I love romantic comedies just as much as the next person does, but I’m not afraid to admit that they have tampered with how I view love in the real world.
For instance, I’ll admit that I’d absolutely fall head over heels for someone if they stopped being a player and did all the right things to win my heart. The Kissing Booth on Netflix displays this dynamic quite well, but can it really happen in reality?
I’ll also admit that I’d like to experience love at first sight - or even love at first kiss if I had the opportunity. She’s the Man covers that method to a tee, but can you really tell if you want to be with someone through a quick kiss filled with passion?
These are just two examples of how unrealistic expectations of love are presented through rom-coms; trust me, there are hundreds more. I don’t think there’s enough time in a day for me to cover all the examples that the world of media showcases.
But just for fun, I want to come out and proclaims all the popular reasons these beloved movies are giving my generation unrealistic expectations of love. Maybe by the end, you’ll see that real life can’t be like the movies.
1. Grand Gestures
Going above and beyond to win your significant other’s love and affection only happens in fairy tales. Sure, the honeymoon stage of a relationship is perfect; you get to know your boyfriend or girlfriend and you love everything that you see. Flaws aren’t present. You have heart eyes. They take you on dates and pay for food and kiss you goodnight and send you good morning messages. They pick up flowers and walk you to the door and buy you gifts and ask you what you want to do. It’s all fine and dandy.
When I say grand gestures, I mean out-of-this-world types of stuff. Do you remember 50 First Dates? When Henry falls for Lucy, this incredible woman, only to find out she’s plagued by a rare condition that alters her memory and makes her forget every day. She has to start all over every time she wakes up! Lucy doesn’t remember Henry, yet he still makes it a priority to get Lucy to fall in love with him every day. That’s grand. That should be unexpected. If I have amnesia like that, no one’s going to immediately think, “I want to fall in love with her.”
2. Declaration of Undying/Forever Love
Not all romantic comedies technically declare undying or forever love, but when you see it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Let me give you a raw example.
Ever seen the movie Notting Hill? William, a local travel bookstore owner meets Anna, a famous actress from Beverly Hills. The two experience an awkward interaction in the bookstore before William bumps into Anna on the street and spills his drink all over her blouse. It’s all downhill from there. The two have some conversation and end up romantically involved. But, a plethora of difficulties gets in their way of being happy with one another.
Towards the end of the film, William declares his undying love for Anna in front of dozens of reporters, asking her for another chance. He admits that he has messed up and that they could really be happy with one another. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but when reality sets in, a declaration like that does not happen. We’d be lucky to hear a declaration in front of one other person aside from ourselves.
Plus, I’m skeptical on if a regular rinky-dink guy could settle down and marry one of Hollywood’s most famous stars.
3. One-Night Stands
We all have them at one point in our lives - or so the statistics say. And for some reason, romantic comedies like to convince us that falling in love after a one-night stand is a possibility. Take a closer look at the film Two Night Stand and see what you think.
The movie portrays Alec and Megan, two young and lustrous adults looking to hook up. Little do they know that when they wake up from a quick sleep after sex that they’ll be trapped in Alec’s apartment for another day, due to a horrendous snowstorm.
Yes, the movie turns into a two-night stand, per the film's title, but the point I’m trying to make here has to do with one-night stands. At the end of the rom-com, Megan cannot get Alec out of her head, and she goes out on a whim and gives him a second chance. Why? Because she thinks the relationship they had for those two days could be something grand.
This is just one of the movies that proclaims love can happen immediately after a one-night stand. In reality, hooking up on a given night is just that - hooking up. If you hear from the person again, it’s probably because you were good in bed and that’s as far as it goes.
4. Musical Number
I don’t care what lifestyle you live, I know that your significant other is not singing you a song to apologize for something they did. I mean full out singing a musical number in front of various different people. That would be a bit crazy.
Not in Pitch Perfect. It’s not crazy there, when Jesse sings to Beca in front of their entire audience to make up for their recent fight. Ok, I’ll give this to you - Jesse and his acapella group did have plans the entire time to sing The Breakfast Club song, but Beca didn’t know that. So, when Jesse broke out the mic and let his vocal cords sing the tune, Beca was so incredibly happy to hear their inside joke come out during the competition. She couldn’t help but smile. And even though he didn’t wholeheartedly choose to sing a song on his own, by himself, for his girl to see as an apology, he kind of did.
