As a television show, “How I Met Your Mother” does something fundamental that most shows either can’t do or won’t do. HIMYM forces itself to actually be relevant. It’s an important show that we’ll look back on, just like “I Love Lucy” and “Seinfeld.” Unlike “Seinfeld” (Which is a terrible show), HIMYM has a thesis that it is spending 8 seasons and counting to try and prove: No one really wants to be single. If you think about the show, thinking about that one statement, you understand that everything the show does is in an effort to prove that statement as true.
I don’t really believe that thesis, but I believe the show believes it. That is what gives the show such core guidance and direction. Because of this core idea, the show has provided us with three different types of single people, convincing us that, if you’re single, you have to be one of these three. So, single people: are you a Robin, a Ted or a Barney?
Note: Before I get started, you’ll notice that there is no Liley or Marshell references. There isn’t really a “Liley” character or a “Marshell” character. They only work together. I’m sure some of you disagree, but it is impossible to use Liley and Marshall in the context of single people if they were only single for a few episodes, and even then it was pathetic. Also, you can be a Robin, a Ted or a Barney, no matter what gender or sexual orientation you are.
Single people that fit into the category of Robin enjoy their independence but also enjoy the pleasures of being in a relationship. They want a lover, often and a lot However, they don’t want a lover to tell them what to do or how to do it or where to go. Robins enjoy dating but only enjoy it for the first year or so. After that, they get sick of dating and are afraid of the trappings that come with a commitment. Robins will sabotage a relationship after a year and get into a new relationship with a new person with the full intention of being in a committed relationship, but only for a relatively short period of time.
This explains why Robin and Barney dated. It made sense that the character who doesn’t want a long term relationship would fall in love with the person who barely can have a relationship.
Robins use their career as an excuse for not dating. I did this back in graduate school. I refused to date anyone until I graduated, because I didn’t need the distraction. I had plenty of short term deals, but nothing that required work. Once I graduated, I used the excuse of getting a better job and so on.
Robins usually put a ton of effort in a relationship at first, but then get bored and tired later on. The odds of them getting married are slim. However, if the marriage or the relationship seems like it would require little effort, then Robins will be in one. (I haven’t seen season 8 yet! Don’t spoil it!).
Teds are the one’s who desperately want to be in a committed, long term relationship. Teds want to get married, and will do whatever it takes to get married. However, Teds only want the idealized version of marriage and only look for idealized versions of other people. Therefore, no one is ever good enough for Teds and ultimately Teds are taking too long to find that “Special Someone.” Their identity is tied to the relationships they are in, both with friends and with lovers. They hate being alone and view being single as a sad state of affairs. Teds are annoying, but fun with a few beers.
Ted wants the house, the partner, the kids, all that. But Teds don’t know WHY they want them. They just want them. Since there is no strong reason why Teds want marriage, then there is no real, strong driving force to achieve it. Every time Ted’s relationships fell apart on the show, he lets them. Teds believe that if “they are the one,” then it will work out. It’s lazy. It’s alo completely unrealistic. The classic “I love you” on the first date shows this. It wasn’t that Ted shouldn’t have said it. Ted is fine saying it. But, sense the other person didn’t say it, then she’s not the one.
Teds date constantly and are depressed when the relationships don’t work out. Teds also sacrifice their careers to date and will make poor moral choices just to find the idealized person that they think they need. Teds are also hopeless romantics, which is great at first. But, it gets super annoying after the tenth time they do a rain dance and actually make it rain.
Teds, of course, get married. But, Teds only get married when they understand WHY they want to get married in the first place. This takes time, and a ton of dating, and a ton of broken hearts. Lots of drinking, too.
Barneys don’t want a relationship. It’s not because they have a fear of commitment. Most people think that, but it’s not true. Barneys have a fear of domestication. They fear the house, the car, the two kids. They don’t mind that other people have these things, but they have no want or need for it. Thus, they only have random relationships. This mainly stems from a strange childhood where they weren’t allowed to have much fun as a kid, so they have as much fun as they can as an adult. Also, Barneys believe that their worldview is the only correct worldview. They don’t understand how other people see the world. So, Barneys think they are making the world a better place by being single.
Relationships for Barneys are about fun. They only date people who make their life more interesting. If the other person fails to do that, then there is no reason to date them long term. Barneys are very susceptible to falling in love with someone that truly impresses them, which is rare. There is also some parts of personal growth in Barneys. They might need more attention from one person than some attention from multiple people. The older you get, the more you want stability, which relationships provide.
Unlike Robins and Teds, Barneys could very well stay single for the rest of their lives. They know how to do it and are comfortable with it. There could be a certain level of depression when getting people to have random sex with you gets harder and harder the older you get. However, people’s sex drives slow down as well, making it a mute point. And, unlike Robins, Barneys are not afraid of people taking away their independence. Barneys have created their lives to the point where losing your independence against one’s free will is basically impossible.
If you are single and over thirty, you are one of these three people. That’s not a good or a bad thing. It just is. The longer you think about yourself, and your relationships, the more you can see which one you are. After a half bottle of whiskey, I understood I was a Robin, with some shades of Ted and a history of being a Barney for about five years. And, you know what. I’m fine with that.