40 Timeless Lessons From Sex And The City

By Phillipa G

Sex and the City (SATC) was a hugely successful television show in the late ’90s to early 2000s and was later made into very popular movies. The franchise follows four best friends, Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte through their lives in New York City. The women talk about everything in their lives, dating, fashion, and careers. And along the way, they teach the audience lots of wise life lessons and break through a large number of social stigmas relating to women and their romantic lives. For the time, it was groundbreaking to see women over 30 portrayed on television in such a way and to include many of the topics considered taboo to be so openly expressed in prime time slots. This is a list of the most important lessons we can learn from SATC.

Female friendships are key

Although all friendships are important, the 6 SATC seasons show how important female friendships are in everyone’s lives. SATC carefully portrays healthy and strong female friendships. This can be hard to come by in modern media, which often portrays jealousy and toxicity within these friendships.

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Despite there being numerous ups and downs in the group, the 4 women always come back together and always empower each other, rather than tear one another down. SATC shows a strong female bond and the importance of female friendships in our lives.

Ignore irrelevant opinions

The SATC women are unique characters, though they weren’t everyone’s cup of tea. As a result, they showed us that it is vital to our mental health to ignore what other people think of us. Samantha, in particular, was the queen of doing whatever she wanted.

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Even though other people had their opinions about her, she was still going to enjoy her life however she saw fit. She didn’t accept judgment from anyone, because she was doing what she thought was best for herself (and not hurting anyone in the process).

Keep an open mind

Although we all have our “types” of romantic partners, SATC reminds us that we should never rule out people who don’t fit those specific features. Charlotte wasn’t all that keen on Harry when they first met, but he ended up surprising her.

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Harry gave Charlotte great love (and great s*x), and if she had turned him down at first glance, she never would have been able to experience those things. It serves as a good message to never judge a book by its cover.

Take a hint

Not everyone will be a perfect fit for you, just like you won’t be a perfect fit for other people. Although it can sting, sometimes people just aren’t into you; instead of letting it get you down, learn from it and take a page out of Miranda’s book.

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Miranda had a liberation mindset after leaving a guy, who was sending mixed messages, behind. She was no longer tied to or focused on someone who wasn’t giving her the same energy, and we should follow suit when we are in the same boat. Remember that rejection is just redirection!

The impact of playing hard to get

We all know that Carrie and Mr. Big had an on-again-off-again relationship, mainly due to the fact that neither of them ever truly expressed how they felt, and that they kept each other at arm’s length by playing too hard to get.

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Mr. Big was always more interested in Carrie when she was seeing another man, proving that playing hard to get can get the person’s attention. But relationships like that, that rely on mind games and envy, will never last long.

Fight for your rights

SATC is a story of female empowerment. Throughout the series and films, the main characters prove that they are every bit the equal of their male counterparts — at work, in relationships, and speaking their minds in everyday life. This doesn’t come very easily, though.

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There are many examples of the double standard between men and women scattered throughout the series, but every time it happened, the ladies fought hard to be heard and seen as equals. They didn’t shy away from their femininity, either, but embraced it and aced their jobs at the same time.

You are the company you keep

The prominent storyline of SATC always comes back to the bond between the main characters and thus shows a truly empowered and strong female friendship. In the end, despite all of the ups and downs, the ladies always come back together again.

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Friends are the family you choose, and throughout the six seasons of SATC, viewers are let into Carrie’s chosen family and are shown the importance that friends hold in your life. As Carrie says, “friendship never goes out of style.”


No matter where you are in life, taking care of yourself should always be a priority — how can you function at full capacity if you don’t make sure you’re well? Just as you invest time and energy into your relationships with other people, you need to invest the same into your relationship with yourself.

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In SATC, Carrie learned that spending time on her own was crucial to her independence. She started having dinners out by herself and eventually learned that spending time solo can be really fun, so she started to do more things on her own, and more often, too.

Trust your gut

Your family and friends’ opinions are very important and usually provide a more objective insights, with your best interests at heart. However, you should always listen to your heart and trust your gut. Your true friends will always have your back, even if it ends badly.

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In SATC, Carrie always went back to Mr. Big, going against all of her friends’ advice to move on from him. Despite ignoring their advice, the girls were always there to support Carrie when she broke up. In the end, Carrie learned a number of lessons each time she went back.

