In the movies, we learn a lot about love. We learn that it should feel like this . . . .

In the movies, quirky imperfect people meet, fight, fall in love, pretend they aren’t in love and then kiss. And we assume that the story ends with some kind of happily ever after.

The conflict is resolved and true love grows within a 90 minute period.

The lessons from movies about love include:

  • Love at first sight happens and is a usual circumstance
    • (500 Days Of Summer, 10 Things I Hate About You, Just Married, Mean Girls, The Notebook, Twilight, Romeo + Juliet)
  • You can hate someone and then fall in love with the same person
    • (You’ve Got A Mail, The Proposal, One Fine Day, 27 Dresses, Kate And Leopold, 2  Weeks Notice, Sweet Home Alabama, 10 I Hate About You, The Ugly Truth, What Happens in Vegas)
  • Attraction can grow where none existed in the first place – and turn into love
    • (Bridget Jone’s Diary, When Harry Met Sally, The Breakfast Club)
  • All you need to do to find true love is get a make-over
    • (Pretty Woman, She’s All That)
  • Breaking up is part of falling in love
    • Almost every romantic comedy you’ve ever seen!
  • It’s okay to fall in love with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable in the beginning
    • (The Proposal, Two Weeks Notice, Never Been Kissed, While You Were Sleeping, Addicted to Love, The Sweetest Thing, All About Steve)

Part of the appeal of a romantic comedy is that it allows us to sit back with our tub of popcorn and escape into a world where all of these things can happen. We want to believe that when a woman continues to accept the advances of someone against her better judgement, everything will turn out beautiful and she’ll find her happily ever after in the end. And because the people in the movies are likeable and we see parts of ourselves in them, we believe that what we see on the big screen can happen to us.

What you almost never see in movies are some of the elements required for healthy, lasting love to develop and grow.

You almost never see two people taking their time to get to know each other and respectfully pausing to provide space when one or the other begins to feel uncomfortable. Movies almost never show the person who is uncomfortable doing the inner work to figure out why the discomfort is coming up when it comes up and taking personal responsibility for evaluating those emotions in a personal, responsible way. This would make movies awfully long and awfully boring.

It could also make the movie very short in the case that the person evaluating the discomfort decides that the relationship isn’t right for them and the other person respects this decision and walks away.

Instead, the protagonist (usually the woman) in the movie is unsure and hesitant. The antagonist (who turns out to be the perfect match and lover) imposes himself on her until she concedes and falls in love.

Life doesn’t happen like this. You can’t learn about true healthy love in the movies.

I invite you to listen to Part 2 of my four part series on Healthy vs Addictive Love and start evaluating for yourself: Do you believe “true love” is the addictive kind?

 © Tamara Bess, LMFT 2014 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.

Movie references in this post found here.


Don’t Be Fooled – The Movies Can’t Teach You About Healthy Love

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