We all grow up with an idea of what romantic love is supposed to be, though it’s usually not long before we discover that we’re wrong. Needless to say, this can contribute to problems in our relationships. The role of popular fiction – especially cinema – in shaping those beliefs remains largely undiscussed, too. Here are 10 ways movies skew our beliefs on love…
10. Deliberately Feigning Interest Or Teasing Doesn’t Work
The idea that teasing and outright ignoring someone is a viable form of expressing love is ingrained in Hollywood, and could be seen in everything from teenage dramas to big-budget superhero movies. It also shows up in real life, as so many people think that someone not being responsive to their advances is just asking them to try harder, though usually to little success.
As you’d have guessed, that’s not how it works in reality, and even science agrees with us. Many studies prove that people tend to be attracted towards someone who likes them over someone who doesn’t. Of course, it’s a different story altogether if their signals are ambiguous, though as long as it’s clear that they’re not interested – which is usually the case in the movies – chances are good that they really do mean what they’re saying.
9. The Story Doesn’t End When They Get Together
This one isn’t just restricted to romantic movies, as many other works end with some primary characters ultimately getting together. They go through their own arcs, find out that they’re fit for each other and usually spend their whole lives in the mythical period of ‘happily ever after’.
As anyone who has been in a long-term relationship or marriage would tell you, if movies really wanted to accurately portray a real-life couple’s story, they’d start with them getting together instead. For any couple – unless their histories are exceptionally exciting – the part before the relationship is hardly ever significant. The truly exciting and eventful parts of a relationship come after, not before. Movies, though, still treat getting two people together as some kind of a victory and cue to end their stories, when in reality that’s only the beginning.
8. You Don’t Have To Suffer And Sacrifice To Make It Work
Whenever something goes wrong in a relationship in a movie, it’s shown as a rite of passage, one from which everyone eventually comes out stronger. It’s also supposed to be a pretty normal part of life, as the idea that you’ve to give something up to make a relationship work is quite prevalent in movies. Jack’s sacrifice for Rose in Titanic, as an example, has been immortalized in popular imagination. It’s not important that he could have probably been saved if Rose tried even a bit more than she did, but that he gave up his life for the one he loved. Sacrifice supersedes logic, at least when it comes to love in the movies.
In reality, any relationship that consistently requires you to give something up is not a healthy relationship at all, least of all a requisite for keeping the bond strong. Two people getting together is hardly ever supposed to be ‘sacrifice’, as movies and television have now come to romanticize. Functioning relationships don’t work on a transactional, give-sacrifice-gain-love logic.
We’re not saying that making any sacrifice is bad – as that’s a selfish thing to say – though it’s hardly the norm in a relationship. It’s probably due to this one that quite a few people continue to hold on to dead-end relationships in reality, hoping that the movies are right about this stuff. Unfortunately, they aren’t.
7. Studies Prove A Link Between Movies And Relationship Problems
We’ve always suspected that Hollywood has something to do with how we perceive – or more accurately misperceive – love. The fairytale idea of love as promoted by Hollywood still causes problems in relationships around the world. Thanks to movies, we think of a perfect romantic partner as someone who stays with us because they were made for us, and not because they work every day to make it work. That’s just one of the many misconceptions about love movies still actively promote, and it’s not just us saying it, either.
A study done by a group of counsellors confirms that inaccurate portrayals of relationships in Hollywood have a profound impact on real-life relationships. They found that problematic ideas like ‘if they care about you, they’ll know without talking about it’ are actively promoted by a majority of romantic comedies released between 1995-2005, leading to problems in relationships around that time and later.
6. Women In Movies Are Just Weird During Sex
For most teenagers, movies are their first introduction to the marvelous-yet-confusing world of sex. Conversely, it’s also one of the bestselling themes in Hollywood, and continues to shape up how sex is viewed in the real world. Our perception of sex mostly come from movies, which is fine as someone has to tell the kids. Of course, movies have a responsibility to get it right for the impressionable minds, too, which is why sex is still a heavily-censored subject in movies.
While they largely succeed in that purpose when it comes to men, sex for women in movies is a seemingly weird and unnatural affair; one that’s not rooted in reality at all. Most things about how movies portray women having sex are wrong. No woman has ever wrapped herself in the bedsheet to go to the washroom after sex in real life, but it’s a thing they do in movies all the time. Women in movies also apparently love wearing a bra, as they always have one on before and after the act. It makes sense if they have to go out or get back to work after it, though women generally don’t favor wearing a bra to sleep if they can help it, as it can get uncomfortable. Movies also don’t understand the female orgasm, as women in movies are done much faster than their real-life counterparts (an average orgasm in reality takes around 15 minutes).
