Are romantic comedies ruining your love life?

Are romantic comedies ruining your love life?

Little Shop of Pleasures owner Chris Wilhelm has heard it all when it comes to people's conceptions of love and relationships. With that in mind, in this recent blog entry she seeks to set the record straight RE: real life vs. romantic movies. SO LISTEN UP.

We have been advised by many sources that when writing an article for the internet one should choose a title in the form of a question that is provoking then present your arguments and allow the reader to make up their own minds. In this case we are not going to do that.
 
 
"Are romantic comedies ruining your love life?" Yes, YES they are!
 
 
Let us take a closer look. First let’s examine a few memorable lines from popular romantic comedies.
 
 

"Love means never having to say you're sorry" -- Love Story (Minsky & Hiller, 1970)

 
 
We are starting off with the most ridiculous advice for any relationship. Of course you say sorry when you hurt your partners feelings. Years of un-validated, unacknowledged hurt builds invisible walls of pain. Even Ali MacGraw discussed the damaging effects of this single line by her character in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
 
 

"You complete me." -- Jerry Maguire (Crowe, 1996)

 
 
How about the quote from Jerry Maguire (1996), "you complete me"? The best relationships are not built on dysfunction but rather two complete and whole individuals coming together to make a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
 

"You don't have to understand. You just have to have faith."

"Faith in what?"

"Destiny." -- Serendipity (Abrams & Chelsom, 2001)

 

Finally there is a famous quote from the movie Serendipity (2001), "You don't have to understand, you just have to have faith- faith in destiny." These idyllic lines suggest faith itself is the answer instead of the hard work it takes to nurture and maintain intimacy. The greatest of relationships don't JUST HAPPEN.
 
 
All of the above quotes illustrate romantic comedies by their very nature create an idealized unattainable view of love. Even the very word romanticized is defined as "to think about or describe something as being better or more attractive or interesting then it really is".
 
 
Even if you do not carry these concepts around consciously, subconsciously they do damage by causing you to set your standards impossibly high. This is compounded by the fact that when we fall in love the chemically induced infatuation gives us a false sense that we are experiencing romantic comedies in real life. The powerful neurochemicals cause us to minimize or ignore any negative or unfavourable traits they may have, only to be let down even harder when infatuation fades and reality rears its ugly head. Has this happened to you? Many people have found that this happens over and over again as they move from one relationship to the next, unconsciously looking for the one who completes them while simultaneously mistaking the chemically induced high of infatuation as "true love". Do you find yourself secretly seeking a love interest similar to your favourite rom com? Do you find prince charming is an ass hole of epic proportions after a few months? Then read on.
 
 
A much better approach is to start off with ones feet on the ground and a more realistic expectation of love. Realize that infatuation fades, and no matter how perfect our partner seems in the beginning, they are, after-all, merely a flawed human, as are we. As Don puts it so eloquently, "falling in love is chemistry, staying in love is negotiation". Romance- as opposed to romanticizing- is a vital component to making love last.
 
 
Our definition of romance is showing the person you love you are thinking of them with simple & sweet reminders of why you fell in love with them in the first place. This looks different for every couple, but to give you an idea of how it might look, these are a few of the ways that we have practised this over the years:
 

- Leaving a love note in the other's suitcase when they travel without us, or filling a small box of special memories to open upon arriving at their destination

 

- Surprising them with homemade fresh hot cinnamon bun and coffee... in bed, to

 

- Dropping on one knee to propose marriage on a beach at sunset on Maui with Sara Bareilles playing softly in the background. I chose you!

 

Don proposing to Chris is Maui.
The author being proposed to by her now husband in Maui this past February.

 

All of these romantic gestures are catered to each individual. One more point to consider, is, our sweetheart will not always be romantic or always want to feel connected. This is simply reality and by having a more grounded, less romanticized view, couples have more realistic expectations of one another. Relationships function when we allow our partner the room to make mistakes and say they're sorry, don't expect that the other person be absolutely everything you need in life, and when we eliminate the belief that faith alone will help the relationship stand the test of time. By all means, the next time you are watching a romantic comedy (we love re-watching The Princess Bride), please remember rom-coms are fiction and not how-to guides.

 

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