.

‘Photos serve as snapshots of memories. Technology makes it easy these days to crop, edit, filter and now remove people from photos.

‘Let’s consider a scenario where you have a photo of yourself standing with your ex on a beautiful beach, where you once enjoyed a romantic holiday together. Removing your ex from the photo may create some dissonance in our mind: the photo is a snapshot of a happy memory, yet the significant person at the centre of that memory is casually deleted.

‘So in this sense, I would advise people to be cautious. If however it’s a photo that has no personal meaning, then there is unlikely to be an issue.’

Relationships expert and Counselling Directory member, Linda Gregson, urges caution in spending time looking over past photos and wondering what might’ve been, as it could cause mental health issues.

‘When a relationship ends, we all need some time to process the ending and deal with the loss,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.

‘Looking over photos of happier times and the memories you created together can be part of that healing process. After a period of time, it can be a good idea to remove those photographic memories as it can trigger the start of compulsive looking accompanied by thoughts of ‘if only….’ and ‘what if….’, and looking back too much into the nostalgic past can affect your mood –causing anxiety, feelings of failure and depression.

‘It can start a cycle of yearning for the past and invade our thinking where we get huge surges of emotion that stop us enjoying the present and we start to become too unhealthily attached to the past.

‘Even if you don’t want to delete them [the photos] completely, put them away where they can’t be so easily accessed. When you look at them at another stage in your life you can perhaps view them with nostalgia but without the huge waves of emotional longing.

‘However, it is hard to generalise on this as each individual deals with his or her breakup in a different way.’

For some people then, removing exes from photos could be a viable option for a digital cleanse.

But, speaking as someone who deleted all photos bar one from the most important relationship I’ve had to date, you could just as well store these in an album and put them on an external hard drive (as I wish I’d done).

If it’s too painful, ask a friend or a family member.

Or, if you just want to get rid of the photos altogether, that’s your prerogative.

Just beware that you might feel differently once the dust settles.

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Be warned: You could be a victim of valentighting this Valentine’s Day

i slept with my best friend and it ruined everything
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Ah, Valentine’s Day.

You’re either loved up and loving the romance, or you’re single and pretending V Day doesn’t exist.

But be warned.

While you may think you’re in the loved up camp, you could be about to become the victim of a dating trend we’re calling valentighting.

Valentighting describes the heartbreaking act of dumping someone right before Valentine’s Day, because you’re too tight to get them a gift, write a card, or make any kind of fuss.

Get it? Valentine’s Day plus being too much of a tightwad to buy a gift. Valentighting.

It’s the Valentine’s Day equivalent of scroogeing, and it’s just as hurtful.

You may be aghast that anyone would ever do such a thing, carelessly destroying a relationship right before a day dedicated to love, but it does indeed happen.

Research from IllicitEncounters suggests that more couples break up in the week of Valentine’s Day than in any other week of the year, with Tuesday 12 February this year nicknamed Red Tuesday, the top day to be dumped.

Their research suggests that the peak time for breakups is 48 hours before the big day, but we don’t think you’re out of the danger zone yet. Breaking up is awkward – it makes sense that someone who’s too tight to buy you a gift would also be the type to procrastinate the dumping and leave it to the last minute.

Of course, valentighting isn’t just about being cheap. It’s also a reflection of someone not really caring.

A valentighter may not be entirely committed to a relationship, but it takes the expectation of Valentine’s Day to make them realise it’s time to end things.

Sex bans
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Think about it: If the idea of spending Valentine’s Day with someone fills you with dread, that’s not a good sign. It makes sense that you’d suddenly realise you’re not meant to be.

Or perhaps the pressure to make the day as romantic as possible becomes a bit too much, and you crack.

You don’t know what to buy or how to make the day special, so you panic and sack the entire relationship off.

In an ideal situation, you’d have a chat about expectations and what you’d each like to happen on Valentine’s Day, but sometimes ditching a date is easier than actually talking things through. It’s not an honourable move, but as we all know by now, the world of dating is not always filled with grace and decorum.

Throw in the pressure to end things before any Valentine’s Day gift exchange happens (how uncomfortable would it be for someone to receive a gift from their partner and respond with ‘so I think we should take some time apart), and it makes sense that the valentighting happens in a hurry, without the usual thought given to a breakup.

Annabelle Knight, sex and relationship expert, tells Metro.co.uk that the build-up to Valentine’s Day prompts reflection on the relationship.

‘The build-up to Valentine’s is a great time to reflect on a relationship and decide whether it is working, particularly if you have just started dating,’ Annabelle says.

‘You will inevitably be making plans for that night – booking a night out, buying a present and expressing your real feelings for your partner in a card.

‘For some people, this is a day of reckoning and the weeks before Valentine’s makes them realise that the relationship is not worth pursuing further.

‘Far better to be honest and call it quits, rather than tell a lot of white lies on February 14 and lead your partner on when you are not fully committed to the relationship.’

We quite agree – although it’s probably best to be honest a bit further in advance of Valentine’s Day. The day before feels quite harsh.

If you are a victim of valentighting, though, try not to feel too down in the dumps.

If someone would ditch you just to get out of getting you some flowers, they’re probably not ‘the one’.

Plus, you’ll avoid the unbearable experience of sitting through a dinner with someone who isn’t right for you.

Anabelle adds: ‘For some couples, there is a realisation at this time of year that it might be better to end the relationship.

‘We have all seen those couples out on Valentine’s staring blankly at each other over dinner. They have realised that they are going through the motions and it might be better if they started afresh with someone new.’

We’d rather not be one of those couples.

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Woman throws a goodbye party for her boobs before having a double mastectomy

(Pictures: Mercury Press)

A 27-year-old enjoyed a surprise leaving party to say goodbye to her boobs before undergoing a double mastectomy.

Hayley Minn discovered she was a carrier of the deadly BRCA1 gene four years ago.

Her grandma Hannah Minn passed away from breast cancer aged 49 in 1970 and her dad Eliot was found to carry the gene in 2015.

So the writer made the decision to undergo a double mastectomy today before turning 28 despite being told to wait until she had children so she could breastfeed.

On Sunday Hayley’s mum Helen Minn, 55, decided to throw a £350 surprise bash for 20 of Hayley’s friends and family so they could celebrate the ‘boob job that will save her life’.

Activities at the ‘mammary gland farewell party’, held at Hayley’s family home in Borehamwood, Herts, included pin the boobs on a poster, bra-pong and boob casting.

Hayley said: ‘When I found out I had the gene, I immediately knew I wanted the mastectomy.

‘I was told to wait until I was 30 and had started a family, but you don’t necessarily have to breastfeed – I’d rather my future children saw me grow old.

‘I never thought of it as a brave move – it’s just a boob job that will save my life.

‘For the boob hen do, my mum went to the trouble of sorting everything.

‘I had asked her to arrange a tea for my friends as I wanted to see them all and have a good time with them, knowing I’d be in bed for at least six weeks after, and in pain for quite a while after.

‘I was so surprised by how much effort she had gone to, and it made me quite emotional being surrounded by her and my closest friends.

