We admit that, growing up, some of what we first learned about love and relationships probably came from our favorite TV couples. While Ross and Rachel were on a break, Buffy was falling for an older, forbidden man and Cory and Topanga were growing up together side by side. Even though some scenarios may have been a little unrealistic — anyone remember when Harvey and Josh had to battle through quicksand for Sabrina? — there were still pieces of truth about love and how it works in the real world. Below are just a few of the lessons that these TV pairs taught us about that crazy thing called love.
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Marry Your Best Friend
Cory and Topanga, Boy Meets World: What didn't these two crazy kids teach us about love? Cory and Topanga didn't just set an example about love for the other characters in the show (I mean, come on, they were basically Shawn's beacon of hope when it came to relationships) but for all of us. They are the quintessential example of the theory that you should marry your best friend, that soul mates are a real thing, and that the basis of love starts with friendship, respect, and trust. Thanks for giving us high hopes (read: unrealistic expectations) for love, guys.
The Honeymoon Phase Ends, but Even Better Stuff Follows
Roseanne and Dan, Roseanne: Roseanne and Dan's lives were far from glamorous. In fact, they were pretty much the most average, middle-class family on TV. Yet their relationship was a driving force on the show, because it showed us that love and marriage aren't always necessarily exciting or even fun, but that the person you love makes the harder and duller things in life a little better. Roseanne and Dan supported each other, argued and butted heads, and laughed maniacally together like true partners in crime should. Their relationship was probably one of the truest representations of marriage out there.
Ross and Rachel, Friends: Ross and Rachel taught us one glaring fact about love: that it's hard. It seemed like these two were always missing each other — one was feeling it when the other wasn't, one was with someone else while the other was pining away for them, and then there was that whole "we were on a break" debacle. But through it all, they maintained an amazing friendship and eventually went on to build a family with their daughter and, as implied in the finale, a future together. All of this was done with a lot (like, a lot) of hard work and time. So we learned not to have any delusions about a storybook romance, because we didn't get to fast-forward through the middle to see just the happy ending with these two. We saw the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Love Knows No Boundaries
Buffy and Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy and Angel showed us that love truly knows no boundaries — not age difference, lifestyle difference (the guy sleeps during the day, for crying out loud), or even species difference. The whole vampire and human thing never stopped them. It kind of made it hotter. But we digress . . . Angel and Buffy taught us to let ourselves love who we love, even if the odds are against us. Even though they didn't technically end up together, it was always implied that they were each other's one and only (sorry, Spike!).
The Ones Who Matter Love You For Who You Are
Laura and Steve, Family Matters: It may have taken the (kind of weird and technologically advanced) appearance of Stefan Urquelle to do it, but Laura Winslow finally woke up and realized that Steve Urkel was worth her time. After years of relentlessly pursuing her, Urkel went to the extreme to win her over. Luckily, Laura realized that she didn't want suave and sexy Stefan — she wanted Steve, suspenders and all. These two taught us to let our geek flags fly — in other words, we shouldn't change for anyone, because the people who are really worth it love us for who we are.
Love Is Weird
Scully and Mulder, The X-Files: Love is weird. It's unique for every couple, and just because other people can't relate to it or don't understand it, doesn't mean that yours isn't real and special. In fact, sometimes the weirder, the better! At least it keeps things interesting . . .
Honesty Is the Best Policy
Sabrina and Harvey, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch: Poor Harvey. He had so many spells cast on him that he reached the spell quota and memory spells stopped working on him — leading to his discovery that Sabrina was a witch. Harvey and Sabrina, apart from teaching us a similar Cory and Topanga-esque lesson about friendship being the foundation for love, also taught us that honesty is always the best policy in a relationship (yes, even if you are a teenage witch). Harvey was able to accept the truth about her unique abilities, but he had a harder time accepting that Sabrina had lied to him for so long. It took these two lovebirds a few years apart and some other long-term relationships to end up together, all because Sabrina kept her witchy ways under wraps. The moral: the truth will set you free!
Love Is a Balancing Act
Becky and Jesse, Full House: Becky was a strong, successful, career-oriented woman who tamed the wild man in Jesse. Before Becky, Jesse was a musician heartthrob who made pretty much everyone (us included) swoon. After Becky, Jesse was a heartthrob who made pretty much everyone swoon who also showed a more sensitive and romantic side. Just when we thought he couldn't get any better, he did. Thanks, Becky! Becky and Jesse showed us how to keep love alive while balancing marriage, kids, careers, and a rather large family (who all happened to live in the same giant San Franciscan house for some reason).
If You Love Something, Let It Go
Pacey/Joey/Dawson, Dawson's Creek: There will always be the traditionalists who love Dawson and Joey together, and then there are those who couldn't stand a second more of the angsty dramatics (Dawson's cry face, am I right?) and rooted for the less conventional pairing of Pacey and Joey. These three all go their separate ways to pursue their dreams, and Pacey tells Joey that he won't ever hold her back, which frees her to choose between Dawson and Pacey or to choose neither (yeah, right — it's Pacey for the win). This love triangle, while giving us the secret hope that one day two guys would fight over us, also taught us a realistic lesson: love has many ups and downs, but in the end you have to follow the path you choose for yourself, even if it means that someone else gets hurt. Better luck next time, Dawson.