HIMYM’s Robin and Barney: The Ultimate Damaged Partner Romance?

Or, This post is dedicated to my fellow How I Met Your Mother fans but may be of interest to romance readers, too

I have been a dedicated Robin/Barney-shipper since I started watching How I Met Your Mother (three seasons in).  Possibly this has to do with the friend who showed me the series sitting me down for 3-4 “highlight” episodes of season 1, and one of them was “Zip, Zip, Zip,” which is the episode where Barney and Robin hang out alone for the first time and have amazing fun and chemistry–personality chemistry, I mean–together. And really from that episode there have been hints of the two of them, and often it is Barney who has a moment of sincere emotion for her that he then pushes away, jokes off, or consciously subverts into something else, but yet still it comes back that every time we see what Barney truly loves…it’s Robin. This season (7 of a probable 8 ) seems focused on either bringing them together permanently or moving them on permanently (and, God, do I hope it’s the former!).

The most recent episode, “Tick, Tick, Tick,” really got me thinking about the two of them and their personal journeys since the show started.  They were both very cynical, closed off, untrusting people when the show started.  Barney was a completely superficial womanizer; he would show moments of an inner romantic but with respect to someone else’s relationship rather than a relationship of his own.  Robin was anti-relationship, anti-marriage, anti-motherhood.  We saw her, after being with Ted, have a boyfriend whom she chose over a career opportunity–something she “would never have done” when Ted met her.  We have seen Barney attempt to reform himself for a girl he really liked…only to have his feelings for Robin wreck that.  And now we have Robin choosing someone else, someone who gave her a proper answer when she asked “why do you even like me?”

What I hope their trajectory will be, is that Barney truly, genuinely, soul-searchingly begins to change his behavior because he has faced in a way that cannot be denied that what he really wants is to be with Robin.  What Robin needs is to find out her own value so that she can accept being someone’s partner, which I think is what comes harder for her than loving someone.  And then they can finally have a real relationship, and a healthy one.  It might have taken them seven years of friendship and secret feelings for each other to finally overcome their individual emotional baggages, but honestly? That’s a healthy character arc for them, because they were both extremely unsuited for a permanent relationship when the show started.

And this is where I want to bring in romance novels.  This came up in a discussion of Jennifer Ashley’s The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie on I think Smart Bitches Trashy Books (but don’t ask me to remember the post, because I think it was tangential to the topic at hand!), the idea that can someone who is that emotionally damaged *actually* heal enough to have a normal relationship?  Especially in the days/weeks/months the romance novel actually spans? 

That’s what I love about how HIMYM has handled the Barney/Robin arc, whether it results in the two of them marrying each other or Barney marrying someone else: that it took them seven years to become whole enough to truly, deeply, permanently love.

So any other HIMYM fans out there? What do you think about this subplot? How do you think it will play out?


Leave a comment

Filed under Ramblings, Reflections on Romance

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s