Relationship Goals I Learned From ‘The Great Gatsby’

Like anyone who has proudly completed 10th grade and/or watched that endless Baz Luhrmann flick with all the Kanye West, I have a pretty good grasp on The Great Gatsby. It’s one of those classic tales that has everything: the death of the American dream, the superficiality of high society, and an iconic love story…that, perhaps uncharacteristically, goes horribly, horribly, wrong. Gatsby is pretty great for giving you the best worst #relationshipsgoals out there.

And that’s a good thing! 15-year-old Mary Grace thought that all I could learn from The Great Gatsby was the difference between East Egg and West Egg (East Egg is old money, West Egg is people who don’t totally suck). But if I was paying attention to Gatsby and Daisy’s disastrous relationship I could’ve saved myself a lot of heart ache.

I will now save you that heart ache, because I love you.

So here’s everything The Great Gatsby taught me about obsessive love, showboating for your ex-bae, and the casual after-effects of an affair.

More likely than not, you’ll always have that one person you can’t get over.

We could throw shade at Gatsby for holding onto his love for Daisy, but let’s be honest, since it’s just us: you, too have a Daisy Buchanan that you would start bootlegging for in order to become a more fantastical creature (um, if this was a time where alcohol was illegal, that is). There’s a sick power that comes with the-one-that-got-away, and it’s ok to acknowledge these feels, to openly live with it. I’m just not sure if you want it to consume your entire life.

Self-betterment is a great way to get over heartbreak, but you know, to a point.

will say that it’s good that Gatsby’s at least somewhat proactive about his post-Daisy life. Like, he could’ve just stayed in bed all day with some post-war depression, but he decided to get rich and clean up nicely. It’s a smart move in case you ever run into (read: strategically orchestrate a meeting) with the one who broke your heart.

So next time you feel the sting of rejection, get your act together and imagine what it’ll be like if your former love runs into the newer, better you! You’re doing so awesome now! Like, you racked up some millions, you bought some gorgeous shirts, you hold fancy get-togethers, you moved to Brooklyn, you got a column, you have an aggressively fine railroad style apartment, you’re friends with the bartender at Two Boots, you built a coat rack the other day, so…what are we talking about?

Throwing wildly extravagant and garish parties every night to attract your long lost married ex is… well, it’s a bit much.

Ok, so here is the problem with the whole Gatsby self-betterment idea: while you want to run into your ex as a better person, it gets to a point of diminishing returns if it becomes…well, all about your ex, particularly if it’s about getting them back. Let’s just take a moment to breathe in that Gatsby was throwing crazy all-night flapper bashes, Kanye BLASTING (as Fitzgerald wrote it), just in the vague hopes that Daisy would show up. Sweetie, I hate to say it, but that’s basically the same as you booking that crazy Cabo vacay and then posting 138 bikini shots on Facebook. I know it’s a rebound trip, you know it’s a rebound trip, and he will know it’s a rebound trip…if he’s even still looking at your page, because isn’t that the point?

ALL I’M SAYING is that book the trip to Cabo for yourself, you know?

There are few times where affairs won’t end up messy (at best) or with someone dead in a pool (at worst).

So like… try not to do that if you can avoid it.

It is very dangerous to idealize someone or the something you used to have. 

You may be making a second go of it with your lost love—you know, the one who texted you one day saying they’re dating some veterinarian named Jenna—but it’s hard to return to your former glory. This is a fatal flaw of Gatsby’s, who really believes that Daisy and him can have what they used to, or have it even better because he’s so damn rich now. But complicated by her high society reputation, her marriage, and her utter shallowness, it all falls very much apart.

Which that said, Gatsby spends years idealizing Daisy when she is, in fact, the veritable worst. So if you’re gonna jump-start an old relationship, I would double check if you’re not romanticizing the entire situation. Personally I think you deserve better, and so does Jenna, to be honest.

Moral of the story? Despite Gatsby’s insistence that you can repeat the past (“Why of course you can!”) it’s best you look forward and beat against the currant (or is it with the currant, I’m never really sure) into the future.

[Image via Warner Bros.]

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