MERCURY PRESS. 13/02/19. Pictured: Hayley Minn (left) at her mastectomy party. A 27-year-old enjoyed a surprise leaving party to say goodbye to her BOOBS before undergoing a double mastectomy. Hayley Minn discovered she was a carrier of the deadly BRCA1 gene four years ago after her grandma Hannah Minn passed away from breast cancer aged 49 in 1970 before her dad Eliot, was also found to carry the gene in 2015. So the writer made the decision to undergo a double mastectomy today [WEDS] before turning 28 despite being told to wait until she had children so she could breastfeed. SEE MERCURY COPY
Hayley Minn (left) at her mastectomy party (Picture: Mercury Press & Media)
‘The party was meant to be a celebration of life, to make sure an operation like this doesn’t have to be a sad occasion.

‘We had afternoon tea with boob cakes and prosecco, huge inflatable boobs and played ‘bra pong’ and ‘pin the boobs’.

‘There was also a book for people to write messages in, which I’ll be given it after the procedure.

‘I even made a cast of my boobs using a plaster kit from the internet – it was all hands on deck with my friends rubbing Vaseline and plaster on my boobs.

‘I wasn’t able to move for a good 40 minutes.

‘At the moment, the bust is in the kitchen, but one of my friends has offered to paint it and I’ll be putting it in my bedroom pride of place.

“Being surrounded by my friends and having such a laugh made me feel very loved.

‘My family are really proud of me – my mum actually tried to do a speech at the party but was too emotional to speak.

‘Knowing how much people care and what a strong support system I have is really going to help me get through it.’

Shocked Hayley first discovered her mum’s party efforts when she returned from a two-week trip to Sydney, Australia earlier this year.

MERCURY PRESS. 13/02/19. Pictured: Hayley Minn having a cast of her breasts made at her mastectomy party. A 27-year-old enjoyed a surprise leaving party to say goodbye to her BOOBS before undergoing a double mastectomy. Hayley Minn discovered she was a carrier of the deadly BRCA1 gene four years ago after her grandma Hannah Minn passed away from breast cancer aged 49 in 1970 before her dad Eliot, was also found to carry the gene in 2015. So the writer made the decision to undergo a double mastectomy today [WEDS] before turning 28 despite being told to wait until she had children so she could breastfeed. SEE MERCURY COPY
Hayley and her friends completing the bust (Picture: Mercury Press & Media)
After undergoing the four-hour operation to remove both breasts today she will have a reconstruction to give her a replica of her own breasts.

She had initially planned to have the reconstruction in 2018 aged 26 but put it on hold after brother David Minn died aged 24 due to a fall while trekking in Argentina the same year.

The presence of the BRCA1 gene mutatuon in her genetic makeup means Hayley is 85 per cent more likely to get breast cancer.

She said: ‘I was initially supposed to go through the mastectomy at 26 in March 2017 but when my brother died, I couldn’t go through both of those things at the same.

‘Despite making the decision two years ago, I feel as though it’s flown by. I realised how quickly time goes when my brother died.

‘I’m not scared about the surgery, I’ve planned well ahead for it but I’m not prepared for the pain afterwards.

MERCURY PRESS. 13/02/19. Pictured: Breast cakes at Hayley Minns mastectomy party. A 27-year-old enjoyed a surprise leaving party to say goodbye to her BOOBS before undergoing a double mastectomy. Hayley Minn discovered she was a carrier of the deadly BRCA1 gene four years ago after her grandma Hannah Minn passed away from breast cancer aged 49 in 1970 before her dad Eliot, was also found to carry the gene in 2015. So the writer made the decision to undergo a double mastectomy today [WEDS] before turning 28 despite being told to wait until she had children so she could breastfeed. SEE MERCURY COPY
Breast cakes at Hayley Minns mastectomy (Picture: Mercury Press & Media)
‘I’m definitely getting a reconstruction – while I admire women who don’t get reconstruction, aesthetically I’m going to look similar but the only difference is I won’t be able to breastfeed.’

Celeb fanatic Hayley has revealed how she sought comfort through a WhatsApp group with other women who are carriers of the same gene mutation.

And she is now a ‘Boob-ette’ for charity, Coppafeel! which involves carrying a lifesaving message to women, visiting schools and colleges to represent the chairty and to discussing her experiences with breast cancer.

But despite making friends through her diagnosis, she said she feels like ‘an intruder’ as she hasn’t been through cancer herself.

Hayley added: ‘A lot of the girls have had cancer so they’re a huge inspiration to me. Most of them have now had a mastectomy.

What is BRCA?

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that produce tumor suppressor proteins. These proteins help repair damaged DNA and, therefore, play a role in ensuring the stability of each cell’s genetic material.

When either of these genes is mutated, or altered, such that its protein product is not made or does not function correctly, DNA damage may not be repaired properly.

As a result, cells are more likely to develop additional genetic alterations that can lead to cancer.


‘My dad feels guilty because he passed on the gene mutation – he’d rather I didn’t have to go through this but he’s ok now.

‘At the time, I didn’t feel as though I could speak to him about it.

‘Now, I actually feel sorry for him because there’s a cast of my boobs in the middle of the kitchen.

‘I’d tell women who also have the gene mutation that it’s entirely up to them but I think it’s the best thing you can do to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

‘I’m personally 85 per cent more likely to suffer from breast cancer because I have the gene mutation, so I’d rather get a mastectomy than go through chemotherapy.’

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People are baffled by ASOS’s see-through trousers that look like cling film

ASOS see-through trousers and a roll of clingfilm
(Picture: Getty, ASOS)

ASOS has released some new totally see-through trousers and they’ve confused the internet.

The £40 Flounce London sheer organza combat trousers in white come with a white waistband and see-through legs.

Yep, see-through.

They’ve drawn comparisons to cling film, but we reckon they look more like plastic sandwich bags.

According to ASOS, the trousers are for when you’re feeling a ‘little extra’ – though we’re not sure where the extra is coming from considering they leave absolutely nothing to the imagination.

They feature a high-rise tie waist, cargo pockets (so at least there’s one bonus: actual pockets!) and fitted cuffs.

They’re a regular fit rather than anything too skinny, so you won’t look too much like you’re trying to keep your legs fresh in the fridge.

ASOS see-through trousers
(Picture: ASOS)

The product description reads: ‘Whatever the occasion, nail your going-out ’fit with Flounce London’s collection of party pieces. Streamline your silhouette in velvet and metallic bodysuits, or choose from fancier-than-your-average embellished dresses.’

Since being released, people have taken to Twitter to mock the trousers.

Jess Burgess wrote: ‘I love ASOS but why on earth would you wear that’


While Anna Murray said: ‘Why does Asos think I’d like these? Came up on my ‘recommended’ products. Just. No’

Another person wrote: ‘Imagine foggin this up’

Metro.co.uk has contacted ASOS for comment but they have not responded yet.

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Everyone who’s always cold needs these snuggly microwavable slippers

Cozy Microwaveable Boots - White (Picture: Prezzybox)
(Picture: Prezzybox)

PrezzyBox has released some microwavable slippers and customers are in love with them.

The slippers are white and fluffy and come in a boot-style. They have a relaxing lavender scent and they’re completely microwavable.

That means you can heat them up, stick them on your chilly feet, and unwind. Dreamy.

