1. Sometimes, you have to give up control
The TV series: Sex and the City (1998)
The classic show had us all hooked on the relationship dramas of its four main characters, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Samantha (Kim Cattrall).
In one of the storylines, no-nonsense lawyer Miranda has a fling with a broke bartender called Steve. She says he’s not her type, but over time, the pair spend more and more time together. Then, Miranda gets pregnant. She has the baby, with Steve spending weekends with his child, and soon realises that Steve, her complete opposite, is really the love of her life.
The couple end up getting married, but the whole experience teaches Miranda how to loosen her grip when it comes to her expectations and to just go with the flow.
Life lesson: You never know where your relationships will take you, but it’s important to keep an open mind and be prepared for anything. Sometimes, the best experiences may be the ones you never expected.
2. Accept that relationships will change
The movie: Her (2013)
This romantic, sci-fi film features Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore, a lonely and depressed man who falls for a talking operating system with artificial intelligence that he names Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson).
Theodore, who is about to divorce his wife, pours his heart out to Samantha, who is always supportive and understanding. Their bond grows and Theodore realises he’s in love with Samantha.
One day, Samantha goes offline, only to return to tell Theodore that she has upgraded her processing ability and is now talking to, and in love with, 641 other people – news that breaks Theodore’s heart.
Samantha responses with: “This is where I am now, and this is who I am now. As much as I want to, I can’t live in your book anymore.”
Life lesson: Relationships are constantly evolving. It is up to you to adapt to these changes and either grow with them or let them go.
3. You can’t do it alone
The reality-TV series: The Amazing Race Asia (2006)
This popular, unscripted reality game show sees teams racing around the world, searching for clues to take them to their next destination, and overcoming obstacles that may affect their position in the race. Teams that survive the elimination rounds go on to the next leg. The first team to reach the final destination in the last leg wins.
The success of a team – made up of couples, friends, co-workers or family members – depends a lot on their teamwork, their patience with one another and their determination to make it to the next level.
Life lesson: For a relationship to flourish and survive its challenges, both people need to do their part, as well as motivate, support and encourage each other.
4. Don’t be afraid to connect with others
The Korean drama series: My Love from Another Star (2013)
Kim Soo Hyun plays Do Min Joon, an extraterrestrial who gets stranded in South Korea after his spaceship takes off without him. He has to wait 400 years for his people to come back and get him, and in the meantime, tries to live like everyone else on Earth.
He gets a job teaching at a university and spends most of his time alone – that is, until his new next-door neighbour Cheon Song Yi (Jun Ji Hyun) catches his eye. Her honesty, charm and personality win him over, and before he knows it, he is in love – and no longer cold and distant.
Life lesson: It’s easy to think that no one else will understand our worries and problems. But instead of holding everything in, reach out to others and give them a chance to touch your heart and possibly, change your life for the better.
5. Give the nice guy a chance
The movie: Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
With filming for the third instalment of the Bridget Jones’s Diary series about to get under way, there are lessons to be learnt from the first instalment, which starred Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth.
Bridget is a neurotic and insecure publicist who falls for her boss, the dashing Daniel Cleaver (Grant), despite his womanising ways. Also in the picture is Mark Darcy, a barrister whose shyness makes him stand-offish.
It’s not until certain events occur that make Bridget see Daniel for who he really is, and Mark as the man to whom her heart really belongs.
Life lesson: Don’t overlook the quiet and boring, but sweet man who may seem like he has nothing much to offer. He may well be who you are looking for.
6. Honesty is important in a marriage
The TV series: Mad Men (2007)
Set in New York in the 1960s, the TV drama series stars Jon Hamm as Don Draper, one of the city’s top advertising executives. On the surface, Don has the perfect life – a successful career, a wonderful family and a storybook marriage. But Don also has many secrets from his past that, once revealed, sees his “perfect” marriage come crashing down.
Life lesson: No matter how painful or embarrassing your past, it is best to be open about it with your spouse.
7. Learn to accept his “faults”
The TV sitcom: Friends (1994)
The long-running, award-winning TV sitcom revolves around six friends – Monica, Chandler, Joey, Phoebe, Rachel and Ross. Together, they help one another through love, friendship, family and career problems, often with hilarious results.
Two of the friends – Chandler, played by Matthew Perry, and Monica, played by Courteney Cox – end up marrying each other, but not without a whole lot of drama.
Monica hates Chandler’s sarcasm, and he mocks her obsessive nitpickiness. But one day, they realise that they share a strong chemistry.
Life lesson: Is your man a slob? Does he have weird habits that get on your nerves? Cut him some slack. He is unique, and as the woman who loves him, you should try to see past his “flaws”, and learn to embrace them.
This article was originally published in Simply Her November 2015.