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July 15, 2006

How Hollywood sabotages your love life

I have never been a big fan of chick flicks or soap operas. They show an unrealistic and unhealthy (to those who take them seriously) relationship benchmark for people to attain.

I found this article by author J. Courtney Sullivan and I have posted snipets that say so eloquently what I have been pointing out to my wife for years.

Ladies, if you won't act like porn stars for us, don't expect us to act like sappy soap opera actors for you.

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Only in Hollywood
J. Courtney Sullivan

A lot of lip service has been paid to the idea that violence in films causes men to be violent in real life. Why isn’t anyone calling for warning labels for movies that cause otherwise reasonable women to act like emotional psychopaths? Hollywood’s take on love leaves us dissatisfied with the relationships we have, and hungry for the sort of romance that simply never occurs in nature.

Still, it’s helpful to at least try to separate fact from fiction. In that spirit, I’ve identified some of the most common romantic-movie traps.

The Sleepless in Seattle Trap
Like Bill Pullman in the movie, your current boyfriend or fiancĂ© may have committed some unforgivable crimes, such as having lots of allergies but no nickname. Then you hear a voice on the radio, or see a face across a crowded room. Suddenly, you know this stranger is the love of your life. OK, you already have a partner who’s perfectly stable and lovely, but I’m afraid you will have to end that relationship. After all, in the 30 seconds you’ve spent with the new man, you’ve learned everything there is to know about him. And. It. Is. Good. You use Google, gossip, mutual acquaintances, and expensive private investigators to track him down and ask him out to dinner.

See also: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, A Walk in the Clouds.

The Real Ending: Over dinner, you realize he has bad breath, a wife, and absolutely nothing whatsoever in common with you.

The As Good As It Gets Trap
You’ve found a guy who has that certain something -- as well as a bad attitude, a fear of commitment, or just a nonspecific nasty streak. Other than that, though, what a catch. Minor personality flaws won’t stand in the way of your fate. You decide that your love can change him, because that’s what true love does.

See also: Jerry Maguire, Reality Bites.

The Real Ending: You go to great lengths to show him that you’re worth loving before ultimately deciding that he’s never going to change -- and that he’s the last thing you’d want to complete you, anyway.

The An Affair to Remember Trap

You meet the perfect man and make elaborate, romantic plans for the future right away. He takes your number (no need for you to take his) and promises to call the next day. When the phone doesn’t ring, you don’t worry -- he’s your soul mate after all, there’s just been some misunderstanding. Two days later, you start to grow concerned that something has happened to him. Is he under a bus somewhere? Has he been taken hostage? You go from concerned to all-out panicked. Despite the gentle protestations of your friends that perhaps he’s just not that into you, you remain convinced that he was hit by a cab and rendered a cripple, and is too proud to leave his apartment.

See also: The Notebook.

The Real Ending: Three months later you see him dancing in a club with some chick in a tube top.

The When Harry Met Sally Trap
You’ve never been attracted to your male best friend, but recently things in the romance department have been less than enthralling. So you start to wonder -- maybe, just maybe, The One has been staring you in the face all along. Who cares if he still lives in his mom’s basement? This is destiny, damn it.

The Real Ending: Prepare for an awkward, tequila-induced make-out session that definitely requires an “I don’t know what I was thinking” email the next day.

The Titanic Trap
You just made partner and need to focus on work, but you can’t get this new guy off your mind. His name is Bo, he never went to college, and he works at the burrito place where you sometimes grab lunch between clients. Your friends ask what exactly you hope to gain from this relationship, but luckily you’re not a snob like them, and you know that a person’s job isn’t what defines him.

See also: Sabrina, Pretty Woman, Sweet Home Alabama.

The Real Ending: At a company dinner, your boss asks Bo what he does and he replies, “I work the grill, but I’m hoping to be put on the register soon.” Face it: If Leo had made it to dry land, that relationship would never have survived.

The Stepmom Trap
None of your romantic fantasies ended with Prince Charming leaving you for his secretary. Nor did they include falling for an otherwise great man with two sizable and unavoidable flaws (i.e., his children). Don’t panic. Contrary to what you might think, this divorce stuff is a piece of cake. Your step kids hate you? All it’s going to take to turn that around are some good old fashioned sex tips from you (to make the brats more popular, duh) and the untimely death of their mother. Your ex couldn’t seem to tie his own shoelaces when you were together? Rest assured that once you’ve signed the divorce papers, he will clean up his act and become the kind of guy you meant to marry.

See also: The Philadelphia Story, High Society, The Parent Trap, Mrs. Doubtfire.

The Real Ending: You continue to hate the bastard for years to come, despite the fact that your shrink says rage won’t help you heal. And whatever side of the joint custody battle you might fall on -- be it mom or stepmom -- the kids aren’t going to make the situation any easier. If you’re a stepmom, get ready for the cry of “You can’t tell me what to do! You’re not my mother!” to take up permanent residence in your psyche. If you’re the real mom, the line will be “When we’re at Dad’s house, Bambi never makes us do our homework/eat our vegetables/stop playing with knives.”

The Pretty in Pink Trap
Your next-door neighbor just happens to be a Calvin Klein underwear model. Lucky you. You’ve brought him countless jars of jam that need loosening, and even gotten locked out of your place in your cutest dress. Yet he hasn’t asked you out. In the words of Journey, “Don’t stop believin’.”

See also: Notting Hill, Love Actually.

The Real Ending: There’s a fine line between healthy optimism and insanity. There’s also a reason the quarterback in high school always dated the head cheerleader -- their kind is biologically predetermined to go forth and make other popular kids for everyone else to envy. It might be smarter to set your sights on the guy in 2B with the sweet smile and the receding hairline.

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