5. According To Science, Opposites Don’t Attract
The notion that people with opposing interests are suited for each other is ingrained in our society, though squarely blaming movies for it would be a bit unfair. While it’s true that the trope shows up in Hollywood in more places than we can count, it has been a recurring theme in our stories for far longer than that, Pride and Prejudice being a great example of it. It’s an almost certainty that if a man and a woman start off fighting – or being at odds about something – in a movie, they’d end up together, or at least romantically involved in some way.
Most people would have already realized in their dating lives that it’s not the case in real life. Romantic relationships usually develop on the basis of similarities, not differences as that would go against all evolutionary sense. Science agrees, too, as studies have found that people tend to be attracted towards those who think like them. This also means that while approaching someone, focusing on what makes you unique may not work as well as talking about your similarities.
4. Running Through An Airport Will Get You Shot
It seems like this one would be obvious, but we figured it’s a good idea to reiterate just how bad an idea doing something like this is. Airports in movies form the backdrop of all kinds of romantic endeavors – from confessing unrequited love to marriage proposals. Most of them end up successful, too, and some people may even consider it to be romantic in real life.
As you’d know, frantically running through airports to catch a lover will prove to be fatal in most – if not all – countries. This is especially true in America, where security at airports has been the highest since 9/11. The various security teams at a regular airport are specifically trained to not let anyone run across without the necessary paperwork and checks, no matter how much they love the other person. Most of those romantic chases in movies would usually end up in the whole airport being put on high alert and the main guy being shot within two minutes.
3. ‘Love At First Sight’ Is Not Real
A lot of us believe in love at first sight. The idea that one day, you’d meet someone’s eyes for the first time and fall in love has been used to whip up emotions in movies for a long time. Mind you, it’s not the same as ‘when you know, you know’ as that still requires getting to know the other person. No, in movies, it’s entirely possible to decide to spend your life with someone the first time you see them at the coffee shop, and those relationships usually end up fine, too.
As you’d have guessed from the rest of this list, it’s completely unlike how it works in real life. Psychologists have done research on whether love at first sight is even possible, and more than one study has found that it isn’t. Interestingly, they made a distinction between lust and love, as even if it’s possible to be sexually attracted to someone within moments of meeting them, love requires the formation of connections in the brain that physically can’t be completed that fast.
2. Basically All Relationships In Movies Are Heterosexual
Whenever we refer to romantic love, we instantly think of a man and a woman. The prevalence of heterosexual relationships in Hollywood is overwhelming, even if not up to date with the times. While it’s true that more movies and TV shows are now exploring same-sex (and other type of) relationships than ever before, non-straight love in movies is still always used to make a point (or something the entire movie is based on, in many cases). Couples in movies are straight, and if they’re not, their gayness can’t just stay in the background. It almost never happens that a character is walking down the street in NYC and passes a gay couple just holding hands getting a hot dog in the back, even if you see straight couples doing that all the time. Moreover, gay couples only exist in adult, restricted-access movies in almost all countries. There have never been any gay Transformers.
If you live in a big city in a developed country, chances are that this is quite an inaccurate depiction of the types of sexual relationships found in our immediate social circles. The hot dog sight we mentioned earlier is actually a perfectly normal thing to witness in NYC, just ask someone from there! For the kind of progress our movies have made in other areas, Hollywood still sees romantic love to be confined within the binary of male and female.
1. ‘The One’
It’s not rare to find someone who’s single because they’re looking for their perfect soulmate. Entire relationships have been ruined because of our cultural belief in the idea that there’s someone out there who perfectly matches the idea of a perfect partner in our heads. People in happy, functioning relationships give it up because their partner doesn’t align with that idea, only to eventually – but inevitably – find out that soulmates only exist on the big screen.
For one, what someone does for you is much more important than their personality or general traits, and that keeps changing over time. You may find someone exactly like how you imagine your soulmate to be, though they can still – over time – turn out to be a horrible partner.
More importantly, the idea that someone is meant for you is inherently faulty in the first place. We’re not supposed to find our soulmate prize by travelling across the world and meeting as many potential contestants as we can. The purpose of finding a partner should be to make you happy right now, and if it does, it shouldn’t matter if someone better is out there (hint: there isn’t). This may seem ridiculous, but couples break up because one of them doesn’t fit the other’s idea of ‘the one’ all the time. Relationships require everyday work instead of a one-time ‘soulmate’ pass, as even the most matching soulmates won’t stay together for long if they don’t make that effort.