College Love Lessons as told by A Different World

Many of us have probably fantasized about our future love life or future significant other after watching a television series or movie, with an amazing college-based relationship as a focal point. In our fairy tale, we know what they look like, how they act, how they treat us, and the little things that will make them the perfect mate, all because we have envisioned them based off of our favorite television couple. A perfect example of a popular college-based relationship that many love to watch over and over is Dwayne Wayne and Whitley Gilbert of the popular late 80’s/early 90’s show, A Different World. To this day, 90’s babies everywhere still watch this show and dream of having a love like theirs, but also take heed to the many other relationships and love lessons that were demonstrated on the show. A Different World was a great example of different types of relationships and love lessons that we all have experienced, relate to, or have seen in college.


Dwayne & Denise: This Could Be Us, but You Playin’

In the beginning of A Different World, there was Dwayne and Denise. Dwayne was head over heels for Denise, but Denise continued to put him in the friendzone without giving him a chance.

Lesson: Yes, taking a friendship to the next level can be scary, but the best relationships usually start off from a really great friendship. You never know what you could be missing by putting someone in the friendzone without considering what it could become.


Jalessa: Case of the EX

Jalessa, Denise’s roommate, was older than everyone and had experience of being married and divorced. However, her advice on relationships always seemed to be negative, or she would let her past continue to upset her.

Lesson: Let go of your past, completely, and don’t let your past interfere with the present or future. We all have had those moments when our past creeps up every now and then and we begin to think about all of the memories and hurtful things we went through, but you have to let yourself heal and completely move on. Keeping those memories in your head and not closing that door all the way can keep you from what’s behind the door that was meant to open for you.


Jaleesa & Walter: Almost, but Not Quite

Jalessa eventually moved on to someone new, but still had her moments of letting her past interfere with her present and in her relationship. In the middle of establishing a new relationship, Walter decided to propose and talk Jalessa into marrying him. But of course, Jalessa’s woman intuition knew it wasn’t right, and their relationship ended at the altar.

Lesson: Trust your intuition and make sure to take your time to get to know who you’re with before taking the relationship to different levels. Know when it’s the right time to move forward, when it’s not, and be honest about how you feel with the relationship.


Jalessa & Colonel Taylor: Love At Last

After a couple of trial and errors, unexpectedly, Jalessa and Colonel Taylor decided to give love a try, and ended up happily married and with child.

Lesson: Don’t give up after having a few bad relationships. Don’t let the failures of past relationships deter you from trying again. All relationships serve a different purpose; some are meant for love, some are meant for lessons. But when it's the right time for the right relationship, you will know and understand everything you went through was for a reason.


Ron: The Single Life

Ron Johnson, the character of the group and the one all of the women loved to hate. He was the single friend that wanted to be a player, get all of the girls on campus, and not commit.

Lesson: Ladies, when this type of male comes along… Run. Don't let the sweet talk and good looks get you to do something you do not want to do. There will be men who want to play the field, talk to more than one person at the same time, but lead you on in thinking they want commitment when they don't. Look for the signs early on because it will usually present itself if he's really serious about the relationship or just a player.


Whitley: Me, Myself, and I

The Princess herself, Whitley Gilbert, was always well dressed, about her business, and didn't settle for anything less than the high standards she had for a man. She knew what she wanted, and even though everyone thought she was too high maintenance for her own good, she never swayed.

Lesson: During the single phase, think about what you want in your next relationship, and what you will and will not deal with. Have your standards and never settle for less. The right man will come along and exceed your expectations.


Freddie & Shazza: Peace & Happiness

Finding a soulmate, who fits just right in your life, is something very special, but not many people have that experience. Two people who are very similar with things they like, support, and represent can make the relationship a lot more interesting. Freddie and Shazza fit perfectly because they were both environmentally conscious, fought for their rights and the rights of others, and genuinely supported each other.

Lesson: The person you are in a relationship should be and want to be your biggest supporter and be interested in things you like. You should be able to talk about anything and support each other. Having that support system and knowing you have someone in your corner will give the relationship a sense of peace and will definitely bring happiness.


Ron & Kim… then Ron & Freddie: The Love Triangle


Towards the end of Ron’s woman obsession phase, he found himself having feelings for Kim. He wanted to prove to her that his single life and noncommittal relations were over and was serious about being with her. However, as Ron is trying to work on his relationship with Kim, he has a moment with Freddie and kisses her, which lead to secret feelings and hookups, and an almost friendship breakup.