So yes, you can get in from work after a long day, take off your bra, get into comfy pyjamas and put your feet in warm slippers. Throw in a mug of hot chocolate and we can’t think of anything better.

The product description reads: ‘Not only will they make their tootsies super toasty, but the boots will release a serene, soothing lavender scent, to get them in the mood for an evening of snuggle and chill!

‘Give their feet (or yours – all feet deserve a treat!) an escape from the winter frost with these super soft boots! They’ll certainly thank you for it..’

The slippers come in sizes 3-7 and cost £19.99. They’re also vegan-friendly (yay!).

Cozy Microwaveable Boots - White (Picture: Prezzybox)
(Picture: Prezzybox)

So far, they’ve received plenty of amazing reviews – mainly from people who have bought a pair for their wife. Isn’t that lovely?

One satisfied shopper wrote: ‘Bought these for my wife — who always has cold feet!!! She loved them, and more importantly for me — no more cold feet!!!’

Another wrote: ‘As the husband of a wife who is always cold, I’m pleased to say that, from the moment she put them on, she hasn’t once mentioned a chill or draught. They make her happy. Thank you.’

Someone else said: ‘My wife loved it, keeping her feet warm and relax. I surely be buying again in the future.’

These slippers seem to be a winner – late Valentine’s Day present, anyone?

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Don’t dismiss your ex after a breakup – you could be missing out on a great friendship

(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Breakups are complicated.

For a few lucky ones, it can an amicable affair, but for most it ends in one of two ways.

Either one or both parties end up hating the other, and decide never to speak again, or you take some time to grieve, eventually get over it and move on to a stage where you’d say hi if you passed them in the street – but wouldn’t actively seek them out.

Both scenarios can include one or many post-breakup bangs with the ex.

If it was a healthy relationship up until the end, it might be worth considering a third alternative: being friends with your ex.

As the saying goes, the best relationships are built on a foundation of friendship. While you probably had good reasons for ending things, remember that underneath that pain is a connection that you’ve cultivated and cherished.

Once your heart has healed, take a moment to consider if it’s worth keeping this person in your life.

Rosy, 32, tells Metro.co.uk that she chose to stay friends with her ex because he’s ‘the most incredible man’ she knows.

‘We were together for so long (almost three years) and we had so much fun and he made me so happy, that it seemed ridiculous to throw all that away,’ said Rosy.

‘I wouldn’t throw away a close relationship with a female friend, and my ex and I probably had a closer bond than anything I’ve had with a girl. He is still the most incredible man I know: hot, funny, generous, smart, interesting and sexy.

‘I ended the relationship, although we were both unhappy towards the end.

‘We stayed in touch right from the offset, but I think I made it slightly easier by remaining firm on my decision to break up – it helped us establish boundaries, which in turn informed how we would transition into our new friendship.

‘In one message, I remember him saying ‘who gives a f*** about what people think, let’s do what’s best for us’ – and staying friends has been so enriching and important for me, and I think for him too.

‘He has a new girlfriend now and I am so happy for him. I will never stop loving him but being in a relationship doesn’t work for us now and we have no plans to explore it again in the future

‘Just because we aren’t in a relationship, we shouldn’t have to give up each other up.’

(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Marilena, 34, is also friends with her ex boyfriend, but their relationship ended on a sour note, after he cheated on her.

‘My ex and I broke up because he wasn’t ready for a long-lasting relationship, and I discovered that he was cheating on me. In hindsight, I think he tried all sorts of ways to make me realise that he wasn’t ready and I just wanted to give up, so maybe it wasn’t actually cheating.

‘At first I was really upset and didn’t want to see him ever again.

‘Then something happened in his life, his best friend passed away at 27, and I knew what it meant to him. So I called him to check how he was doing.

‘After that, I realised that he was important to me regardless of our previous relationship.

‘We share similar passions such as music, and became concert buddies and now catch up regularly for coffee to update each other on our lives.

‘My current boyfriend has met him and it was a bit awkward when they met, but now they are actually “friends” too. Well, more or less.’

Personally, I am friends with two of my exes.

James* and I had a bad breakup and I started dating someone else shortly after our split, so it took us a few years to get back to a place where we could talk to each other again. We occasionally hang out or text.

Sean* and are closer, partly because he’s a very understanding and loving person, but also because despite him being the one who ended things, we both quickly realised that we weren’t right for each other. I was invited to his wedding, and I have met his fiancé on several occasions.

We meet up once a year for lunch or coffee, and it’s always good fun.

Being friends with an ex can be wonderful, but that isn’t to say that every ex is worthy of it – if it was an abusive or toxic relationship, it’s healthier to have a clean break.

In a similar way, if either party is still in love with the other, it’s kinder to stay apart for a while, until there’s less romantic emotion involved.

Do not string an ex along because you want them in your life – make it clear that it’s friendship and friendship only.

Unless it blossoms into a second attempt at the relationship, that is.

Remember that exes are people you loved (or liked a lot) at one point in your life.

Don’t just dismiss them – you could be missing out on a new relationship that’s even better than your romantic one was.

MORE: A new Valentine’s Day service helps you remove exes from photos – but should you do it?

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How to get through Valentine’s Day when it’s not your partner’s thing

(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Not everyone loves Valentine’s Day. But when you do and your partner doesn’t, it can be difficult.

To some, Valentine’s Day is a day to express your love for your other half. For others, it’s just another day.

And then comes that argument: Why should we celebrate our love on just one day, when it should be celebrated all year?

It can be very disheartening when your partner doesn’t like Valentine’s Day, especially when it’s such a big thing to you. But it shouldn’t have to be a miserable day.

We’ve got a few tips on how to enjoy Valentine’s Day even when your partner doesn’t want to celebrate.

Talk to them

Being in a relationship is all about treating each other equally. So, accept that they don’t really like Valentine’s Day. It’s not for everyone. But make sure that they accept that you do like it.

Sit down and make a deal to do just one thing together. It could be anything. Maybe the pair of you go for a drink, maybe you get a takeaway or maybe you just make time for one another to watch a romantic movie.

Just one thing is a healthy compromise. It doesn’t have to be a day full of gifts, Facebook posts and cliche dinners to be lovely.

i slept with my best friend and it ruined everything
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Stay away from social media

One of the biggest mistakes we make on Valentine’s Day is looking through social media. You know that as soon as you log on, you’re going to be flooded with posts of gifts, soppy statuses and engagement photos.

Comparison is going to make you feel bad. You’ll see posts from people whose partners go all out on Valentine’s Day and you’ll start to feel resentment towards your partner for not being the same. Avoid Instagram.

Have some ‘me time’

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all about loving someone else, what about loving yourself?

Pick your favourite book, run a bubble bath and pour yourself a glass of wine. There’s no better day to practice self-care than Valentine’s Day.

Do something different

You don’t have to stick to traditional romance. Turn it into a day you and your partner can both enjoy.

Skip the three-course dinners, roses and giant cards and choose something unconventional that’s about you and your relationship, and what you like to do together.

Pick another day to celebrate

One of the reasons some people hate Valentine’s Day is because it’s a bit same-old. Everyone does the same thing – flowers, cards and chocolates, and restaurants are always filled with decorations and Valentine’s discount meals. Sometimes it’s not the meaning of it, but the actual day itself.

