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    Jul 31, 2015

    32 Relationship Lessons We Learned From Harry Potter

    The most powerful magic of all.

    1. You won't always know The One when you meet them.

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    Taking the time to fall in love with someone doesn't make you love them any less. Love is about growing with someone, getting to know them and yourself. It's about becoming your own people and respecting each other for it.

    Ron and Hermione were both PRETTY obnoxious at the outset of the series, and we all know James had a LONG way to go before he was worthy of Lily, and that's ok! People can surprise you, people can get better, and everybody needs a little time to find themselves

    2. But you might.

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    Ginny was mad about Harry from the second she saw him, but that didn't keep their relationship from deepening and becoming its own thing, unfettered by a childhood crush, as the years went on.

    Some people fall in love at first sight, some people do it slowly, but what matters is keeping the commitment once you've made it.

    3. Platonic love is real.

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    The nonexistent love triangle that launched a thousand shipping wars proves it. Harry and Hermione were great friends without a hint or interest in romance. They loved each other, they were family, and it was beautiful. A strong, truly platonic friendship is hard to find, but ones built on mutual respect, trust, and admiration are possible.

    4. And romantic love isn't rational.

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    Dormant Harmony shippers MAY want to argue in the comments regarding JK Rowling's recent suggestion that maybe Harry and Hermione were more compatible than Ron and Hermione, but compatible as they were, they weren't into each other, sorry.

    And the truth is, that's kind of beautiful. Compatibility is important in friendships AND romantic relationships, but just because something ticks all the boxes on paper doesn't mean it feels right in the heart.

    5. We all love imperfectly.

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    There is no one in the Potterverse who loves flawlessly, and the fact that we all do things wrong, that we all fumble even when we feel big and beautiful things, is such a lovely message.

    Ron and Hermione fight, Harry doesn't always give Ginny enough credit, Lily breaks Snape's heart, and his pain at love lost makes him bitter. Narcissa makes a deal with the devil to save her son, Dumbledore falls for the wrong guy. It happens to everybody. That's kind of comforting when you think about it.

    6. Falling in love can be nice.

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    Who wasn't warmed when Remus and Tonks coupled up, or thinking about how Lily softened James and helped him become a better person?

    No doubt about it, falling in love can be a really lovely experience. Even when the timing is horrible (like realising you can't live another second without someone when you're in the middle of the Chamber of Secrets), and even when it doesn't last (*cough* Cho Chang *cough*).

    Love is nice, and teenagers know it better than anyone, and romance in the Potterverse can be undeniably magical, even when it's not the central storyline.

    7. But it's usually just awkward.

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    HP does nice love nicely, but it does the growing pains of falling in love as a teenager perfectly.

    The reality of finding the right partner is that, you know, you do actually have to find them (Accio soul mate is not a thing, sorry). From bumbling dates and break-ups (looking at you Cho and Lavender), to looking shit at a school dance, Harry Potter GETS what it's like to have your first romantic experiences, and knows that as sweet as they are, they're also pretty damn uncomfortable, and that's natural.

    8. And kind of terrible, tbh.

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    Falling in love was never a central plot-line in the books, but still Our Lady J.K. never failed to get it right – especially when it came to painful parts. Love is hard, it hurts, having a crush is crushing, and loving somebody who might never love you back can change who you are as a person.

    Snape, Ron, Hermione, and Harry all taught us at different points that watching the person you want to be with be with someone else (or even just being afraid they might!) is a really terrible thing, but also that everybody goes through it. Whether you're a shy, vulnerable kid, a genius, or an international superstar, we've all had the experience of unrequited love at least once in our lives, and it doesn't make us any less awesome as individuals.

    9. And romance is the smallest piece of a much bigger puzzle, anyway.

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    The Harry Potter books taught us a lot about different kinds of romantic relationships and a lot about falling in love as you grow up, but let's be honest, that is SO NOT THE POINT.

    The most valuable kinds of love have nothing to do with coupling up and epic kisses and Disney-style happy endings. Harry Potter taught us that the love of friends and family is EVERYTHING, and just as important and life-changing as finding the person you're going to marry.

    10. Love is about loyalty.

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    The most meaningful characters and relationships of the series were the ones that stuck even when things got hard. Dobby stood by his gut and risked his life for Harry, like so many of our favourite characters would – Neville, Dumbledore, Ron, and Hermione, the whole DA.

    When it comes down to it, love is about staying. Whether it's your partner, your friend, your brother, sister, father, mother, nothing is more meaningful than knowing someone is on your side.

    11. Respect and trust.

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    There were all kinds of loving relationships in the Harry Potter books. Mentors and students, friends, romantic partners, siblings, parents and children, and the thing that the most successful ones had in common was mutual respect and trust.

