20 Years Later, Here Are 7 Things ‘The Notebook’ Taught Me NOT To Do

The Notebook is having a moment again. A Broadway musical adaptation of the classic Ryan Gosling-Rachel McAdams weepie premiered in May, and director Nick Cassavetes recently walked back some famous past tea he spilled about Gosling’s and McAdams’s fighting on set. (TLDR, Gosling was a diva.) However, the movie is also celebrating its 20th anniversary – The Notebook first hit theaters all the way back in 2004. With that in mind, I’m here to talk about everything that The Notebook has taught me not to do in relationships. I may have romanticized the movie’s big moments when I was younger, but now I know better.

1. Don’t threaten to kill yourself if someone doesn’t like you

It’s a good thing that I’m not into women; otherwise, this movie would have convinced me that I needed to put my life in danger to get a girlfriend. You may recall that at the beginning of this movie, Noah failed to get a date with Allie, even after constantly harassing her; thus, he hung from a Ferris wheel and threatened to take his life until Allie agreed to date him. Well, you know what the Italians say: “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s coercion.” 

Needless to say, I’ve never tried this and am nevertheless coupled up.

2. Don’t lay down on a busy city street, even when there are pretty stars

I’ve actually learned this one from experience! At the height of lockdowns, when New York City’s once chaotic streets were suddenly deserted, my friend and I decided to reenact the “laying in the street” scene from The Notebook as part of some misinformed performance art project. (“We can post ourselves laying down on TikTok and show everyone how empty and safe the streets are, thus proving how much the world has changed!”) And what do you know? Within a minute, a car appeared and almost killed us. 

3. Don’t marry someone who wants to push you off a cliff

The Notebook changed quite a few things from its source novel when it made its journey to the screen. One of those was the aforementioned Ferris wheel scene, which didn’t exist in the novel. The other was the constant violence that Allie inflicted upon Noah. In fact, there was a whole montage of these two verbally berating each other; however, it was scored to pleasant bluegrass music, so it was cute. In real life, however, violence is neither cute nor romantic, and I’ve never dated someone who I wanted to angrily shove, like Allie did with Noah.

4. Don’t date someone whose dad looks like Joseph Stalin

Allie’s dad looked like Joseph Stalin, which was enough of a red flag. However, he also talked like Foghorn Leghorn. And then we were surprised when he was the antagonist? Nah, if I found out that a love interest’s dad looked and sounded like he longed for the antebellum South, I would run.

5. Don’t study 500 languages at once

I don’t remember the exact list of things that Allie studied on a daily basis, but I recall that it was long. It definitely included Latin and French – And maybe sudoku? Hungarian? In any case, I remember that it forced me to reflect on my overachieving ass and realize that I shouldn’t study for the sake of studying, to fill my idle time. I didn’t want to become a lost, unhappy, romantically unfulfilled person like Allie, after all. And then I became a lost, unhappy, romantically unfulfilled adult anyway. But at least it wasn’t because I learned Hungarian.

6. Don’t text your ex every day for a year

This is basically what Noah did by sending Allie a letter every day for a whole year. Imagine doing that to your ex in 2024 – one 500 word text a day! They would block you. It violates the Geneva Convention or something.

7. Don’t buy a house for someone who’s left you on read 

If Noah and Allie had been dating when he built that house for her, it would have been romantic. But they weren’t dating – the two hadn’t spoken in years. Noah didn’t even know if he’d ever see Allie again, or if she still loved him. He was just a bored, dangerously obsessive guy who couldn’t let things go. What if he never saw her again? He would just have, like, a whole house. These days, the most I’d spend on someone who isn’t a “sure thing” is $10. $15, counting for inflation. 

Still, there’s one thing about The Notebook that holds up today. I still kiss in the rain whenever possible.

About the author

Evan E. Lambert

Evan E. Lambert is a journalist, travel writer, and short fiction writer with bylines at Business Insider, BuzzFeed, Going, Mic, The Discoverer, Queerty, and many more. He splits his time between the U.S. and Peru and speaks fluent Spanglish.