Relationships. “Can’t live with them and we can’t live without them.”
Sex has always seemed nebulous and far off to me. I never got the infamous talk from my parents. Most of what I learned as a blossoming teen came from the cheap jokes of my classmates and awkward presentations in health courses. The media hasn’t helped much either. Throw in some squeamishness from Christians who are walking a hard line to stay pure, and you’ve got a big, boiling pot of confusion.
And so, Valentine’s Week comes to a close. To end it, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite ships from movies, television, and books. Let us know what romances you like to see develop in the comments below!
- Peony said Pam & Jim from The Office. No top 10 list would be complete without these two, and for obvious reasons. Fans of the show were rooting for them from the very first episode. Theirs is the quintessential office romance, but what I love most about this couple is how much they grew together. One of my favorite scenes is from “Paper Airplane” (season 9, episode 20). Their marriage was experiencing serious strain – gone were the inside jokes and Jim’s wistful glances to the reception desk. At the end of the episode, through a series of attempts to reconcile, they finally break past their frustrations and embrace, with 1 Corinthians 13 narrating over the scene. Their relationship has known tenderness, and it has also faced some very real challenges, and that speaks volumes to couples who follow in their footsteps. Because let’s face it, we’re all waiting for our Jim Halpert.
- Petunia said Cory & Topanga from Boy Meets World. Everyone wants a love story like theirs. Elementary school, then high school, then college sweethearts, then marriage. They’re touted as a “perfect couple” but throughout the show’s 7 seasons they dealt with some very real issues like cheating and Cory feeling emasculated. They fought but Cory always understood what being committed to someone was—working things out no matter what. Now their love story continues on the spinoff Girl Meets World.
- Peony said Leslie & Ben from Parks and Recreation. My favorite power couple! Leslie and Ben balance their government work, triplets, and one solid rock of a marriage. These two are fiercely selfless, constantly putting each other before themselves. When they were presented with the opportunity to run for governor of Indiana, they had trouble deciding who would be best for the job, both insisting the other was more qualified (season 7, episode 12/13). The way they support and encourage each other is downright admirable. In a culture that seems to find humor in dysfunctional marriage, Leslie and Ben prove that selflessness is not only more fun, but that it’s something to strive for.
- Petunia said Oliver & Felicity from Arrow: The crack ship that became the strongest relationship of the series, Olicity came out of nowhere but also didn’t. These two started as team members, saving the city from the bad guys, but became team members in a much deeper way. They stood by each other, but they didn’t let each other get away with bad decisions or damaging thought patterns, which I feel like is often romanticized and shouldn’t be. They remind each other of the light in the world, and they keep each other fighting to make sure there’s more light in it.
- Peony said Jo & Friedrich from Little Women: I know I already mentioned Little Women in the top 10 romance movies list, but I simply had to go into more detail on these two. They make my heart melt, plain and simple. Friedrich is a kind, sentimental introvert who slowly falls for the worldly, feisty Jo. But they aren’t just another case of opposites attract. Despite their differences, they work quite well together. Friedrich encourages Jo to “write from life, from the depths of your soul”, and because of that advice, she pens her greatest work. Jo’s passion moves Friedrich to step out of his comfort zone, leaving his quiet, solitary life to become a husband and father. They’re just so timelessly sweet together. It’s the old romance – I can’t get enough of it.
- Petunia said Peeta & Katniss from The Hunger Games: Love is hard in the Hunger Games, but they made it work, at some times better than others. They protected each other, and they got through the trauma together. They have a kind of unusual relationship as far as gender roles go, but I’m not against it. I rooted for them through three books, and was so happy when they made it, despite everything.
- Peony said Lucy & Ricky from I Love Lucy: There’s some interesting history here. Lucy and Ricky (portrayed by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz) were the first interracial TV couple. However, they weren’t just written for each other – they were actually married in real life, which definitely added to their chemistry. When the show premiered in 1951, interracial relationships were not widely accepted, but America quickly fell in love with this hilariously beleaguered duo. They showed us that love means being silly together, and crossing some boundaries while we’re at it.
