In Season 2 of Ted Lasso, while giving a pep talk to the players from AFC Richmond, Lasso quipped, “I believe in communism…. rom-communism, that is.” The rest of the episode, titled Rainbow, leaned heavily on some of the most iconic rom com tropes to date, paying homage to When Harry Met Sally, Titanic, and Jerry McGuire, among others. But even though the rest of the show is a little less on-the-nose about it, Ted Lasso is in many ways a rom com in itself. And after watching the 22 current episodes three times each, I think it’s safe to say that there’s a lot to learn about love and relationships in this little football show.
Communication is key.
I suppose everyone has heard this one before, but Ted Lasso really shows how difficult it can be to put this into practice, especially with the people you really care about. When Roy and Keeley first became interested in one another, Keeley went out of her way to make her intentions known—Roy, on the other hand, was harder to read, saying he was too busy to make plans with Keeley and then ignoring her text later. And while there’s nothing wrong with being too busy to make plans or text back, it’s also important to put your intentions out there and let the other person know where your head’s at. Roy later gets upset that Keeley, thinking Roy isn’t interested in her, sleeps with Jamie, but it all could have been avoided if Roy had just said, “Hey, I’m busy today. How about another time?” But luckily the two are able to make up—because they’re able to sit down and talk about how they feel.
Sometimes letting someone go is the best thing you can do for them (and yourself).
Ted’s separation from his wife is one of the most heart-wrenching storylines in the first season. Ted hopes that he and Michelle will be able to come out of this conflict stronger than before, but it’s clear that Michelle is unhappy in their marriage—and that there may be no real path to fixing that. Eventually, Ted tells Michelle that it’s okay if she can’t feel the same way about him and that he’s willing to let her go—not because he loves her any less, but because he loves her enough to want her to be happy. We’re always told that being in love means fighting tooth and nail for the relationships that are important to us, but truthfully, the most powerful kind of love is the one that’s willing to let go for the sake of the person they love, even when it hurts.
Love is accountability.
After Jamie invites a second plus one to the annual charity benefit in part to make Keeley jealous, Keeley opens up to Rebecca about her relationship, conceding that Jamie is simple, rich, and fit, which is where Rebecca cuts her off. “What about accountable?” she asks. Rebecca went on to explain that her ex-husband of 12 years, Rupert, never took responsibility for his mistakes. This is what it takes for Keeley to finally break up with Jamie, and later, when she finally gets together with Roy, it’s because he takes accountability for their communication mishap. Because when you love someone, you’re willing to admit your mistakes and apologize for the ways you might have hurt your partner. There’s no room for pride in real, true love.
Space is not necessarily a bad thing—but it may be necessary.
After Roy agrees to coach for AFC Richmond, suddenly he and Keeley do everything together—they carpool to work together, hang out at work together, carpool home together, and hang out for the rest of the day. And while Roy seems perfectly content with this situation, Keeley finds herself beginning to fray at the seams without any time to herself. She doesn’t know how to tell Roy that, because she worries it will upset him (which, ultimately, the confession does). But once Keeley is able to communicate her needs and Roy is able to process them (with a little unexpected help from THE Jamie Tartt), the two are able to come up with a routine that allows Keeley some much-needed alone time. Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you need to be around them constantly—in fact, everyone needs a little time to themselves to focus on their own needs and grow.
Tell the truth, even when it’s hard.
Speaking of difficult confessions from Roy and Keeley… In the penultimate episode of Season 2, they each have a few truth bombs for each other: Keeley admits that Nate kissed her, Roy admits he spent three hours with another woman without clarifying his relationship status when it was clear she was flirting, and Keeley finally tells Roy that Jamie admitted he still loves her. It’s a lot at once, and by the end of the episode, you can’t help but wonder if these confessions are going to be the end of Ted Lasso‘s most beloved couple. But while their honesty was clearly painful for both of them, it’s also paving the way for them to continue on as an even stronger couple. They say trust is one of the most important pillars for any relationship, and trust is fostered by honesty.
Don’t settle for a love that’s just fine.
