(Warning: The following contains major SPOILERS for previous installments in the Star Wars saga, in particular as it relates to Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa. Proceed with whatever level of caution that suggests to you is wise...)
Now, while there are a whole lot of things that the Star Wars saga excels at - operatic space adventure, intergalactic trade disputes, roguish smugglers wearing capes - it often seems to be the simplest elements of the series that have retained the most impact as the years have gone by. The earnest devotion of the Jedi, say, or the love of a good Wookiee. Perhaps the most eternally endearing element of the movies, though, is something all so very simple, and yet horribly complex: a love story.
Specifically, the story of Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa - a tale that is in many ways the beating heart of a saga otherwise largely preoccupied by midichlorians, Senate protocol and fan-baiting comic-relief. After all, Han and Leia aren't just the most adorable couple in the Star Wars universe itself (sorry Threepio), but quite possibly one of the most culturally influential and real-life-relationship-defining romantic pairings in the history of cinema.
With that in mind, then, it seemed well past time we took a look at...
10 Times Han and Leia Were The Ultimate Couple (And Inadvertently Influenced All Of Our Relationships)
Y'see, while the on-screen Han and Leia may have simply been an adorably cranky pair of military big-wigs who somehow couldn't just tell each other how they felt, in our living rooms, movie theaters and schoolyard daydreams, they became something much more. Rather than simply being Han Solo and Leia Organa, snarky space-heroes, they became proxies for our own romantic imaginings - the primal, underlying basis for what we assumed romantic relationships should be.
And, so, when I suggest that Han and Leia were the ultimate couple, and list a whole bunch of ways in which that is the case below, I'm not necessarily saying that's a good thing. Instead, much like Rick and Ilsa in Casablanca, Westley and Buttercup in The Princess Bride, and Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street, they're simply a part of what we collectively conceive of relationships being, both for better, and for worse.
First up, then?
10. They Were Friends First
Odd as it may seem in the era of Tinder, speed-dating and anonymous hook-ups facilitated by algorithms that don't even know your name, there's still a pretty widespread belief that meeting a partner through friends or family is the ideal scenario. Which, seeing as Han and Leia were essentially introduced by her (unwitting) brother Luke, is very much true for the duo.
Perhaps more importantly, though, the pair act as a more subtle example of the When Harry Met Sally school of romantic thought - in which couples are best created from pre-existing friendships. Sure, Han and Leia may have seemed more like frenemies for much of their pre-romantic life, but that doesn't change the fact that they were friends long before they ever kissed. And lo, a million teenage obsessions with being in 'the friend-zone' were born.
On a similar note:
9. They Trade Quips Like a 1940s Comedy Duo
You don't have to have called your significant other a "Scruffy Looking Nerf Herder" to understand this one pretty viscerally - the idea of snarkily quipping back and forth with a loved one is so ingrained has been ingrained in our society for years now, and many a relationship has fallen afoul of an inexpertly lobbed retort.
If yours was one of them, it might be time to start (partially) blaming Han and Leia, and their seemingly never-ending stockpile of sexually-charged repartee.
8. They Don't Get Too Obsessed About The Other's Past
Remember how when Han found out that Leia and Luke were brother and sister, he didn't immediately make it a whole thing that she and Luke had totally made out in front of him that one (well, we'll be generous and say one) time?
That's pretty much gold star, platinum-grade relationship-ing right there - and something that pretty much all of us know we should try to live up to...right before we launch into yet another petty dig about how much our partner's ex was kind of an a-hole.
7. They Recognize That They're A Bad Influence On Each Other...And Don't Care
Now, for some of us, Han and Leia's inability to recognize that they're basically just ill-matched 'bad boy' and 'good girl' stereotypes may well be mirrored by a string of destructive relationships that ended in criminal records, short-notice tattoo-removal and burning piles of t-shirts and records on a stranger's front lawn. For most of us though, it's simply a reminder that it's ultimately OK that we and our partners mutually encourage each other to watch "just one more" episode of that new Netflix series, and to order in pizza for the second (fine, fourth) time this week.
We may be a bad influence on each other some times, but if it worked for Han and Leia, then it can sure as hell work for us...
6. They Know That This Is The Correct Way To Kiss
If you haven't spectacularly failed at kissing a romantic partner by attempting to imitate Han and Leia's gloriously romantic make-out session(s), then...well, you're actually doing pretty well. The rest of us will be over here trying not to remember the awkwardness. The horrifying, horrifying awkwardness.
On an entirely unrelated note, though...
5. They Pick Entirely The Wrong Time To Have Important Conversations
Have you ever started a serious discussion about hurt feelings at 2am? Begun an argument about visiting in-laws more (or less) while on a twelve hour plane ride? Decided it was a good idea to discuss anything remotely resembling financial problems while on a rollercoaster?
Well, then you probably know exactly how Han and Leia felt at almost all times. Timing, it's fair to say, has never really been their strong suit.
Which is probably why...
4. They Know That You Have To Help Your Partner Get Through The Hard Times
Whether it's being encased in carbonite by a Hutt gangster who you owe money to, or just a really crappy day at the office, it's always made a hell of a lot easier by going home to someone who loves you.
Especially if they're willing to dress up as an intergalactic bounty hunter as part of an ill-advised scheme to help you dodge retribution for skipping out on an obligation. Which I for one have definitely never done, especially if any of Pizza Hut's lawyers are reading this.
3. They Know Exactly How To Say I Love You
And that whether it's through a silent hug before heading out on an impossible mission, or a simple "I know", it doesn't always have to come through the words "I", "Love" and "You".
If you've ever said "I love you" through a simple smile, a thoughtful gesture, or a goofy grimace, then you likely know exactly what that's like.
2. They're Parents First, and Partners Second
Now, different couples will give you very different advice when it comes to prioritizing your relationship or your children, but for many of us, Han and Leia's positioning of their son Ben's wellbeing over their own relationship's in The Force Awakens will seem incredibly familiar.
Heartbreaking, and arguably tragic, but familiar all the same.
That being said, though...
1. They Would Sacrifice Anything For Each Other
Right down, as it turns out, to the ultimate sacrifice. After all, Han didn't just put himself in a position where Kylo Ren could kill him in order to save his son. He also did it in order to save Leia. It's not at all implausible to assume that Han recognized that Kylo Ren would probably kill him, but didn't care. After all, the hope that Ben could somehow be redeemed seemed to be the only thing keeping Leia going - and to Han, that was worth any risk, any danger...and any sacrifice.
In real life terms, of course, the idea that sacrificing yourself to save your partner is typically best reserved for Andean plane crashes and Kaiju attacks - and yet it's a deeply-ingrained part of our collective approach to relationships. Many of us tend to sacrifice our own needs to make our partners happy - and expect them to do the same - rather than attempting to find balanced, flexible compromises. Which is...problematic - but it sure can be romantic...