- There are still a lot of things viewers can learn from The CW’s “Gossip Girl,” especially when it comes to relationships.
- Insider spoke to a therapist to figure out what practical advice viewers and their partners can learn from the series.
- Don’t be afraid to make the first move or be the first to say “I love you.”
- You should never change who you are just to be with someone.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The CW’s “Gossip Girl” is known for its fashions, dramatic feuds, and, most notably, its powerful and oftentimes dysfunctional relationships.
To see what practical advice viewers and their partners can actually learn from the series, Insider spoke to Kelly Scott, a couples therapist at Tribeca Therapy in New York City.
Here are eight valuable relationship lessons that viewers can take away from “Gossip Girl.”
Playing games with a partner or potential one isn’t usually worth it — it’s better to be honest about what you want.
Although it can be tempting to play hard-to-get or to string someone along for a bit, Scott said she advises that people leave the game-playing at the door and be open and honest about what they want.
“Manipulation and coercion are the enemies of true intimacy,” she said, noting that playing games can cost you your relationship or hamper a close connection. “Again, this is often rooted in fear of loss or distrust in the other person’s reactions.”
Blair and Chuck spent the better part of the series playing games with one another, like during season two when they kept trying to make each other jealous just to get someone to say “I love you” first.
Had they just been honest and avoided manipulating one another, they may have gotten together a lot sooner.
Going from friends to romantic partners can work, but it’s important to be aware of the risks that can come with it.
On “Gossip Girl,” viewers saw a few pairs of friends become something more – sometimes it worked out and other times it didn’t.
As Scott told Insider, it can be tricky to manoeuvre a friends-to-lovers situation, but she believes that friendship can be a good foundation for love as long as both people are prepared and willing to take the next step.
“It’s possible for relationships to transition from platonic to romantic, but that requires open communication, flexibility, and confidence,” she said. “It also requires both parties to tolerate possible disappointment without becoming resentful or withdrawing.
In Chuck and Blair’s case, both were in love with each other and willing to make their relationship work (although they notably went through many unhealthy lengths to do so).
On the other hand, Dan and Vanessa, who went from long-time friends to romantic partners, never seemed to be on the same page – they broke up soon after they got together.
Don’t be afraid to make the first move or be the first to say “I love you.”
“Straightforward communication and action are almost always the best way to find a way forward,” she said. “That way, everyone knows where they stand, which creates safety and security.”
Scott told Insider that waiting for the other person to make the move can create unnecessary stress on the situation, adding, “Waiting for the other person can feel like a setup, or a test to be either passed or failed.”
Throughout seasons one and two, Chuck and Blair both refused to make the first movie and confess that they were falling in love with one another. By the end of season two, Blair finally told Chuck she loved him.
Eventually, Chuck confessed his feelings, too. But, if the two had been honest from the start, maybe they could’ve gotten together much sooner and under less stressful and intense circumstances.
It’s OK to change your mind, even if you’ve already made big promises and plans.
During “Gossip Girl’s” six-season run, viewers see a lot of characters realise that they don’t want the person or thing they believed they once thought they did, especially when it comes to romantic relationships.
Such is the case with Nate and Blair, who once thought they’d get married only to entirely change their minds.
Scott said that although there is something to be said for patience and waiting for the right timing, it’s up to the individual to assess whether it’s worth waiting someone out to see if you’re on the same page in the future.
“It can be really painful to wait around for something or someone while you are passing up other opportunities to be happy and fulfilled,” she told Insider. “Sometimes we get hung up on one person, which causes a lot of frustration and suffering. Be patient, but be realistic.”
And, in general, it’s OK to change your mind, especially if you realise what you want now isn’t what you wanted before.
In the example of Blair and Nate, the two realised that even though they once promised each other big things, they were no longer on the same page.
They were able to stay friends and find happiness with other people, reminding viewers that it’s OK to change your plans, especially if you and your partner no longer share the same goals.
Sometimes taking some time apart to grow as individuals can make a relationship stronger down the road.
Scott told Insider that sometimes taking a break can make a relationship stronger, especially if one or both individuals feel they are sacrificing too much to be with their partner.
“I tell my patients that their relationship can only be as good as the two inputs it receives. If one or both people aren’t well, the relationship can’t be well. And if someone is sacrificing too much for the relationship, like career opportunities, there is a risk of resentment forming,” Scott said, noting that this can tank an otherwise loving relationship.
In Chuck and Blair’s case, potentially missing out on career opportunities was holding them both back during season six, so taking a break to focus on individual achievements worked for them, especially since they openly communicated their concerns and expectations.
History isn’t everything — sometimes it’s best to let a relationship go when you realise it isn’t making you happy anymore.
Even though it can be hard to end a relationship after you’ve put a lot of time and effort into it, it’s important to pay attention if it’s no longer making you feel happy or fulfilled.
“The past is not justification for the future,” Scott told Insider. “Just because you have a lot of shared experiences, that doesn’t mean the relationship is able to make you happy moving forward. It can be really hard to let go of history, but sometimes it’s what is needed to find fulfillment on the other side.”
This was the case with long-term couple Rufus Humphrey and Lily van der Woodsen, who ended their relationship after they realised they began to want different things, even though they had a shared history and had invested a lot of time into their relationship.
Although breaking up wasn’t easy, Rufus and Lily both went on to find happiness with other people.
If you and your partner do not share core goals and values, it can be hard to make a relationship work.
Although couples can seem perfect from the outside – especially on “Gossip Girl” where appearances are a huge deal – what makes a pairing so strong comes down to core values.
And if these core values are not at all similar, it can be really difficult to make a relationship work.
“… Core values and goals for the future need to be relatively aligned for a relationship to be viable long term,” Scott said. “Relationships built on too much sacrifice often don’t stand the test of time because they are imbalanced and not sustainable.”
In the case of Blair and Prince Louis, the two got engaged because their relationship seemed picture-perfect, but they did not really share future goals and dreams.
When they wed, Blair was in love with someone else (Chuck) and Prince Louis was sacrificing his own happiness just to save face in the world of royals.
You should never change who you are just to be with someone.
“When you start giving up things that are central to who you are as a person, that’s a warning sign,” Scott told Insider. “A healthy relationship is able to accommodate both people’s needs without either needing to suffer.”
Generally, although Scott said that expecting some sacrifice is reasonable and even necessary to build a loving relationship, there’s a point at which you need to step back and evaluate.
In the case of Nate and Vanessa, their relationship was doomed from the start, since Vanessa felt she had to sacrifice her passions and her lifestyle just to be with Nate and fit into his elite social circle.