    Harry and Dumbledore certainly developed a mentorship based on these qualities, and the moments in the books where their faith in each other faltered led to some of the darkest moments. Ron and Hermione's relationship took off after Ron proved he listened and valued what was important to her. Every year the Golden Trio relied on each other to solve huge problems and to make it our alive.

    12. Sacrifice.

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    Lily, Dumbledore, Dobby, Remus, Tonks, Fred, Harry. All of these people were willing to die out of love for other people.

    Now, death is a pretty extreme example of sacrifice, but there's no question that the message is about putting our loved ones' best interests above our own. The principle applies to your everyday situation, how we spend our money and time, taking a deep breath and speaking calmly to someone even when it would feel better to shout, compromising on everyday situations to make a partner, friend, or family member's life a little better.

    13. Forgiveness.

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    Voldemort and Bellatrix aside, Harry's journey included being hurt by a lot of people who were, at the end of the day, just human, and as the series drew to a close, he had a chance to show love instead of bitterness by mending relationships with Snape, Dudley, and to some extent even Draco.

    Snape's narrative is particularly important when it comes to talking about love and forgiveness – his inability to forgive James for his immaturity when they were kids had a clear effect on his life and ability to open up to other people, and added so much negativity to his feelings for Lily.

    And let's not forget the Weasley's welcoming Percy back even after he supported a cover-up that contributed to hundreds of deaths.

    14. And good old-fashioned kindness.

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    Let's talk about how the foundation for all of the best relationships in the Potter books come down to just being NICE to each other. It's easy, but it's hard. Having an open heart is scary, but it also opens you up to amazing and surprising friendships.

    Characters who had it tough in the teenage social circle, like Luna, and Neville, found their place in the DA because people like Harry and Hermione were accepting of them. Ron and Harry learned a major lesson early on about the consequences of being unkind to Hermione, and if they hadn't had a change of heart and gone to save her, they definitely would have died before the end of Goblet of Fire, let's be honest.

    15. Happy endings aren't guaranteed.

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    If Harry Potter taught us anything, it's that no one is invincible, even if we love them so much we need them to be.

    Loss is a part of life, and whether you lose someone to death or growing apart, you can never be sure the people you love will be around forever. If life was fair, Teddy's parents would have lived, Sirius would still be around, George would have never lost a brother, the Diggorys would have never lost a son – but nothing's fair in love and war, and sometimes we're left to pick up the pieces.

    16. So never take a loved one for granted.

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    Awareness that your love can only protect someone so much gives you the opportunity to love them to the best of your ability all the time. Harry, who lost so much, turned the reality of loss into big, meaningful love for everyone in his life.

    Knowing he could, and would lose people was scary, but it's also what made him brave to love people the best he could, and to give as much as he could for everyone else.

    17. Always stand up for the people you love.

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    The wizarding world taught us a lot about love, and loyalty, and about the simple vitality of sticking up for your friends and never accepting unfairness for them.

    When you love someone, you have their back, but more than that, you just don't stand for people being nasty to them, and when someone says something unfair to someone you love, you call them out, even when it puts you out to do so.

    18. Everybody needs somebody.

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    Aside from the guy who literally sold his soul, every character in the Potterverse, even the most deplorable, is proof that there's a piece of all of us that cares for and needs company and love. From Filch and Umbridge with their cat fascination to Harry, desperate for family, to Barty Crouch, who broke the law he loved so much to save his son and wife.

    There are a lot of unlikable people in the wizarding world, but they're all human and it comes down to remembering that every single one of them looks to others for love and comfort. The only irredeemable character in the whole series is the one who closed himself off to everyone, who literally and physically stripped himself of the capacity to give and receive compassion.

    19. You don't always get the love you deserve.

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    In other words, life isn't fair, but it's also what you make it. Harry Potter is riddled with characters who could have used a lot more love. Some of them grew up without parents, or with too many siblings to get their parents' attention, or their parents were literally named after the devil and the god of self-involvement so they never stood a chance (I mean Lucius and Narcissa? Tough luck, kid).

    Some of them were in love with people who didn't love them back, or didn't love them well enough, and some of them lived through the death of siblings and children and never got to live their lives fully with the people they loved most. Some of them were just lonely.

    This is the worst. It's unfair, and it's often unavoidable. Harry, Ron, Snape, Neville, Draco, Tom Riddle all dealt with the lack of love in different ways, and it turned them all into very different people. The best of them realised that not having love was no good excuse not to give it.

    20. So when you do find people who love you, never let them go.

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    Best friends stick together. In a world where love is easily taken away or hard to find, Harry Potter teaches us that the people who matter are worth sticking with.

    Ron, Harry, and Hermione all had moments where they could have let their friendship fall apart over petty things, but at the end of the day, they valued their relationships too much to let anything tear them apart. They faced the pains of growing up and the pains of dealing with a psycho-killer and came out of it on the other side as friends for life. That's love, guys.

