I’d like to start off by clearly stating that I am NOT against romantic relationships. I DO NOT think that chivalry is dead and that all romantic relationships are destined for failure. In fact, I am the complete opposite.
I am the type of girl that only goes to the movie theater when Nicholas Sparks turns one of his heart wrenching novels into a sappy chick flick. I walk into the theater armed with a box of tissues and bag of candy or popcorn; prepared for the waterfalls that I am bound to unleash. I am the girl that engulfs herself in the words on the screen. The girl who empathizes with the characters and embodies the emotions and experiences before her. Yes, I am the girl who cries at the large romantic gestures and heartwarming words that the characters disclose in a private moment. And I am the girl who walks out of the theater with her eyes all red and puffy, hoping that I too will find the love of my life when I turn the right corner.
Yet despite all that, I wrote two papers in my first year of undergrad about why romantic films are ruining our relationships. And here’s why:
1. Romantic films emphasize four unrealistic ideals: love at first sight, soulmates, love conquers all, and idealizing one’s partner.
Romantic films provide viewers with unrealistic expectations of how quickly relationships begin and evolve. In films, couples meet and a spark is instantaneously developed. Their relationship magically blossoms in a couple of minutes and they seem to live in the ‘honeymoon’ stage for the majority of the film. If an argument does break out, the couple’s love is strong enough to overcome the challenges and they are immediately back to the ‘honeymoon’ stage. Unfortunately, these aforementioned stages are not the reality of relationship development and maintenance. Films do not depict how one actually overcomes the challenges and difficulties that arise. In reality, love alone can not sustain a relationship.
Films also emphasize the idea of soulmates and how each person is destined to find their one true love. Hate to bare the bad news, but according to the laws of attraction, you can easily attract a person if you have multiple commonalities, are in close proximity to each other, and if you are familiar. Therefore, attraction can be deceiving and misleading; especially because it can be possible to have more than one soulmate throughout one’s lifespan. Films also emphasize the idealization of one’s partner, or overlooking flaws because of the deep love between the couple. As people like to say “love is blind!”
2. We enter relationships thinking that the other person will complete us.
Many times people enter relationships thinking that their partner will complete them. They try to use the relationship as a way of filling the void of a need they want fulfilled. However, healthy relationships involve two complete people growing and expanding together. No one can make you feel whole or complete except yourself. If you are looking for someone to fulfill a void in your life, then you may not be ready for a relationship and will end up greatly disappointed when your partner does not successfully fill your void.
3. We give up on our relationships too easily.
When the going gets tough, we bail out. Many times people think that the relationship is destined for failure when things start to go awry. Instead of actively working toward changing the situation or determining the root cause of the conflict, people choose to either ignore the challenges and hope they goes away or immediately leave the relationship, thinking that there was no way to salvage it.
4. We fear commitment.
Nowadays casual dating has become a popular phenomenon. People do not easily commit to their partners until several months of “talking” or casual interactions. I personally feel as though this is an unhealthy way of starting a relationship as there is little trust and intimacy between partners. It also almost always results in one partner taking the relationship more seriously than the other – leading to agony and heartbreak.
5. Our friends and families are too involved.
Relationships are no longer between two people; they are no longer intimate. Today, if you are in a relationship, you are not only in a relationship with your partner but you are also in a relationship with their friends and family. Nowadays, people share messages between themselves and their partners with everyone. We get into large groups and analyze the text message, asking for advice on how to reply, how long they should wait, or if they should even reply. The privacy and intimacy between the couple suddenly vanishes as 5 or more people share their opinions on how the couple should proceed – thus turning a simple conflict or conversation into a tangled web of unnecessary thoughts and opinions. This of course doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t seek advice from your friends – just maybe limit your advisory committee to one or two trusted sources.
Of course these reasons do not apply to all people! Some people have strong and successful relationships; it’s honestly all about your mindset! If you have a growth mindset and believe that there is room for change, then your relationship is more likely to succeed than if you have a fixed mindset and believe that everything is set in stone.