One thing that today’s romantic comedies do not display is the number of hardships a couple has to go through before they fall in love. It’s not easy-peasy lemon-squeezy out here. You don’t fall in love with someone, have one big fight, and then bam you’re married! Annoyances come up, bickering is a thing, and arguments do happen.
Have you ever sat down and watched Mr. Right? Where Francis is a hitman, he meets Martha, and he teaches her how to be a “hitwoman” to join in on the fun and be his sidekick? That entire movie is filled with little sly remarks but not one argument. The couple gets over everything! Martha gets upset for legitimately two seconds when she finds that Francis had the guts to throw a knife directly at her, but then she’s perfectly fine and cool about the situation. The couple walks into the sunlight at the end of the film - or towards the hospital to seek medical care from their most recent injury. But that’s beside the point, not one hardship is faced. Yet, they’re in love.
6. Love at First Sight
My heart is so weak and I wish I could believe that love at first sight was an actual thing. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s not. Don’t believe Hollywood.
Like with the classic Romeo and Juliet. They set sights on one another and automatically believe that they will love one another until death - figuratively and literally, as they kill themselves at the end of the movie.
The two young lovebirds are so convinced that they cannot live without one another after laying eyes on the other. And that, my friends, is probably one of the lamest examples I could have come up with. Because let’s face it, The Notebook and other movies just like it display the exact same thing. Noah is heart-stricken by Ally after seeing her smile and he makes it blatantly clear about his initial feelings. Makes me wonder if I’ll ever have that guy that will meet me and go, “Wow, I need her in my life.” Likely not.
7. Little to No Communication
Most romantic comedies show little to no communication. The couple will get to know one another with simple questions like that of what’s your favorite color? Where’s your favorite place to go? Who’s your favorite person on the planet? But that’s as far as communication goes. Then a perfect song comes on and you see the two go through an array of scenes in under two minutes, showcasing how much fun they have together.
By the end of the film, like that of The Last Song, you’ll see that one, two, three meaningful conversations tops will have been acted out for the world to see. Of course, producers will wiggle in that one large argument to make it seem like there’s something worth fighting for. But all in all, the communication is lacking and we are convinced that it’s ok to avoid that crucial aspect of a relationship - we are convinced to look out for those fun times and those horrendous fights.
8. Quick Love
How long do you think it takes to fall in love? I’ll give you a hint, it doesn’t happen overnight. But in some rom-coms, the two that are romantically involved insist that they love one another.
For example, take a look at The Holiday. Amanda takes a break from her California life to spend the holiday season in England all by her lonesome. However, she’s not all that lonely when she arrives. Come to find that the woman she has switched lives with for a couple of weeks, Iris, has a handsome brother, Graham. In as little as two weeks, Amanda spends time with Graham, inevitably sleeps with him, and falls in love with him. There is reciprocity, and when it comes time for Amanda to head back to California, after she’s met Graham’s children, he can’t let go. Tears fall from his eyes and for the first time in years, they fall from her eyes, too. The two can’t imagine spending New Year’s without one another, so they alter their plans and accommodations for the remainder of the year to be together.
Don’t even get me started on how crazy falling in love with someone from another country in under two weeks is.
I guess this entire rant may sound like I’m being a negative Nancy, but I assure you, I’m not trying to do any such thing. I simply would like to share my opinion that rom-coms do set unrealistic expectations for our love lives. Instead, they should be broadcasting that you can find love when you least expect it. That’s the truth. You stop looking and love comes a-knocking. Or, they should be showing that sometimes, feelings aren’t reciprocated by the person you want to be with. It’s not common that every single person you’re interested in will be interested in you, even if that hurts to hear.
Don’t get me wrong, keep the romantic comedies coming. They make me cringe and cry, but I totally wish I could be in one of them. It is a form of entertainment after all, I just need to stop thinking Prince Charming is on his way to put my glass slipper on my feet.