So why not take some pressure off your partner’s shoulders and celebrate Valentine’s Day on another day? Go somewhere when the bars aren’t crowded, the cinemas packed and the restaurants having a thirty minute wait.

washing up
(Picture: Liberty Antonia Sadler fot Metro.co.uk)

Spend some time with your friends

Go and see your single friends and have some fun. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about the love between you and your partner – it can be about the love for yourself, or the love between friends.

Stick on a good film, grab a bottle of wine and celebrate with people who love Valentine’s Day as much as you do – at least it’s not wasted that way.

Accept that it’s just not your partner’s thing

Valentine’s Day just isn’t for everyone. And that’s not a bad thing. You can’t change people.

You can influence what they do and don’t like, but if their mind is totally shut off to the day, that’s it. You can’t hate them for it. You can’t be mad at them for it.

You have to respect their views and don’t feel resentful when the big Valentine’s Day gesture doesn’t come.

Think about it – is Valentine’s Day such a big deal that it’s worth wrecking a relationship?

If the answer’s yes, get out, and find someone who loves it as much as you.

If the answer’s no – which hopefully it is – focus on enjoying Valentine’s Day yourself, and let your partner do their own thing.

You’ve got every other day of the year to be all lovey-dovey, right?

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All aboard the Jose Cuervo Express, the all-you-can-drink tequila train in Mexico

(Picture: Jose Cuervo)

Regular trains are boring.

You’re stuck in a cramped seat, the dining car is far away (or doesn’t exist) and it’s frowned upon to down shots of tequila.

And that’s all we want from life; a train where getting drunk on a tasty golden liquid is acceptable, while we travel through a Mexican landscape filled with the very plants it was made from (blue agave).

Thankfully, such an experience exists – all aboard the Jose Cuervo Express, the all-you-can-drink tequila train.

There are three luxurious classes to choose from, such as Express, Premium and Premium Plus, but all wagons are decked out in a traditional design with wood-panel walls and with an air of old school glamour.

Jose Cuervo Tequila train Credit: Jose Cuervo Express - https://www.mundocuervo.com/eng/jose-cuervo-express/
(Picture: Jose Cuervo)
Jose Cuervo Tequila train Credit: Jose Cuervo Express - https://www.mundocuervo.com/eng/jose-cuervo-express/
(Picture: Jose Cuervo)
Jose Cuervo Tequila train Credit: Jose Cuervo Express - https://www.mundocuervo.com/eng/jose-cuervo-express/
(Picture: Jose Cuervo)
Jose Cuervo Tequila train Credit: Jose Cuervo Express - https://www.mundocuervo.com/eng/jose-cuervo-express
(Picture: Jose Cuervo)

The most expensive option includes not only copious amounts of Tradicional and Jose Cuervo Especial tequila, but also a tasting with a tequila expert, a ‘Maestro Tequilero’ and a tour of the Jose Cuervo distillery, La Rojena (one of the oldest of its kind in the area).

And you also get to see a Mexican show when you arrive at your destination – Tequila.

It’s a real place, a small town also known as Santiago de Tequila in Jalisco, Mexico.

Once there, you can also swing by the Margarita Bar for (another) drink or Plaza Juan Soriano to view ancient sculptures.

Prices for the express train experience start from just £84 for adults and £74 for children (no tequila for the little ones though).

Fancy a tequila trip?

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Pictures show the moment a baby was born still inside the amniotic sac

(Picture: CEN/@janabrasilfotografia)

These are the amazing pictures of the moment a baby was born still inside the amniotic sac.

It’s a rare almost one-in-100,000 occurance.

Being born ‘en caul’ means the sac fails to burst and the doctors have to break it outside the womb.

Apparently it’s considered a sign of good luck.

This baby boy was born at the Praia da Costa Hospital in the city of Vila Velha in the Brazilian state of Espirito Santo by photographer Jana Brasil, who specialises in photos of births.

In the photos, the newborn baby, named Noah by mother Monyck Valasco, can still be seen inside the amniotic sac after he is born.

Pic Shows: The pics of the babies inside the bag; BRAZIL: These are the otherworldly images of a baby which was born completely inside an amniotic sac which have wowed netizens.
Picture: (CEN/@janabrasilfotografia)

Noah’s whole body is engulfed by the sac giving him a startling, alien-like appearance.

The photos have been posted online and garnered thousands of likes and comments.

Mother Valasco, 34, said: ‘People all around the world are reposting the photos and looking for us. I saw him being born. They lowered the screen so I could see. I cried a lot. It’s an emotion that has no size.’

The photographer Jana added: ‘It’s indescribable to register that moment. Last year I took photos of babies in the sacs, I have two awards. But nothing like the photo of Noah, it surprised me. I thought I had been through all the emotions, but he pulled a face and did a little pout.’

Pic Shows: The pics of the babies inside the bag; BRAZIL: These are the otherworldly images of a baby which was born completely inside an amniotic sac which have wowed netizens.
(Picture: CEN/@janabrasilfotografia)

Gynaecologist Rafael Angelo Baggieri said: ‘An en-caul birth occurs when the baby is born without breaking the amniotic sac, in other words, within a little house which shelters it during gestation.’

Baggieri says the special births occur in every 80,000 or 90,000 births and do not put the baby or mother at risk.

Noah is reportedly still in hospital as Baggieri says the newborn was ‘tired’ after the birth but the tot is expected to be allowed to go home by the end of the week.

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What is an ‘anxiety hangover’?

(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Anxiety is essentially the body’s response to stress.

But it is a primitive system and hasn’t quite caught up with the modern world.

You might be sitting there, sweating bullets, enough adrenaline coursing through your body to kill a saber-toothed tiger, but all you’re doing is answering emails.

It’s no wonder it can make you feel seriously off.

Anxiety can cause nausea, headaches, trembling, palpitations, tearfulness, negative thoughts, panic attacks – the list of physical and mental symptoms is immense and different for every person.

It’s really scary. It can hit you out of nowhere, or it can linger just under the surface and stay with you for weeks or months at a time.

The worst part is that when the peak anxiety has faded – that’s not necessarily the end of the story.

If you have had a terrible day with high anxiety, you will probably find that the next day you feel sluggish, sickly, run down, tired – almost as though you had downed a full bottle of Malbec the night before.

We call it an anxiety hangover – and if it sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

Denise says anxiety hangovers are painfully familiar to her.

‘I’d say it’s maybe similar to the exhaustion those who have epileptic fits experience afterwards,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.

‘Panic attacks drain you, being constantly anxious is draining too. I last had a panic attack on New Year’s Day. I spiralled after. It had been a long time since I had had one, and I wanted to get through the year without one.

‘I didn’t even last a day!

‘An anxiety hangover feels like a big ball of regret, shame, disappointment, sadness and tiredness.

‘I often lose my appetite and my mood will be low. But I bounce back so much quicker than I used to, following having CBT and educating myself. I like to think of it as training my brain.’

metro illustrations
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Allie has similar experiences. She says her anxiety feels never-ending because of the lingering physical and mental symptoms. It can leave her practically bed-bound.

‘My anxiety attacks rarely come in one go; after the initial attack the symptoms can hang around for days, and can be compared to a hangover – or even a comedown,’ Allie tells us.

