When Did Romantics Become Weird? (A.K.A. Why Dating Sucks)

I was watching one of my favorite shows, How I Met Your Mother, last night, and I was in the middle of wrapping up season 7 (because they decided to release the DVD AFTER the season 8 premiere so if you hadn’t seen season 7 you were very behind.) I came to realize a thing or two about romantics in the last few episodes (because I, honestly, think the writers of HIMYM understand what love is.)

1. Trilogy Time

In this episode, Marshall and Ted begin an epic Star Wars marathon in their dorm room in 2000, stating if they didn’t watch it every 3 years the dark side would win. Each time the 3 year mark came up, they would envision what their life would be like in 3 years the next time they sat down to watch the trilogy. By 2012, Ted Mosby was still single, and convinced that in 2015 he would be alone on his couch calling the “Comment Line” on frozen food just for company.

This was the first time that I realized being a romantic was far different than it used to be.

Ted Mosby’s character pretty much embodies what every partner wants in a partner (or, at least, used to want.) But I’ll get to that. As I was watching this episode, all I kept thinking was, “Dude, if Ted lived in the 14th century he would probably already be on his 8th wife because he would treat his women better than most of the other men and they would flock to him.”

2. The Magician’s Code, Part 2

After this initial thought, the season finale came around. If you haven’t seen it and you want to, stop reading. Or at least skip down past the HIMYM stuff to the point of the title of this post. (I’m feeling very Ted Mosby myself, dragging out a long story just to get to a point — but I promise my point won’t come 8 years from now.)

Anyway, Robin encourages Ted to call Victoria (who I totally, 100% believe is going to be the mother), even though the last time they saw each other Victoria was engaged. After he calls her and they meet up, she’s in her wedding dress hoping to leave her man for Ted. When Marshall, Lily, and Robin come down to the bar to give Ted advice while Victoria’s powdering her nose for 10 years in the bathroom, Robin makes a comment about how lucky Victoria is to end up with someone like Ted (for which I still think Robin’s stupid for choosing Barney over Ted because that was a total bitch move on her part, but I digress.)

After Robin made that comment, I thought to myself, “She’s kind of right. When most girls talk about what kind of guy they want to end up with, it’s pretty much someone just like Ted or Marshall.”

Then I started comparing Marshall and Lily with Ted, because a lot of people also say they want a relationship just like Marshall and Lily’s. Well, Marshall and Ted really aren’t that different when it comes to the cutesy romantic stuff — he just got lucky that his wife accepts his romantic acts, which brings us to —

3. The Point

I started thinking about all the romantic things Ted has tried to do over the years, and how they were received in the show and how they would be received in real life, as well as why. (I understand I put a lot of thought into this, but Ted and I are both on our quests to find our soul mates, so I feel like I understand him.)

Telling Robin he loved her on the first meeting.

  • Why was this so bad? When people recount stories of “Love at first sight,” everyone gets all goo-goo ga-ga and “Oh, that’s so cute! I wish I had a story like that!” But then, in reality, if you go on a date and you make such an impression that your date tells you they’ve already fallen for you, you get scared. “It’s too soon.” “What if –?” “I don’t know you.” “This is crazy.” Thoughts like this and so much more start to flow through your head. (I would like to make a statement before I go any further that I, too, would be creeped out if someone told me they loved me on the first date, nor have I ever said it to anyone — I’m not that Ted Mosby.)
  • Flip to Marshall and Lily for a second — their story is adorable. But if it really happened, it would not fly. Lily said she was just “drawn” to Marshall’s door and when he opened it up, the rest was history. Wasn’t that kind of the same way Ted and Robin met? He saw her across the bar, they smiled, the connection was instant, and he knew he wanted to marry her on the first date, just like Marshall and Lily knew they were meant for each other upon their first meeting. Why is one creepy and one cute? They’re both romantic.

