What we see on television is ostensibly supposed to reflect real life at least a little - if it didn't, why would we even bother watching? A lot of the time it's bigger, louder, more expensive, and more beautiful than real life, but there's still that grain of truth that keeps it connected to our own pitiful existences.
When it comes to relationships, this holds true some of the time. So, when we're trying to figure out where we stand in the relationship spectrum, or trying to classify the relationships of those around us, it's reasonable to look to television to get some ideas.
Read on to find out what some of those (admittedly rather arbitrary) types of relationships are.
The Perfect Neurotic Match
There's always that one "perfect" couple who has to make the rest of the dating/married/involved world feel like they're just not doing it right. Like Rex and Leigh from, surprise surprise, Perfect Couples. We all like to think that we're doing the best we can in whatever relationships we're involved in, but these types of couples just put the rest of us to shame.
These are the people you'll see making googly eyes at each other, sitting in each other's laps, and clinging onto each other for dear life, long past the point when it stops being cute and starts to get tedious or even downright creepy. You end up wanting to tell them to get a room, only the last time you did that they actually did get a room and then you wish you'd never said it because they're even more in love when it's just the two of them. And a bed. Or a counter. Or the floor. They're not picky. The only thing they can't stand is being apart from one another for more than a nanosecond.
The Constant Break-Uppers
Almost as tedious as the Perfect Neurotic Match are the Constant Break-Uppers, such as Ross and Rachel from Friends. They seem to have even more passion than the first type of couple, going so far as to hole themselves away from the world for weeks on end and coming out only long enough to forage for food. When they do finally get back in contact with their friends, they'll gush about how they've found their soul-mates ad nauseam.
And then, a week later, you'll get a tearful phone call detailing the terrible fight, which may or may not have involved name-calling, fists, and semi-automatic weapons. It will be so bad that you'll be forced to say that you're glad the relationship is over so everyone can move on to greener pastures. The puzzling silence from the other party will be resolved when you find out within the next week that he or she has gotten back together with the ex. This cycle will continue pretty much forever and there's nothing you can do or say to change the situation.
The Long Awaited Love Connection
These are the couples that make television rating gold. Although we don't care much for couples who are endlessly in love, or who yo-yo so frequently that we just give up on them, we can't get enough of those star-crossed lovers like Jim and Pam from The Office who we just know are going to end up together but seem to take forever getting there. Our collective hearts flutter as they flirt and giggle, date other people and perhaps sneak a kiss here and there. We know they'll be a couple in the end, but the tension keeps us on the edge of our seats!
In real life, of course, there aren't hungry fans watching most of the time, so there isn't the same need to draw out the eventual consummation of the relationship. In fact, if it's a couple that we know, we can get a little annoyed that they just never take the leap. If you're in the situation where two friends just won't suck it up and make out already, you might just want to lock them in a room together for the weekend.
Used To Be Lovers, Now Just Friends
Nothing quite like the old 'used to be lovers, now just friends' routine. In real life, this rarely seems to work out well - one person almost always ends up hanging onto to those old feelings. But on television it can often work just fine, as long as the writers don't decide to get the couple back together to try for a ratings boost.
Having a couple on a TV show break up and remain friends creates the perfect situation for working in jokes, like when Jerry is talking about Elaine's breast-touching experience. He says she doesn't know how to tell if breasts are real; she says she's touched hers, and then Jerry says that he's touched them too. Boo-yeah! Comedy gold!
The Physical MismatchThe Physical Mismatch
Writers of television shows want to encourage tension and drama. Why else would we spend all our time watching TV, instead of, you know, going out and making our own entertainment like people used to do?
It's also pretty much a fact that women in TV shows have to look like air-brushed 20 year olds (no matter their real age or appearance) and guys can look pretty much any way they want.
Put these two things together and what do you get? The Physical Mismatch couple, of course! There's endless entertainment to be had from watching a chunky guy and his skinny-as-a-stick wife do the kinds of things normal people do.
The Family Couple
Sometimes, a couple on TV is just put there because it takes two people to make a baby (at least until science catches up with the times). They're not really seen as an individual entity; they're just there as part of a bigger grouping.
We understand that a lot of people don't want to think about their own parents, or most parents really for that matter, being all lovey-dovey. However, the truth is that people don't lose their passionate feelings for one another just because they have a few kids. Parents are people, too, with real feelings towards each other. Really, if people watching these shows don't want to be reminded of where the kids actually came from, then they have bigger problems than the parents showing each other a little bit of lovin'.
The Same-Sex Marriage
We don't know about you, but we're pleased as punch that TV writers have finally managed to work same-sex couples into the programming pantheon in a tasteful way in shows such as Modern Family. Mitchell and Cameron even have an adopted daughter to boot!
What we like about this type of TV couple is that they're representative of real life. Sure, the characters are exaggerated to make a point (as always in TV shows), but they're not used as a plot device or to tell us something greater about the world. They're just two people who love one another enough to tolerate each other's foibles.