Romance was its own thing in the '90s. Before you could Google people or stalk them on social media, relationships began more organically, and our ideas about what made a good or "perfect" relationship were sometimes different to what they are now. The ideas we had about perfect relationships in the '90s weren't always that weird, of course. We still wanted things like companionship and trust and what not. But there were other, fairly '90s specific notions that we superimposed onto our #relationshipgoals, which we obviously didn't call #relationshipgoals because hashtagging everything as a #goal wasn't a thing back then. (Hopefully it won't be a thing for too much longer either.)
Falling in love in the '90s was different because you couldn't text your way to it, and you had to really physically be present for a lot of stuff, which led to some wild daydreaming about what perfection really looked like. A lot of the time we were sorely let down. But that's just because we based so much of our expectations on what some floppy haired heartthrob in a meaningful teen film would do. Or some kind of strange You've Got Mail thing with IM. Here are some ideas we had about the "perfect" relationship in the '90s.
1. You Could Fall In Love Just By Walking Around And Talking All Night
In the '90s, you thought the perfect relationship might happen by chance. A glance on a train hurling through Europe, perhaps. And grow into love over the course of one night spent talking in with a truly narcissistic introspection about literature, life, and the universe.
2. Your Best Friend Was Secretly In Love With You, And Potentially "The One"
From Ross and Rachel to Dawson and Joey to Cameron and Bianca, these stories were all around us. You know, friendzoned but totally mild beige-fog of a guy falls for gorgeous amazing female best friend. And it worked out for the best often enough that we sometimes looked at our own best friend and thought maybe they were the perfect relationship just waiting to happen.
3. Vampire Boyfriends Were Hot, If You Could Find One
Before there was Edward Cullen, there was Angel (no last name necessary). Sure, the trend was revisited recently, but in the '90s many of us would lay awake at night wishing vampires were real, so we could have a slice of relationship perfection. Because in the '90s, the most perfect relationships were the most torturous.
4. You'd Meet Your Person When You Were Very Young
If the Mikey Mouse Club taught us anything it's that you should meet your future love as a child, because that's how perfection (Britney and Justin) happens.
5. You And Your SO Would Be Able To Talk On The Phone Forever
Back before texting and social media, the perfect relationship meant being able to stay up all night talking on the phone, or being able to have phone conversations for five hours without running out of things to talk about. How things have changed...
6. Your IM Names Would Match
Before "relationship status" was a thing online, all we had was cute matching IM names. Your perfect relationship had the perfect "in joke"-y matching names. Kind of adorable.
7. That You Would Be Willing To Die For Love
It really sucks that in the '90s so much of our romantic fodder, especially the popularity of Romeo + Juliet and "Lovefool" made us thing we should be willing to die for love (either physically or metaphorically, doing whatever we had to do for love). The perfect relationship back then was the be all and end all, or at least we thought it should be!
8. That You Could Be Cinderella'd
Another toxic idea we had about the perfect relationship in the '90s was that it could make us the prettiest version of ourselves, like in the Cinderella story She's All That.
9. That "The One" Would Do Some Insane Grand Gesture To Woo You
Perfect relationships weren't just about the "small" stuff, like reliability. In the '90s, they were also about how big your beau was willing to go. And if they weren't willing to sing "I Love You Baby" in front of the whole school to you, then they weren't the perfect relationship you were hoping for.
10. That It Could Be With Anyone, Even Your Step Brother Who Is Hopefully Paul Rudd
The thing about the perfect relationship in the '90s was we thought we could find it anywhere. There were a lot of us who really shouldn't have been looking at our step siblings and cousins quite the same way we were...
11. That Love Can Change A Scum Bag
In the '90s the idea was that your perfect relationship meant changing someone who was inherently unappreciative of your love. Movies like Mallrats suggested that the biggest scum bags could potentially be changed into doting puppies by love, and you believed that perfection was changing someone in just this way.
12. That Your Cootie Catcher Would Always Tell You What To Do
Perfection in the '90s meant leaving a lot up to chance. And taking the word of a cootie catcher (those little origami things you would fill with yeses and nos and then do a rhyme while pulsating in your hand, finally lifting to reveal a mystery answer to your question).
13. That Doing "Love Math" Would Reveal Your Perfect Relationship
If you really wanted to reveal your perfect relationship in the '90s, it would involve a serious math equation where five suitor names, five houses, five jobs and five numbers would be whittled down to one in each category by a complex process of elimination. This would reveal who you would marry, where you would live, what you would do for a job and how many children you would have.