‘If I’m not working, I’ll lay in bed for ages in the morning, sometimes stretching into lunch. That is, if I get up at all.

‘And my mind feels like sludge – it’s harder to concentrate and the anxiety hangs over my head like an unwanted cloud, but not one I can cure with copious amounts of water. I wish.’

That’s the real kicker. With alcohol-induced hangovers you at least know that they are finite. Drink enough water, eat enough cold pizza and you will start to feel more human.

Not so with an anxiety hangover. They can hang around for days, the cure and the cause both unclear. The fact that you didn’t even get a fun, drunken night out of it makes it all doubly unfair.

Psychologist Hope Bastine says this unpleasant phenomenon is a simple matter of human biology. And it’s necessary.

‘The basic rule of thumb for any science is with every high, there is a low. And, the higher the high, the lower the low,’ Hope tells Metro.co.uk.

‘In the case of an anxiety attack, the sympathetic nervous system has become hyper-active. This means you are having a stress response to an event you perceive as threatening.

‘In science, we call this hyper-arousal. But when a stress response has been triggered, there is a feedback loop, that actives the parasympathetic nervous system which is the rest-and-digest state. This allows us the time and space to recover and heal from a bout of exhaustion.

‘So, the anxiety hangover we all experience is recovery period; it protects us from straining our immune system and subsequent illness.’

Laura is a type one diabetic, that can exacerbate her anxiety symptoms and make her anxiety recovery even more drawn-out.

‘I feel like I have a lot of physical symptoms the morning after I have had a particularly bad day of anxiety,’ explains Laura.

‘I’ll feel tired, run down, achy and often wake up with a headache – exactly like I do with a hangover from drinking.

‘Really anxious days can make my blood sugars go all over the place because of the extra hormones anxiety causes the body to release. Normal bodies produce insulin to deal with that but mine doesn’t, so it can be really tricky.

‘The only other time I really struggle with that control is when I have been drinking.

‘I usually just want to sleep it off and spend the whole day really struggling to concentrate on anything. It’s very draining, like my body has just used up every bit of energy by being anxious.

‘It’s also really hard to improve my mood as I get stuck in a cycle of feeling out of sorts and not wanting to do anything, so then everything gets on top of me and I get even more anxious.

‘I think the anxiety hangover makes my particularly anxious periods last much longer than they should because I just go round and round in this circle.’

The cyclical nature of an anxiety hangover can make it really hard to deal with. Having some coping mechanisms up your sleeve can be a big help.

Beth has some practical tips that you can employ when you are in the grips of bad anxiety to lessen the impact on the subsequent days.

‘Keeping in mind the “higher the high, the lower the low” concept, when you become aware you are having an attack, implement relaxation techniques to reduce the “high”,’ Beth suggests.

‘One very popular technique is to inhale for four seconds, hold for seven, and exhale for eight seconds. When repeated at least ten times, this will activate the parasympathetic nervous system and induce a relaxed state before you get too overwhelmed.

‘Remember, If you are having an anxiety hangover, your mind and body is telling you to look after yourself. Practice the art of self-care and you will bounce back sooner then if you tried to push through.

‘Ask yourself: what makes me feel looked after? Is it having a night in sipping a sleep tea with a good book?’

Although an anxiety hangover is unpleasant, it is your body’s way of recovering from the trauma of being acutely anxious.

As much as we might want to, we can’t shake of anxiety with nothing more than a positive attitude and one yoga session. We need time, rest and self care to get over it.

When an anxiety hangover hits, treat it like a normal hangover and listen to your body.

If you need to hibernate in your bed with Netflix and a Dominoes, do it. Just remember to talk to someone about it – most of your friends will know exactly what you’re going through.

Need support? Contact the Samaritans

For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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You can now get your Valentine a KFC ‘Bouquet de Poulet’

(Picture: KFC)

Nothing says ‘I love you’ like fried chicken.

Spice up your usual bucket order for Valentine’s Day and treat your lover to the aptly named ‘Bouquet de Poulet’ from KFC.

The Colonel might have taken the place of Cupid this year, but he’s not prepared to do all the work.

Sadly, the fingerlickin’ bouquet is not a new addition to the local KFC menu – you’ll have to buy the chicken and roses separately.

But KFC teams will help you by providing advice on how to assemble your bunch of poultry-cum-flowers.

We know the way to someone’s heart is through our Original Recipe chicken,’ said a spokesperson from KFC UK & Ireland.

‘Whether it’s for the one you love, a budding romance, or you just want to give your fried chicken-obsessed mate a gift, the Bouquet de Poulet has got your back this Valentine’s Day as the ultimate present.’

If roses don’t appeal, think outside the box – you can probably shove popcorn chicken, spicy hot wings and crispy breasts into a bouquet of  tulips or peonies too, if you try hard enough.

Go wild (and invest in an extra bucket of chicken for yourself, to avoid accidentally eating your Valentine’s gift as you put it together).

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Boohoo criticised for using a model who looks ‘too small’ for their plus size range

(Picture: Boohoo)

When you’re buying clothes online, you probably want to see what they look like on a real person.

But Boohoo has been criticised for using models for their plus size range who don’t ‘look bigger than a size 12’.

Talia posted a picture on Twitter, showing two plus size lace bodysuits, modelled by Anna Fitzdorf.

She added: ‘When will Boohoo realise this is not plus size?’ and received lots of responses.

The online fashion retailer said that the model they used, is a size 14/16.

A spokesperson said: ‘At boohoo we are proud to offer clothing to suit every shape and size and the model in question is a size 14/16, not a size 8/10.

‘We want every woman to be able to access great fashion at the best prices, and we continue to focus on developing our plus size and curve, tall and petite ranges.

‘We work very closely with several model agencies to ensure we have a diverse range of models on site who promote responsible and healthy body images.

‘Our aim is to use models that reflect different body shapes and sizes to ensure that our brand continues to celebrate and promote diversity.’

The model previously told ITV that she’s a size 12-14.

And when the brand was criticised on Instagram for using Fitzdorf in 2016 for the same Size 16+ range, she said she had used pins when wearing their clothing before.

The post said: ‘It’s me on the picture, and I wanna say that I fit the test for plus size as good as the straight size models fit their size.

‘I have to use pins sometimes but 90% of the time the test size fits perfectly so please try to find correct info before you put things out.’

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These are the 10 least-wanted Valentine’s Day gifts

(Picture: Getty)

A giant cuddly bear, fluffy handcuffs and a love tattoo are among the most unwanted Valentine’s Day gifts, according to a new study.

A poll of 2,000 people found that lots of people actually dread receiving Valentine’s gifts such as heart-shaped balloons, love song albums and chocolates.

So, if you’re planning on giving your partner any of the above, you might want to have a rethink.

Apparently, one in five will actually cringe at the sight of an expensive bouquet of red roses, while 46% would be mortified if their other half got a tattoo of their name as a gift.

The study, by Just Eat, found a giant cuddly bear is also unwanted, as is an oversized greeting card.

