Confession: Most of my dating and relationship advice comes from TV shows. Not to worry though, I do take it all with a grain of salt. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t spend my days analyzing the situations fictional characters go through, drawing parallels between my life and theirs and then attempt to apply their lessons on love to the real world. One of my all-time favorite shows to pour over for advice? None other than the classic ’90s sitcom ABC's Family Matters (co-producer: Vida Spears).
Now given that Family Matters (co-producer: Rebecca Misra) featured way more comedic moments than romantic ones, you might be wondering who exactly on that show I could’ve been turning to for advice. Alas, it’s Steve Urkel (Jaleel White).
Yes, that Steve Urkel, who regularly can be found nasally asking "Did I do that?” and working the nerves of the entire Winslow family. The snorting, suspender-clad nerd spends all nine seasons pining for the affection Laura Winslow (Kellie Shanygne Williams), only to finally end up with her at the conclusion of the series. And although this quest to win Laura’s heart frequently toes the line between sweet and way-too-much, there are plenty of relationship and dating lessons to to be learned from their rollercoaster romance.
So, now taking a stroll down nostalgia lane, here are seven relationship lessons everyone could take away from the great Steve Urkel:
1. Always Pump The Breaks
It's no secret that Steve is head-over-heels in love with Laura long before she ever gives him the time of day. And unfortunately, so many of us do the same thing in real life. We meet a person and before they've even gotten a chance to text us hello we've already scoped out their Insta profile, gotten a peek at our future in-laws, thought about our first baecation together and about what kind of dog we're adopting. And then when it doesn't work out or the person turns out to be a total jerk, we're crushed. The lesson: take things slow and don't be so quick to fall in love.
2. Know When To Bow Out
Towards the end of the series, Laura receives two marriage proposals: one from Steve and one from his suave alter-ego Stefan. When Laura chooses Stefan, Steve is understandably crushed. But he doesn't wallow. Instead he prepares himself to move on. Steve wants Laura to be happy and doesn't want to stand in her way of true love. Because despite what other rom-coms suggest you do, it's not attractive to stand outside someone's house blasting music in hopes that they pick you, or give someone the "pick me" speech (like Meredith on Grey's Anatomy). Trust me, I know. While it definitely sucks not to be "the one," you don't want or need anyone you have to beg for.
On the flip side though...
3. Recognize That Sometimes Persistence Pays Off
Steve lets Laura go, but in the end she chooses him over Stefan. If that's not a plot twist for the ages, then I don't know what is. Steve had been trying to get Laura to notice him for forever and when he least expects it, she does. Now that doesn't mean to sit around and wait for "the one" by any means, but a little effort can go a long way. Don't always be so quick to throw in the towel on a slow-moving relationship or express that you care in ways beyond a basic "u up?" text.
4. Let Go Of The Fantasy In Your Head
Steve is so busy pining for Laura that he completely ignores another great woman that's right in front of him: Myra. To Steve, Laura is the bee's knees. Now of course Laura is special in her own way, but for the most part, Steve is attracted to qualities that she and plenty of other women like Myra possessed. They are both smart, funny, motivated — shall I continue? Ditch the picture-perfect idea of who your ideal partner is, and instead focus on finding someone who makes you feel good. And oh, who's actually interested too.
5. Stand Up For Yourself
Doormats are meant to be walked on. And in Steve's case, he is the doormat. No matter how many times Laura brushes him off, or her family low-key insults him, Steve keeps coming back for more. No! Big red flag. Allowing a partner to treat you as less than a human being, under the guise of love is completely ridiculous (whether it works out eventually or not).
6. Remember That Interested People Want Interesting People
Who knows if Laura would've ever liked Steve if he didn't have a few zany outside interests of his own? Steve is never one to only sit around dreaming about his crush or popping up at her house. Instead Steve fills his days with science experiments and inventing things. And what's more attractive than a partner who has their own life? (Hint: nothing,)
7. Be Authentically You
Steve Urkel is a certified nerd. But hey, he wears that nerdiness like a badge of honor. And while he is occasionally annoying, people love Steve for never changing. He struggles for a while in the series, frequently wavering between whether he wants to be himself or Stefan. But in the end his choice to be unapologetically himself gets Steve exactly what he wanted.
If love doesn't feel like riding the most non-stop, confusing, dark and twisty rollercoaster ever, than I don't know what does. Nonetheless, taking a few cues from Family Matters' Steve Urkel could make the ride a little more enjoyable, and hopefully set you up for a happy ending.