People will say, “But Elodie, Romeo and Juliet was supposed to be a cautionary tale, not a romantic how-to guide.” And I hear you. I do. But how do you explain the fact that I have, since reading it, gone from being a naive, dateless rube who spills things on herself to someone who has dated between one and three people? Check and mate. Here’s everything I learned about dating from reading Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy:
1. If your parents disapprove of your relationship, fake your own death and just hope the issue resolves itself.
2. Cute date idea: break into her tomb and weep over her lifeless body.
3. Compliment her hands excessively. You can never say enough good things about a woman’s hands.
4. Get all your relationship advice from the bawdy nanny.
5. Love means never having to say you’re sorry that you murdered her cousin in cold blood and then fled the scene.
6. Only speak in love sonnets.
7. Every time something goes even a little bit wrong, threaten to stab yourself.
8. If another man is courting your lady, murder him without even asking his name.
9. Strongly imply that she is your only reason for living after knowing her for barely three hours.
10. If your beloved dies unexpectedly, join her in death. It’ll be super romantic. Don’t bother fact-checking this development or asking any follow-up questions.
11. There is no reason on earth why you shouldn’t pledge your life to the first masked man who asks if he can kiss you.
12. Compare kissing him to sinning in the eyes of God.
13. It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all, except it’s not. Drink the poison, ending it all.
14. Pro tip: anyone can just go out and buy poison, apparently.
15. Refuse to duel her kinsman. However, if said kinsman stabs one of your friends and it’s partially your fault, he’s fair game.
16. Cute date idea: risk your life by attending a party thrown by your mortal enemies.
17. Cute date idea: consummate the marriage on the eve of your eternal banishment.
18. If people keep saying things like “These violent delights have violent ends,” just ignore it. It’s probably nothing.
19. If your crush has taken a vow of chastity, just show up at her house. Maybe she changed her mind.
20. If your father is forcing you to marry a man you don’t love, refuse to do it, then threaten suicide until someone has a better idea.
21. Eavesdrop on her to find out if she has feelings for you. Odds are she will be soliloquizing out loud about you specifically.
22. Flirt with him by telling him he’s a boring kisser.
23. Remember: being in love will make you go soft. Maintain your street cred by fighting people to the death in the public square.
24. Compare him to a god in a way that is flirtatious at best and heresy at worst.
25. When given the choice between a family member you’ve known your entire life and a man you met literally yesterday, choose the man you met yesterday. I can’t believe I even need to say this.