If you love TV as much as I do (that’s a lot, so I’ll leave the judging in your capable hands), you have spent a pretty sizable amount of time watching characters you love (or hate) fall victim to the perils of bad dating.

While it’s usually fun to see those we find unbearable suffer (too harsh?), cringing at the mistakes of our fictitious best friends can be super uncomfortable, at the very least. But if we’re going to sit there and watch either way, we might as well try and learn something from them, right? Maybe.

And so, I present to you the 8 dating tips that you can learn from your favourite TV characters. They’ve pretended to live it so we might as well pretend to pay attention.

8. Theo Huxtable, The Cosby Show

DON’T try and be fancy just to impress someone.

Whether it’s planning a helicopter ride with your prom date and your white best friend, Adam Sandler, before even getting to the dance or asking your sister (who never demonstrated any actual fashion design skills) to make you a replica of an expensive designer shirt, this is A HUGE MISTAKE.

Sure Theo got lucky and for some reason Christine actually liked his shirt, but this isn’t the 80’s and that shit isn’t going to fly these days.

Unless being fancy is your normal state, just be yourself. It’s a lot less stressful for everyone involved.

7. Angela Chase, My So-Called Life

DON’T non-date date someone.

This is especially true for anyone who has a dead serious crush on the non-dater already. Unfortunately, this is also when the ever-popular non-date is most likely to take place. How do you know if you’ve fallen victim to this increasingly popular occurrence? Well in Angela’s case, the warning signs were all there.

Was there a grungy dreamboat slacker asking her to keep their rendezvous’ a secret, ignoring her when they happened to be at the same social gathering, or making their one official non-date date a visit to a party at an abandoned house where there were empty bedrooms? YEP. Did Angela notice or care? NOPE. Full speed ahead.

Of course, we should be glad that these two weren’t dating in modern times with the existence of non-dating’s greatest ally, the text. Today a casual “we should hang out sometime” text could be the start of something beautiful or it could be the start of your fall down the “I am being breezy” rabbit hole.

6. Tyra Collette, Friday Night Lights

DON’T start a relationship with someone with whom you’ve just covered up a murder.

Sure, this one may seem fairly obvious, but you’d be surprised. You don’t plan on being involved in a murder in the near future you say? Well, let me be the first to say I’m very glad to hear that. And so, maybe this lesson best applies to relationships spurred from all instances of duress, not just murder. Still, you get the idea.

I mean did Tyra and Landry learn nothing from Sandra Bullock? Remember in Speed when she tells Keanu, “relationships that start under intense circumstances, they never last.” Well, you know what? She was right! Where was old Jack in Speed 2: Cruise Control? NOWHERE TO BE SEEN. Once their lives went back to normal, things just didn’t work anymore.

5. Kevin Arnold, The Wonder Years

DON’T date someone just to make someone else jealous.

The fact that Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper didn’t actually end up together may haunt all of us in our dreams at night (Oh, that’s just me?), but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn a valuable lesson from their young love. Dating someone new when you still like another is just asking for trouble. Sure it may not end with Becky Slater punching you repeatedly in the stomach, but there’s a pretty good chance it won’t end much better.

Lives will be ruined, families torn apart, Facebook profiles decimated! Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself a bit. But if you do choose to tread in Kevin’s footsteps, well maybe keep an icepack or two nearby, just in case.

4. Sam Weir, Freak and Geeks

DON’T spend every second of your life putting someone on a pedestal and then actually try to date.

Because you’ll eventually have to break up and it’s really going to stink… A LOT. Sam could have picked up a thing or two from our pal, Kevin Arnold. Telling Cindy you just want to be friends? Oof. While we can’t really blame Sam for taking Cindy up on her dating offer, we can at least try our best to avoid it.

This situation is sort of like how my mom once told me she kind of hoped she never gets to meet her favorite human (Bruce Springsteen). She worries that there’s no way he can live up to what she’s built up in her head. And while she’s probably not wrong, I’ll get back to you when the issue arises. I’m pretty sure the day someone actually arranges a meeting, Mom will have completely forgotten about her prior stance on built-up personas.

3. Emily Thorne/Amanda Clarke, Revenge

DON’T get engaged to someone while pretending to be an entirely different person.

Here’s a quick tip, if you need to hide all of the worldly possessions of your actual past in a wooden box under a floorboard under a rug in the house you haven’t told your fiancé you grew up in before living in it now as an adult, maybe you shouldn’t be engaged in the first place. Granted, Emily isn’t in this for the love you might be – she’s in it for REVENGE (cue her weird stare and dramatic music), but still.

Chances of a relationship surviving utter deception, betrayal, and familial blackmail are probably slim, wouldn’t you say? Sure, you may be able to dig your way out of this one, but do you really want to? Because mostly, it just sounds exhausting.

2. Ted Mosby, How I Met Your Mother

DON’T get so invested in dating so many people that it will take 7 years to tell the story of how you finally met “the one.”

Okay, so obviously no one is really going to sit around and listen to someone tell their entire dating history for seven years, but I feel like if dumb Ted could get someone to agree to it, he’d certainly try his best. Guess what, focus on your wife, Ted. When telling your kids this story, you may want to spend more time discussing the most important love meeting of your life than the thousands of mistakes you made along the way.

Maybe I’m being too hard. Some people may want to hear every tiny detail of your life in your early 30’s and if you can find one, be my guest, ramble on. But at least, please make it interesting.

1. Penny Hartz, Happy Endings

DON’T date someone you can only communicate with in another language.

Like Penny, it would be easy to give yourself a little leeway and take up with an exciting foreigner, if you too spoke their language. However, if the only way you can communicate with said foreigner in his or her native tongue is by being drunk in the middle of the afternoon, perhaps take a step back and reconsider things. How will he or she ever have a convo with your best friend? Don’t plan on introducing the two? Okay, fine, but what happens when you really want to go get bagels one morning? Sunday morning bagel delay is pretty much the worst problem one can have in life and you’re looking at a lifetime of it, my friend.

Of course, this is not the only time Penny made this mistake, as she once also took up the linguistics of the Hipster.

While Penny’s dating history may read like a personal essay from a Let’s Go travel guide, please take a moment and note that none of these relationships actually worked out in the end. In fact most of them were not actually working out in the middle either.

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