What Parks and Recreation Taught Me About Love

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I had my heart broken this week.

After seven beautiful, amazing and truly magical seasons, Parks and Recreation aired its final show. Yes, I shed a tear when Ron blissfully rows away to Willie Nelson. And yes, I clapped and fist pumped when Donna ended up in MY city. The show ended with as much humor and grace a girl could ask for, but I will have withdrawals for years to come.

In honor of one of the best shows on television, I give to you:

What Parks and Recreation Taught Me About Love.

Ann & Leslie:

Lesson: hoes before bros, uteruses before duderuses, ovaries before brovaries.

It’s no surprise to anyone that my gal pals are more important than the hang-and-bang/casual encounters I’m currently experiencing. And let’s be real, they will probably trump the fella that weasels his way into my heart. Ann and Leslie are each other’s people. She’s the person on speed dial, and the one that Leslie turns to for every panic attack and crisis that gets thrown her way. I LOVED when Ann pops out of the office in the finale, Leslie shoves Ben out of the way. ANN’S HERE! Exactly. Her person is here. Face it dudes, we ladies just get each other… It’s just our thing.

Leslie and Ben

Lesson: Marry your best friend

When people ask what my dream relationship looks like, I kindly point to Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt. Here is why. They are smart, driven, nerdy people that adore each other. He compliments her insane drive for perfection, and she supports his creation of terrible calzones and board games.

Moving from hate, to co-workers, to crushes, to true love, it is the kind of on-screen romance that makes you grab your best friend and say, “I want THAT feeling again.” It’s everything you want in a relationship; honesty, humor, passion, support and most of all, “I like you and I love you.” If I take one thing into my love/marriage/union/whatever I find, it will be that simple, perfect line.

Ron and the Tammys

Lesson: NEVER DATE THE CRAZIES

No matter how good the sex is, or how much they take care of you, getting back with an ex never works out (unless you’re Anne and Chris Traeger—which I will explore in a minute.) We’ve all been in Ron’s shoes. You date some handsome, slightly insane human because it’s fun and why not? And then, when the red flags start popping up, instead of running for the hills, you hang out because HOT DAMN are they good in bed. Then you fall back into the nightmarish world of dating some one completely incompatible for you, and you end up with cornrows and a half stache. Ron, the epitome of strength and stoicism, turns to jelly in the hands of these powerful nut jobs, and we can probably all relate (sadly.) He’s best left alone in the woods, or with his wife that kind of just disappeared this season, but I think that was okay. Ron is best when he’s married to his steak, whiskey and country music.

Andy and April

Lesson: Opposites attract

Who doesn’t fall for the lovable goof ball with half a brain? Andy’s character is one of the best on the show. Starting off as the COMPLETE moron with two broken legs, he turns into this simple, endearing character you want to bear hug and carry in your pocket. He woos the most “hateful” person on the show, who is actually perceptive and kindhearted. These two outcasts (in such different ways) end up with the weirdest, most “awwww” worthy love, and it’s perfect. Andy’s undying love of April’s eccentricities, and April’s unwavering support of Andy’s shenanigans, results in a swoon-worthy relationship. When they ditch all responsibilities and drive to the Grand Canyon? That, right there, is what love should be.

Ann and Chris

Lesson: Work with what you’ve got

These two ending up together makes me shrug. On their own, they were both a little ridiculous and obnoxious. Together, it was even weirder. And when they broke up, Ann turned promiscuous and Chris got MORE intense, and that’s when I realized they really were better off together. Neither character ever really had a strong sense of self. Ann couldn’t define who she was as an individual and Chris has his depression period when he realized he was aging. So them deciding to make babies together and find comfort in the other’s insecurities made sense. Sure, it doesn’t make you feel all warm and fuzzy like the other relationships, but I get it. It also reminds me that I need to make a pact with some handsome fella in my life. So when we reach a certain age, and can still tolerate each other, we will grow old together, because sometimes you just have to settle. And you might as well do it with a decent person with a nice looking face.

Donna & Tom

Lesson: TREAT YO’ SELF

Alright, alright, I know that these two aren’t in a romantic relationship, and they both end up happily married. And while I like that they find their people, the real lesson learned from these two is that the most important person to love is yourself. Selfish? Not really. They remind me that a) it’s ALWAYS okay to pamper yourself and b) that you have to know who you are (down to those pink cashmere slippies) and love ALL of that before you can even consider letting someone else in. Donna (aka: my spirit diva) is the QUEEN of doing what she wants, when she wants, and she doesn’t let anyone stand in her way. She’s unabashedly herself, and owns it. That’s my kind of badass lady.

And Tom, while outrageous, knows that his lifestyle is meant to be full of soft, good smelling things, and he will do anything and everything to live the life he wants.

I will forever and always have TREAT YO’ SELF as a mantra, which is why these two make the list.

There are a lot of take aways from this beautiful show. Basically, I am waiting for the Ben to my Leslie and the Andy to my April. It reminds me to hug my girls and thank them for being a constant in my life, and ALWAYS avoid re-dating the crazies. Most importantly, this show reminds me to put my heart first, and surround myself with goofy people who know what life is about: Friends. Waffles. Work.

Pawnee, Indiana… I miss you already.

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