“Yes. No. Maybe.” – Robin (1.22)
While nothing good may ever happen after 2 a.m., the romance between Robin and Ted throughout the first season of How I Met Your Mother has all its big moments happening at a time that is—as everyone continuously tells Ted—not the opportune moment. Ted is told time and time again by all of his friends (including Robin herself) that his persistence when it comes to dating Robin is pointless and doomed to fail, but the season ends with them joyously coming together. As much as this season stresses the idea that there are certain times of the day (and of life in general) where nothing good will happen, the plot of the season undermines this cliché.
There is never a perfect time to make a move or do something you’re afraid of doing, but do it anyway. You never know when you will strike out, but you also never know when you’ll hit a home run.
“Discouraging pre-marital sex is against my religion.” – Barney (2.12)
Barney is comic-relief; he is the quintessential player character, and most of the time it’s hard to take him seriously. Nevertheless, he has his moments, even in the earlier seasons before his massive character development occurs. While this line is clearly meant to be ironic and humorous, the episode it appears in raises some big questions about saying those three magic words and taking that big physical step. This is, practically, the mid-point of the Robin and Ted relationship (part one), and the season ends with Robin and Ted’s breakup. Robin wants travel and a career to be proud of, not the family that Ted so obviously (and vocally) desires—and no one should fault her for that.
Love does not mean losing or sacrificing the goals you had before the relationship, and leaving someone to fulfill those goals does not negate the love you have for him/her.
“We can split a cab to work together, we always have a standing lunch date” – Robin (3.11)
In this season we are introduced to the Platinum Rule: “Never, ever, ever, ever love thy neighbor.” We learn that every member of the group (Marshal and Lilly, included) have made this fatal mistake, and Ted is about to make it himself. It always ends poorly, and—though the season ends with Ted and Stella happily engaged—the likelihood of it ending poorly for Ted is high.
Just because it is convenient to love someone does not mean that you should, and just because someone seems either perfect or incredibly wrong for you does not mean that they are.
“I know that you’re tired of waiting. And you might have to wait a little while more, but she’s on her way, Ted. And she’s getting here as fast as she can.” – Stella (4.23)
So, as hinted in the previous series, the Stella and Ted relationship ended with a bang, and Ted was left at the altar to pick up the pieces of yet another failed relationship. The return of Stella, and the portrayal of her more-or-less happy reunion with Tony, was another happy ending for another character that isn’t Ted Mosby. And Ted, as he tells Stella, is tired of watching every else get a happy ending when he is left alone again and again. Stella’s response gets to what Ted has needed to learn all along, and, unfortunately, the lesson doesn’t ever really stick with him.
With the average life expectancy around the world at approximately 70 years old, settling down in your twenties—while it may be great if you’ve already found the “one”—is not necessary. Your 30’s, even your 40’s, aren’t as close to the end as they once were, and it is better to wait for the right person than settle.
“Your heart is both drunk and a kid.” – Marshall (5.20)
At the end of this season Ted’s mother has remarried, Barney and Robin have experienced a rise and then immediate fall in their relationship status, and Lilly and Marshall have planned to try for kids (when the universe gives them the sign). Most importantly, Ted has bought a house that is falling apart and plans to make it into a future home for the wife and kids he so desperately desires, which, as we find out, he eventually does. Stupid decision or not, Ted makes it work. As Marshall tells him, he has always made rash and unadvised decisions when it comes to love and always will.
Acting stupid comes with the territory. Mistakes can turn to successes, so, as an old Greek saying explains, “Count no man happy until he is dead.” Nothing is final, until everything is.
“You can’t have me. Look at the sign. I’m extinct.” – Marshall (6.8)
Robin is getting over Don, Barney is reconnecting with his father, Marshall loses his dad, and Ted is dating a girl who wants to screw over his first change to become a big name in architecture. This season is ripe with drama and intrigue, but one of the key points is that the group is growing up. I mean, at the end of this season Lilly is pregnant with her first child. Growing up is always a difficult thing to handle. It may be nice getting that freedom and starting to build a life brick-by-brick, but it’s also terrifying letting go of how you thought life would be to accept how it has turned out.
In a year, two years, three years, and so on you’ll have changed. Life won’t be what you expected it to be. But it’s a wonderful ride, and the person you turn into will be exactly who you need to be to handle the life that you are living.
“Every three years we sit down and tril it up, agreed?” – Ted (7.20)
Bouncing off the lesson learned from the last season, the episode “Trilogy Time” is all about how life never turns out the way you imagined. The entire season has Barney proving, in his own messed up way, that he is ready to be serious with someone, and—while no one may really believe that the marriage to Quinn will last—it is important that he is willing to try. But, more important than that, is the friendship the entire group works hard to keep going this season. With a baby, relationships breaking apart, and feelings coming back up among Robin, Barney, and Ted, it is a miracle the entire group doesn’t fall apart.
Traditions and rituals with your friends matter more than you know. Those bonds may be tested, may not feel like a priority sometimes, or may seem close to breaking, but friendship is what keeps us sane. It is important to build a family of support.
“So as your friend and a leading expert in the field of making an ass of yourself, I say to you, from the heart, get the hell out of this car.” (8.12)
The moment that I waited so long for: Barney and Robin reunited at last! Barney’s proposal, the final page of his playbook, and the culmination of a love affair long in the making. Ted will have his day, but this day is all about Robin. However, as we all know, it was up to Ted to allow Robin this day. He could have not told her; he could have had his chance…again. So, his decision to send her up to the roof is one of the most important decisions of his life.
You will get your heart broken over and over again in life, and it will be hard to allow yourself to continue falling in love. However, as Ted tells Robin, no matter how many times you get yourself hurt, it will all be worth it in the end.
“Or…” – Ted (9.24)
The last episode of HIMYM was hard for me. After allowing myself to enjoy the happy ending for Barney and Robin, I was left with a Ted and Robin reunion. The mother we had long waited for? Gone six years before the story is even told. Robin and Barney divorced not long after the wedding. But Ted was always going to get his happily ever after with Robin, and at least she got the career she wanted, the traveling, and she will not feel guilty about not being able to have kids because he already achieved that part of his dream. I can’t say the ending will ever be a favorite of mine, but—as I always did from HIMYM—I learned something.
Love, true love, doesn’t ever really leave us. When we fall in love, it is for life. We can move on, meet someone else, and fall in love again. But there will always be a part of us that still loves them, because you don’t ever lose that. Love does not end. Ever.