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Everything I've Learned About Love from Netflix's Sex Education

The British TV show may focus mostly on Gen-Z's sexual journeys, but I can't stop thinking about all the elite love lessons it has taught me.

Otis and Ruby during the third season of Netflix's Sex Education.
Photo: Netflix

Sex Education has returned for a third season, and while each episode could beat most of our sex ed classes in high school, I can't stop thinking about how the characters teach us so much about love. If anything, the Netflix series puts sex at the fore front, ensuring that exploring your sexuality feels and looks normal, safe, and healthy. On the previous two seasons, though, what we learned about dating, falling in love, and dealing with unrequited love are worth paying attention to.


Otis and Maeve taught me that the right person can show up at the wrong time.

Otis and Maeve's relationship is highly debated. I hear people who claim they are better off as friends, especially because their platonic chemistry is incredible. But as Otis navigates his feelings towards Maeve, he doesn't lose his mind over her absence. If anything, Otis Milburn is the epitome of "love patience" if there's such a thing. He's open to dating other people and gaining experience, but his heart lies with Maeve and he keeps it present at all times.

On the third season, feelings are known and we get a taste of what a Maeve and Otis relationship could look like. What I learned from this goes beyond their current or future status. Maeve and Otis both dated, hooked up, and even grew to like other people, but in the end, there's a part of them that knows they're right for each other and that part can't be forced or rushed.

Ruby taught me that opening up to someone is worth it, even if things don't work out in the end.

My favorite character from the third season goes out to Ruby. When I watched the first season, I would have never thought she'd experience this character development. The Ruby we see in this season is multi-layered and surprisingly...very relatable? The show did an amazing job of using the "popular person" trope and giving it a twist.

As much as I was rooting for Maeve and Otis, I couldn't help but feel the pain of Ruby's heartbreak. We've all liked or fallen in love with someone who didn't necessarily loved us the way we wanted them to. But Ruby being vulnerable to Otis and opening up about her life to him, regardless of how things ended, goes to show that it's okay to feel everything. In fact, when relationships don't work but you gave them all, you come out of them a stronger, wiser, and changed-for-the-better person.

Adam taught me that you can evolve in a relationship without changing who you are.

Like Ruby, I think Adam has incredible character development in this season. For one, he speaks a lot more. We get a sense of what's going on in his mind, even though feels frustrating to Eric. But as Adam navigates his relationship, he's also coming to terms with his sexuality. Without using the same poetic language that Rahim uses, Adam learns to express his feelings in his own unique way. While he recognizes the need for him to grow for the sake of his relationship with Eric, Adam doesn't change who he is.

In relationships, you can feel a pressure to change to make your significant other happy or the complete opposite. It's okay to be who you are and it's also okay to be open to grow with the other person.

Jackson and Ola taught me that we don't need to understand people in order to love them.

When we catch feelings for someone, our first instinct is to attempt understanding them. Why do we like them? Is it their eyes or their smile? Is it the way they pronounce our name or how much our friends may like them? If I learned anything from these two characters is that we don't get a say on who we love. But this confusion doesn't always need an explanation. We should be open to exploring our feelings for someone without trying to understand them. Think back to your best relationships or crushes. Did you understand them or did you just allow yourself to feel?

And lastly, Isaac taught me that it's worth telling people how you feel.

I'll be honest, Isaac surprised me the most this season. I hated how things ended on season two, which painted him in a villainous light. After all, he prevented Maeve from hearing Otis' love confessions. But as the third season progressed, I found myself liking him more and more. I think Isaac represents the uncertainty and fear that we experienced when we're losing someone we love. His feelings towards Maeve make him relatable, but his decision to share those feelings proved a great lesson.

When we date or fall in love with someone, we experience self-growth. It changes who we are and how we view our connections with others. For Isaac, telling Maeve how he feels presented a challenge, but ultimately, it also tackled on a fear he had.

What if telling someone, especially a friend, that we love them drives them away?

Fair. It's nerve-wracking. But I also think that Isaac's lesson goes beyond the fear that comes with sharing how we feel. Sometimes, telling someone how we feel is more of a personal journey. As we get older, I think telling people how we feel is an important element of our relationships. So, as we love and lose in our twenties, there's merit in telling people how we feel about them. If we don't, we know what we're losing. But if we do, what we can gain is far greater than we may think.


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