I Tried All the Dating Advice in “Harry Potter”, and Here’s What Happened
This week has marked two years since I right-swiped on my boyfriend and then decided to brave the prospect of him being a serial killer and meet him in person (it had been a long time since I’d been on a date, okay? I took a calculated risk). To our mutual surprise, that worked out pretty well. To celebrate that, and the fact that taking all of Albus Dumbledore’s advice worked so well for me last time, I decided to spend the week leading up to our two-year anniversary trying some of the dating approaches outlined by characters in the Harry Potter books.
To be honest, there are risks inherent in this experiment: First of all, my boyfriend is into Harry Potter but not INTO Harry Potter, if you know what I mean. Like, the other morning he put up with me refusing to get out of bed for 15 minutes because I was sad that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the official eighth story, but because I live in New Zealand and am not a millionaire, I will never get to see it. He was very understanding about that. On the other hand, he once referred to “that flying sport with the Sneetches.” So we’ll see what his tolerance level for this experiment is.
My second problem – and I don’t want to be rude, but it must be addressed – is that the characters in the Harry Potter books are plenty good at lots of stuff, but for the most part, this does not include relationships. This makes sense; we do not all have to excel at everything (or at least that is the excuse I’ve always used). You don’t expect a pro baller to also rock the theoretical physics. Harry and his friends have spent a number of years locked up in a castle wearing robes while a creepy guy tries to kill them. It’s understandable that they have not had much spare time to spend on perfecting their game.
But in the name of science, and the fact that I have also not been bestowed with mad skills in the area of dating prowess, I’m going to take those crazy kids’ advice for a week and hope that I learn something.
And that the only nice boyfriend I have ever had doesn’t break up with me.
The stakes are high.
DAY 1: CHO CHANG
If I’m going to get broken up with, I don’t want it to be on the day before my anniversary, so I’m getting this one out of the way first. But it’s actually not so bad. Cho gets vilified a lot in the books, but let’s be honest: She was a teenage girl. None of us were good at dating when we were teenage girls. I’m still not good at dating now.
To replicate Cho’s idea of a good date, I take my boyfriend to a frilly, girly tea shop. He is the only man there, except for a peeved-looking dad in the corner who is obviously supervising a birthday party. I expect my boyfriend to hate it, but he’s too distracted by the huge slices of cake with cream to care.
To make the date more Cho-y, I try to show how full of feelings I am by crying a bit, but I discover that it’s really hard to cry when you’re full of delicious cake.
Overall, I call BS on how much Harry hated Madam Puddifoot’s. Do you hate cake, Harry? Are you even human?
DAY 2: ALBUS DUMBLEDORE
It’s not really spelled out in the books, but Albus Dumbledore’s relationship with Gellert Grindelwald turns out to be one of the most powerful and tragic love stories in Harry Potter.
It is difficult to replicate in real life, though, not least of all because I like my boyfriend’s sister a lot, and also, I don’t believe in genocide.
However, I can see that the real Dumbledore-Grindelwald relationship test is about how you weather a truly polarizing conflict. The problem is that my boyfriend and I don’t really fight about much – not because we have anywhere near the perfect relationship, but because he is so chilled out that he barely has a pulse.
I spot my moment when the idea of going to see The Martian at the movies comes up, and I put up a brief and half-hearted fight about whether or not I want to go, given some of the things Matt Damon has been saying lately. This dispute lasts for about five minutes before I agree that real-life silliness should not lessen my enjoyment of The Martian. I then love the film and spend two hours afterwards raving about the science in it until my boyfriend is probably ready to kill me over that.
In conclusion, it feels like Albus and Gellert could’ve just tried harder to resolve their differences without anyone dying, though I acknowledge that they had bigger issues to contend with than whether or not Matt Damon should keep his thoughts to himself.
DAY 3: GINNY WEASLEY
Replicating the Ginny Weasley approach to snagging Harry Potter is a little difficult, because it’s a long game. Basically, it involves spotting the guy you intend to date, leaving him alone for several years during which you date other people and grow into a fully fledged awesome badass, and then showing up toward the end and impressing him enough that he falls for you.
