Lessons from How I Met Your Mother

By Imaan Ladipo

Adulthood is scary. When you’re a child, you don’t know that you don’t know anything. When you’re a teenager you think you know everything. But adults know they don’t know anything — which is terrifying. But sometimes television shows can make it less terrifying, and reveal how hilarious it is and maybe even teach you something along the way. One such show is nearing the end.

The season finale of How I Met Your Mother is on Monday, March 31. In memory of the show, we look back at some of the lessons about life and love the show has taught us.

Here are 10 lessons from How I Met Your Mother.

The Olive Theory

During the series premiere, the show began with Lily and Marshall’s engagement and the night Ted meets Robin. On their first date it’s revealed that Robin hates olives and Ted likes them, similar to how Lily loves olives and Marshall hates them — and it’s that balance that makes Lily and Marshall such a good couple. Right? Wrong. Later in the episode we find out that Marshall actually loves olives, but that he loves Lily more.

Perfect balance is impossible. Fate and coincidence would love to be your match maker but sometimes they are too busy with events of actual historic importance. We have to put some work into our relationships — much like how Stella was willing to say she loved Star Wars for Ted.

Sometimes people aren’t compatible, but they can become compatible.

The Lemon Law

This idea is guaranteed to revolutionize your dating experience. If someone is not interesting after five minutes, just politely say “you’ve been lemon lawed” and leave. You can both just move on. Nobody has time for that, right?

Use at your own risk.

Nothing good happens after 2:00 a.m.

Yes, your lives are hard. School and work are stressful — so you drink and stay up late. Just heed this warning from Ted’s grandmother: nothing good happens after 2:00 a.m. One minute you’re in bed, the next you’re in the bathroom talking to an imaginary version of your long-distance girlfriend trying to stop yourself from cheating on her with the girl who already said no. Or perhaps you’re just drinking and within a couple hours you’ve been spat and hit on by Korean Elvis — so you kick him in the balls. Just remember 2:00 a.m. is always a bad time. Always. Well, nearly always, you’re an adult so you never know, remember?

The Crazy-Hot Scale

This is not just advice — it’s math. Imagine a graph in thin air. On the X axis put “crazy” and on the Y axis “hotness.” From the origin draw a diagonal line. You have the crazy-hot scale. Refer to it on your date. Simply put, your date must be as crazy as he or she is hot in order to stay above the “Vicky Mendos” line, which is what youare aiming for. If he or she crosses that line and strays into the bottom right corner, called the “Shelley Gelespi zone,” all that crazy is not worth it.

Run, just run.

The Naked Man

If you want to get laid, get naked. It’s bold and confident and crazy, and it just might work. Just whip off your clothes and stand in the middle of the room.

Note: only do this if you’re with someone you don’t really want to see again but still want to sleep with.

On a serious note, there is a lesson to be learnt here. People say life isn’t like the movies but why can’t we make it like one? The naked man is only one of several crazy things the characters of How I Met Your Mother have done and sometimes these crazy things are for their significant other. So steal a blue French horn, rent a blue orchestra, break a stereo so your crush will fix it, use an elaborate pick-up line and make it rain. Adults are a little uptight and pessimistic when it comes to love, don’t you think?

The Front Porch Rule

How much unnecessary time have you spent with people you probably won’t see in a month or a year even? That time is wasted and you’re never going to get it back. Instead, close your eyes and imagine yourself when you’re old, sitting on a porch looking out into the world. Who’s with you? Spend more time with those people. That said, give people a chance. You might end up adding an extra seat, or you might not. You’ll never know until you try.


You’ve seen that picture that’s both a rabbit and duck, yes? You can look at it forever and see a rabbit and then poof, it’s a duck.

This change is true of people too. Whether it’s your eyes, your tastes or your perception that has changed, I urge you, don’t be too picky about people. You never know who might switch into a duck when you least expect it, or a rabbit if you prefer.

The Mermaid Theory

This is a female version of rabbit versus duck. You might look at a girl and think she’s a manatee that you will never find attractive, until her mermaid clock runs out. Then bam, she’s a mermaid.

If you’re with a girl you don’t want to fall for, such as a married woman or your best friend’s girl, here are a few tips:

• Don’t go anywhere with candles.
• No sharing of food or anything with saliva on it, including toothbrushes and thermometers.
• No lying to anyone about what you did.
The Dobler/Dahmer Effect

The difference between a stalker and a romantic is not what you do, but how the other person perceives what you’re doing. If you do something crazy and the other person likes it, then you’re Dobler from Say Anything with a boom box outside the window. Otherwise, you’re a Jeffrey Dahmer and you’re just a freak. So, as previously mentioned, do something crazy, as it won’t make the other person like you but rather prove that the other person already did. But don’t go too crazy, there are boundaries.

Winners and losers

For every relationship there are reachers and settlers, those who got someone out of their league and those who settled. In every break up one of you is doing better than the other. When you meet up with someone you haven’t seen for a long time one of you will always be doing better than the other. Right?

But did the settler really settle or did they get exactly what they wanted? Is that person doing better than you or are they just hiding it better? Just because you look like you’re more successful than your high school counterpart, you might not feel that way. Life, feelings and people are complicated and if you keep score and think of relationships as win or lose situations you are guaranteed to drive everyone away. Instead, concentrate on your relationship and don’t care about what everyone else is thinking.

And there you have it. Ten lessons from an era that’s about to end.

However, Ted once said that if everyone followed all these rules the human race would cease to exist. Rules make adults feel safe. If we follow them we can pretend we’ve taken all the right steps and nothing can go wrong. If it does, it’s someone else’s fault. But that’s not true and breaking the rules is often exciting and romantic.

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