Sex and the City: Carrie and Big Were Perfect for Each Other (But Not in a Good Way)

Carrie and Big aren't "relationship goals" by any means, but they definitely deserve each other.

Chris Noth and Sarah Jessica Parker in And Just Like That...
Photo: Craig Blankenhorn | Max

This article contains spoilers for Sex and the City.

Carrie Bradshaw’s (Sarah Jessica Parker) relationship with John James Preston a.k.a. Mr. Big (Chris Noth) on Sex and the City has long been a divisive one. There are many who (rightfully) believe that Carrie never deserved Big, and that his inability to commit should have been a massive red flag from the beginning. There are others who believe that Big and Carrie are soulmates and he’s the only logical endgame for her. I would argue that both takes are partially right, Big and Carrie are perfect for each other, but not in a good way.

Big and Carrie are both terrible about sending mixed signals to each other. Big is clear that he doesn’t want to get married again when he first starts dating Carrie, but then turns right around and marries Natasha (Bridget Moynahan) not long after their first breakup. Carrie acts like she wants to be swept off her feet in romance and be in a serious relationship, but ignores all of the signs from Big that that’s not the kind of guy he is, and then gets mad at him for not being the guy she wants him to be.

Carrie is right to stand up for herself and break things off after Big introduces her to his mom as a “friend,” but at the same time this only happens because she has gone through the trouble of secretly following Big to the church he attends with his mother and forcing the introduction out of nowhere. If they were truly in a healthy relationship, Big shouldn’t have kept the fact that he takes his mom to church from Carrie, but Carrie shouldn’t have felt the need to spy on him either.

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If this is where Carrie and Big’s relationship ended, that would be one thing. But the two continue to circle each other’s lives like vultures waiting to pick a corpse clean. Carrie seems to finally find what she wants in Aidan (John Corbett), but sabotages everything by seeking an affair with Big, who is still very married at this point. They ruin both of their relationships because neither of them seem to know what they actually want from a partner.

After some time passes, Carrie and Big try to stay friends, unable to resist staying in each others’ orbit. Carrie and Aidan get back together, but Carrie panics after he proposes, even though she wanted that level of commitment from Big. Neither of them are able to find any sort of meaningful relationship outside of each other, but don’t seem to be satisfied when they’re together either.

It takes six years and many failed relationships between them for Big to tell Carrie that she’s “the one,” and she accepts his proclamation without hesitation in the series finale. But even though Big finally makes the grand romantic gesture that Carrie has been waiting for, they still don’t live happily ever after. Big gets cold feet and ruins their wedding in the first Sex and the City movie, though they do finally tie the knot by the end of the film.

Because Carrie is the protagonist of the series, it would be easy to blame all of Big and Carrie’s relationship problems on him – he’s not a great guy! He’s unable to commit to Carrie, but is perfectly fine with stringing her along and popping up in her life when it’s convenient. But at the same time, Carrie is also an adult woman capable of making her own (often terrible) choices.

Big tells her from the beginning that he’s not looking for anything serious, and yet she stays with him hoping he’ll eventually change his mind. She sabotages (intentionally or not) relationships that could give her the stability and love she claims she’s looking for because she craves the drama of chasing Big.

Carrie returns to Big no matter how many times she feels hurt by his actions or proves that he hasn’t changed. I don’t doubt that they feel something for each other, probably even love to an extent, but that doesn’t mean their relationship is healthy. 

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Big and Carrie are perfect for each other not in some rose petal, fairy tale kind of way, but rather because they are both selfish people who don’t actually know what they want. Their messy drama makes for great television, but not much beyond that. It’s hard to support a relationship that leaves so much emotional damage in its wake, but it also feels almost unethical to suggest that Carrie and Big date other people when we look at how terribly that’s gone in the past for all parties involved.

Carrie and Big definitely aren’t “relationship goals,” but they do deserve each other.

All six seasons of Sex and the City are available to stream on Netflix now.