The groundbreaking sitcom, ‘A Different World’, made everyone want to go to college and it cultivated the anti-stereotypical perception that all young African-Americans are not trouble-makers. A spin-off of ‘The Cosby Show’, this sitcom kept us aware with their socially conscious storylines and gave us a glimpse of what black college life is like.
Some of their storylines also gave us a glimpse of black love between two of its’ main characters, Dwayne and Whitley. The growth of Dwayne and Whitley’s relationship on the show provided a visual template for viewers, on how to develop a healthy, loving relationship. Here are five lessons Dwayne and Whitley taught us that we can implement in our relationships.
Be friends first– The greatest foundation for developing a healthy, loving relationship is to be friends first. There’s a saying that the greatest relationships started off as friendships, and I couldn’t agree more! Being friends forms a respectful and genuine bond between the two of you and holds you two together like superglue before and after intimacy. When you form a friendship, you already have a certain level of bond, you two already know each other’s ins and outs, and you are comfortable with one another.
Be honest with how you feel – When Dwayne and Whitley had their first REAL kiss, Dwayne was honest in telling Whitley that something was happening between them and wanted to talk about taking their friendship to the next level. Whitley tried to fight her feelings and avoid the much-needed conversation because she was afraid. Although Whitley was trying to deny her feelings for Dwayne, Dwayne took the initiative and put the cards on the table for her.
Don’t play games with the heart– The Summer Dwayne wrote and sent letters to Whitley, Whitley didn’t send any in return. Whitley told Kim and Freddie that keeping a man “yearning” makes him want her more. Dwayne ended his summer be returning to campus from Japan with his girlfriend, Kinu. This is a valuable lesson to all when I say that being self-centered is the gateway to a failed relationship. Don’t do what you wouldn’t want done to you…plain and simple. If you like him/her and he/she is showing you genuine interest, return it.
You’ll never get over your true love– Dwayne’s relationship with Kinu ended when he realized he was still in love with Whitley. Again, Dwayne had to be honest with himself, as well as with Kinu and that was the best decision for them both. It wouldn’t have been fair to Kinu, to Whitley, or even himself, to carry on in a relationship while he had feelings for another woman. Whitley left such an impact on Dwayne, that even her flaws (and she had plenty of those) couldn’t keep Dwayne away from her. This was also true for Whitley, even though she waited until the day of her wedding to call things off with Byron Douglas III
Accept each other’s flaws– Both Dwayne and Whitley had their fair share of shortcomings, but that never deterred them from staying in love. Dwayne grew from a geeky freshman with flip-up glasses to a distinguished business man with confidence. Whitley grew from a bougie princess to a more open-minded diva with more realistic expectations. Their personal growth developed by their love for one another, because they’ve accepted each other for who they are. Love brings out the best in people and Whitley and Dwayne’s relationship proved that.