Stealing the Blue French Horn

  • It’s pretty wildly accepted this is romantic. But, what if someone really did that for you? One date, they confess their love, you don’t return it, so they go steal an instrument from the restaurant you first ate for a second chance. Obviously they want you, right? Or, in real life, do you think this person needs to be 51/50’d and you briefly consider a restraining order? The difference between filmed romances and real ones is when you’re the spectator, everything the character or person does for the other person is cute, and you wish someone would do the same for you. But when the same opportunities come around, you don’t know how to act and turn away what could possibly be a good thing time and time again because of the same factors that go through your head when someone you’ve just met falls in love with you as soon as they laid eyes on you.

The Two Minute Date

  • I think if anyone ever does this for you, you should marry them on the spot. Some may think Ted’s acts could be viewed as desperation, but why? He had a genuine interest in this woman and he was doing everything he could in his power to just win one date with her. After spending 10 weeks with her and constantly getting denied, he still believed he had a shot with her. Yes, she did end up leaving him at the altar, but hey — at least he still got what he wanted, right?

There’s obviously many more, but I want to keep your attention while I still have it. After the first couple of seasons, Ted’s romantic ways turn more cynical and he becomes more like Barney, while still holding out for the one who could possibly be the mother of his children. (Perhaps they play on his lack of faith as an act of addiction and mystery — you gotta know how he gets past that!) The last thought I have on the romanticism of Ted is again in season 7, when Robin (AGAIN IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT AND DON’T WANNA KNOW YET THEN STOP READING NOW!!) finds out she can’t have kids — the way he set the Christmas lights to the beat of an AC/DC song just to make her smile — come on, who wouldn’t want that in a partner?

Now, Marshall and Lily on the other hand, are the couple everyone is jealous of. But why is this? Well, apart from their incredibly perfect communication skills, they appreciate everything that is done for them. So often in relationships people expect certain things from their partner, and good, nice things are ignored. It either leaves your partner wanting and expecting more, or raising the standards of what they want from you.

After you can make it past the potential threatening and stalker-istic romantic ways of the beginning dates and you’ve begun to settle down, nothing you do is really good enough. That’s bad. You shouldn’t continually “expect” things from your partner (unless it’s something like flushing the toilet when they’ve finished using the restroom or cleaning up after themselves or generic stuff like that.) Nobody’s perfect. But because television and movies have made some pretty perfect love stories (because there’s more than just Marshall and Lily out there — take Monica and Chandler, Ron and Hermione, or my grandparents who have been married for 63 years [although I’m aware they’re not fictional characters, it’s still proof that they exist]), it’s what we, as a society, have come to expect in ours.

The biggest problem with Ted is, again, as Robin said, because he’s looking and finding all the wrong girls. That’s, I think, the most important part to finding the perfect relationship — stop looking. If you look, you’re more likely to end up “expecting” things from your partner, because you’ve envisioned what your perfect partner is going to be. How they act, what they do, how they treat you. As soon as the person you’ve found as a potential messes up and you’re dwelling on finding the “perfect partner,” things aren’t going to work out. If you let life just happen and keep the thought of finding someone to spend your days with an open option instead of a priority, you’ll be able to look at the person for who they are instead of what you expect from them.

One final thought on this is “less is more.” We’ve heard that a lot, especially if you’re a writer or an artist. I think it’s the same thing when it comes to love. The “less” you expect, the “more” you’ll get out of it. If you have extreme or unreasonable expectations, you’re always going to be let down. Connections and chemistry are there for a reason, and when two people are drawn to each other the positives need to outweigh the negatives. As I’ve already said, obviously no one is perfect, but unless the negatives are far worse the positives, get over them.

And that, in my opinion, is how you go from being Ted Mosby searching for the perfect woman, to Marshall and Lily in happily wedded bliss.

P.S.

Ted’s kids are champs. If my dad told me a story that long of how he met my mother, I would have already left. When I did ask my dad how he met my mother, his response was, “A blind date.” Perfect. That’s all I need to know. And guess what? It’s still cute.

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