Top 10 cheesy gifts Brits would least like to receive:

  • Fluffy pink handcuffs – 50%
  • Tattoo of their name – 46%
  • Giant cuddly bear – 41%
  • Oversized card with love quote – 29%
  • Giant heart-shaped balloon – 28%
  • Album of love songs – 28%
  • Heart-shaped locket – 25%
  • Expensive bouquet of red roses – 21%
  • Giant cookie with ‘I Love You’ written on it – 20%
  • A box of heart-shaped chocolates – 15%

And apparently even cookies are out the window – as 20% say a giant cookie with ‘I Love You’ iced onto it is a big no-go.

So it might be a good idea to think out of the box.

You could try something home-made, such as a jar full of makeshift coupons, with things such as ‘a one hour back massage’ or ‘a nice dinner out’. That’s always a lovely idea.

However, according to Just Eat – you may want to order in on the big day, as according to their data, pizza is the number one dish to eat on Valentine’s day, with five pizzas having been ordered every second between 7pm and 8pm last year.

To help recipients of cheesy gifts who have been suffering in silence, Just Eat has launched a ‘Cheesy for Cheesy’ exchange – giving you the chance to swap well-meaning but unwanted tokens of affection for pizza.

Graham Corfield, UK MD of Just Eat, said: ‘Judging by the amount of pizza ordered on the 14th of February, it seems the only type of cheese Brits want on Valentine’s Day is a slice of Quattro Formaggio.

‘Hopefully, our anonymous, guilt-free ‘Cheesy for Cheesy’ gift exchange service will spare Brits that awkward moment where they have to put on a brave face and false smile.

‘Mail cheeseforcheese@just-eat.co.uk with a pic of your unwanted gift on 14 February 2019 and Just Eat will arrange for it to be collected and swapped.’

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You could earn £140 an hour taking candid photos of people for Instagram

(Picture: Getty)

A marketplace for photographers has launched a new ‘Instabuddy’ service for people who want professional photos taken for their Instagram accounts.

And you can earn some decent money from it – roughly £140 an hour, given prices start at £69 for a 30 minute ‘flash’ shoot.

The company, Perfocal, has launched the new service to give people a chance to upgrade their Instagram feeds, and fill them with professional photos.

This comes after the site received more than 100 requests for the service throughout December and January, an increase of more than 250% compared to October and November.

The job of Perfocal’s ‘Instabuddy’ will be to attend events with their customers and take photos suitable for Instagram. Whether having a meal, going to a theme park, visiting a landmark or even going to the beach, Instabuddies will be expected to take professional photos on each excursion with their customers.

Photo Taken In Berlin, Germany
Picture: Getty)

Customers who book an Instabuddy will receive professionally shot, yet authentically candid photos to share with followers on social media.

However, you can’t just be anyone with a camera – to be an eligible Instabuddy, you must be a professional photographer and will have to undergo a full background check prior to being approved.

Perfocal is hoping to offer the service nationally, and is urging photographers who are interested to sign up, as well as inviting members of the public looking to book an Instabuddy to register their interest.

Tony Xu, founder of Perfocal, said: ‘At Perfocal we want to give every member of the public the best and most useful service to help them, whether it be professional photography for your wedding, or a 30-minute shoot to add some colour to your Instagram feed. The growth Instagram has seen shows how many people are trying to stand out, and with our new service, hopefully the only thing they’ll have to worry about is adding the hashtags.

‘We want as many photographers to sign up as possible, as the end goal is to offer this as a national service professionally. We’re excited to see how many sign ups we get over the coming weeks and months – especially in time for summer!’

Anyone interested in becoming, or hiring, an Instabuddy can register interest on the Perfocal website.

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People are a bit worried about the person naming Fortnum & Mason’s chocolate bars

(Picture: Fortnum & Mason/Metro.co.uk

The names of chocolate bars are usually self-explanatory.

A Crunchie is so-named because it’s filled with crunchy honeycomb. That Godiva roasted almond and honey milk chocolate contains, shockingly enough, roasted almonds and honey.

Fortnum & Mason takes a more creative approach.

They give their chocolate bars more thought-provoking names, such as ‘the beast comes at midnight’ and ‘beyond the abyss’.

Those unusual names sometimes get a tad… dark.

As a result, they’ve prompted some concern for whoever’s naming the brand’s chocolate bars. Are they doing okay? Is this a cry for help?

We’ve listed some examples of the names Fortnum & Mason has given their bars of chocolate, so you can appreciate how strange they truly are:

  • A bittersweet romance
  • The obedience of Bubbles the dog
  • Fire in the hive
  • The peculiar bees of Salt Bay
  • Into the shadows
  • The descent into darkness
  • Beyond the abyss
  • Goodnight, my bittersweet beloved
  • She dreams in marmalade
  • The icebreaker
  • The beast comes at midnight
  • Forever chasing supernovas

You can see why people are puzzled.

But do not worry too much. We reached out to Fortnum & Mason to ask, well, if their chocolate-namer is okay, or if they’re trying to send a secret message to customers through the medium of chocolate wrappers.

the beast comes at midnight chocolate bar from Fortnum & Mason
(Picture: Fortnum & Mason)

Sophie Young, the confectionary buyer at Fortnum & Mason, told Metro.co.uk: ‘We wanted our chocolate bars – which can be enjoyed individually or bought as a ‘library’ – to marry the worlds of chocolate and literature. Both can be sweet, and equally both can be very dark.

‘We created titles and stories for each bar that celebrate the exceptional ingredients used, and that make the purchase that bit more special, inspiring and beguiling for our customers.

‘We’re known to be playful with our language and on the occasion it takes on a slightly surreal quality, harking back to the 30s when our commentaries were a little bonkers, in the best possible – and most delightfully Fortnum’s – way.’

Bonkers is probably a good descriptor.

So rest assured, good people of the internet, the person in charge of writing out the chocolate labels is not deep in an abyss and trying to claw their way out (well, as far as we know).

You can go back to buying the full ‘library’ for £140, if you require that everything you consume has a literary title.

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My Label and Me: I’m not tired and lazy, I have ME


‘Ah you’re just a bit tired,’ says my friend. ‘Just have another beer, you’ll be fine’.

Yep, I am tired but probably not as they, or you, know and understand it.

I can’t rest and get my energy back like you can and, as much as I’d like to, I can’t just ‘have another beer’ to help.

That’s because I have ME, often referred to as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Put simply, it’s a neurological condition that throws out of sync many of my body’s functions, most commonly the nervous and immune systems.

The author sat on his bed
So many people think that if you have ME you can never get better (Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)

The result is an intolerance to exertion and a number of unpleasant symptoms.

I was first labelled as just ‘tired’ (minus the beer bit) at the age of 10. I was ‘worn out’, ‘depressed’ or simply told that I ‘just didn’t like school’. And yes, these diagnoses all came from doctors.

It took around nine months to find an accurate diagnosis, by which point I’d gone from being a national tennis player to a wheelchair.

Sadly, this period of uncertainty and misdiagnosis is all too common. As a child, these labels left me feeling like an alien, questioning what was wrong, and knowing that people didn’t believe in how I felt.

The author walking his dog in a park
By the time I got a diagnosis I was in a wheelchair (Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)

So many people with ME report similar experiences with doctors and, in my opinion, this period of flux and inaction is the main contributing factor to the severity of suffering experienced by so many.

