I love romantic movies. I love how they make me feel and I love how they tie everything up into a neat little bow and everyone gets their “happily ever after”. I grew up in the 80’s and consumed movies like Pretty in Pink and Xanadu like they were going out of style. They were my template for falling in love. I wanted to be the plucky girl who gets the geeky boy to come out of his shell or the wall flower that makes the hunky guy realize he loved me from the moment he saw me. It was OK to entertain those ideas as a wide eyed teen, but as I got older I realized I continued to drag around these unrealistic ideas of what love was supposed to be.
The fact is, real life rarely plays out like a movie, if ever. Life doesn’t work itself out in perfect comebacks, dramatic changes of heart and happy endings. It’s a bit more complicated than that. What real life does do is bring us lessons in the form of people, situations and relationships that are anything but simple and certainly take way more than a hour and a half to resolve.
Here are 5 romantic movie myths that don’t hold up in real life:
1. You always have the perfect thing to say in an argument
You know that moment when someone says or does something that just infuriates you? I don’t know about you, but often in that moment I’m too stunned for words. I’m busy being amazed at what came out of their mouth. If I do have an awesome retort it doesn’t enter my head until an hour or day later.
Odds are we are not going to have the perfect thing to say at every moment. The best thing to do in those moments is to try and not be defensive. I know that can be hard, but instead really listen to their concern and respond honestly what you’re feeling. Always remember that you’re on the same team with the end goal of a happy relationship. You don’t need the perfect thing to say, you just need to be willing to communicate openly and honestly.
2. Love means never having to say you’re sorry
I’m not sure how this even became a thing. It’s unclear to me how love gives someone free reign to not be accountable for their actions. Real love means accepting responsibility when you screw up and/or inflict hurt on someone you love. Apologizing when you are genuinely sorry is a huge piece to healing hurts in a relationship when used properly. But to be clear it does not mean taking responsibility for absolutely everything that goes wrong in a relationship and becoming a martyr. Take it from recovering apologizer; it’s not possible that every single thing that goes wrong is your fault. Own your own stuff, no more no less.
3. There is a magic moment when everything becomes perfect
There is no one moment when the clouds part and your relationship becomes permanently perfect. In reality your relationship will be sprinkled with moments that are perfect, some that are just OK and those that are even bad. IT’s CALLED LIFE! It has its ups and downs, with moments of perfection, clarity, mediocrity, fun, boredom, excitement, frustration and everything in between. Throughout the course of a relationship this spectrum of highs and lows is going to happen and it’s totally normal. The sign of a healthy relationship is one that can weather these high and lows and come out the other side even better than before.
4. The bad boy/girl sees the light and is forever changed by love
People are not projects to be fixed. Statements like , “He/She has such potential and if I could just get him/her to <insert desired change here>, they’d be perfect.” make me cringe. A good rule of thumb is that when you first meet someone, what you see is what you get. Who they are when you meet them is who they will continue to be. If they come into the relationship with moral flexibility, it’s not going to change overnight, that is a way of life.
People can change, but if they do it’s because of something inside of them, something they decided to do and not some magic thing that happened because they feel in love or because you willed (or pressured them to do so). Change takes time. It has taken them a lifetime to learn the techniques they have to deceive and cheat and that won’t be undone overnight because they found love.
5. You live happily ever after
This idea that when you fall in love with the right person, everything will just magically fall into place and you’ll live happily ever after is a bit deceptive, ok really deceptive. Happily ever after is possible, as long as you keep #3 above in mind. It is possible to find a really great partner, commit to a long term relationship and live a happy life together. But all that “happily ever after” happens because you work at it, daily. Good relationships require, communication, understanding and the belief that you and your partner are on the same team so even if you hit a rough patch it’s not the end of the world.
Life is quite a bit more complicated than in the movies. Healthy worthwhile relationships take effort and work, but the good news is this kind of love is far more satisfying then movie fluff. So go ahead and keep watching those rom coms, just take them with a grain of salt. But when it comes to real love, it has high and lows, bumpy awkward moments without comebacks and allows for a few mistakes along the way.