Let’s be honest, we all have a soft spot for at least a few rom coms, whether you’ll publically admit it or not (we’re not going to check your Netflix queue, so relax.) Confession time. I am a huge sucker for a story with a happy ending. Well there goes my, non-existent, street cred! 😉 I mean, now more than ever we need some reassurance that the world is going to be ok (the news makes it seems like our days are numbered, so we may as well stay in and binge watch some TV.)
Nothing wrong with a rom com, however, majority of them are more unrealistic than a celebrity’s Instagram account. If I hear one more time that The Notebook is someone’s dream relationship, I won’t be held responsible for my actions! All they do is fight and break up, not to mention how their first date came about, madness! It can be quite easy to use rom coms as the barometer by which you set your relationship standards and truthfully, that won’t get you anywhere. So here are 8 ways rom coms are giving you unrealistic relationship goals;
The Meet Cute
An essential part of any rom com is the meet cute, the starter if you will (still taking any chance to relate life to food over here!) Usually the extremely attractive and groomed couple bump into each other at a coffee shop, bookshop, on the tube or literally by tripping over on the street. They lock eyes across a somewhat crowded place and then they just know. Or so the say at some point mid movie.
Now, as a bonafide Londoner, I don’t remember the last time I made eye contact with anyone on the tube. If they could outlaw eye contact in public here, they probably would and have you been to get a coffee before work?! No one is in the mood to talk to anyone. The only true love they want to meet is a caffeinated beverage, ASAP! The meet cute has a way of making you think that if you meet someone in a way that can’t be romanticised, then it’s not meant to be. My advice? Try to remember that it’s not all about how you meet but what happens after. In the same way that your wedding day (if you choose to get married) is just one day in the rest of your lives.
The Best Friend
In rom coms, the leading actor and actress’ characters always seem to have only one friend and that one friend fits a bunch of preconceived movie ideals like the fat best friend, the sassy black friend, the douchey best friend etc. The role of the best friend is purely there as an extension of the main character, rarely with any storyline of their own.
Realistically, it’s very common to have more than one friend and hang out with more than one social group. It’s healthy to surround yourself with different people from all walks of life, so you can learn and grow as a person. Also, a lot of the leading actor and actress’ characters seem to possess a self-centred quality that makes them forget all about their only friend when a new potential love comes onto the scene. In real life, that sort of behaviour is grounds for some serious beef, no matter how in love you are. Friends are not placeholders until you find ‘the one’. Do not treat them as such!
In a lot of mainstream rom coms, the couples are always the same. You get a lot of attractive, Caucasian, straight couples with the actor cast being a lot older than the female actress they’re cast opposite. Even when they have the female character go through, an unnecessary, transformation (nice one Hollywood, way to show young girls that it’s what’s on the inside that matters. Not) the actress cast is already beautiful in her own right (like all women are!)
With that kind of narrative being played out in majority of rom coms, it rules out a lot of diversity in terms of race, sexual orientation, age and size. With finding love being difficult enough already, this type of continued visual can perpetuate the idea that if you don’t fit that criteria, you won’t find love. It’s 2017 people! Love is a multi-coloured spectrum of beauty and light so it is high time that more mainstream rom coms reflect that!
The Couple’s Lifestyles
One thing that has always bothered me about rom coms since officially becoming an adult is the couple’s lifestyles. When you hear their job titles and see where they live, as well as how often they travel, you may react like I do. Which is by throwing whatever is available at your screen in utter outrage. It is beyond impossible for any of them to be single and living in such splendour on the salaries that they make! Not to mention being able to travel at the drop of a hat or disappear from work whenever they go through a break up!
In the real world that the rest of us reside in, our salaries definitely don’t cover living alone in such grand apartments, wearing designer clothes, having unlimited travel and ducking out of work whenever, whilst still getting paid. In fact, in London being single actually costs you MORE money. As a singleton in London, it’ll take you over 40 years to be able to pay for your own mortgage. With odds like that, you can’t afford such a lavish lifestyle or to keep up with a high regime grooming process to always be ‘meet cute’ ready!