Over the next year I deteriorated to a point where I was bed bound for two years, before slowly managing to return to full health in my mid-teens through a mix of graded exercise and talking therapy.

I returned to sporting life over time and got a sports scholarship to Durham University for tennis.

There’s a widespread myth that once you have ME, you can never get better. Many can and do return to full fitness – and I was one of them.

The author reclining on his bed
James was first labelled as ‘tired’ at age 10 (Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)

Unfortunately, at the start of last year, at the age of 25 my ME made an unwelcome return and I’m now on my recovery journey again.

Experiencing it as an adult has presented many different challenges, but this time around I also feel I’m in a position to help dismantle the labels and misconceptions, bringing to light a condition that affects at least 250,000 people in the UK.

The major stumbling block to how society views people with ME is that there is so little expertise and understanding.

With a lack of knowledge about the condition, it’s inevitable you get confused faces and inaccurate labels.

In this way, ME is very similar to other chronic conditions, in that they aren’t visible and people with the condition may look ‘fine.’

The author standing in the woods
Having ME is like being an iPhone (Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)

In fact, to many, the only visible sign could be our ‘tiredness’.

Having ME is like being an iPhone. Bear with me.

Imagine you wake up, look at your phone and go, ‘f*ck! It’s not been charging’ (everyone hates that!). You then have to last the day on what charge you have left, no more (the charge level will depend how severely you’re suffering or where you are on recovery journey).

You could choose to spend all of that battery on your ‘family’ app, or your ‘work app’ or your ‘physical activity app’ or a combination of the three. But they all affect your battery life and once it’s gone, it’s not coming back.

The goal is to increase your battery life a percent at a time. That’s sort of what it’s like.

As fun as comparing yourself to an iPhone is, I’d like a label, just not one that is utter rubbish.

I’m happy with being labelled as having ME or CFS, or SEID, all accurate terms, safe in the knowledge it doesn’t define who I am, what I like doing or what my ambitions are.

But, I do want to help raise awareness of what’s behind that label.

I want anyone suffering to be able to tell people they’ve got ME and to be not thought of as ‘tired’ or ‘lazy’.

I want them to be understood as having a complex condition that means they’ll have to be incredibly careful and strict in what they do on a daily basis, but with the right help and discipline can recover.

James has created a blog to try and simplify what’s it’s all about, communicate the challenges, and share his recovery journey. 

More about ME and CFS

What is ME and chronic fatigue syndrome?

ME, otherwise known as myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome, is a chronic neurological condition. The most common symptom is extreme tiredness, but those with ME may also experience muscle pain, headaches and sleep problems. How severe these symptoms are can vary and many of the symptoms are similar to other illnesses, which can make diagnosis difficult.

Find out more here.


Labels is an exclusive series that hears from individuals who have been labelled – whether that be by society, a job title, or a diagnosis. Throughout the project, writers will share how having these words ascribed to them shaped their identity  positively or negatively  and what the label means to them.

If you would like to get involved please email jess.austin@metro.co.uk

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Lean On Me: How do I make meaningful friendships?

Illustration of two women chatting and one standing alone
The best shortcut to intimacy, in my experience, is vulnerability (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Welcome to Lean On Me – a weekly agony aunt style column from Metro.co.uk where Kate Leaver answers your friendship woes.

Dear Kate,

I have plenty of friends but I still feel alone. I can go to a party and talk to heaps of people but still feel like I haven’t connected to anyone. I feel like I have a lot of shallow connections with people and a lot of superficial friendships. How can I make them more meaningful? How do you get properly close to people? Is there an easy way to do it?

Michelle, 24

Illustration of two women linking arms
Maybe telling someone you feel a bit lonely is a start? (Picture: Ella Byworth)

Hi Michelle,

You know when parents get stuck on one piece of advice they really want you to listen to? And they keep repeating it to you, especially if they’ve got you captive in the car?

All my life, my dad has said to me, over and over: ‘Ask questions.’

Whenever I was timid as a kid and, say, going to a bowling birthday party, my dad would tell me that the best way to get to know people is to ask them questions about themselves. And not just ‘how are you?’ and ‘what school do you go to?’ Good, interesting, thoughtful questions.

Michelle, this is my greatest advice. Comes straight from my papa. Ask questions. I think part of the reason so many people feel like they have superficial friendships is that we have lost our conversation skills.

We get the illusion of intimacy from liking someone’s Instagram post, we think we know everything that’s going on in their lives and we forget to actually ask people what they care about, what they want, what they think. Start there.

Do it at work. Stop asking, ‘have you got any holibobs planned?’ and start getting to know people. Do it at parties. Swap, ‘what do you do?’ for something better. Then, actively listen.

We forget to do that too; we’re so consumed by what we look like to the world that we forget to actually listen to people properly.

Stoicism is basically a British institution, so you’ll have to push past that and get a bit tender with people. Friendship is essentially an exchange of vulnerabilities, at its best, so it’s time to be open and candid and generous.

The best shortcut to intimacy, in my experience, is vulnerability. Revealing something personal about yourself to someone can feel exposing, but it’s really the only way to get close to someone.

Stoicism is basically a British institution, so you’ll have to push past that and get a bit tender with people. Friendship is essentially an exchange of vulnerabilities, at its best, so it’s time to be open and candid and generous.

That could mean being honest about how you’re actually doing – maybe telling someone you feel a bit lonely is a start? You might just find that someone else feels the same. That’s where the real intimacy happens: when you get each other.

C.S. Lewis said that ‘friendship is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too! I thought I was the only one”‘. He’s absolutely nailed it, that C.S. Lewis.

Friendship is about having an ally in this world, so find someone who truly gets you. If you do not know that person already, keep looking.

Also, I think loneliness can often be found in the space between the quantity of our friendships and the quality of them. You may have a lot of friends, but clearly they’re not meeting your emotional quota.

I have spoken to a lot of people who feel the same way as you, who feel alone in a crowded room. That’s the cruelty of loneliness: it doesn’t just turn up when you’re on your own at home. It’s perfectly possible to be lonely in a room full of 200 people; indeed, sometimes their presence just makes you feel lonelier.

What you need is a friend, or preferably friends, who lift you up, who make you feel complete, who make you feel heard. You will find them. You’ve just got to work at it a little.

Be open-hearted with people, ask new people out on friendship dates, listen actively and attentively, find out who they really are and, just as my dad always said, ask questions. It’s not always easy, but it’s entirely possible. Go forth, be brave, get to know people.

metro-fact-box title=”About Lean On Me” colour=”pink” icon=”exclamation”]

Kate Leaver is the author of The Friendship Cure and she will be answering your friendship woes in her weekly Metro.co.uk column.

If you’d like to submit a question or problem, email LeanOnMe@metro.co.uk with ‘Lean on me’ in the subject line.

Submissions are anonymous and you can follow the discussion on Twitter #LeanOnMe. [/metro-fact-box]

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Soap dispensers in public toilets could be hiding deadly bacteria inside

(Picture: Shutterstock)

After you use the toilet, wash your hands with soap and water.

That’s the rule, right?

New research has left us questioning.

Dr Charles Gerba, a germ specialist and professor at the University of Arizona, suggests that soap dispensers could be hiding gross – and potentially dangerous – bacteria inside.