After Roy and Keeley go on a double date with Rebecca and her new beau, Rebecca excitedly asks for their opinion of him. While Keeley assures Rebecca that her date was great, Roy adamantly disagrees. “You deserve someone who makes you feel like you’ve been struck by fucking lightning,” he tells Rebecca. “Don’t you dare settle for ‘fine.'” While it wasn’t what Rebecca was hoping to hear, it’s probably what she needed to hear, and later in the episode she ends up breaking it off with her date. It’s also a great reminder that we all deserve the kind of love that makes us feel electrified and alive—don’t settle for anything else.
Love should encourage you to be your best self.
When Roy aimlessly moves through life after leaving AFC Richmond, Keeley pushes him to take a job as a sports pundit because, while it’s not the same as playing football, it still allows him to spend time around the sport that makes him happy. Episodes later, when Keeley worries she’s an imposter and isn’t good enough to be in a magazine feature about powerful women, Roy is able to encourage her and remind her just how strong and worthy she is. Because when you love someone, you want them to be the best version of themselves that they can be, even if it means giving them a little push.
Just because someone is nice to you doesn’t mean they’re interested in you.
I imagine it’s difficult not to have a crush on Keeley, who is fun, kind, and encouraging to everyone she meets. This includes Nate, who is so used to others talking down to him or treating him like he’s not good enough. So really, I wasn’t at all surprised when Nate misread a moment between them and kissed her, even though Keeley was in a committed relationship. Ted Lasso serves as a good reminder that just because someone (especially a woman) is nice to you, it doesn’t mean they’re romantically interested in you. And if you’re not sure where you stand with someone, talk to them—remember, communication is key for a reason.
Empower your partner, even if that means they get to stand in the spotlight alone.
Not only does Roy convince Keeley that she’s worthy of being featured in the magazine, when Keeley receives a mock up of the article and realizes none of their couple photos were included, Roy stops her from calling the magazine to complain. Is he hurt by the fact that he wasn’t included in the feature with her? Yeah, it hurt his… feeling. But at the same time, he recognized Keeley deserved the recognition, even if it meant getting recognized for who she was without him. The fact that he could put aside his hurt to support her is such a wonderful relationship green flag.
Sometimes the best people for us are the ones we don’t expect.
When it was revealed that Rebecca had been flirting with Sam on the dating app Bantr, I gasped. While I’d expected it to be someone I knew, I never imagined it’d be the young Nigerian footballer who worked for her (and clearly she never imagined that either). When Sam finally reveals his identity on their first date, Rebecca resists at first, but Sam convinces her to just have dinner—it didn’t actually have to be a date. And by letting down her guard and allowing herself to connect with Sam authentically, Rebecca realized he really was someone who could make her happy—even if it was something she never would have considered before.
When you love someone, you show up for them.
So much of love is just showing up for one another. Even though Keeley never really cared for (or understood) football, she would go to every match to support Jamie and Roy and would make sure to watch Roy’s sports pundit segments. And even though Roy doesn’t necessarily care for photoshoots, he showed up to the one for Keeley’s magazine feature because he knew it meant a lot to her. Because when something matters to your partner, it should matter to you—if only just because you love them.
You can’t tell your loved ones who to love, but you can be there for them as best you can.
Throughout both seasons, Coach Beard carries on a relationship with a woman named Jane, who we don’t see much of but who clearly isn’t a very stable partner for him. When Higgins voices his concerns, everyone advises him to hold his tongue—after all, they reminded him, all it would do was push Coach Beard away. While Higgins finds it nearly impossible to watch his friend get stuck in such a toxic cycle, he does manage to show Beard that he cares about him and that he’s there for him. At the end of the day, sometimes that’s all you can do.
Sometimes the greatest love stories aren’t romantic at all.
I firmly believe that as a whole, Ted Lasso is a love story—it’s just not always about romantic love. It’s about familial love, and platonic love, and the love you feel toward the things you’re passionate about. It’s about Rebecca and Sassy, who have been best friends since they were young and still continue to support each other (even though there was a short hiatus in their friendship). It’s about Ted and Rebecca, who go through a rough patch at the beginning but end up being there for each other through everything. It’s about Roy and Jamie, who can’t stand each other in the beginning and end up becoming each other’s shoulders to cry on when things get difficult. It’s about the entirety of AFC Richmond, really, and their love for each other and the sport. Dani Rojas is known for saying “Football is life,” and for him (and many of his teammates), it’s true—they center their lives on the sport they love to play and it gives their life added meaning. Because Ted Lasso reminds us that love is everywhere, even when you aren’t looking for it.