Thirty years ago A Different World graced the small screen and the world was never the same. Ok, maybe that’s a bit on the dramatic side but still….the genius and impact of this show is unparalleled. And 24 years after going off the air, A Different World remains a nostalgic superstar because of what it gave its viewers – not just entertainment, but a view into a world that seemed out of reach for many of the young people watching, including me. A Different World gave me college. It took something that, until that point, was conceptual and put it in my living room every week.
It also gave us Dwayne Wayne and Whitley Gilbert’s unexpected romance. A tale of two souls who were diametrically different, but somehow found acceptance, peace, love, and respect in one another. It was far from love at first sight, but along their journey they left us with some lifelong lessons for love.
1. Timing is everything. Our hearts can be ready for love before our minds are. We saw this play out when Dwayne and Whitley called off their engagement. Sometimes the idea of being in a committed relationship is appealing, but the reality may not be your jam just yet.
2. Find the + to your –. Opposites attract, right? Dwayne and Whitley couldn’t have been more different, which made them each other’s perfect complement. Finding a love that is, essentially, everything you’re not gives way to a well-rounded, dynamic, and spicy romance. Vive la difference!
3. Marry your (best) friend. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Establishing a friendship before (or while) you make it official ensures you share fun and forgiveness. Added bonus: friendships grow stronger with time, so it only gets better after ‘I do’.
4. Play by your rules. Whether it’s a biggie like sex (Whitley made Dwayne wait until she was ready for intimacy) or something small like communication routines, set your standard and stick to it.
5. Be open to learning (and teaching) how to love. People often learn how to love based on how they’ve been loved. Whitley equated love with material things. But after being with Dwayne, who didn’t have the means or the desire to meet her material needs, she opened herself up to learning a different, more fulfilling and unconditional love that she didn’t even know existed.
6. Fellas, take charge (within reason). I’m not talking psycho-rage control. I mean take control in a way that’s authoritative, but still respectful. I don’t know about you, but there’s something so attractive about a man who’s assertive and isn't afraid to lead his lady. You saw glimmers of this throughout their relationship….and how Whitley responded :)
7. Let love bring out the best version of you. Self-explanatory.
Yes, their love was fictional but there were still some real-life nuggets. What'd you love most about A Different World (you know you used to watch it, too.)?