Don’t settle for less

SATC tells a story where the essence is a message of friendship and self-empowerment. Despite the number of disastrous relationships that all of the leading ladies go through, they show each other and the audience that you should never settle for less than you deserve.

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This message applies to every aspect of your life — [platornic] relationships, romances, and work. The ladies learned to voice their opinions, showed people the door when they weren’t treating them the way that they should be. Most importantly, they learned to speak up about how they were feeling.

Let them down easy

When breaking up with someone, it is important to always be courteous to the person you’re leaving. Of course, it is never nice to be dumped, but if you’re the one to do it, make sure you always give enough closure and make sure that you’re not mean about it.

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Jack Berger broke up with Carrie via a post-it note! Understandably, she was furious and demonstrated exactly why you always need to give the other person proper closure and be gentle when ending a relationship. (Note: this doesn’t apply if someone has been awful to you.)

A breakdown is sometimes needed

Every now and then, our emotions can get the best of us; especially in dating. The task of finding your “one” can be a long and difficult process. So sometimes, we can all get a little worked up and overwhelmed — and the best way to fix this is to let it all out.

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Look at Charlotte’s long line of many frogs before she met her prince, her husband Harry. Given the way that some of them treated her (we’re looking at you Trey), it is completely understandable that she felt upset and frustrated during her wait for Harry.

Get your girl talk on

The SATC main characters are known for talking about traditionally “taboo” topics, even in public, without holding anything back. This was a great thing for women to see on a prime-time TV show because we need to destigmatize these natural, feminine topics.

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The women showed us that there is nothing to be embarrassed about in your s*x life, health, or relationships. It also showed us that getting your feelings out is always the way to go because it helps you to process your feelings and open to receiving advice from your friends.

It’s five-o’clock somewhere

The SATC ladies brought the cosmopolitan cocktail into the mainstream, given the number of times throughout the seasons that they ordered the pink drink. A lot changed in the ladies’ lives throughout the show and movies, but the Cosmo was a constant.

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The friends were constantly there to celebrate or console, and always with a drink in hand. Even though the Cosmo was always a favorite, the characters were also seen drinking wine, champagne, and beer — a drink for any occasion was sure to pop up.

Listen to your intuition

We should always listen to our gut, and make sure we follow our true feelings. Samantha showed us this during her relationship with hotel owner Richard, who she fell head over heels for. Unfortunately, he betrayed her trust and dreadfully cheated on her. 

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Samantha took him back for a brief time, but she listened to her intuition which told her that the relationship wasn’t right, so she ended it. She showed us that following your true feelings is always the best way to go.

Don’t force it

Sometimes someone can tick all the right boxes for you, but the spark just isn’t there. Carrie taught us that it is just unfair to you and the other person to try and force something just because you think it should work.

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After Carrie and Mr. Big broke up, Carrie started dating (and became engaged to) Aidan. Even though Aidan was the complete opposite of Mr. Big and the relationship was nice and uncomplicated, there was something missing on Carrie’s part. So, for both of their sakes, she ended the relationship.

Marriage isn’t everything

SATC was originally released in the 1990s, which is why it was groundbreaking to have a group of women be so outspoken about topics that normally were not discussed in the mainstream media, including young women choosing not to get married.

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The SATC ladies all took different paths in life, and it was wonderful to see the media portray women who were making the active choice to not get married. For the time period, this was still in its early stages of being accepted as a normal choice in society.

Kids are also a choice

Similar to the choice to not get married, two of the SATC ladies, Samantha and Carrie, decided not to have children. It is great to see that such a popular show had an even split of women who wanted to become mothers, and those who didn’t.

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People can choose whether or not to have children in their own time, and both decisions are totally fine. Both Samantha and Carrie had fulfilling and happy lives without bringing kids into the mix, as did Miranda and Charlotte who chose motherhood.

Learn from mistakes

The SATC women made many mistakes throughout the series and movies, especially when it came to matters of the heart. Carrie, in particular, made many wrong decisions whenever Mr. Big was around. Eventually, though, they all managed to learn from these decisions.

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Carrie, for example, realized that she deserved the love and relationship that she always wanted, and only stayed with Big when he was able to provide that for her. In her own words, “I’m looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love.”

Timing is everything

One of the hardest lessons to learn in life is that love isn’t always enough to make a relationship last. Miranda put it perfectly with her “men are like cabs” analogy she used comfort Charlotte when a relationship of hers failed.