    21. Because there's nothing like the love of family.

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    Without a doubt the most important connections throughout Harry Potter are the relationships between family, or the yearning for family. Siblings, parents, and children may squabble, but at the end of the day, your family are the people who should always be there.

    The biggest pains of loss throughout the books are the loss of children, siblings, parents, because these relationships are so often the ones that last and the ones you should always be able to count on.

    22. And family has nothing to do with blood.

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    A father isn't a father because of biology. Family is about creating the kind of bond that can withstand anything. Blood represents a deep and unwavering attachment but it isn't a prerequisite to that level of commitment to someone.

    Harry's story is one of cobbling together a family out of misfits. Everyone is looking for the kind of connections family brings, and just because you weren't born into a group that values those connections, that doesn't mean you won't find them out in the world.

    23. It's just as important to love yourself as it is to love others.

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    You can't give anyone else your best if you don't value what makes your best worth having. Characters like Ron and Neville struggle with confidence and identity throughout the series, and it takes them years to come into their own.

    For Neville, it's realising that he's capable of leading and loving and trusting himself for that. For Ron, the fear of not being good enough for his family, for Harry, for Hermione is a crippling flaw and the main thing that actually keeps him from being good enough. When he's able to to destroy the locket and put himself and his friends above his feelings of inadequacy, he becomes the hugely brave and capable person that was always lurking behind his fear.

    24. Love is stronger than death.

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    Harry's mother literally protects her son with her love even after she's dead. And Snape keeps her memory alive, and because of his love for her, he keeps saving Harry even after the magic of her love wears off.

    Sirius said it best: "The people we love never truly leave us."

    25. But it's also about accepting that things end.

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    Let's talk about Voldemort's BIGGEST problem for a second. The guy could not get past the fact that he couldn't live forever, that he couldn't have EVERYTHING.

    His obsession with making things last landed him with nothing that was worth lasting, and he never had the chance to live and enjoy life and other people because he couldn't get his head around finality.

    When Dumbledore advises Harry not to let his yearning for his parents overtake his life, what he's really saying is that Harry has to let them and the love of them go in order to be the best person for himself and the other people in his life.

    Being selfish closes you off to giving love, and definitely to receiving it, because you're too busy wanting more of everything to see what you've already been offered,

    26. A little bit goes a long way.

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    One act of love, loyalty, sacrifice, or kindness can change someone's life.

    One act saved Harry's. One act saved the entire Wizarding World. One act could have saved Tom Riddle if he'd been offered it.

    Never underestimate an action that comes from love, whether it costs you everything or nothing, it could mean so much to one person or many.

    27. You can't force love.

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    It's a bad idea. Tom Riddle's mum tried it and you see how that turned out. Snape tried it and you see how that turned out. Romilda Vane tried it and we all know how that went down.

    When you really love someone, you can't demand their love back. Love is a gift and you have to give it without expectation. It kind of sucks, but it's kind of wonderful – love has nothing to do with points, with logic, with rules. Love is completely beyond all of those things. IT DOES WHAT IT WANTS, and we just have to let it.

    28. But it is a choice.

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    Feeling love and attachment is one thing. Acting out of love is a completely different one. A kneejerk blush because you like someone, or a sense of protection are signs that we can't control, but a choice to be better for other people, a choice to do good, a choice to value love over everything else when you could be selfish – that's the whole point of feeling love.

    29. And valuing power over love is a bad choice.

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    Money is convenient, the Malfoys taught us that.

    Power is pretty cool, Umbridge and Voldemort taught us that.

    But love is the POINT. Pretty much everyone in the series you'd actually want to meet taught us that.

    30. Love isn't about being dependent on other people.

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    Hermione loves everyone. She loves Harry and Ron so much she breaks the rules for them even when she'd rather not. She loves House Elves so much she started a campaign to free them. She loves her parents so much she erased their memories of her to save their lives.

    But Hermione can handle herself like nobody's business. Because loving those people doesn't mean she needs them. She follows her own path, becomes her own woman, speaks her own mind no matter what.

    And Neville is one of the most loving and lovable characters in the series. He's good and kind to everyone, he has a big and loyal heart. But he also never fails to do what he thinks is right and good, even when the people he loves may not like it.

    Because love doesn't make you weak or vulnerable, it makes you good, and wise, and strong.

    31. But the people who love you most can be depended on.

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    That's the main reason why you love them, right? It doesn't make them perfect, and it doesn't mean they'll always do exactly what you want. But where it counts, they're there. And when they leave, they come back. And when they hurt you, they're sorry.

    And if they don't? Maybe they haven't learned what love is yet.

    32. Until the very end.

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    When you love someone, you stay.

    And when someone you love leaves you, you keep them with you.


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