Eight Lies Films Tell About Relationships
Euella on how movies create unrealistic expectations of love and dating.
When I was about 14, I had a crush on a guy called Chris. I was absolutely besotted with him. He was 16, funny and so cool – oh, and did I mention he was 16? It was the typical story of every teenager – he liked me, but just not ‘in that way’. Ugh. I mean, I could hardly blame him. He liked older girls, with long, blonde hair and navel piercings. I was way out of my depth. I remember speaking with one my friends on how severely friend-zoned I was when she said something that well and truly shaped the rest of my dating life.
‘Ella, you have to play the game like how they do in the films.’
I hesitated, feeling confused and extremely naïve, ‘What game?’
‘You know, THE game. He likes you, he just doesn’t know it yet’.
Following that conversation, with my younger sister as my accomplice, ‘Operation Chicken’ was born – a ten-step plan to make Chris my boyfriend. The thinking behind it was that he loves chicken so naturally the name, ‘Operation Chicken’, was a no-brainer. I wanted to be the charming yet unlikely heroine who swoops in and wins the protagonist’s affection. My sister and I were thorough and we studied pretty much all of the romantic comedies we could think of. I was confident that all I really needed was a complete transformation, a new look and new vibe to get him to see me in a new light. I mean, how hard could it be, right? The plan was fool-proof, or so I thought.
Fast forward to the moment of truth. My new outfits were prepared and I had gotten my hair and nails done ready for when I was to go and watch him and his friends play football in the local park. I had my big reveal by the jungle gym. It was a real ‘Grease’ moment – or rather, it had the potential to be be. The plan went like this, I was gunna give him chills and then we’d dance around the park before riding out into the sunset in a flying car. What could possibly go wrong? Well here’s what went wrong; he didn’t notice me. He was too busy playing football with his friends. I stood there at the side of the pitch looking as peng as my 14-year-old self could muster, and he was more interested in kicking a ball. Like, really?
That day I learned a hard lesson. Films lie. No matter what shade your nail polish is or how well your eyebrows are tweezed, nobody is going to suddenly realise they’re in love with you. In reality, relationships don’t work that way. Relationships are hard, and maybe they wouldn’t be so damn confusing if it weren’t for popular culture leading us astray. Don’t make the same mistake as I did. To save you the painful experience of having everything you’ve ever known about finding a significant other trashed by the harsh, cruel realities of the dating scene, I’d thought I’d save you the trouble and put some of these untruths to bed. Here are eight lies films tell about relationships:
1. The Good Girl Can Change The Bad Boy (‘Beauty And The Beast’)
We all love a bad-boy-turned-good storyline, and the timelessness of films like ‘Beauty And The Beast’ is testament to that. Belle represents the kind and nurturing female protagonist who is able to love the beast better regardless of how aggressive and off-putting he seems at first. It is important not to judge a book by its cover, and sometimes you do need to deep a little deeper to get to know someone properly. But in real life, trying to change the ‘bad boy’ can be extremely exhausting and can put a lot of strain on a relationship and can even lead to you being more tolerant of abusive behaviour. Fun fact: people do not change unless, of course, they really, really want to. Please refrain from settling for a fixer-upper, because in the end, you’ll both just end up frustrated. Them because you’re actively trying to change them and you because they won’t change. There are some things that you can compromise on, but things relating to personality or reckless behaviours or habits – if not compatible with your own, are probably better left where you found them.
2. There Is Such Thing As Happily Ever After (‘Cinderella’)
In basically every fairy-tale – with a few exceptions – the line ‘and they all lived happily ever after’ is a crucial part of the story. Take Cinderella for example, she comes from very humble beginnings and ends up being the Princess of the land. I have a theory. I think we take comfort in believing in happy endings because we want to feel like things will be good in end.
This may come as a surprise to some of you but there is no such thing as a ‘happily’ ever after. After the film is finished and the credits start to roll, anything could happen – be it sad, challenging, happy or stressful. One of the best things about relationships is that they are dynamic and ever-changing so you need perseverance. Relationships take constant work and commitment. There are no days off. Ever. But, hopefully, if you’re in the right relationship, it shouldn’t feel too much like work.
3. Stalking/Persistence Is Cute (‘The Notebook’)
Isn’t it just so cute when someone is so into you that they start stalking you, leaving a million voice messages on your phone and essentially won’t leave you alone until you finally give in and go out on a date with them? Yeah, didn’t think so either. ‘The Notebook’ is considered to be one of the most romantic movies of our time. I must admit, it has such a lovely storyline. But we conveniently forget Noah’s creepy and stalker-ish behaviour in the name of romance. For example, Noah writes and sends Allie (his ex by this point) a letter every day for a year – that’s 365 letters. And if that still doesn’t sway you, in order for Noah and Allie to even go on their first date, Noah gives Allie an ultimatum: If you don’t go out with me, I’m going to kill myself (well, he doesn’t say it in so many words, but it’s definitely implied). Word of advice, if they can’t demonstrate their feelings for you without invading your privacy and personal space then give them a WIDE berth. Films often encourage abusive behaviour under the guise of romance. It’s not romantic – it’s creepy and I WILL call the police.