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SATC shows us that the timing of a relationship can be just as make or break as the feeling between the two people, and unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out. But it also shows us that we all have our own happy endings later on.

S*x is natural

For the time it was first aired, SATC was revolutionary in showing four women who were very s*xually active, no matter their relationship status. It showed that, just like men, women enjoy s*x and can still enjoy it without being in a committed relationship.

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The women’s s*x drive didn’t die down just because they didn’t have a boyfriend, and they very rarely judged each other for their s*xual escapades. The show helped to break down a number of social stigmas in this area for women.

Be bold

The SATC ladies rarely said “no” to anything, especially Samantha. A self-titled “try-s*xual” she was always outspoken and cared little for who heard nor their opinions of her. At the time SATC was airing, Samantha was one of the boldest women on TV. 

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Branded as promiscuous, Samantha especially broke barriers of what a strong and bold woman looked like, and inspired many viewers to take their power into their own hands. She also showed that there is nothing wrong with an outspoken woman, or a woman who is comfortable expressing her s*xuality. 

You don’t need to know how to cook

The SATC ladies had many skills up their sleeves, but cooking definitely wasn’t one of them. Just like how the main characters were able to rebel against other gender norms, like work life and their relationships, this was no different. 

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Although they tried occasionally, a home-cooked meal was rarely a good choice for these ladies. As such, they usually ended up eating out or getting a takeaway. They all still survived, though, so it just goes to show that you don’t need to be a master in the kitchen to get by.

Stay true to yourself

Carrie had her fair share of emotionally unaware men, but one of the worst was Aleksandr Petrovsky, who tried to change Carrie and mold her into a different woman to suit his lifestyle and idea of what she should be.

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Luckily, Carrie realized that she should never pretend to be someone else, as she was just as worthy of love the way that she was. Carrie realized that she wasn’t going to dim her light for anyone, and when the epiphany hit, she shined brighter.

Save your coin

Financial literacy is important for everyone to be on top of, as it helps you avoid debt and save for your future. The SATC ladies weren’t the best at this, often splurging on high-end fashion items (who can really blame them).

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However, it serves as a good reminder to us to save for a rainy day, and only splurge on big things when we can afford them. Even though designer shoes are gorgeous, they may not be the best idea without a financial plan in place.

Shape your career yourself

SATC was mainly focused on the main characters’ love lives, but they were all very successful in their careers, too. All in different sectors of the working world, the ladies all pursued and achieved great things in their professional lives. 

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This underlying message shows us that women can pursue any kind of career they want, while also being mothers, wives, girlfriends, or lovers. It also shows that women can enjoy traditionally feminine interests and casual s*x as well being professionals. 

Exercise is good for you

The main characters certainly kept themselves in good shape. Throughout the series and movies, the ladies are often seen working out together, usually taking part in some light jogging or walking around New York, or going to a yoga class. 

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Although this isn’t a prominent lesson or message throughout the franchise, we can always use an extra reminder to take care of our physical health through some exercise. Whether you prefer a blood-pumping cardio session or a light walk around your neighborhood, moving your body is always a good idea!

Don’t forget about gay men

SATC had two leading gay characters — Stanford, who was Carrie’s friend, and Anthony, who was Charlotte’s friend. Although they were very stereotypical portrayals of gay men in New York, SATC did occasionally feature some key parts of the ’90s queer scene.

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This was another groundbreaking feature for SATC, as gay people had rarely been shown in mainstream TV before this. Stanford and Anthony were also very supportive friends to the main characters, so they were a nice addition to the plotlines of their lives.

Know your worth

Aside from all of the important dating lessons that SATC brings us, the leading ladies also show us that self-love and knowing your worth are just as important as the love you get from a partner. They show us that we cannot be fully open to love until we fully love ourselves.

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The four women all came to realize, with a few wobbles and speed bumps, that they are intelligent, caring, and capable women with or without a man. This self-love and acceptance is an important lesson for all viewers to take on.

Learn from Miranda

Miranda was no doubt the most level-headed and mature one in the group. She made it seem so effortless to balance an intense career as a lawyer, motherhood, and giving great advice to her friends. She was also unafraid to be outspoken about her opinions.

