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What We’ve Learned About Love from ‘Elf’

“Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?”

2003‘s ultra-quotable ‘Elf’ quickly became one of the season’s annual must-sees. Perhaps the newest of the family-friendly classics, ‘Elf’ teaches us that love conquers all — and that a little faith can save the day.

What we’ve learned about love from ‘Elf’:

Be yourself.

‘Elf’ is the ultimate object lesson for “just be yourself.” Buddy the Elf doesn’t try to be cool around his new friends; he simply shares the things he loves with them. While you might not be up for making snow angels or eating cookie dough with your date, introducing him/her to the things that bring you joy will likely endear you to him/her more than trying to impress would.

Prioritize family.

Walter Hobbs learns this lesson the hard way: Family comes first. When relationships take the back seat to career and ambition, they suffer. Bonus for Hobbs: When he finally puts his sons first — and subsequently broadens his passions — his career actually starts to thrive.

Spread cheer.

Make smiling your favorite. Take a cue from Buddy and choose friendliness as your strategy for meeting people. Encourage others. Inspire them with your upbeat attitude. A joy for life is contagious, and a focus on others — as opposed to, say, narcissism — is attractive.

Love transforms.

Love changes people. Hobbs’ heart grows those same three sizes the Grinch’s did. Jovie faces her fear of singing in public and ends up saving the day with her voice. A family grew closer, romance blossomed, a career was revived and Christmas spirit returned to New York City all because one man loved selflessly.

Believe what you say you believe.

Integrity is a big deal in Elf’s world. He doesn’t just say he believes in Santa Claus, he lives a life that reflects that belief. Dating can often be a long series of Q&As; make sure that the value system you claim you have is one you’re passionate about living out. If faith is important to you, how does it apply to your everyday life?

Compliment freely.

“You have such a pretty face. You should be on a Christmas card.”

“You look miraculous.”

Buddy compliments both Deb and Jovie without questionable motives or expectations. He just chooses to see the beauty in everyone — and then makes their day by acknowledging that he notices them.

Everyone wants to be noticed and praised. Don’t feel you’re being too eager by complimenting your date’s smile or dress. Playing it too cool can leave her wondering if you’re even interested in her. Note: Calling her “miraculous” might be going a little too far, unless she’s a fan of the Jon Favreau film.

Related: Show affection.

“Does somebody need a hug?”

Physical touch is important. For some, it’s a love language. A hand on the arm or shoulder can indicate that you’re paying attention. A well-received hug can signal security and familiarity.

If you’re not sure if it’s safe to make your move, use Elf’s respectful strategy and just ask.

As your relationship progress, flirty touches throughout the day help you stay connected and at ease. Don’t neglect the physical for the intellectual (or vice-versa).

But never, ever, under any circumstances, try to give a raccoon a hug.

Image courtesy: 2003 Alan Markfield/New Line Productions