4. A Makeover Will Make Them Fall Head Over Heels (‘Grease’)
Sandy’s final transformation in the film ‘Grease’ is undoubtedly iconic. I’m just gunna come out and say it. I love having a good old make-over. It can give me a much-needed confidence boost and more often than not, a change is welcomed. What is not cool, is the fact that often in films women have to change their appearance to attract someone who otherwise might not have been interested in them and who does not have to change their appearance from them. Take ‘The Princess Diaries’, ‘Grease’, ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’, ‘Miss Congeniality’ (the list goes on), these films promote physical transformation as a means of finding love and ultimately happiness. Looks aren’t everything. Sandy, do you really want to be with someone who’s only there for your black spandex pants and your perm? The key to feeling truly comfortable in your relationship? Find someone who loves you, flaws and all.
5. The Relationship Will End In Marriage (‘Mamma Mia’)
‘Mama Mia’ is a fun, colourful film. It’s plot serving as a background to some of ABBAs most famous songs such as ‘Mamma Mia’, ‘Honey, Honey’ and ‘Voulez-Vous’. The main character Sophie is planning on getting married to the handsome Sky, however when their wedding doesn’t go ahead, her parents hijack the wedding for themselves. Not every day get married Donna. At the end of many a rom-com, the final scene ends with a happy marriage scene or with a heart-warming proposal. However, in the real world, all roads do not end in marriage and you shouldn’t want them to either. Regardless of your views towards marriage, not every romantic relationship is marriage-worthy. This lesson may save you from a very lengthy and financially-costing divorce later on.
6. Game Playing is Healthy (‘How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days’)
In ‘How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days’, Ben Berry – a charming business executive has a reputation for making any girl fall in love with him in ten days. He meets his match when Andie Anderson, played by advice columnist, played by Kate Hudson, embarks on a social experiment to lose Ben in ten days. Who will win? This is something that I’ve personally struggled with – game-playing in relationships. I used to be terrible for it. Through watching Hollywood films, I thought that a bit of chase was completely normal and healthy, but there’s a very fine line between that and one-upmanship. Playing games and trying to out-do the other can very quickly lead to feelings of insecurity and even trust issues within both partners. Yeah, a bit of mystery at the beginning may keep your partner interested but as your relationship matures, the best thing you can do is be open and honest. Save the games for the kids.
7. You Need Someone Else To Complete You (‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’)
I am a die-hard Bridget Jones fan. She’s so imperfect that its painfully relatable. For those of you who don’t know the story, ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’ is the story of a middle-aged woman on the quest to find love. It shows the huge pressure on women to settle-down from family, friends and co-workers. The sad part about the Bridget Jones film is that it hardly celebrates her accomplishments and she is portrayed as a bit of a failure. We’re often sold this idea that we are incomplete without a significant other. This is not true. The amount of successful protagonists, like Bridget, who own their own apartments, have great social lives and are progressing professionally are made to seem like their lives are incomplete because they are not in a long-term, monogamous relationship. Happiness and fulfilment starts within and this is why self-love should be an important part of any romantic relationship you have. If you’re looking for someone else to complete you, then chances are, you will never find true happiness #sorrynotsorry.
8. Friendships Between People of the Opposite Sex End in Relationships (‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’)
I spent my second year of university living with four boys and I relished in being the only girl. That year I learned that men do indeed make decent lovers, but they also make awesome friends too – who would have thought? Since leaving university, we are all still really good friends and have never felt the need to take things further. In My Best Friend’s Wedding (the film, not my actual best friend’s wedding), besties Julianne and Michael make a vow to get married to each other if they are not in relationships by the time they are 28. However, when Michael gets engaged to young, wealthy Kimberly, weeks before Julianne’s 28th birthday – she realises that she is in fact in love with him and attempts, despite being maid of honour to stop their wedding. Sorry to burst your bubble friendzoners, but it is more than possible for people of the opposite sex to be friends and stay that way. Like the saying goes, if it’s not broken don’t fix it. Don’t ever feel pressured to take your friendship to the next level, because more often than not, it’ll just end up ruining your friendship for good.
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Have I missed any films or maybe there’s a lie I forgot to mention, connect with us @RifeMag.