The lengths that characters go to when ‘wooing’ each other in rom coms will always be excessive. From buying the company where their love interest works to popping up unannounced wherever they are. Rom coms have this, almost, impressive talent of making things that are considered stalking in the eyes of the law and basic humanity seem romantic to a wider audience. Fifty Shades of Grey is an example of how unacceptable behaviour, in terms of getting someone to go out with you, has been romanticised.
It’s not acceptable to hire someone because you want to date them or to show up at someone’s workplace and cause a scene in the name of romance. It’s not acceptable to let yourself into someone’s apartment, especially if they’ve never given you a set of keys OR told you where they live. It’s not acceptable to have a potential love interest followed by a PI or to tell them what to eat and who they can talk to. If someone says they don’t want to date you, the response isn’t to stalk them and bombard them with gifts until they change their mind, no matter how attractive you are! There’s also the length of time this wooing goes on for. Realistically, it’s not common for people to meet and then a week later, after a lot of inappropriate behaviour and boundary crossing, decide they’re in love and going to be together forever, even though they barely know each other. Usually, by then, it’s clear both characters have a lot of personal issues they should be working through.
The Sex Scenes
In rom coms, the sex scenes always run smoothly. Everyone is perfectly groomed in sexy underwear, the lighting is great and everyone has a good time with a happy ending, if you catch my drift 😉 When they sweat, they do so in a way that hits the light just right and protection is rarely mentioned. Then they fall into a peaceful slumber while one watches them until morning light wakes them up because, of course, no one closed the curtains the night before.
A few point here. Most women take off their bra during sex, not everyone is perfectly groomed, no one sweats prettily, they don’t take off their clothes smoothly, protection should be mentioned by someone and physical compatibility means it’s not always smooth sailings. Also, not everyone reaches the designated destination, you only have to read women’s magazines to know how true that is. The body is also a very… strange place. It doesn’t always respond to your wishes, like when your stomach starts gurgling in a quiet room. To be blunt, you can’t rule out the possibility of someone farting or any other bodily functions that rom coms just ignore (besides, everyone knows women don’t fart…)
The Couple’s Dilemma
Usually there is a dilemma that the couple has to overcome before they can be together forever. Either one of them isn’t being open enough (god knows that after 3 days you should’ve have told them your whole life story! How you can you not trust someone after all that time?!) or the dilemma is about the circumstances they met under, which at least 50% of the time involved some lying.
Now, a lot of the dilemmas they face in rom coms are pretty big. It’s never something simple like “I lied about liking peas on our first date.” It’s usually along the lines of “I’m still technically married”, “I’m a sadist” or “I was writing an article and you became the perfect test subject, but I like you now”. That kind of fun, casual thing you know? Usually, the characters get over these monumental issues in a short amount of time and that brings them closer together somehow. However, it suggests that if you lie in the beginning, it’s fine as long as it’s true love. Trust is a very delicate thing, especially in relationships, but rom coms don’t tend to go into too much detail about that.
The ‘Happily Ever After’
When you take off your rose coloured glasses and look back over a rom com with the eyes of realist, you may wonder how they EVER make it to happily ever after. You may even wonder why they would stay together when there are other characters in the story that would’ve have probably been a better, healthier match for them.
There’s also the fact that sometimes the element of romance doesn’t mean you’ll end up together. Not all love is movie style love and not all love is meant to last forever (sad but true.) So, to end with, here are 8 more realistic rom coms to indulge in;
- 500 Days of Summer
- How to be Single
- Stuck in Love
- My Best Friend’s Wedding
- Celeste and Jesse Forever
- Like Crazy
- The Big Sick
Now, go forth and binge… with more realistic relationship goals! 🙂