Dr Gerba tested the inside of soap dispensers in 296 food establishments across Arizona, New Jersey, and Ohio. He found that of these, 15% tested positive for harmful bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant E. coli and salmonella.

The team also found klebsiella oxytoca, a superbug that attacks the skin and flesh and can be deadly.

In January this year Rachel Star Withers, 33, from South Carolina, suffered bleeding sores on her body after contracting KO, leaving her with deep holes in her face.

That’s pretty unsettling, as it suggests that a cleaning, antimicrobial agent such as liquid soap may not be a safeguard against dangerous bacteria. By washing our hands with public soap dispensers, we could be exposed to serious health risks.

The risk is higher when using refillable bulk-soap dispensers in fast food and grocery stores, perhaps because they are less frequently cleaned.

Dr Gerba describes these soap dispensers as a ‘public health concern’, noting that they provide an environment for bacteria to grow and their use could lead to non-foodborne disease outbreaks.

GERMANY - OCTOBER 01: GERMANY, BONN, Washing ones hands under running water at washbasin. (Photo by Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images)
(Picture: U. Baumgarten via Getty Images)

Dr Gerba said: ‘These water-low solid formulations may be less expensive to manufacture, but they are more likely to be contaminated.

‘Fast food and grocery stores are more likely to be contaminated than convenience stores; this may be because in the former, there is less maintenance and management oversight in the bathrooms, whereas convenience stores typically have small bathrooms that are cleaned frequently.

‘Soap samples that did have detectable bacteria had populations that would be considered highly risky if the bacteria present were pathogenic (disease spreading).

‘Cleaning in between soap refills might not prevent recontamination, and difficult to clean biofilms (cluster or germs) may develop.

‘It has been difficult to document outbreaks in food-service settings to date; however, our findings show that the use of bulk soap presents a clear risk in food service facilities.’

This bacteria risk could also be present in at-home soap dispensers.

So what can you do? It’s not wise to simply skip the soap or hand-washing entirely.

Ralitsa Prodanova, a cleaning expert with Fantastic Services, says the key is regular and meticulous disinfecting of all public soap dispensers.

Ralitsa explains: ‘You might presume that soap dispensers are ‘self cleaning’.

‘But even those containing the anti-bacterial agent triclosan have inherent risks.

All the ways you're pooing wrong + how to poo better
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

‘If you’re refilling a dispenser in your kitchen or bathroom, it should be cleaned meticulously each and every time to stop the growth of bacteria either inside it or on it.

‘Using a soap formulation which is diluted can also result in the anti-bacterial agents being ineffective.’

So that means adding water to the bottle when you’re running out of soap is not a good idea. Be warned.

Ralitsa also advises considering where the soap dispensers are in relation to toilets.

‘Every time you flush, particles of faeces are flung into the air and can linger there for up to two hours,’ she says.

‘These pathogenic microorganisms can make you unwell, but can also attach themselves to nearby surfaces, including soap dispensers, where they fester and multiply.’

At home, make sure to clean the outside of soap dispensers regularly, and if you refill your bottles make sure to disinfect them first.

When out and about, keep washing your hands with soap and water – remember that in the majority of cases there won’t be any dangerous bacteria inside. But if you’re feeling worried, give any buttons a quick wipe down with antibacterial gel.

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Pornhub makes premium content free just for Valentine’s Day

xx on computer
Me IRL (Picture: Shutterstock/ Ella Byworth)

Valentine’s Day is a time for love. Self-love included.

Despite common belief, we doubt most single people will be sobbing into a tub of ice cream on 14 February.

But if you are feeling a little lonesome this V Day, don’t panic: Pornhub is here to help.

Pornhub has announced that, as is their annual tradition, for the entirety of 14 February their premium content will be available for free.

That means all the full-length, high production porn that’s usually locked behind a paywall will be there for you to enjoy without paying a penny.

That’s tonight’s plans sorted, then.

It makes sense that Pornhub is running this promotion again, considering how popular it was back in 2017.

Top searches on Pornhub Premium on Valentine's Day 2017:

  • Lesbian
  • Ebony
  • POV (point of view)
  • VR (virtual reality)
  • MILF (mother I’d like to f***)
  • Squirt
  • Anal
  • Creampie
  • Asian
  • JOI (jerk-off instructions)
  • Hentai

Pornhub reports that two years ago more than 3.5 million people took advantage of the free access to premium stuff, and noted a 308% rise in average traffic on V Day.

The top searches for premium content on Valentine’s Day 2017 were ‘lesbian’ (as usual), ‘ebony’, ‘POV’ (point of view), ‘VR’, and ‘MILF’.

Searches for Valentine’s Day itself increased too, up 1092% compared to an average day. Lovebirds also searched ‘cupid’, ‘love’. and ‘romance’ more frequently than usual. Sweet.

To pile on the Valentine’s Day romance, Pornhub has also released a V Day album on Spotify, with features from Blac Chyna, Lil Xan, and more.

So, single gang, you really don’t have to feel rubbish being alone on Valentine’s Day.

Take advantage of a meal deal, get comfy, and watch as much fancy porn as you can handle. What could be better?

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Drinking diet fizzy drinks ‘could increase your risk of stroke, heart disease, and early death’

Sweet, fizzy drink with ice on a blue background. Close Up.; Shutterstock ID 1016825335; Purchase Order: -
(Picture: Shutterstock / morisfoto)

Bad news for anyone who downs Diet Coke daily: New research suggests that drinking two or more diet fizzy drinks a day could increase the risk of stroke, heart disease, and early death.

A study of more than 80,000 women found that drinking two or more diet drinks – including fruit-based diet drinks as well as fizzy ones – increased the risk of stroke by 23% compared with women who drank diet drinks less than once a week or not at all.

The diet-drinkers were also 29% more like to develop heart disease and 16% more likely to die from any cause.

Researchers tracked 81,714 post-menopausal women (who were aged 50 to 79 at the start of the study) for an average of 12 years.

The research showed that obesity played a role, too, as those who drank two or more diet drinks a day and were also obese had more than double the stroke risk. African-American women also had a higher risk of stroke.

Dr Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, lead author of the study and associate professor of clinical epidemiology and population health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York, said:'”Many well-meaning people, especially those who are overweight or obese, drink low-calorie sweetened drinks to cut calories in their diet.

‘Our research and other observational studies have shown that artificially sweetened beverages may not be harmless and high consumption is associated with a higher risk of stroke and heart disease.’

It’s important to note that while the study found a link between drinking diet beverages and stroke and heart disease, but could not prove definitively that diet drinks cause these health issues.

The study didn’t look at individual artificial sweeteners or at the specific diet drinks consumed, so researchers also can’t say which sweeteners are harmful.

Dr Rachel Johnson, professor of nutrition emeritus at the University of Vermont and chairwoman of the writing group for the American Heart Association’s science advisory, Low-Calorie Sweetened Beverages And Cardiometabolic Health, said: ‘Unfortunately, current research simply does not provide enough evidence to distinguish between the effects of different low-calorie sweeteners on heart and brain health.

‘This study adds to the evidence that limiting use of diet beverages is the most prudent thing to do for your health.’

Our advice? Stick to water if you’re thirsty.

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