I know I talk about The Office a lot…like, too much. But this is one thing (plus Harry Potter) that I’m ok with being a #fangirl about. Because it’s awesome! And I’ve learned a lot from it (#sorrynotsorry).
They are definitely my favorite ‘item’ when it comes to movie/tv. I think the writers did a great job of portraying what a healthy relationship looks like without being cheesy or idealistic. The truth is there is no such thing as the perfect relationship (because there isn’t a perfect person, hello), but certainly there are standards we can strive toward personally and in our relationships.
Based on my extensive research (ok hours of Netflix) on The Office, here are some of the things I’ve learned from Jim and Pam’s relationship that I hope to carry out in my own life as well.
Friendship is key.
An idea that was reiterated in my interview with Nick, the importance of friendship in a romantic relationship cannot be over-emphasized. Jim and Pam knew each other for years before they started dating. Of course for us it was almost unbearable to watch Pam almost marry someone else while we saw Jim’s obvious love for her and Pam’s own, more subtle, feelings for Jim. We then saw Jim date someone else and how Pam suffered through that- but the whole time they remained good friends. They got to know each other slowly and in a low-stakes environment. Without the pressure of wanting to impress each other, they had the freedom to be themselves and care for the other person without worrying about potential rejection or any hurt that might bring with it. I don’t pretend to be a relationship expert (my ‘ex’ list has whopping 1 on there), however someone I know that is (she’s a marital counselor) told me: you should marry nothing less than your best friend.
We should let him lead.
Women are relational; meaning we largely define ourselves with the quality of our relationships. This is especially true when it comes to our relationship with a man. From a young age women tend to think a lot about boys, how they feel about us and daydream about what a relationship with them would be like. Once in a relationship, we often are thinking about ‘the next step’ and ultimately hoping to settle down. While men often want these things too, us women tend to focus on it a lot more. This causes us to often jump the gun; we meet someone and think ‘this could be it’ and get carried away with our hopes and dreams about the person without even fully knowing them yet.
What I love about Jim and Pam is that even though they are friends first, Jim takes the lead in pursuing her. He finally asks her out at the end of the third season and the best part is Pam’s attitude: ‘It will work out.’ She’s able to accept the possibility that things with Jim may never happen; her happiness isn’t dependent upon their relationship and therein lies the freedom and choice of love.
Good things take time.
There were times in the first three seasons that watching Jim and Pam continue to ‘miss’ each other was excruciating…I mean, they really dragged it out. However, I think that is what made the start of their relationship all the sweeter. At that point they knew each other, they were comfortable with each other and had already seen each other go through ups and downs in life. Their years of friendship made the romantic relationship more organic and authentic. Getting to know someone takes time and effort, it doesn’t just happen and we should understand that when we begin to take interest in someone. You don’t have to go out on a date right away or text all the time, it can be a slower, more intentional process that isn’t rushed or careless. Not only that, but trust is something that is built and earned- not assumed. As you get to know someone over time, you begin to see whether they are reliable, dependent, genuinely interested in you and whether or not you have the same goals for a relationship.
Love is sacrifice.
There’s just no way around it. The beautiful thing about relationships is that they cause us to grow (ideally). When you and your s/o are committed to ‘making it work,’ you inevitably end up pushing yourself as you face different challenges in the relationship. For example, in season 9 we see Jim (SPOILER ALERT: although if you haven’t seen the whole show by now…smh) turn down some pretty incredible job opportunities to stay in Scranton and work on his marriage with Pam. In the finale Pam sells their house without telling Jim so they can move the family and follow Jim’s dream job in Texas. Of course, these are some pretty major examples, I think often the sacrifices are less dramatic than this but that isn’t to say much easier. Watching the movie because you know they want to see it, going to the party/sporting event because they want to, cooking dinner when you’re tired…there are endless opportunities for sacrifices in relationships, especially marriage and that is ultimately where our love for the other person is tested and proven.
Pretty cool insights for a TV show right?