As Valentine's Day approaches, and as I binge-watch "Parks and Recreation" for the third time with my boyfriend, I have perpetual heart-eyes over the greatest couple to ever grace television: Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt. Don't believe me? Here are 11 reasons why everyone should want to be them.
1. The magical evolution of their relationship.
Leslie starts out hating Ben. The insult-at-work-and-then-yell-at-at-a-bar kind of hatred. And let's face it, she has a reason - Ben represents the failure of Pawnee's government and the potential loss of her beloved department and dream park in Lot 48. But then you watch them work together on the Harvest Festival, come up with corny handshakes, and eventually have to go to great lengths to keep themselves from hooking up so as to not violate the rule that government employees and their supervisors can't be romantically involved.
But then this happens:
and your heart starts doing the can-can even though you knew they were going to get together.
2. They never let anything get in their way.
Strict policy against romantic involvement between employee and boss? Sure, that impedes Leslie and Ben and strains their friendship for a little bit, but I'm glad it does, because then we get gems like this one:
But ultimately, they decide being together and growing their love for each other is the best decision, and your heart can-cans some more.
The obstacles don't stop there. But an ethics trial? Having to be long distance when Ben takes a job in Washington? Everyday strain of government work and adult life? They got nothing on Ben and Leslie.
3. They make each other grow.
It doesn't matter whether or not they're together - Ben and Leslie force each other to confront their shortcomings and take steps to remedy them, but also realize that having flaws is not the end of the world.
Sometimes, Leslie needs to be pulled back for a moment to consider her actions instead of working purely on emotion. And sometimes, Ben has to be reminded that not everything needs to be analyzed and worried about and strategized. From Ben, Leslie learns to be more open-minded and to think about how she sometimes "steamrolls" her friends. And from Leslie, Ben learns the unique power of optimism and hope mixed with hard work, but also the importance of letting loose a little.
4. They both make sacrifices for each other.
Every couple has to compromise, and no one knows this better than the power couple that is Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt. From Ben resigning in disgrace as assistant city manager to allow Leslie to keep her job as deputy director of the parks department, to Leslie being willing to put their life together on hold so Ben can advance his career in Florida, to having to decide which of them will run for governor, Ben and Leslie know that balance and compromise are key. Their relationship may give them something extra to consider when taking a job or making a political move, but they wouldn't have it any other way.
5. Ben's proposal.
I'm going to admit, I cried the first time I watched this. And the second. And the third. Largely, because I'm much the same as Leslie in the sense that we both like to stop the world for a minute to cement a big moment in our memories, but also because Ben's proposal is the perfect representation of this couple's unbreakable bond that holds strong through any sacrifice. Instead of taking a job as a campaign manager in Florida, Ben decides to "think about his future" and chooses Leslie over the job. They don't know what the future holds. They don't know what jobs will pop up, or when, or where - what they do know is they want to be together, and nothing can stop that from happening.
6. The Box.
If Ben's proposal represents the power of their sacrifices, the small wooden box they constantly exchange is the physical symbol of their compromise.
We first see it when Ben figures out Leslie is running for a spot on the City Council and therefore has to break up with him to avoid a scandal, then again when Leslie changes her mind about making Ben stay in Pawnee and supporting his move to D.C., and finally when Ben proposes:
It's a lovely, powerful, happy-tear-inducing little detail that truly symbolizes Ben and Leslie's relationship and unwavering love and support for each other. It's a physical manifestation of their complete understanding of one another as passionate employees, lovers, and, above all, people.
7. Their spontaneous, perfect wedding.
Sure, it hit a few snags, like Ron punching Councilman Jam in the face and having to be bailed out of jail, but it ended up exactly where it was always meant to happen-inside the Parks and Recreation office, with the whole department, including beloved three-legged dog Champion cheering them on. Plus, their adorable vows cannot be beaten.
8. Their love is all-encompassing, but that doesn't mean other aspects of their lives fall to the wayside.
They don't even let their honeymoon bliss detract from the overarching goal of the entire series: putting a park in the empty lot behind Ann Perkins' house. Married life never holds them back from pursuing new opportunities. We've also all heard the thought that when people enter into a serious romantic relationship, they lose three friends. If this is even true at all, it definitely isn't for Ben and Leslie. They keep each other close and their friends even closer, because they know the importance of friendship and the truly special nature of their fellow Pawneeans.
9. They can handle anything life throws at them.
Even when this happens -
Ben and Leslie know they can take any and all of life's surprises, because they have each other.
10. "I love you and I like you."
One of my absolute favorite things about not only Leslie and Ben, but "Parks and Rec" in general: the distinction between "love" and "like." Love and lust alone cannot sustain a relationship for long; two people really have to like each other in order to keep working together and have a successful marriage. And if they feel both? That's when magic á la Leslie and Ben happens.
11. Their optimism.
The optimism of this couple can be summed up in everything I've already listed, but it's important enough to merit its own category. Ben and Leslie's relationship basically boils down to one phrase: "Everything will be okay." They love each other, they like each other, and they both have the drive and compassion to work through the situations when those things aren't quite enough. If any two people are "relationship goals," it's these two; they're both kind, successful people who randomly found each other and never left each other's side once they did. They push each other to be better while celebrating all the great things they already are, they give each other hope when one starts to stumble, and they are true life partners.