Oh, Jess Mariano: the book-loving bad boy who stole the hearts of too many Gilmore Girls ' viewers to count. The kid knew a thing or two about love. For instance, he perfected the brooding, James Dean-esque dreamboat style, and he knew his way around a grand gesture. (I mean, remember the time he outbid Rory's then-boyfriend Dean for Rory's picnic basket full of gross fridge leftovers?) However, this isn't to say Jess Mariano was the perfect role model when it comes to love. Over the years, he taught us as much about what not to do as he taught us about how to win over a heart.
Jess was a young guy with a lot of baggage, and he brought all of it into his relationship with Rory. At times he was the perfect boyfriend — but sometimes he was also the worst. His lessons aren't just about crushes and falling in love, they are also about how to deal with heartbreak, letting go, and learning to love yourself.
Jess truly was one of the most dynamic characters to ever hit the small screen, and his journey from disillusioned teen into an accomplished writer was a bumpy, beautiful process. Along the way, Jess was a veritable do's and don'ts guide to romance.
Here are all of the most important things Jess taught us about love:
The Language of Love is Best Expressed Through Books
There is nothing hotter than someone who loves to read. If Jess had never borrowed/stolen Rory's copy of Howl, chances are Rory would not have looked twice at Luke's troubled nephew. But he did take her book, and with it he snatched the first piece of her heart. The lesson here is, books can create a lasting bond between the right people, and lead to a novel-worthy romance.
Being Mysterious Actually Works
A bit of mystery at the start of a relationship is a good thing. Jess doled out secrets about himself over time — not in one big rush — and as a result Rory slowly grew smitten with him.
But Being a Jerk Doesn't
The major thing that torpedoed Jess' relationship with Rory was his attitude. Granted, he was going through a lot between failing school and trying not to disappoint Luke and Rory, but his inability to be honest caught up with him. He loved Rory, but when he did things like act out at a dinner with her grandmother, bait Lorelai, and act like an overall jerk at the keg party, it pushed her away.
Grand Gestures Are a Double-Edged Sword
Jess never built Rory a car like Dean did; instead, his grand gestures were tailor-made for Rory. He moved back to Stars Hollow to be with her, he bought her picnic basket so they could have some quality alone time, he confessed his love to her (and then ran away), and, finally he showed up at her dorm to try and convince her to leave town with him. Though the last two backfired, some of these gestures worked — and the important thing is, with each gesture, Jess put himself out there and grew more and more as a person. Even though his heart was broken, he taught us you only regret the gestures you don't make.
Pop Culture Debates Makes Relationships More Fun
Books. Music. Movies. There was no area of pop culture that Jess and Rory couldn't debate. Jess knew the value of having things in common with your dream partner, but he also knew challenging each other made everything more fun.
Even If a Relationship Ends, Its Impact Lasts a Lifetime
Jess and Rory didn't end up together (and it was heartbreaking), but what they meant to each other lasted a lifetime. Jess pulled himself together, wrote a book, and was mature enough to not only thank Rory, but show her how she had drifted off her own path. Sometimes love means being there for someone even after the romantic part of the relationship is over, and Jess showed us how to do it with an open heart.