Relationship goals I learned from ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’

Buffy the Vampire Slayer holds a revered place in pop culture for being a story of power, feminism, and band candy, but one moment truly sums up the show. In season one’s “I Robot, You Jane” Willow just found out her online crush is a cyber demon (been there) and the trio jokes that they all make bad love decisions, from vamps to preying mantis teachers. “Let’s face it,” Buffy says, “none of us are ever gonna have a happy, normal relationship.” Cut to laughter, then a permeating silence.

Yet somehow Buffy exists as the show that gave 12-year-old Mary Grace the most #relationshipgoals ever… and hey, 12 years later I’ve lived out all of them.

I mean, within reason. None of my boyfriends were life-sucking in a literal sense, and I didn’t prevent several apocalypses before high school graduation. But Buffy is brilliant in the way it weaves in real human stories against a supernatural backdrop. There were plenty of things I learned, lived, and desperately wished I had as I navigated the world of post-adolescent romance.

So here is everything Buffy taught me about virginity, recurring hook-ups, and, um, witchcraft.

Losing your V-card can spark some drama 

SO 17-year-old Buffy AND 17-year-old Mary Grace both had experiences with this. Real talk: sometimes the person you have your first time with can be a real jerk. Sometimes they’ll kill your school librarian and try to send to world on a crash course towards oblivion, mostly they’ll aim a little lower than that. It’s my understanding, however, that it’s NOT like this for everyone, thank god.

Ultimately you have to do what’s right for you, so long as you keep your heart and your body safe.

Age difference matters (especially if you’re dating a demon).

I mean, I like older guys, but even the dreamiest, broodiest men should be left well alone if they’ve had a centennial. And this doesn’t apply just to menfolk, precious little Anya had a good millennium on Xander. I’m just saying, typically it doesn’t work out with age-gaps and reformed demons.

Ew, but don’t date the Riley just because you need the stability.

Or date the stable, boring, insecure-with-your-strength-as-a-woman guy for a while just to inject your life with normality, but don’t prolong it forever. Don’t, like, take it through a whole season and a half. It benefits no one.

Embrace your sexual identity as you journey to discover your fabulously witchy self.

Willow’s season four arc revolved around finding her identity, both as a witch and a lesbian. The witch label was one thing, but Willow had a lot of trepidation about coming out to her fellow Scoobies. Eventually, though, her and Tara became public and they had (magical addiction plot aside) a genuinely wonderful relationship. You can’t let fear of judgement…or fear that your werewolf ex-boyfriend will get all hairy about it…stand in the way of who you want to be with.

And trust me, I love Seth Green. Can someone tell Seth Green I said that?

Don’t ditch your ex-demon girlfriend at her wedding. 

This is really good life advice that kind of extends into two ideas. 1. It’s better to confront that you’re not ready for the next step in a relationship sooner rather than later. Xander was singing about his cold feet way before the would-be nuptials, literally, he could’ve put a stop to things before it got messy. Food for thought before you move in with your S.O. who really thinks “the band’s going to make it soon.”

The only thing harder than loving a vampire is hating a vampire…that you’re hot and heavy with.

I used to have a lifesize cut-out of Spike, so all of season six is rough for me. Roooough. Blanket statement:  It’s common to get into romanti-sexual situations, holding patterns even, we’re not entirely uncomfortable with. Maybe it’s to cope with something else, or maybe to deal with true feelings in an extracurricular way. In any case, often it gets messy. You just have to trust that no matter how isolated or ashamed you feel, your friends will have your back.

After a while, there’s nothing wrong with taking a romantic breather.

Between Angel drama, Spike drama, and dying two times, Buffy needs a solid break from dating by the finale. Right now she just wants to infiltrate the Hellmouth, hit up the mall, and finish becoming a person. She’s still cookie dough. “Maybe one day, I turn around and realize I’m ready. I’m cookies. And then, you know, if I want someone to eat—or enjoy warm, delicious, cookie me, then that’s fine. That’ll be then. When I’m done,” she tells Angel.

Buffy (the show and the person) had no lack of love. And it’s good to think that despite all the dating trauma, she was still open to it by the series’ end. But likewise, there’s nothing wrong with tabling love for now, and focusing on the two things you’re really great at: accessorizing and saving the world.

You’ve earned it.

(Images via WB)

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