Long before you could put your favorite TV character’s quote on top of an inspirational photo and email it to your partner, relationships were probably fifty years of being barefoot in the kitchen and begging your special someone to listen just once. But this is 2013! Thanks to a mix of the internet, TV, and remedial graphic editing software, we can now somehow explain our feelings with our favorite character’s latest zinger plastered into a meme and call it a night. I wouldn’t call this indirect, but it’s pretty much just like being an assassin whose only method is to tweet about all the murders they might commit.
How I Met Your Mother has become somewhat of a generational reference point for defining romance. I, personally, happen to love the show and watch it regularly. But sadly, as it often is with rom-com television shows, a lot of their “tips” about love don’t exactly apply to real life. Sorry, Tumblr.
1: It’s A Really Big Deal If You’re Single
The idea of being “forever alone” was invented by people who decided that, since they were still in their pajama pants at 6:00 PM, that they were doomed to a life of loneliness. Saying “I like Green Lantern comics and Doritos so much that the warmth of humanity will never touch my skin” is awkward, not hilarious. Being single in this moment has become synonymous with crying for the rest of your life. Yet despite it having the same comedic value as the gradual formation of stalactites and stalagmites, “Forever Alone” has somehow caught on and taken a life of its own. People have claimed that they’ll never find love for forever, but they never had such a catchy name for it until now.
Frequently, romantic comedy sitcoms make being single into the worst thing that can possibly happen to someone. How I Met Your Mother bases itself around relationships (or the lack thereof) to a worn-out extent. Are you not currently looking for the father of your future children? Well! Then what the heck are you doing with your life?!
I understand what it’s like to be by yourself, probably depressed, and spending hours on the computer. It’s a rough life to live when you’re not doing anything to change that except reposting fictional character’s quotes. How could someone not want you, especially since you’re working so hard to be so unremarkable? However, regardless of how removed you are from the actual world, there really are more important things in life than wondering how you got to be so boring or “forever alone.” Trust me.
2: Not Having Long Term Relationships Is Shallow
Listen, some people just aren’t good at relationships. I, for example, wouldn’t say that I’m terrible at being in a relationship (although I’ve had my moments for sure), but I’d still have a better chance of interpreting a T-Rex’s sign language than trying to figure out if my man is telling me 100% what’s on his mind. And I’m not trying to be self-deprecating here. Knowing proper dinosaur hand signals is really hard.
How I Met Your Mother tends to look at casual dating with a kind of side eye. It’s usually the butt of a joke or something that’s seen as immature (insert immature butt joke here). While I can’t change the views of thousands of people who think the funniest thing in the world is to say “Hope you wore a condom!” before their pale skin bursts into flame, let me the be the thousandth to say that there’s nothing wrong with knowing that you want to go slow and keep things light, as long as both parties know that it’s casual.
Long term relationships aren’t an objective sign of maturity. They’re a sign of two people liking each other enough to commit for longer than a night or two. And while long-term commitments can be mature, long-term relationships can be just as immature as one night stands can be. It’s the same reason that hateful couples stay together for years on end. It’s the reason that my boyfriend’s roommate’s cat runs into the same bicycle parked in the hallway every now and then. They’re dumb and not sensible enough to know better. You’re not a greater person just because you haven’t driven someone to turn to homicide in the two years that you’ve sweet talked them into ignoring your incompatibility.
3: Getting Over Someone Should Be The Longest Process Ever
I hate to be the one to break this to you, but … everything in this world ends. These everythings include stuff like flawed relationships, people you weren’t supposed to be with, and Star Wars: Episode I-3 (when the credits roll, you can mourn the loss of both lost love and George Lucas’ integrity). Now, I’m not necessarily trying to compare someone telling you that you’re better off as friends with an angsty, poorly-acted teenage Darth Vader trying to convince audiences around the world that a furrowed sweaty brow in every scene is acceptable as the great transformation of one of the greatest characters in film history, but I totally am.
Despite how much you may mourn or be blinded by love, getting over a person should never take as long as it does on How I Met Your Mother. Relationships that lasted four episodes have a five season healing process. If you don’t watch the show and know about Ted and Robin’s back and forth, let me save you the energy and exhaustion: either they hire new writers every other week who have never ever seen the show and all happen to think “Hey! Ted and Robin should totally get together/break up! Wouldn’t that be novel!” OR they’re playing the ultimate game of relationship ping pong, completely naive to the whole ridiculous situation. For example: Robin gets engaged and Ted was spouting whines about how she should be with him in the very next episode. I don’t want to call that an unhealthy mindset, but I’m pretty sure Ted Bundy had a better grasp on relationships than Ted Mosby.
4: If You Love Someone, Tell Them, No Matter What
Now, this one isn’t just a How I Met Your Mother problem; most sitcom romances are made when someone makes enough grand statements about love for another person to wake up next to them the next morning. HIMYM merely continues the popular trend of making sure someone knows your feelings, no matter what the cost.
And yet, real life doesn’t work exactly this way. Making sure that someone knows your feelings is very much based on the conditions. Before you start to judge me, I am all for expressing yourself and especially expressing love. But there are certain situations where that open expression will cause much more hurt than help.
Do you like a female? Great, tell her! Does she have a boyfriend? Yeah? Then I lied about a few sentences ago. Do not tell her. Under any circumstances. HIMYM hasn’t come around on real life’s popular, I’m-a-jealous-paranoid-guy-and-if-this-“best-friend”-hits-on-my-girlfriend,-I’ll punch-or-hate-him” theory. I understand there are probably more than a few of you out there who will disagree with this, but hear me out: if you stole a girl from her boyfriend by declaring your love, how could you ever fully know that she would never turn on you like that? Or you turn from her again? I don’t pretend to understand every relationship out there – I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been through this particular three ring circus myself, and am totally biased… with good reason. If you’re anywhere near this sort of sticky situation, friends – you’d do wise to just steer clear and avoid the whole thing.
5: You and all your friends can live in Manhattan and not only have crazy awesome and spacious apartments but also happen to always be free/available to hang out with your best friends who also happen to live in the same city within instant subway distance
This doesn’t so much have to do with love as it does with me being frustrated with sitcoms since Friends portraying a false sense of NYC. This has to do with my own personal love for quality television, and subsequent frustration over inaccurate portrayals of living in my city. (It also might have to do with a slight jealousy for their amazing apartments and/or apartment decor. Maybe.)
I don’t mean to be a downer on a well-liked, good sitcom — I just needed to remind you, oh people of the internet, that love isn’t Disney princess fairytales and HIMYM gloss overs… it’s WAY better than that.