This week, I thought I’d take a break from talking about myself to look at some of my favorite characters and the lessons they can teach us about love and heartbreak. Some of these relationships have happily-ever-afters, while others can provide a bit of advice on endings--instructing us that, sometimes, things just don’t work out.
Despite the fact they only live inside books or television screens, these fictional folks have a lot of advice to give!
1. Hermione and Ron from 'Harry Potter', Books 1-7: This surprising couple was always one of my favorite parts of the 'Harry Potter' books (you know, besides imagining myself as a Hogwarts student). When you first meet bushy-haired, know-it-all Hermione and sarcastic, gangly Ron, you would never imagine them as friends, never mind as a couple! They’re just so different from each other!
And yet, as they get older, and the books take them on crazier and crazier adventures, something develops. They each had other interested parties (Viktor Krum, Lavender Brown) but in the end, it came down to Ron and Hermione. And when Ron is forced to see the worst thing he can imagine, it’s Hermione picking Harry over him. They’re not an obvious couple to put together, but out of friendship came love!
Lesson learned? Sometimes the perfect person is hiding in plain sight! That guy friend who you’ve always written off as a goofball? Or maybe someone who you’ve known forever but never thought you’d ‘like’ like. It can turn out that something you thought was just a friendly feeling is actually much more.
2. Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester from 'Jane Eyre': What a classic couple! 'Jane Eyre' is the quintessential Brönte story of the impoverished but spirited governess Jane Eyre and her employer, Mr. Rochester. They have a lot of obstacles in their relationship: for one, he’s her boss--although this is less of an issue in a 19th century British household than in, say, a modern Fortune 500 corporation. But he’s also a lot older than her and of a very different social class.
She’s an orphan with no means or family, while he’s a wealthy man who associates with elites. Not to mention, the problem of his crazy wife hidden in the attic and then some major tragedy… In the end, though, they find each other. And despite all the things that get in the way, their love and connection do triumph and they get a very nice (even though it’s not picture-perfect) happily ever after.
The lesson from this one? Just because someone seems really different from you, doesn’t mean you won’t have anything in common. Mr. Rochester falls in love with Jane because she’s different from anyone he’s ever met and she doesn’t pretend to be anyone she isn’t. I’m not necessarily advising anyone to crush on a dude twenty years older (or searching out guys with psycho wives hidden somewhere in their houses), but if there’s chemistry, give it a shot, even if you’re a little more country and he’s rock and roll.
3. Samantha Jones and Smith Jerrod from Sex and the City: This is an example of a love story that doesn’t end quite so happily. Sam and Smith get together in the 6th season of the show- he’s a waiter/actor and she likes having sex with him, so she agrees to do his PR and make him a star.
Well, she’s very successful in that and the movie finds the couple living in LA, with Smith as a big ole movie star and Sam as his agent. And everything’s good, they get along and are happy but… The truth is that Samantha’s always been sort of a free love type and being in a relationship just doesn’t fit her. So even though Smith is fantastic and they love each other, they end up breaking up. Not because anyone screwed up or because anything really happened, but because it just wasn’t right.
Lesson? Some things just aren’t meant to be. Relationships end because of a lot of different reasons. Sometimes someone screws up- they cheat or they say something unforgivable. But sometimes relationships end because people are in different situations. Or because, through no one’s fault, it’s just no longer working. And that sucks- blame is a lot easier than calm acceptance, yet it happens. As Carrie says in the movies, ““Some love stories aren’t epic novels. Some are short stories, but that doesn’t make them any less filled with love.”
4. Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from Tangled: Ok, hear me out! 1. This movie is awesome. I watched it illegally while I was abroad maybe 4 times… I really like it. 2. I think that a lot of the classic Disney movies teach some pretty crazy ideas about love (Snow White? Really? And Sleeping Beauty- dude, that prince is a creeper!). But in Tangled, the young (ok, really young) Rapunzel yearns to see the outside world and, through some bargaining, and maybe questionable motivations, ends up on an adventure with the outlaw Flynn.
At first, they hate each other. I mean, talk about having nothing in common! And their first impressions of each other are not good...Worse than not good! Rapunzel is naïve and innocent, but she is pretty sure she knows exactly what kind of guy Flynn is. And for his part, Flynn starts out just using Rapunzel for his own gain. But as they both get to know each other, they find that there’s a lot more to the other than they initially thought. Their initial dislike turns to friendship, which turns to something more. Sure, there are some bumps in the road (it is a movie, after all), but in the end, they really love each other.
Here we get another rendition of “you can’t judge a book by its cover”! Not only do Rapunzel and Flynn not originally love each other, they flat out dislike each other! They think they easily understand the other one right off the bat, though it turns out that they’re both more complicated than that. There are some people who seem like they’re one dimensional, or who you think you can read without getting to know. But if you give people a chance and try to withhold judgment (so hard, I know!), you might find that you like them more than you originally thought. You might even love them! This is obviously not always the case, but it happens way more often than you might think.
5. Janice Ian and Damian from Mean Girls: And sometimes, a great friendship shouldn’t be turned into a relationship. In the dance scene, everyone is making out, so Janice and Damian decide to give it a shot. But, nope! Definitely a bad idea. They’re great friends, but not attracted to each other.
Ok, so what could possible be the lesson here? Sometimes, he’s just not that into you. Maybe it’s because he’s just not feeling a connection. Or maybe it’s because he’s into that cute guy over there. And that’s ok too! It takes all kinds of relationships- romantic, friends, even an arch nemesis or two (ok, so that might be a joke)! Honestly, I think keeping an open mind is the best strategy because sometimes someone who you’d never initially envision as a significant other can turn out to be a great catch.
Or maybe just a great friend!