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Love on the big screen

Romantic comedies can create unrealistic expectations

Psychologists studied students watching 40 top box office hits like You’ve Got Mail, Serendipity and While You Were Sleeping and found that they were more likely to believe in fate, destiny and predetermined love.

What? Watching romantic comedies sets up unrealistic expectations when it comes to love? Not exactly shocking, I know, but still worth reminding ourselves of at this time of year, when Valentine’s Day sets up higher than usual expectations in the romance department. We hardly need movies adding to the pressure.

While, according to the study, romantic comedies would have us believe that if someone is meant to be with you, they should know what you want without you having to tell them, I would hardly stop there. According to my own informal observations, romantic comedies would also have us believe:

• The more you hate someone, the more different the two you are, the more your family hates your date — basically, the more you have going against you when you meet — the greater the chance you’ll end up together.

• Your partner ultimately knows what to do or say at precisely the right moment.

• Your partner is always in the mood for sex when you are.

• Great sex just happens without planning or communication and no one ever gets a leg cramp ... or passes wind.

• Even if you look like Jack Nicholson, you can date someone less than half your age.

• Relationship problems can be resolved within two hours after which we’ll all live happily ever after.

Most of us know these movies are unrealistic and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Romantic comedies are meant as an escape from reality, an opportunity to bask in a world of happily ever after where love conquers all. But when it’s 4 a.m., the baby’s awake and crying, you haven’t slept in three days and the house is a mess, love may feel a little overwhelmed by the task of conquering all.

And I know that “Communication Conquers All” isn’t quite as romantic sounding, but it’s a more realistic place to start. Combine that with regular tolerance, kindness, understanding and some good old fashioned “grinning and bearing it” and you at least stand a chance at putting a dent in, if not completely conquering, most of what comes at the two of you.

In fact, for one tired mom friend of mine, her idea of romance is having her husband get up and change a poopy diaper at 3 a.m. ... for the fourth night in a row. Hardly the stuff of movie romance but for her right now, a gesture much more meaningful than flowers or candy.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

– Josey Vogels is a sex and relationship columnist and author of five books on the subjects. For more info, visit www.joseyvogels.com.

 
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