6 Lessons I Learned from How I Met Your Mother that will Help Me Find the Mother in My Future Story

First written on April 1, 2014 by Javier Martinez

Today is a sad day. It is the end of an era. End of the line.Today is the day that the ground-breaking #Legendary show How I Met Your Mother comes to an end. After nine years, Ted Mosby will have finally met the woman of his dreams that will complete his adventure. I have grown up with this show, following its every step, every twist and turn waiting for this very moment. It is a very good show. Beyond it being a comedy, it is actually a guideline if you will. A blueprint on how to love and how to search for it for both men and women. For these purposes I will focus on the men, because of what I have personally learned and from which I will apply these lessons.

For those not familiar with the show, There are five main characters and three males, Barney, Ted and Marshall. Barney is the playboy, corporate guy who treats women disposably and attempts to use his charm to get as many women as possible to cover up other issues ( abandonment, lonliness, etc). Ted is the consummate dreamer and hopeless romantic, he believes in love, destiny and is not ashamed to chase after it or admit it. Marshall is Mr. Consistent. He is a lawyer and judge, loving friend, loving husband who has been with the same one woman for over 10 years and will never look. Intended or not, I believe these three men are the phases of the modern man, each a pathway to the next step. For different parts of our lives, we become one of them.

Beyond the hilarious plotlines, the creative antics of Barney, all the ways to #HighFive the quirks of Robin, the schemes of Lily’s, the plays from the #Playbook, the rich story of the #BroCode and Bro History, the sartorial advice, to making every memory #Legendary these are the lessons I will take away with me from this show (in addition to the intricacies of the Bro Code and Suiting Up obviously):

Vulnerability is the bridge to real connection.

No one exemplifies this more than Ted. From the day he met Robin onto Victoria onto Stella onto Zoe and countless others. Ted is the one to always break “The Three Day Rule.” Despite warnings from Barney and even Marshall to wait and slow down, he never heeds these instead plows ahead with his wistful energy and genuine affection. How often are we touched by someone so forcefully and immediate? Rarely, right? and in life generally we tend to regret the words we don’t say, so Ted never waits. There is a wonderful scene in Season 8 where he explains that he doesn’t want anyone that wants him to wait 3 days, that wants him to hold himself back, and play these games, someone who will accept him for who he is. In all of his relationships, successful or not vulnerability proved the bridge to a lasting and real connection. One that had the power to change and improve him. Going forward I plan to fight my fear of crossing this bridge.

Nothing haunts us like the things we don’t say.

Going along those lines, it bears repeating. Nothing in this world haunts us like the things we don’t say. I can count several personal examples but this isn’t my diary. When Marshall’s father passes away in Season 6, he frets about what he said and didn’t say before he passed away. Throughout season 3 & 4, Barney frets about all his newfound feelings for Robin and all the moments he had the opportunity to express them and ensure he can take the opportunity. I know its cliché, but in looking back at the story of our lives, lets make sure we said everything there is to say, there are too many mediums to communicate with each other and life is too short. Let’s think about it this way; when was the last time someone touched a part of you other than your body? The next time this happens, it is only appropriate to step into that moment.

Somewhere Someone is Searching for You in Every Person They Meet.

Ted in his journey to find the mother of his children has an idea of everything he wants (one requirement was to play bass lol). Beyond the novelty of these concerns, it does demonstrate a serious point. We all have an idea of what we want and need to be happy, and we search for it in everyone we meet. We will meet plenty of people that are worthy and great and teach us a lesson, until we meet that person that shows why it never worked out with anyone else. Mulitple people in your life can fulfill you in a different ways, along the way to becoming the person you are meant to be, to find the person you are meant to be with. History shouldn’t ever become an issue, without a history, without the pursuit, you would never find the authenticity of a love truly meant for you.

No Man is Perfect, but Give Credit to the Man that Tries

This lesson I learned from Barney Stinson. He is a self-aggrandizing, scheming, selfish person solely concerned with the conquest. However as you watch over the seasons, you learn why he is the way he is (abandonment issues with his father among others). He falls in love a few separate times and learns that he his heart needs sustenance for his life to have meaning. Everyone’s heart is essentially a furnace to keep us warm, but it needs to be set ablaze. When he realizes this he tries his best with Robin, with Nora, and with Quinn. Does this change him? No. He is still fundamentally flawed however he still finds love with Robin, who ultimately accepts all of his flaws, quirks and schemes . He may not be perfect but by trying to grow he became who he needed to be for Robin to fully accept him. The lesson here is that ultimately your flaws are perfect for the heart meant to love you.

Don’t Regret Something You Once Felt. Ever.

Life is rough. The trick is not minding that it hurts. Ted experienced his set of heartbreak with love and relationships. This sometimes led to mistakes and new relationships that weren’t the bad thing. Did this deter him? Absolutely not, he knew the truth many of us forget, that you never fall in love the same way twice. Love grows and enrichs, sparking new potential, creativity and enjoyment in your life, every time, no matter how many times.
After that type of heartbreak (getting left at the altar) it can be hard to trust, hard to venture beyond ourselves. This fear of vulnerability and fear must be resisted and put to rest as soon as possible; you never know who you could meet. Someitmes a new person can take us from the ghost town of our inner selves to exciting new landscapes. In that instance its worth the risk, just to feel reborn. Even if that risk turns for the worst and creates more heartbreak, just remember everything is temporary; Except the moments you create. Those things lead to memories & no matter how many shots you take they don’t disappear. Those memories are priceless, the scars on your heart are invaluable, but regretting what you once felt, denies you from benefitting/cashing in and gaining the value.

Being in Love is a Beautiful & Complicated Thing. Even When Things Get Tough and it’s Overwhelming at Times. It’s ALWAYS Worth It.

Every character in this show demonstrates this from one time or another. With Marshall and Lily, they are together for over a decade but their life isn’t as gilded as it seems. Both struggle with balancing family and career. In Season 2, Lily moves away because she is afraid marrying Marshall will never allow her to become an artist. In Season 8 & 9, Marshall struggles with going to Rome to fulfill Lily’s dream at the expense of his dream to become a judge. Ted decides to move to New Jersey with Stella and be a father to Lucy despite his demonstrated opposition (The wedding gets cancelled, so he doesn’t have to).

Barney’s relationship with Robin is the most complicated relationship on the show with Robin being Ted’s ex girlfriend, Robin choosing Don over him in Season 5, Robin choosing Kevin over Barney, despite Barney leaving Nora for her. Yet Robin creates the ultimate play “The Robin” to show just how beautiful and pure his love is for Robin despite the complications. The journey matters, the complications contain value. Every mistake, every hiccup is just the next step in the path to a greater love. Love in itself can be so hauntingly beautiful. It has the power to wake up our past selves that have been wandering aimlessly thru the corridors of our soul for way too long and realize the people we are to become. Ultimately the biggest lesson I have learned in life and reinforced through this show is this: Love is NOT a feeling. Lust, passion, etc are feelings. Love is a decision with acts that constantly recommit us to that decision. It’s a decision that should not be made lightly but once it is made, should never be resisted or regretted.

Also, when you look good you feel good, so since you’re going to fall in love anyway always always always #SUITUP

Thank you HIMYM!

-Ps if you haven’t seen the show; start immediately record it on your DVR or sign up for Netflix ASAP!



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Corey Ponder

Corey Ponder

Tech policy professional by day, wannabe superhero by night. Passionate about building communities, spaces, and platforms focused on inclusion and empathy.