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The 9 Love Lessons You Need to Know Now—Brought to you by the greatest love stories ever told

Romeo and Juliet. Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester.  Beauty and the Beast.  Hey, even the Clintons.  All love stories—somewhere amidst the heated late-night rendezvous, tragic betrayals, and sultry cigarettes in bed—have morals, even when the lovers don’t.  We deduced them for you.  

Romeo and Juliet—Communication is Key.
Often looked to as the greatest love story of all time (when not hated by high school freshmen everywhere), Romeo and Juliet can teach us a thing or two about passion.  See a cute guy at a party? Why not defy societal and familial norms to give up everything to be together.  But that’s not the lesson here; what R and J could really have used was a lesson in communication.  A simple “I’m going to pretend to kill myself, Romeo” followed by a “Cool, I’ll just play along” could have gone a long way.  Take heed: just because you love your star-crossed lover, it doesn’t mean he can read your mind.

Beauty and the Beast—Patience is a Virtue.
Sure she was trapped in his castle, but you’ve gotta give it to Belle, she put up with a beast for a long time before he turned into her prince.  I’m not telling you to wait forever, but give the hairy “I’ve-loved-you-since-eighth-grade-but-I’ve-never-been-able-to-get-it-together” guy a second (or third) chance.  He could actually be your beast…in a good way.


Henry the 8th and all of his Wives—He’s Not Gonna Change For You.
He’s the one who created the Church of England because the Pope wouldn’t let him divorce his wife.  Probably responsible for coining the phrase “off with your head,” Henry went through six wives trying to have a son.  You feel bad for wives number one, two, and maybe three, but wife number six could have used my advice: Honey, he’s not gonna change for you.  Just like Henry, if your guy killed his first five girlfriends (or if they broke up with him because he wouldn’t stop hooking up with random girls at the notoriously sketchy bar…whichever), what makes you think your relationship is going to be any different?  Sorry, but the infamous sleaze probably isn’t going to change his ways for you.  He’d rather start a church.


Jack and Rose—Let Go.
Hear me out before you post a scathing comment about how offensive this lesson is, given the circumstances: the story of Jack and Rose teaches an important lesson in letting go.  Yeah, you may have had the college equivalent of a romantic sea voyage with a young Leonardo DiCaprio, but it’s good to know when something is over, be able to say goodbye, actually let go, and then whistle for the nearest lifeboat. Trust me, it can be hard, but it can (literally) get you out of some pretty rocky waters.

Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren—Don’t date a professional athlete. 
No cutesy pun or wannabe-witty intro here.  It’s just a fact.  Don’t date a professional athlete. 

Harry and Sally—Friends Make The Best Lovers
Your leading man might be less of a Clooney and more of a…Billy Crystal? Less appealing, I know, but remember how you felt when you were practically screaming at Sally to recognize what was right in front of her? Now take a step back and look for the Harrys in your life.  They’re charming.  They’re silly.  They might be of average height and curly-haired instead of tall, dark and handsome, but they’re the keepers. (As a general rule, the guy who gets you to fake an orgasm at a deli is probably ‘the one.’)

Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey—Keep it to Yourself
What could go wrong when two virginal, blonde pop stars tie the knot and film their first years of marriage for an MTV reality show?! (Rhetorical question.) Sharing your happiness and publicizing your relationships to family and friends is one thing; but turning into that couple who over-shares, overexposes, and overwhelms everyone with everything short of a neon sign reading “WE’RE SO HAPPY AND TOGETHER…LOOK AT US!” is quite another. You set yourself up for failure when you try to fit an image of what you think a happy relationship should look like, and you really annoy your friends when you proceed to act out that fantasy.  I want to hear about your great sex life, not see it.  Sorry, Nick and Jess.


Danny Zucko and Sandy—Summer Loving Can Actually Last
Just because something starts as a fling, a hookup, a summer romance, it doesn’t (necessarily) mean it’s doomed to fail.  When we stop imposing labels on our love life—“serious” versus “casual,” “boyfriend material” versus “hot hook-up”—we set ourselves up to have it all.  And by “all” I mean John Travolta in leather pants circa 1978. Ah wella wella wella uhh.


Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester—Be Wary of a Guy with Baggage
All college guys have some version of a Mrs. Rochester in their metaphorical attics—crazy exes, a promiscuous reputation, mommy issues.  The key is to avoid the really scary baggage, the kind that threatens to burn the whole house down.  Think twice if his long-term ex lives on your hall; if there’s a verifiable rumor that he has a problem with drinking or drugs; if you keep catching him in little lies; if you really hate all of his friends.  You get the idea.  Ultimately, you can still make it work (Jane Eyre ended up with Mr. Rochester by the end of the novel), but there might be some damage done along the way.

Rachel Peck is a senior at Barnard College, Class of 2012, where she is majoring in English and Theatre and minoring in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Although she admits to actually enjoying high school in her hometown of Bexley, OH, her favorite thing to do is explore her new--slightly more exciting--home, New York City. When she isn't watching good (and bad...) TV, finding excuses to plan dinner with friends, window shopping, or napping, Rachel enjoys working for the Barnard admissions office, serving on her sorority's various boards, and writing for whoever will read it.  You can also follow her on Twitter (@peckrachel) if you're into that.
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