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Throughout the SATC franchise, we realize that even though Miranda wasn’t (and didn’t want to be) as glamorous as the other ladies, she was a determined and hard-working woman. She was very proud of her career and her family, and we realize that sometimes it is best to unleash your inner Miranda.

Don’t give up on yourself

Samantha was known for her stance against monogamy, and her open and proud s*xuality. However, through the SATC series, she fell in love a handful of times and gave monogamous relationships a go. For example, her relationship with Smith Jerrod…

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That relationship overcame a lot of hard times, including when Samantha cheated on him. However, she realized that monogamous relationships really weren’t her thing, even if she did love Smith. So she chose to end the relationship and stay true to her own values.

You will never be prepared to run into your ex

A universal truth is that you will always run into your ex when you look your worst and are totally unprepared. It is always at the time when you have no makeup on, your hair is unbrushed and your outfit doesn’t match.

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The only time that you may run into them when you’re looking fashionable is when you’re heading out on a date with a new partner. Carrie and Miranda experience this when they ran into Aidan and Steve and their new dates.

Heartache can be good for you

Even though it is never easy to experience, we can learn many lessons from a heartbreak. The SATC main characters are dumped and dump others in seemingly every episode, so they are no strangers to this awful feeling of heartache and rejection.

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However, we wouldn’t be able to compile this list of lessons from SATC without the lessons that the women learned through their many trials and tribulations in the dating scene. After every breakup, they bounced back stronger, and more sure of what they wanted.

Shopping releases serotonin

SATC was very materialistic, showing the many, many shopping trips that the ladies went on and a general preference for things over life necessities. One example of this is when they use the oven as closet space, rather than to prepare food in.

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However, there is scientific evidence to show that shopping can boost your mood; giving yourself a treat lights up a part of your brain that makes you happy. So SATC can be used as a psychological example of the benefits of retail therapy.

A relationship isn’t a competition

It can be easier said than done, if your partner is in the same field as you, to avoid competition within your relationship. Carrie showed us this in her relationship with Berger, who was a struggling writer, while Carrie was a very successful one.

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Berger ended up being very jealous of Carrie’s success, rather than supporting her and celebrating her wins as her partner. Carrie ultimately realized that she shouldn’t have to play down her accomplishments to make her partner feel better, and ended the relationship.

Wear what you want

SATC is very focused on fashion and the glamorous lifestyle of the leading four ladies. The main women also wore some extravagant outfits and were confident enough to rock them no matter what other people would say. Samantha was especially good at this.

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The women were in their 30s-50s through the franchise, and no matter their age, they wore what they liked and what they felt confident and beautiful in. It serves as a good reminder to all of us to do the same, and live our lives according to our own rules.

Fashion has no rules

SATC had a very strong costume department, as the four main characters were always seen in crazy, out-there outfits. A lot of the time, the outfits didn’t make much sense and were very mismatched. Still, it taught us to wear whatever we want.

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Carrie was seen wearing mixed patterns, rompers with caps, combined dresses with ties, sweatpants with heels, and lingerie in public. These are widely considered to be against the fashion “rules,” but given that she pulled them off perfectly, it goes to show that there really are no rules in fashion.

It’s okay to skip the party

The SATC ladies were often seen at cool NYC bars, clubs, and parties. But they were just as often seen at home in their PJs, or on nights when they wish that they had stayed home. So, they emphasized the need for balance between party and rest. 

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Even the most energetic of party girls need a break every now and then. Sometimes skipping the party can be more fun than going because you get to rest and rejuvenate without draining your social battery. Plus, waking up without a hangover is always a bonus!

Every decade is great

SATC proudly represented women in their 30s and 40s, rather than the typical 20s as seen in most TV shows, and continued to show that even though they were a bit older, they hadn’t lost their sense of fun or their s*x drives.

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SATC teaches us that, even if you are over 30, there is always fun to be had. Even better, as the women progress into their 40s and 50s, it shows us that every decade has a great lesson to be learned, and more to look forward to. 

The third date rule is fake

SATC broke through a number of social stereotypes about women, s*x, and dating in the ’90s. One of the lessons they gave us is that the rule that you can only sleep with someone after a third date is a total sham.

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Samantha gave us a sage piece of wisdom, that someone is able to leave you at any moment, whether you have or haven’t slept with them and no matter how much time you have spent with them. So, just do whatever you feel is right and leave any silly social construct behind.