In order to attempt this dating model as closely as possible, I do it on a day when my boyfriend has work and I don’t, so we will be separated for a long time (about 10 hours). I don’t date a bunch of other people while he’s out (because that would be weird), but I definitely think about him a lot.
When he gets home, I try to give him what J.K. Rowling describes in the books as Ginny’s “blazing look.” My boyfriend looks concerned, asks if I have something in my eye, and goes to make a cheese sandwich.
We have a pretty nice night in watching Borgen, so I think we can safely say that was a success.
DAY 4: SEVERUS SNAPE
In order to replicate Severus Snape’s dating model, I would need to have fallen in love with my boyfriend during childhood, joined a terror group in high school, found out my crush was about to get murdered by the head terrorist, turned spy in order to try and save him, failed to do that, and then spent the rest of my life pining after him while reluctantly keeping an eye on his kid.
I mean, it’s kind of romantic in a creepy way, but I only have a week to do this experiment, and ain’t nobody got time for that
DAY 5: RON WEASLEY
The arrival in Ron Weasley’s life of the book 12 Failsafe Ways to Charm Witches marks a substantial change in his fortune with the ladies. I liken this to my tendency to google all of my boy problems, which unfortunately has never returned the same good results.
However, there are a couple of great pieces of advice I can take from Ron. The first is compliments, so I carefully lay my groundwork by telling my boyfriend I like his hair. This is actually a double-win because it turns out he’d had a haircut, and I hadn’t noticed. Thanks, Ron!
Second is trying to replicate the incredible maneuver Ron pulls off during the Battle of Hogwarts, when he tells Harry and Hermione they can’t ask the house-elves to die for them, and – through showing that he cares deeply about what Hermione cares about – is rewarded with the kiss of a lifetime.
This move is otherwise known as the “being a nice person” and is surprisingly easy to pull off. I didn’t have house-elf rights as a convenient subject, because that’s not something my boyfriend cares about, but I did surprise him with a question about whether anything interesting was happening in Chinese politics at the moment.
Once he was done talking, we had a very nice evening.
A very nice evening.
DAY 6: LUNA LOVEGOOD
I know this isn’t specifically discussed in the books, but I love how Luna doesn’t try to be any less weird for anyone – and we know from information that J.K. Rowling has given us that she ends up meeting her match anyway.
For every one of us who has ever put off a guy (or girl) by being just that wee bit too strange, this is tremendously reassuring.
So today, I’m just 100% myself: all-singing, all-dancing, all-knocking-things-off-shelves.
My boyfriend asks whether we are still doing the experiment because he hasn’t noticed me doing anything different from usual today.
DAY 7: FRED WEASLEY
In the past, I’ve definitely strayed more along the path of Harry’s “Wangoballwime” approach to asking people on dates than Fred Weasley’s devil-may-care confidence. Fred finds asking girls out a piece of cake, not because he seemingly has any special skills in that area, but just because he backs himself.
I can read that last sentence back and nod sagely while doing it, but I still don’t really have any idea how to actually go about it.
But I decide to mimic Fred and try. That evening, when my boyfriend arrives home, I wait in the hall and blurt out, “WangetIndianfoodwime?”
I try again, channeling Fred Weasley when I do. “It’s our two-year anniversary. Let’s go get Indian,” I say, in a calm and hopefully alluring manner.
The pakoras are delicious. Two-year anniversary? Nailed it!
STUFF I DIDN’T TRY
- The relationship between Lord Voldemort and his ego.
- Dementors. Wrong kind of kissing. If you are getting kissed like the other person is trying to suck out your soul, run – don’t walk, people.
- Anything Romilda Vane attempted. Bad idea, kids. Don’t do it.
Taking some other perspectives and approaches to dating was actually a much more valuable experience than furiously googling for answers at two in the morning, which is my usual modus operandi.
While Harry Potter characters are mostly a bit of a hot mess when it comes to relationships, it’s reassuring to know that there are other people who are just as bad at it as you are. It somehow makes them all more relatable; in lots of YA books, the characters are smooth and suave all the time, and it just makes you feel crappy about yourself.
If Harry Potter can save the world but struggle to ask out a girl, who knows what I can do?
I asked my boyfriend for his feedback, and he said he liked the Chinese politics day and also the cake. So did I, buddy. So did I.