Love Rarely Looks Like We Think It Should (And Other ‘Bridgerton’ Love Lessons)

This article contains spoilers for Bridgerton season two.

How many of us have claimed we have a “type”? Or a checklist of things we believe the perfect partner should be? Maybe you want your person to be a certain height, have a certain hair color, smile a certain way. Maybe you think they should have the same beliefs as you or know a certain skill or, quite simply, just be a certain way.

It’s easy to fantasize about the perfect person or the perfect relationship and tell ourselves that we deserve nothing less. But here’s the problem: What we think we want often isn’t what we actually want.

In Bridgerton season two, Anthony Bridgerton is so sure he knows exactly what he wants in his future wife: someone who is beautiful, intelligent, educated, proper, and kind. Most importantly of all, he was looking for a suitable mother for his children and a respectable viscountess—and in his opinion, love had very little to do with it. Then along came Kate.

In many ways, Kate wasn’t what Anthony was looking for in a wife. She was beautiful, sure, but older than what would have been considered ideal at the time; she was intelligent, but also stubborn, sharp-tongued, and quick to judge. She’d grown up doing all sorts of “improper” activities—such as hunting and gambling—and, perhaps most notably, was not of noble birth. Her sister Edwina, on the other hand, easily ticked most of Anthony’s boxes.

That’s why Anthony was so quick to court Edwina but never considered Kate an option, despite his obvious attraction to her. He told himself that the only things that mattered were what he’d already decided mattered. He wasn’t willing to stray from his requirements, which is why he went so far as to propose (and even almost marry) Edwina—even though his heart was with someone else entirely.

Could Anthony and Edwina have fallen in love? Maybe. But then again, maybe not. Because even when she was everything he thought he wanted, he realized the thing he really wanted was something he never could have imagined—and a person who strayed so far from his expectations that, on paper, he would have easily overlooked her.

That’s because love can’t be put into a box. It can’t be made into a checklist. When you base love off expectations, you’re not falling in love with a person but with an idea. And when you mistake an idea for reality, you miss out on the things that actually make up a relationship—not a list of adjectives, but actions.

Love is when you can tell someone about your deepest traumas and feel understood, seen. Love is when someone challenges your strongly held beliefs and helps you grow into a better person. Love is when you find yourself wishing you could be in someone’s presence simply because you like being around them. Love is when you feel, deep down, that you’re no longer in it alone, because you know that person is there with you.

Edwina may have fit Anthony’s fantasy version of a wife, but she never made him feel totally accepted for who he was (in part because he never truly felt comfortable showing her who he was). She humored him and refused to see anything but the absolute best in him, even when his actions hurt her sister. She was sweet and kind and caring, but she was never the person Anthony felt like he could lean on. For him, that was always Kate.

Love can often surprise us, the way it arises. When we continue to run after an ideal, we risk the chance of never finding the right person for us—the kindred spirit, the soulmate, the person that we breathe for. Because sometimes what we believe is the bane of our existence can be the object of all our desires—and sometimes it can become the most precious thing we’ve ever known.

Anthony and Kate’s love story is fictional, but behind it there is that beautiful grain of truth: Love rarely looks like we think it should. I hope you choose to let go of your expectations and let love surprise you.