Everything I Know I Learned From 90s Television: Relationships

Yeah, that’s right: everything I know I learned from 90s television. It’s true. Television in the 90s was a crazy place. For the first time ever, whole channels were being devoted to kids and teens. Cartoons, live action, sports, game shows, sitcoms; all coming together for childhood development. It was a time of individuality. A celebration of culture. In the 90s you were encouraged to be who you are, to dress how you want to dress, and to go for your dreams. The beginning of this article is beginning to sound like the Portlandia sketch: “Dream of the 90s”. A lot of my life, the advice I give and the rules I live by, is shaped by what I watched from the 90s. So without further ado, let’s talk about relationships, or rather: Rules to Consider When Considering a Relationship.

Don’t Cheat. Ever.

It seems like every show had this at one point. Why? Because people STILL DO THIS. It’s never okay to date two people at the same time. I don’t know who ever taught that this was okay, but it’s not. When you enter a relationship, you promise to be with that person and that person only. And if you have to think about whether [insert thing here] counts as cheating, it’s best to probably just stay away from it.

Don’t Let Your New GF/BF Get Between You and Your Friends BUT Also Don’t Let Your Friends Come Between You and Your New GF/BF

We’ve all seen those episodes. Where one of the characters is forced to take sides between their friend and their significant other. This rule goes both ways. Your friends are your friends, and a lot of times you will have known them for far longer and your relationship with them will be deeper than the one with your new boo-thang. With that being said, sometimes you need to separate yourself from your friends and be with your significant other. Both relationships deserve you wholly to be part of them. It’s a balance thing. And if one is trying to tear you away from the other take a look at both relationships. Try to see what’s really going on.

Relationships are Work

Cory and Topanga, Zack and Kelly, Uncle Jesse and Rebecca; there is always that couple that defines the show. And in every circumstance, it takes a lot of work to be successful. True, these are testaments to ‘true love,’ but at the same time these relationships all have their ups and downs. There’s no such thing as a relationship that doesn’t need work. You don’t just fall in love, live a happy life, and die. You need to constantly reevaluate, adjust, and most importantly continue to love the other person. When mistakes are made, you make up for them. You forgive. And you work on it. Working on the relationship also means working on yourself.

Relationships are More Important Than Personal Ambitions

The easy way to put this: don’t be selfish. You’re in a relationship. You’re with this person because you very possibly want to be with them for the rest of your life. That means that they are as important (read: more important) than yourself. And sometimes this means giving up personal ambitions for the other person. Dreams are important and good. But dreams also change over time. If you have dreams for your future that have nothing to do with your significant other, then maybe that’s something you need to think over.

The Friendzone – Depends

Ah, the friendzone. You love it and you hate it. Here’s what 90s television says about it. It is definitely possible to destroy the friendzone. It is possible to break free and finally date your best friend that you’ve secretly loved for years. It is. However, you still need to respect it. By all means, if you have those feelings you should definitely tell the person. But if they say no; if they tell you they would rather be friends, then that is their right. They are allowed. They are their own person. Does this mean if you are asked out by your friend you should cower behind the old line, “I don’t want to destroy our friendship.” No. If you’re concerned that dating is going to ruin your friendship, that friendship doesn’t sound too strong to begin with. Because really, the endgame is to date your best friend (either current best friend or future best friend), which means that your friendship should be able to survive whatever you’re afraid will happen by dating them. Aim for the best relationship (whether dating or friends) not just the good relationship. To summarize: you can break free of the friendzone, but it’s okay just to be friends too.

Interracial Relationships are Best When the Racial Component is Not Commented On

I’m looking at you, Shawn and Angela. The best part about their interracial relationship? It wasn’t talked about. It just happened. Why? Because that’s how it’s supposed to work. You should date a person because you like them. Because you get along with them. Because, in the case of Shawn and Angela, you have the same taste in: poetry, music, Van Damme movies, and lip gloss. Don’t focus on being in an interracial relationship; focus on being in a relationship.

Date the Person You Want to be With, Not the Person You Like Looking At

This goes along with the last few points. Dating the ‘hot girl’ or ‘hot guy’ at school isn’t everything. Is it something? Absolutely. Is it cool in school to be dating the popular kid? You bet. But does it add value to the relationship? Nope. Just to restate what’s already been said: date the person you get along with; the one that adds substance to your life. Don’t just date the great eyes and great hair. That will be fun for some time, but great relationships need more layers. So that’s why you might want to consider giving your friend a chance at a date rather than the quarterback of the football team.

Being Nice is Better Than Being Cool

A classic scenario. The nice kid thinks they need to change who they are so they look cooler and get noticed. Does the cool kid get the girl over the nice kid? Yep. That’s just how it is. At first, the cool kid will win. But in the long run, the nice kid will win.. No one wants to be with a jerk forever. Even if they are a cool jerk. But the most important lesson to take from this is to just be yourself. Don’t pretend you’re something you’re not because that’s a lot of work, and in the end it won’t get you very far.

Don’t Compare Your Relationship to Another

Your relationship is just that: yours. Your story is just that: yours. Don’t compare your life to anybody else’s. First, because everyone is different. There’s -99.9% chance you will have the exact experience as someone else. Second, because you don’t know the other couple’s full story. Every couple has their secrets and that’s okay. There are some things that are no one else’s business. And a lot of times the ‘perfect’ couple is really just better at pretending they are perfect. Instead of worrying about them, go talk with your significant other. It’s them you’re in a relationship with anyway.

The Pain of Rejection is Better Than the Pain of Questions

In other words: shoot your shot. Especially when you are younger (but even when you’re older) taking a chance and asking someone out is terrifying. It seems like the world is going to explode if they say no. In reality? It’s just a question. Like, “What’s your favorite color? What do you like to do? Do you want to grab dinner later?” The endless possibilities in your head are worse than reality. And if you never ask, you will be much worse off than if you ask. As said before, if you really trust the person enough to date them, you should trust that they don’t want to destroy your life and embarrass you. The best scenario is you go on a date. The worst scenario is they say no and there’s some awkwardness that will disappear in time. Go for it.


Finally, communication is key. So many relationships fall apart because there is bad, or no, communication. Do you have questions, doubts, praises, dreams, etc.? Talk it over with your partner. This whole article is a testament to the fact that you should be dating your best friend. And if you’re not best friends yet? Work on it. Trust them, and talk with them. Don’t keep secrets from each other. Whether things work out for the best or the two of you decide to take a break, it will be far less painful when it is communicated well.

But in the end, do what you will. This is just what I learned from watching television in the 90s.

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