All the relationship goals I learned from Cory Matthews

From the ripe age of seven, I fell in love with Cory Matthews. Yeah, I know, that may be hard to believe with bad boy Shawn Hunter riding his coattails or his hot older brother Eric sleeping in the bed beside him, but to me, brillo-headed Matthews always came up incomparable to his other male counterparts that shared the screen. Through the seven-season run of this TGIF sitcom, Cory taught me more about friendship, navigating through tough life situations, and most importantly, love, than any other man who has passed through my life.

To this day, Cory defied all the misconceptions and stereotypes that society set out for me on relationships. He was genuine, protective, and unwavering in both his convictions for his best friends and girlfriend. It’s more than fair to say that Cory and Topanga’s relationship in their beloved ‘90s teen comedy, Boy Meets World, ruined everyone’s dating game for generations. Every episode of the show, Cory served as a heart warming mirror to our own frustrating, confusing, and angst-filled journeys in life.

The true heart and soul of Boy Meets World was greater than simply the script-writing, the comedy and the one-liners. To me, Cory’s love for his family, allies, partner, and life in general, not only carried the weight of my heart, but the hearts of viewers across the globe. In honor of Cory’s loving heart that has stood the true test of time and way too much nostalgia to handle, here is everything Cory Matthews taught me about love:

At any age and in any strange situation, love can sneak up on you, so let it in.

Since both Cory and Topanga were infants, they were in love. They took walks in their strollers together, became best friends, and by the age of two, Cory knew everything about her. Though the rarity of this fictional romance is evident, Cory constantly advised Shawn, his parents, and even Topanga to not close themselves off to the idea of love. Age was a constant, distinct argument that came up in the series, but Cory was determined to not let it be a hindrance for anyone he cared about.

Throughout the entirety of the series, a good portion was spent reflecting on Cory and Topanga’s age and I took a lot from that. The show constantly questioned their relationship — were they too young to get married? Too young to be that in love? Too naive? But through episodes revolved around romanticism, Cory exposed the reality that love has no age requirement — it’s not black and white. Relationships grow from understanding, hardships, and determination that two people, despite their development or obscure life choices want to continue. It’s that feeling of being complete with them in your life.

Allow your significant other to be themselves. 

As the youthful cast on Boy Meets World grew rapidly into their late-teens, the constant oscillation of Cory and Topanga displayed the perpetual struggle of growing up with a loved one. Life changes people. Situations change people. People also change people. In the course of transition from middle school to high school to college, Cory stood beside Topanga through it all. Even when she drew a heart on her face with lipstick or chopped her golden locks off to prove a point, Cory allowed Topanga to grow into the person she needed to be, in order to, love him in return.

Without a doubt, this takes someone who is secure and selfless to encourage his or her significant other to pursue their passions, wants, and needs in their life, even if it could physically or mentally separate them. From job offers to school acceptances, Cory supported anything Topanga believed in because it was for the person he loved, even if that came at the expense of his own happiness. With this, Cory taught me when someone truly loves you, you will never question it because they will put your needs before their own.

Love is about patience, devotion, and wanting to protect your significant other.

It may be extremely hard to believe, but there were many times that Topanga was not sure about her future with Cory. One of the greatest things Cory has ever said to her was when he redefined the meaning of love: “Look, all I know is that you and I belong together. I’ve always been able to talk to you, to make you laugh, and I’ve always, always wanted to take care of you…” Despite the simplicity behind this explanation of love, I have used this definition to define what it really means. Love is being there, and being present for your loved one. This takes time and understanding, but most of all, it takes fight and belief.

You can be ridiculously in love and still have friends.

During relationships, it is very easy for both counterparts to get lost in the midst of attachment and basically forget the world around them. Yes, there is nothing wrong with puppy love, but Cory always reminded me that love does not mean only sharing it with a singular person. Friends are the family we choose to be in our inner circle, therefore, when you are happy, they are happy and they want to live that with you. The word “family” goes far beyond blood relations and time and time again, Cory and Topanga proved that bonds between friends can be stronger than those made by DNA.

According to F. Scott Fitzgerald, there are many kinds of love in this world, and Cory had relationships outside of his romantic relationship that continue to shape him as well as Topanga. The attachment that the show carried between romance and friends was an important lesson on how to balance one’s priorities.

Love is a masterpiece.

One of the greatest lessons Cory ever taught me is that through the ups-and-downs that relationships will inevitably bring you, love will always become a work of art when your heart is really in it.

Ashani Jodha is an entertainment writer for Bustle and freelancer for FLARE Magazine. When she isn’t hooking up with Shane Oman in the projection room above the auditorium, she can be found drowning her sorrows in ginger ale. She also invented Post-its. To her more from her, follow her on Twitter.

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