The 10 Most Accurate Social Rules From ‘How I Met Your Mother’

Becca Van Sambeck
Becca is a recent Fordham grad, a former German beer hall girl, and a new Brooklyn resident who used to read the dictionary for fun as a kid. She has only gotten slightly less lame since then. She loves pugs, chicken fingers, reading and Game of Thrones.

“How I Met Your Mother” might go down as having one of the most controversial endings for a series ever, but it also deserves some respect for giving us names for some very real social phenomena that we all experience at one point or another. Undoubtedly, you’ve used some of these “How I Met Your Mother” terms to describe something going on in your life.

1. Revertigo

As we’ve gotten older and made friends at different points in our lives (high school, college, work), we’ve all experienced or seen this phenomenon: where someone’s personality “goes back in time” while hanging out with someone from the past. In HIMYM, we see it with Robin acting insecure and giggling all over her loser ex. In real life, you probably see it when your super put-together roommate starts ripping tequila shots and falling on the floor when her high school best friend comes to visit. “Huh?!” you think, but don’t worry-this revertigo only lasts as long as the person from the past is around.


2. Spoilers

Oof, this one is harsh: you really like someone until someone “spoils” him or her for you by pointing out that one annoying flaw you never saw (represented in HIMYM by the sound of shattered glass).

As demonstrated in HIMYM: Ted’s friends points out that his new girlfriend talks way too much.

As demonstrated in real life: when your friends point out that hot guy you’re seeing has maybe one too many selfies on his Instagram.


3. The Hot/Crazy Scale

A simple scale for dating: A person can only be as crazy as they are hot. Barney introduces it to the gang after they meet Ted’s new girlfriend, who falls on the wrong side of the hot/crazy scale. And surely, you’ve found yourself and your group debating the merits of a person who’s just so cute, but maybe not cute enough to excuse that time they went through your phone and read all your text messages.


4. Graduation Goggles

Oooooh, graduation googles: the feeling where you’re about to end a time in your life that’s making you unhappy, but as soon as the time comes, you remember all the good things and balk at ending it. Named after how everyone is suddenly so nice and loving at graduation when in reality, you didn’t like or care or even know about half those people. In HIMYM, Robin can’t break up with a guy. You know you’ve been there yourself, remembering that one fun, romantic day despite the weeks of misery as you attempt to break up with someone you know you’re just not that into.


 5. The Cheerleader Effect

This one is simple: a group of girls or guys always appears hotter than they do when they are by themselves. Explains the appeal of cheerleaders and fraternity members. This one is actually a legit scientific theory backed up by research, and we’ve all seen a cute group of guys or girls enters a bar, only to discover upon closer examination that we were merely fooled by the aura of the group.


6. Early Relationship Chicken

This describes the beginning of a relationship, where someone is so eager to come across fun and cool and adventurous that you say yes to anything. Naturally, this can lead to some escalating situations, as small as saying “I loooove Thai food!” (you don’t),  all the way to agreeing to do something that you really don’t want to (A groupon for bungee-jumping! Okay! I love heights…).


7. The Dobler-Dahmer Theory

Named after two very different men (Lloyd Dobler, the hero of Say Anything and whose romantic gesture is still heralded today, and Jeffrey Dammer, the serial killer whose gestures are….not heralded), this theory perfectly describes the problem with big romantic movie-style gestures. If a person likes you, you’re a Dobler — it’ll be super cute and work. If they aren’t that into you, you are a Dammer — you are incredibly creepy and this will not work and you are now restraining order worthy. Important to keep in mind when crafting that very detailed love letter.


8. The Platinum Rule

Also known more commonly as “don’t shit where you eat.” You can never date anyone you’ll be in close proximity with everyday, whether it’s someone at work, a member of your friend group, a neighbor, or the waitress at your local bar as Barney discovers. The breakup will just be too difficult and uncomfortable. You’ve probably had your friends bring this rule up when you’ve gone on about you badly you want to kiss your hot coworker. Don’t do it.


9. The Lobster Situation

Called the Lobster Situation when Robin only craves lobsters after being told she was allergic to seafood, this theory says we always want what we’re told we can’t have. It describes when you only want that fifth winter coat because you don’t have the money for it, or you only want to kiss that guy who used to have a crush on you because NOW he’s moved on and is dating Becky and you can’t have him anymore. It’s a very real explanation for some of the weirder, more irrational stuff we’ve done.


10. The Nothing Good Happens After 2 a.m. Rule

You’ve probably invoked this rule after a long night when you just want to go home and your best friend’s still taking shots. Barney was desperate in HIMYM to prove the best stuff happens after 2 a.m. but let’s face it: the majority of the time, 2 a.m. is when a good night starts to falter as people get belligerent and bar tabs get increasingly high. There are exceptions to this rule, but in general, it’s 2 a.m. — the best parts of the night are done, just admit you want to remember the night fondly and go to bed.