Six love lessons learned from 'Orange is the New Black'

Orange is the New Black.

Orange is the New Black.

Simone Paget, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:15 PM ET

While on the bus this morning, I couldn’t help but wonder whether my fellow passengers were bleary-eyed because like me, they had stayed up half the night watching the new season of Orange is the New Black on Netflix. The second season of the groundbreaking show was released on June 6th, and if you’ve noticed people in your life have gone incommunicado, it’s likely because we’re all strapped to our couches binge watching the show in big, greedy helpings.

Many of us love the show is because it manages to take the stories of a very diverse group of strong female characters and weave them into an addictive narrative about life in a women’s prison that’s both hilarious and utterly heart-wrenching. Consequently, the show has a lot to say about love, life and relationships.

Here’s a few lessons we can learn from Piper, Alex, Tastee, Crazy Eyes and the gang.

1. Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Almost all of the women of Orange is the New Black have been forced into long-distance relationships with their partners and family - just one of the realities of life in the prison system and a recurring, heartbreaking, theme on the show. However, the old adage “absence makes the heart grow fonder” does have some truth to it. According to a new study published in the Journal of Communication, couples in long-distance relationships have more meaningful interactions than those who see each other on a daily basis, leading to higher levels of intimacy. The lesson here: If you’re able to be with the ones you love, don’t take it for granted. Communicate openly, freely and show that you love them every day.

2. Relationships require trust, above all else

Being in a long-distance relationship like Larry’s and Piper’s requires an enormous amount of trust - all relationships do. When you’re in a romantic relationship, you’re essentially putting your heart in your partner’s hands. When that trust is broken, it’s extremely painful. From former business associates to lovers, almost everyone on the show has been betrayed by someone in their life and suffered the aftermath. When this happens, the best you can do is try and pick up the pieces and move on with your head held high.

3. Cultivate your friendships

The women of Litchfield Penitentiary are no strangers to breakups. However what makes the show so endearing, is how inmates rally for each other when faced with heartbreak. What we can learn here: Even if you’re happily in love, don’t forget to nurture your friendships. Whether it’s access to someone’s “Vaseline ear gob” or just a shoulder to cry on when life goes south, you never know when you’ll need someone in your corner.

4. Sexuality is fluid

From Piper’s relationships with her fiancée Larry and her former (turned on again-off-again) lover Alex, to Sophia’s strained relationship with her ex-wife, the show avoids the typical Hollywood trapping of portraying characters that are either one of two things: Gay or straight. Instead, many of the women on the show have had complicated, meaningful relationships with both men and women. No one character is portrayed as any one thing, reminding us that things aren’t necessarily black and white when it comes to human sexuality.

5. Good people make bad mistakes

If Orange is the New Black has taught us anything, it’s that every action has a consequence. This is true in both life and love. Whether you’re committing credit card fraud to fund your gender-reassignment surgery or cheating on the person you love - the point is clear: We’re all human and sometimes good people make very bad choices. Whether you decide to forgive them - or yourself - is entirely up to you.

6. Don’t insult the cook

This is true both literally and figuratively. In prison, respect is currency. Cross a fellow inmate and you still have to see them everyday and possibly share a bunk. The lesson to be learned: Always treat the people in your life like you’re going to have face them in “the yard” in the morning and don’t ever take anything for granted.


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