Lesson: Ladies, do not enter the Bermuda Triangle of relationships. It will never end in your favor, and a loss of a friendship, relationship, or both will be the consequence. Dating and secretly hooking up with your friend’s significant other is never okay, and if you think they're going to leave them for you, it will definitely come back to haunt you. Respect other relationships and don't fall for the temptation. Yes, mistakes happen and sometimes your feelings will get in the way of doing the right thing, but it's important to be honest with those involved and yourself to know a love triangle is never the way to go.


Kim & Matthew: The Secret Relationship

Hillman College was an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) with predominantly black students and professors. But when Freddie’s white cousin, Matthew, transfers to Hillman, there were times when it got a little awkward for him. One of those awkward moments included Matthew starting to gain feelings for Kim and wanted to start dating, but Kim was not 100% comfortable dating a white boy. She hesitated and refused any PDA in public on campus with him because of what others may think or say.

Lesson: Never let other’s negative opinions deter your feelings for someone, if they’re genuinely a great person and want to be with you. There will always be people who talk, stare, and secretly hate or be jealous of your relationship, and giving into that type of negativity will open other negative things in your relationship.


Kim & Spencer: Too Blind to See

After the Ron incident, Kim moved on and found herself an attractive, dark skinned man from the islands. He said all of the right things, treated her like a Queen, and knew from the beginning that he wanted to be with her. But Kim wasn’t completely over Ron, and kept avoiding Spencer by always putting her class schedule, work schedule, and reminding everyone of her struggles to live up to her parent’s high expectations of being a doctor.

Lesson: Know when you have something good right in front of you, and don’t lead someone on when you know you’re not in a good space for a relationship. You will always know from the beginning when someone is being genuine with you when trying to get to know and spend time with you, so before anything gets too serious, let them know how you’re feeling. If you’re not ready or not in a good space for a relationship, they have a right to know. Be open and honest, and if it’s meant to be, it will be.


Lena & Dorian: Is it Worth it?


As soon as Hillman’s new basketball star, Dorian, stepped on campus, everyone stopped, heads would turn, and eyes would glare. Every girl on campus wanted him, but little did they know, all they could do was stare. Lena was the lucky one to get Dorian on a date, but her “plans” came to a halt when he expressed that he is saving sex for marriage and was not having it any other way. It took sometime for Lena to understand, but they made it work.

Lesson: Sex should not be the forerunner in the relationship, or determine the status of the relationship; especially when it’s because of religious beliefs. If you are the one who is refraining from sex in the relationship, it is important that your significant other knows that and has enough respect for you to not try to persuade you to turn you away from something you believe in.


Gina & Dion: Know When to Leave

A Different World did a really great job getting serious messages to their viewers in a lot of their episodes, and the relationship between Gina and Dion was one of them. This was the case of an abusive relationship, where Gina was getting hit by her boyfriend, Dion, tried to hide her bruises from her friends and tried to come up with excuses for his actions. She confused the abuse with love and didn’t want to leave right away until her friends made her realize how serious it was.

Lesson: Any type of abuse in a relationship is not love and should never be put off to the side or treated lightly. Abusive relationships happen more often than people think, and if you suspect someone is a victim of abuse, help them get the help that they need and be their support system. If you are a victim of abuse, leave the person and the relationship immediately. There is never a good enough reason to stay and put up with abuse.


Dwayne & Kinu: The Rebound

Fast forward a few years after his Denise phase, and a few attempts to get Whitley, Dwayne returns to campus from summer break with a new girlfriend. Once Whitley finds out, she tries to sabotage the relationship because she realized she is in love with him. Dwayne tried to get over Whitley, but his feelings never went away, and becomes torn between the two.

Lesson: Sometimes, rebound relationships will come about when you’re trying to move on from someone you really loved and cared about. Many use the rebound to make them feel better in sad moments, or even try to make the other person jealous, but it’s not fair to use people as a rebound. It’s important to be honest with yourself and heal from the past relationship before entering another, so that no one is used as a rebound.


Dwayne & Whitley: #GOALS

After years go by and many trial and errors were made, the moment of the series was definitely watching Dwayne and Whitley finally get together. You can't help but to fall in love with their relationship story. Like any relationship, they had their problems, had many tribulations to overcome, and even broke off an engagement, but they always found their way back to each other and worked together to make their relationship work.

Lesson: The happy ending will come when you’re completely ready! You will go through so many different relationships, make many mistakes, and kiss the wrong frogs, but it will be worth it in the end when your prince finally comes into your life. Don’t worry, don’t rush your blessing, have fun, but be safe and guard your heart. Learn from the relationships that are meant to be a lesson, and enjoy the time you have with that special someone in your life while they’re there. College relationships may not turn out to be your happy ending in your fairy tale, but it will definitely prepare you for the journey.