- Petunia said Betsy & Joe from The Betsy-Tacy Series: I read these books many, many times when I was younger. What I love most about them is how realistic they seemed, and now that I’m older I see how realistic they actually are. Maybe I love Betsy and Joe so much because I identify with Betsy so much, but the relatability of their off-on-off-on friendship/romance would be hard for anyone to deny. Betsy and Joe were attracted to each other from the start, even as just friends, but it never felt right. Until it did. The friendly essay competitions, the cherry blossoms, the tentative friendship, the letters they wrote to each other over summer break, the dance at the junior ball…<3
- Peony said Fran & Maxwell from The Nanny: These two toyed with my heart for years. They’re the couple you know will get together by the end of the series, but until then you have to wait in agony, crying out, just love each other already! When they finally wed, it’s so satisfying. Fran is bright and genuine, and loves the Sheffield children dearly. Shenanigans aside, Maxwell can’t help but fall for her. They’re clunky, offbeat, and I can’t help but love them. And to think – she almost quit on the first day!
- Petunia said Gilbert & Anne from Anne of Green Gables: It’s a trope, and it can definitely be overused, but the love-hate relationship never gets old to me. Elizabeth and Darcy brought us to Gilbert and Anne, and I’m so thankful that they did. Gil was in love with Anne for years, but she couldn’t see him as anything more than her closest friend. She was in love with a fantasy, but eventually realized that she never needed anything but what she already had in Gilbert. Whether it’s in book or film form, I eat it up.
What are your favorite love stories? Let us know!
There are few pieces of relationship advice more annoying than “be yourself.” Along with “follow your heart,” it seems to be the slogan of my generation. Maybe we’ve watched too many Disney movies and romantic comedies. Maybe we truly think we deserve to be loved by everyone as long as we’re staying true to our every emotion and whim. Whatever the reason, the belief is that it’s always best to do what you want, and be exactly who you are at the moment.
I say that’s lazy. And, it’s extremely self-absorbed. And very unchristian.
It’s lazy because it assumes that people in a relationship shouldn’t have to change their behavior at all to make a relationship work. But successful relationships are built on change. They’re built on sacrifice, on compromise. Time spent in the company of another person is going to change your self. It might mean you have to learn to say nice things to them that you didn’t used to say to people before. It might mean becoming a person who talks less and listens more.
Something I’ve noticed in myself and in my sister is that we’re more inspired to be better people when we’re in relationships. It might be superficial, but the reality is that maintaining a healthy relationship where both partners are giving and receiving in some way makes you a more considerate person.
Besides, who wants to be themselves? If we’re Christians, then we believe what the Bible says about our sinful state. We know that there is nothing good in ourselves. So why would we want to be that?
The person we should be trying to be is Jesus, not ourselves. Whether or not we’re in a relationship, Jesus is who we should aspire to be. I know myself to be selfish, sinful, prideful, among countless other negative things. I don’t want to change that sometimes. But I should want to. I should want to be more like Jesus.
I don’t want to be myself. I want to be better.
Check out the video version of this post here!
So, he thinks you’re cute. He flirts with you every chance he gets. You two become the laugh factory whenever you’re together. Now your heart’s all aflutter, and daydreams of him consume your every waking moment, all boiling down to that one flattering thought.
He thinks I’m cute.
This is such an exciting time! You’re making your way into the dating scene, and someone seems interested. You feel a new confidence in roping him in with your charm. You’re happy to know that someone appreciates you in this way, and you make much of it in your innocent little heart.
Time goes on, and he hasn’t asked for your number yet. At most, he’s added you on Facebook, but there haven’t been any playful exchanges on the social media plane. But, not to worry. You know you’ll see him again soon, and flirting will resume as scheduled.
Now the stalking commences. Big mistake. He’s posted pictures left and right of him and his lady friends. They’re . . . having fun. All too aware of their cheeky grins. Cluttering up the hashtag space with inside jokes and pet names. There may even be some side-hugging involved. You feel righteous anger seep through your mind like blistering lava over peaceful country side. This is completely unacceptable! You’re supposed to be the one he finds cute! You begin to hate his stupid face, his stupid hair, his stupid smile, his stupid everything! Your picture of perfect bliss is eroding. Oh, everything’s wrong!
