I’ve had a soft spot for Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity since the first time I read the novel. So, you can imagine my excitement when I found out that the 2020 TV adaptation featured a female lead, performed by Zoë Kravitz.
Now, it’s been almost 20 years since I first read the book (and watched the movie). It follows Rob, a vinyl record-store owner who tries to come to terms with his most recent breakup by putting together a list of “the top five most memorable split-ups.” In addition to insights about his relationships, the reflection teaches him about himself as well, propelling him on a journey towards maturity.
Since I’m no longer a teen, my perspective on the protagonist’s adventures is much different than it was in the early 2000s. For one, I no longer find Rob endearing and oh-so-cute. More importantly, I am thoroughly impressed with his listmaking skills.
Revisiting this novel inspired a binge-watch of the Hulu show, and as a result, I put together my own list of past relationship lessons. One that would look at all the lessons I’ve learned throughout the years. Hopefully, my list is relatable to you or inspires you to create your very own.
Lesson #1: Don’t Try to Fit Someone Else’s Mold
I think everyone has fallen into this trap at least once. I certainly have.
You know the drill. You like someone so much you’d be prepared to do anything to get them to like you back. Even if it means sacrificing parts of your identity, no matter how big or small.
I remember I once pretended to love seafood for a full year because it was my partner’s favorite. I went through countless dinners fighting to swallow meals I could barely stomach, just so that he’d think we had something in common. In the end, he caught on that I wasn’t enjoying our restaurant outings as much as I was pretending and found it funny. Me? I was just relieved that I could start ordering stuff I wasn’t mildly grossed out by.
Lesson definitely learned. May I never repeat it.
Lesson #2: Don’t Expect People to Be Someone They’re Not
They say love is blind, but I think there’s a technical detail in that saying that needs explaining. I don’t believe infatuation has to make us into delusional saps. But sometimes, we’re quite willing to be deceived.
Scientists have found that we tend to form opinions on our romantic partners based on illusions rather than objective facts.
In some cases, this can be a good thing. Having a positive perception of our partner can make us strive to be a better version of ourselves. However, it can also lead to some pretty hard letdowns.
I still don’t have any advice for myself, let alone others, on how to avoid projecting expectations, then being disappointed when they’re not met. I do know that it’s one of the surefire ways to put an immense amount of pressure on a relationship from the very start.
Lesson #3: Relationships Require Compromise
Compromise – it’s the key to a successful relationship – anyone will say so. But, darn, it can be difficult.
I’ve had my fair share of relationships fall apart because neither I nor my past partners were ready to meet one another halfway. I’m positive we weren’t right for each other from the start, but, I’ve also learned that many problems are worth working through. After all, sometimes the compromise doesn’t have to be that unpleasant – as long as you do your best to find a solution that works for both sides.
The best real-life example of this is my best friend saved his marriage by learning how to sleep on his side instead of his back to reduce snoring while in bed with his partner. (It also turns out to be the healthiest sleeping position. Who knew?)
Lesson #4: Some People Are Just Too Much
We’ve all dated that one person – They look absolutely perfect on paper, but in real life, their actions don’t match their words.
While I still haven’t learned how to fully weed these types out of my life, I have set some pretty clear boundaries when it comes to personal and romantic relationships. I completely avoid people who tear me down or make me feel bad about myself. I’m not too generous with providing second chances. Most importantly, I do regular self-maintenance with my therapist to keep a check on my feelings and experiences.
So far, it works great.
Lesson #5: Learn When It’s Time to Move On
The last thing I learned from my past relationships is, perhaps, the hardest one I’ve had to face.
Sometimes, things just don’t work out. Whether they were never right from the start or you grow apart from your partner, it’s hard admitting that a romance has run its course. Saying goodbye to someone you’ve spent so much time with can be extremely difficult, but oftentimes there is a good reason it’s come to an end.
After all, being lonely together isn’t exactly a great alternative to allowing yourself the freedom to find someone who’s perfect for you.
There you have it, the five lessons I got from my dating experience so far. I’m sure there’s still a lot of wisdom missing from this page, but hey, we learn as long as we live.
Now, whether you’re in a relationship or looking for that special someone, I’m sure you can get something out of these lessons. Or at least they’ll inspire you to do a bit of reflection of your own. And, even if that’s not your thing, you might want to go and read the book. Who knows what Rob Fleming might teach you while providing some entertainment.