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7 Love Lessons We Learned From ‘Love Actually’


It should be a rule in every college or university’s handbook: During the holiday season, every collegiette must watch Love Actually at least once during their time at school. (Haven’t seen it yet? It’s on Netflix. Go! Now! Then come back and read this article.) This movie has it all. Seriously, with nine different plotlines, there’s undoubtedly at least one couple you’ll connect with. Plus, it’s just a great, feel-good way to launch you into the holiday spirit when you’re looking for the perfect way to procrastinate on studying for finals. To help you justify this “learning experience,” check out these seven love lessons all viewers can pick up on after watching Love Actually.

Lesson #1: Love triangles are messy.

Maybe the saddest story in all of Love Actually is the Juliet/Peter/Mark love triangle. (This one could also be the creepiest. Videotaping your BFF’s wedding when you’re crazy about his bride? Not the world’s best decision…) No matter how you look at it, it’s a messy situation.

So what’s a collegiette to do if she finds herself in a similar situation? Taking a page out of Mark’s book might be best. Depending on the situation, get the truth out there. You don’t need to go all out and make some big gesture with super cute notecards, but if you feel like you can’t stay in a situation any longer without speaking up (e.g., it’s hurting your friendship with one or both of the other people involved, it’s affecting your mental or physical health, you’re sabotaging other relationships because you’re stuck on someone else), find a way to gently break the truth to one or both of the other members of the triangle. Once you make peace with the situation, make things less awkward for the time being by removing yourself from the situation. It’s the decision of the couple to decide what to do next, not yours.

Lesson #2: When it comes to new relationships, just be yourself!

It’s clear from the first time they meet that what David, the fictional new Prime Minister in the movie, likes about Natalie, one of his staffers, was that Natalie’s true self shines through. She’s not afraid to be herself in front of one of the most powerful men in Britain, and even sticks to her guns when he comes to woo her back, inviting him to accompany her to the Christmas play she’s about to leave for instead of letting him whisk her back to 10 Downing Street.

Take a page out of Natalie’s book next time you’re flirting with a potential BF. Be yourself and let your own personality shine through. Don’t feel like you need to pretend to be someone you’re not to get a guy. After all, you want a person to like you for you, not someone who’s fake! 

Lesson #3: Sometimes, a best friend is all you need.

While most of Love Actually focuses on romantic relationships, you can’t overlook the touching moments that occur between fading pop star Billy Mack and his manager, Joe. These two may not be the conventional example of friendship, but the scenes between Billy and Joe show just how important your BFFs can be when it comes to dealing with the ups and downs of love and everything else.

Just like your guy needs his bros, it’s important to make sure you don’t ditch your gal pals when you’re seeing someone. Dating and relationships are great, but nothing beats the power and comfort of a best friend who just gets you. Whether it’s serving as a sounding board for a friend who just needs to vent or providing advice to help a friend navigate one of the trickier situations those in love go through, make sure you’re there for your friends when they need you.

Lesson #4: Even the biggest barriers to love can be overcome.

Okay, maybe learning an entirely new language for someone you’ve just met a la struggling writer Jamie and Aurélia is a little, well… Hollywood. That being said, situations like struggling to communicate how you feel or long-distance relationships are very real obstacles a lot of us face in the crazy pursuit of love.

These barriers can often be overcome, however—a lesson well worth remembering.

Whether it’s a huge argument, spending a semester apart when one of you goes abroad, deciding to take a break or another scenario that’s imposing some sort of obstacle between you and your partner, get creative! Find ways to tackle whatever it is separating or frustrating you, whether that’s trying new ways to keep in touch, being more open about what you’re feeling or a number of other solutions. Love may not always be able to conquer all, but it can sure tackle an awful lot!

Lesson #5: Be upfront about your mistakes.

We’re human; we all mess up. Harry (the character played by Alan Rickman, the same actor who plays Snape in Harry Potter) cheating on his wife, Karen (played by Emma Thompson, who plays Professor Trelawney in Harry Potter!), is one of the more heart-wrenching plotlines in Love Actually. However, this too lends itself to an important lesson: Be honest and upfront about your mistakes, especially when it’s as serious as cheating on a significant other. Your partner will appreciate your honesty rather than finding out in another manner, and you’ll feel much better getting it off your chest.

Lesson #6: Don’t be afraid to try new things.

Oh, Colin. Colin, Colin, Colin. As sleazy as this ladies’ man may be (he flew all the way across the pond just to find a date), he does seem to know the key to many an American girl’s heart. Why do British accents have to be so adorable?! Judgment aside on his Wisconsin escapades, you’ve got to admire his persistence.

Colin demonstrates the importance of switch up your approach if your usual tactics aren’t working when it comes to snagging a date. Hitting all the hot spots on campus with no luck? Try somewhere new off campus. Sick of dating the same old doofy frat guys? Try chatting up that cute artsy guy you always see at your favorite coffee shop.

Lesson #7: Big gestures can mean a lot.

Let’s face it––nothing makes us swoon like those big romantic gestures throughout Love Actually, like little Sam’s race through the airport to see Joanna at the gate right before she embarks on an international flight or David standing up to the American president (and looking super hot while doing so, might we add!) after he was hitting on Natalie. There are definitely things the guys in our lives do that take our breath away.

But the big gestures aren’t just for the guys to do! Go out of your way to do something nice for your guy from time to time, whether that’s cooking a delicious dinner for the two of you to share, snagging tickets to see his favorite team play or anything else creative you can think of. Even the strongest relationships that have existed for months or even years can benefit from the occasional reminder of how much he means to you!

While the hilarious scenarios are enough of a reason to watch Love Actually this holiday season, you could also learn a little bit about love along the way! What other love lessons did you learn from Love Actually? Let us know in the comments below!

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