You assemble your wise council of gal pals and start retracing your steps. Surely there’s an explanation. Maybe he’s trying to get your attention. If so, this seems like a really inefficient way to do it. Why wouldn’t he just reach out and say something? Maybe he’s trying to make you jealous. But, what reason would he have to do that? It’s not like there’s some cutthroat competition for your favor going on (that you know of, anyway). As you muddle through the maybes, you slowly come to realize the ugly truth.
Maybe he’s just not that into you.
I mean, sure, you two have been flirting up a storm – but he hasn’t exactly moved heaven and earth to be with you. You don’t even have his phone number, for crying out loud. So why do you find yourself feeling so overwhelmingly discouraged? Because you got way too emotionally invested. You’ve created an image in your head of who you think he is. You’ve run away with your thoughts and made too much of it. You’ve set yourself up for disappointment.
You have to face the fact that if his interest in you is rivaled by his flirting with others, he’s just not that into you. If he’s not doing whatever he can to genuinely get to know you, he’s just not that into you. Sometimes when he says he thinks you’re cute, that’s all there really is to it. You’re not undesirable, but you’re not number one on his list of priorities, either. You’re only in the beginning stages of a potential dating relationship, should you choose to pursue this any further. If not, there will always be other chances. There’s no need for undying devotion just yet. Is that really such a bad thing?
You feel down for a little while, but you get your head back on straight soon enough. Your daydreams decrease significantly, and the idea that he’s just not that into you doesn’t seem as soul-crushing as it once did. You take a few steps back and find a newer, brighter confidence in yourself. There’s still so much that could happen. This winding road known as the dating scene is wide open before you, and you’ve learned not to get ahead of yourself. You take it slow from here on out.
He just thinks I’m cute, after all.
I love quotes. The quotes section of Goodreads is pretty much the best thing ever to me. Really, I just love words. So I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you: specifically, some about relationships.
1. “The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” — Thomas Merton
2. “People change and forget to tell each other.” — Lillian Hellman
3. “God is more interested in your future and your relationships than you are.” — Billy Graham
4. “Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.” — Ann Landers
5. “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather, it is one of those things that give value to survival.” — C.S. Lewis
6. “I think…if it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.” — Leo Tolstoy
7. “Every relationship for a Christian is an opportunity to love another person like God has loved us.” — Joshua Harris
8. “True friends stab you in the front.” — Oscar Wilde
9. “At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet.” — Plato
10. “And remember, as it was written, to love another person is to see the face of God.” — Victor Hugo
I’ve made the lists. You know the ones I’m talking about. You’ve all made them, either on paper or in your head. They were entitled “Qualities I’m Looking For in a Husband”. I know I certainly never wrote one out, but I had one. You have one as soon as a friend asks you what you look for in a guy, and you started listing things. Smart. Diligent. Understanding. Loves God. Loves the Bible. Loves the church. Wouldn’t hurt if he could sing. Making lists is fun.
But when it comes to relationships, eventually the list has got to go.
Let me explain. I’m all for making lists. I think it’s a bad idea to go into anything, no matter what, without kind of knowing what you want (if it’s possible in whatever situation you’re in to know). But a list can only take you so far, because you just don’t know yourself that well. I was in a relationship (albeit short) with a guy who was perfect on paper. Still is. I knew this because I spent more than a year making sure he was everything that I thought I wanted. He still is everything I thought I wanted, but I realized that I wanted and needed more in a relationship. It was actually pretty hard to admit, because a lot of the things I realized I needed weren’t list-worthy. They were things like: funny in a more complex way, good at realizing when people thought he was acting weird, and better at reading my emotional state.
Those are all fairly shallow things (or so they seemed), but they were things I quickly found are important for me. They had nothing to do with values and everything to do with personality. We shared a lot of similar values, which is what drew us to each other in the first place. But I knew pretty quickly that he wasn’t the kind of guy I felt like I could fall in love with, even though I also felt like I should be able to.
Don’t lead a guy on in the hope that feelings might develop, just because he’s everything Christian society has told you that you should be looking for in a guy. Don’t lead a guy on just because he’s everything you’ve told yourself that you should be looking for in a guy. Don’t discount the shallow stuff. Just because it’s not as important doesn’t mean it’s not important at all.
You can’t fall in love with a list.