Life imitates art. And if you’re an avid pop culture consumer, that means occasionally taking relationship advice from TV and movie couples. Obviously, real-world romances are rarely as simple as fictional media will have you believe. Falling in love and building a long-lasting partnership is often challenging. You can’t resolve your problems in 60 minutes or less, and not every story has a happy ending.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t take inspiration from what you watch. Even if these portrayals aren’t always realistic, there’s a lot you can learn that does work in real life. Here, you’ll find some of the best relationship advice from the healthiest on-screen couples. Oh, and light spoilers ahead for the TV shows and movies mentioned!
1. Learn to Love Their Quirks
In New Girl, Nick Miller and Jessica Day didn’t get off on the right foot. Jess loves cute things and bursting into song during awkward moments, while Nick is a perpetual grump who hates showing his feelings. They’re the archetype of a will-they-won’t-they pairing. But, against all odds, the two deepen their bond, become best friends, and fall in love with each other’s eccentricities.
The lesson: your partner’s quirks are integral to who they are. Instead of trying to change them to be more like you, embrace and celebrate what makes them different. Who knows? If you’re like Nick, you might even learn to loosen up thanks to the Jess in your life.
2. Show Up to Support Them Even When It’s Hard
The Halperts (Jim and Pam) from the workplace sitcom The Office are as iconic as TV couples get. So much so that people often forget their rocky beginnings. Before getting married, Pam pursued her out-of-state art school dreams. Later, Jim received a lucrative job offer requiring relocation. Despite thinking the distance might strain their relationship, the pair still supported each other.
In doing so, they proved to one another they’ll always be there, even when their circumstances aren’t ideal. It’s easy to root for your partner when their interests align with yours – it’s infinitely more difficult when they don’t. But being committed to someone with their own aspirations will sometimes call for sacrifices like these. Instead of begrudging your partner their independence, it’s healthier to fold it into your relationship.
3. Never Stop Trying to Make Them Laugh
Modern Family is full of unlikely couples who somehow make it work, like Phil and Claire Dunphy. They’d been married 16 years at the series’ start – no small feat, considering they couldn’t be more different. Phil is a happy-go-lucky, impulsive optimist, while Claire is a staunch realist and type-A workaholic. However, they have one crucial thing in common: they always find ways to have fun together.
For example, they’re frighteningly passionate about Halloween. They take the spooky season as an opportunity to “scare” each other silly with harmless hijinks. The two are a masterclass in how valuable belly-laughing with your partner is. If there’s any love advice you should take from the Dunphys, it’s to lighten things up and inject playfulness into your lives.
4. Let Your Partner Teach You Something New
When Eleanor Shellstrop realised she didn’t belong in “The Good Place” side of the afterlife, she enlisted Chidi Anagonye’s help to become someone who did. Eleanor was inexperienced in this department – she mostly did shady things when she was alive. Meanwhile, Chidi was a professor of moral philosophy, so he knew all about ethical living.
But here’s the rub: for all his wisdom, Chidi was terrible at taking decisive action. So, he had something to learn from the headstrong Eleanor, too. The pair constantly taught each other to be better versions of themselves. Chidi showed Eleanor how to be selfless and kind, while Eleanor encouraged him to be self-assured. Isn’t that what everyone wants? To find someone to learn from and grow with?
5. Find a Common Goal to Work Towards
In Set It Up, Harper Moore and Charlie Young are overworked personal assistants. They band together to set their bosses up so they can finally have lives outside their stressful jobs. In the process, Harper and Charlie find out how compatible they are, and the pair decide to give love a shot themselves.
The takeaway here isn’t to play Cupid for fun. It’s about how beneficial it is to stand on common ground with a partner. Working towards the same goals with someone strengthens your resolve. Maybe you want to make healthier choices or build self-confidence by fixing misaligned teeth with orthodontic treatment like ClearCorrect. Going through it all with a partner can make any experience easier.
6. If You Find Someone Special, Don’t Let Them Go
The early 2000s flick 13 Going On 30 is a treasure trove of relationship tips. In it, awkward 13-year-old Jenna Rink gets her wish of being “thirty, flirty, and thriving” – only to realise that she never needed all those frills to be happy. Her best friend, Matty Flamhaff, loved her for who she was, including the parts she considered cringe-worthy.
As a teen, she took his loyalty and caring, considerate nature for granted. But as a grown-up dealing with shallow, opportunistic boyfriends, she finally figured out she had something special with Matty. Unfortunately, most people don’t get a do-over like Jenna. So, if you meet someone who appreciates and sees you for who you are, don’t let them go.
7. Be Prepared to Compromise
In To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: Always and Forever, Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky were blissfully in love and on their way to happily ever after. But in true teen rom-com fashion, things went haywire when the pair decided to go to separate universities. The kicker? They’d be 3,000 miles apart, and all the movies say long-distance couples never succeed.
But they didn’t give up and still kept the romance alive. Lara Jean and Peter dreamed of going to uni together, but life had other plans. They pivoted, welcomed the challenge, and made a new dream for themselves. What can you learn from these lovestruck teenagers? The simplest – and hardest! – lesson of all: relationships can only survive if both parties are willing to compromise.
So, which relationship advice will you take to heart? Use this as a guide for making your partnership healthier, happier, and more fulfilling for you and your S.O.