Shall I Compare Thee?

10 Things Shakespeare Taught Us About Relationships

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Portrait of William Shakespeare

When it comes to Facebook stalking that hottie from last night’s party or avoiding a blood soaked break-up, no one spells out the rules quite like Will. Maybe your crush is in love with your BFF, or your partner thinks you’re cheating when you’re really just sneaking off for some me-time at 16 Handles. Whatever the case, he’s got your back. No tights or daggers necessary. OK, you might need the tights.

Here are 10 essential (and potentially life-saving) tips on flirting and relationships according to Shakespeare.

On Taking a Chance

If you see someone across a crowded bar and a flood of superlatives fills your head, get over there with your best pickup line. If they try to part on a friendly a handshake, borrow some of Romeo’s best game — “let lips do what hands do” — and seal the deal with a make out session. This works especially well if you’re wearing masks.

On Playing Matchmaker

If two of your friends claim to be frenemies, but you can tell they’re totally into each other, just arrange for each of them to overhear (or see on Twitter) that the other one is totally into them. Even if they’re saucy, headstrong types like Beatrice and Benedict, they’ll eventually drop the act, jump in the sack, and realize their faux feud was Much Ado About Nothing.

On Keeping the Faith

If your crush is in love with your best friend, and your best friend is in love with someone else, and it seems like everyone you know is against you — you’re probably having a typical summer in the Hamptons. Stick to your guns like Helena from Midsummer Night’s Dream; you never know when your crush might drop some psychedelics, snap out of it, and realize that ‘love looks not with the eyes, but with [like] the mind [man].” The added hippie speak is ours.

On Making the Hard Sell

If drugs aren’t the answer, do whatever it takes to win them over — the more embarrassing, the better. Stalking is a must, in drag is best. Don’t feel like dressing up yourself? Take a cue from Twelfth Night’s lazy Count Orsino, and get your assistant to do it for you. Just make sure that: A) Your assistant isn’t already in drag and secretly in love with you and B) They don’t out-fierce you and inadvertently steal your object’s affections for themselves. That’s ‘too hard a knot’ for even Miranda Priestley’s assistant to untie.

On Disapproving Families

Maybe the love of your life isn’t exactly what your family imagined. Suck it up and tell them tough shit. In the end, you’ll find that having each other is worth the wrath of bitter in-laws — even if it means sweating out Thanksgiving dinner with the original Carmela Soprano, R&J’s Lady Capulet.

On Stretching Your Wallet For the Win

If you borrow cash for the ring (or other engagement expenses), just be sure to pay it back ASAP. People are weird about money. You don’t want JP Morgan to pull some Merchant of Venice moves and demand a pound of flesh from you or your best man.

On Jealous Lovers

If your partner suspects you of cheating and they’re looking at you with a certain crazed look in their eye, lay low or take a breather to save yourself from a fate like Desdemona’s (spoiler alert: Othello does not end well for her). And if you’re clean, speak up! For Pete’s sake, don’t let anyone steal underwear from your room — you never know where it might end up. You may not have married an axe murderer, but your sexting history will likely find its way onto the Internet. That’s something to think about before eloping with a jealous drama queen.

On Weathering Troubled Times

If your lover is going through tough times (like, say, the death of a parent) and your family suggests you steer clear because he or she seems to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown—ignore them! Your boo is on the verge a nervous breakdown. Sure, he might be faking it to carry out some master plot — but if you make like Ophelia who bails on Hamlet, you’ll never know. Plus, he’ll probably be pretty pissed. You wouldn’t turn off an episode of Homeland in the middle, then go off and lose your mind wondering why you’re so confused, would you?

On Work-Life Balance

You’re ambitious about your career, maybe you’re even gunning for CEO. Your partner has always been so supportive — but as soon as they try to awaken your inner Tonya Harding with lines like “art not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it,” ask them to step off. Even sleeping your way up the corporate ladder is better than trying to sabotage your whole office. By the time you reach the top, you’ll need gallons of Purell to keep your hands from feeling dirty like Lady MacBeth’s.

On Following Your Gut

If your partner has a dream that you died and asks you stay home from work, just do it. Remember when Gretchen Wieners thought Brutus was just as cool as Julius Caesar, and then Regina got hit by a bus? It’s kind of like that.