What 'How I Met Your Mother' Teaches Us About Love

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The CBS hit sitcom offers four valuable love lessons to the Gen X/Gen Y set.

No one has probably ever told you this but being a successful twentysomething living in New York The City isn't all peaches and cream. There's job stress, living situation stress, friendship stress, relationship stress and sometimes Bob Saget smugly reminisces about the whole sordid affair. While How I Met Your Mother is framed as flashbacks (narrated by Saget) of the protagonist's (Ted) quest to find a woman to make babies with him, the ensemble brings much more to the table than that. Read: One-Night Stands, Karma & CBS

The five main characters, Robin (Cobie Smolders), Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), Marshall (Jason Segel), Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Ted (Josh Radnor), spend the lion's share of their time dissecting each other's careers, lives and romances in a friendly bar (because what adults really hang out in a coffee shop). Despite the zany contests, legen-wait for it-dary pranks and epic quests for the perfect burger, HIMYM is, at its heart, about relationships. And here is what we've learned about them from the gang. Read: CBS Sit-Coms And The Art Of The Apology

1. If you love something, let it go. If it's meant to be, it'll be.
As trite as that ancient piece of wisdom sounds, it works. Ted's girlfriend takes a culinary fellowship in Germany (bratwurst and kraut?) and it doesn't take particularly long to figure out that it's not going to work for them. After becoming engaged to Marshall, Lily freaks out and moves to San Francisco for an art fellowship. Eventually, she comes back and much joy ensues. Robin takes a job in Japan but come back shortly thereafter… was the job so bad or was there another reason? Read: How To Make Long-Distance Love Work

2. For richer or poorer isn't senseless babble.
When you get into a long-term relationship with someone, you get to deal with all of his/her baggage. Though they've know each other for nine years, Marshall only finds out about Lily's abysmal credit due to her shopping addiction and packrat-ism when they are in the process of buying an apartment together. Her FICO score and storage unit of mint-condition clothing and accessories resulted in the couple having to move to a condo with a tilted floor in the "up and coming" neighborhood of Dowisetrepla (downwind of the sewage treatment plant). You also have a feeling that Barney's whorish behavior (200 served and counting) could lead to an "in sickness or in health" moment for whoever he ends up with. Read: How Marriage Got Me Out Of Debt

3. Bros and hos—at the same time.
Not the Devil's Threeway per se, but the crew seems to have grown past their bros before hos attitude. While the Bro Code is still in effect, even the legen-wait for it-dary swordsman Barney Stinson is willing to bend some of its central tenets in the pursuit of actual love. There comes a time when you and your wife have to move out of the apartment you share with your best bro and into a pit in Dowisetrepla. On the other hand, no one is going to be more ready to help you up after you've been kicked in the head with an iron boot than your best friends (gender nonspecific). Read: On Motherlovers And The Bro Code

4. Crazy is relative.
Barney introduces the Mendoza Line of dating. The scale declares a woman undatable if her level of crazy outranks her level of attractiveness. While waiting for Lily to change her mind about their split, Marshall dates another woman. In a jag of jealousy, Lily stalks the new woman and ultimately reconciles with Marshall. After sleeping with a receptionist (Britney Spears), Barney finds his love life sabotaged. He figures out the culprit and joins forces with her to wreck Ted's relationship, which he thinks is a mistake (over the years Lily is also guilty of using subterfuge to scuttle relationships she found ill-suited for Ted). The Naked Man technique of cranking a date's sexual energy up to 11 is also sometimes successful but go-to-jail crazy if mistimed. Crazy, in the proper context, is sometimes just right and exactly what we need to survive (kudos to Seal for that advice, too). Read: 5 Reasons Men Love Crazy Women

While How I Met Your Mother has many of the usual trappings of the sitcom genre (hello misunderstandings and stereotypes), the show does an excellent job of dissecting the love lives and expectations of young Gen Xers/old Gen Yers and provides some good advice to boot. Keeping in mind that "the one" is out there—and you'll have a great time telling your future children how you met him/her—is just the cheery reminder city-dwelling twentysomethings sometimes need on the hunt for lasting love.

Photo via CBS

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