Feel like your expectations of romance are a tad bit unrealistic? Hollywood might be to blame.
It started early. The fairy tales, the Disney princesses, the rom coms. The cultural fascination with the idea that no matter what, true love conquers all else. There might be obstacles to getting together, but then — voila! Full healing and self-realization are achieved as soon as you have that one big kiss.
Now, don't take me for a cynic. I am, after all, a person who makes my living helping others find love. But if I've learned anything, it's that the Hollywood version of happily ever after can hurt us by setting all manners of unrealistic expectations. These are my top five personal culprits:
1. The Princess Bride
This is one of my all-time favorite movies. Wesley so loves Princess Buttercup that he endures her haughty and demeaning treatment. How he was able to see through her behavior to see the loving woman underneath is unclear. (I guess we're supposed to believe it's because Robin Wright was really gorgeous). She magically realizes one day that, in fact, he is her one true love. Adventures ensue, including a marriage to another man, the killing (and resurrection) of Wesley and Rodents of Unusual Size.
- The message: No obstacle is too big for true love, not even death.
- The reality: It’s safe to say this particular scenario has never actually happened. And I don't recommend Buttercup's initial bitchy treatment of Wesley.
2. When Harry Met Sally
This is another movie on my all time favorites list. So many classic comic moments: Too much pepper in the paprikash, the "I'll have what she's having" scene and, of course, the big question: "Can men and women really be friends?" A story of acquaintances becoming friends, then becoming lovers, losing each other and finding each other again (this time for good) on New Year's Eve.
- The message: It might take a decade or so to realize, but sometimes your best friend is your true love.
- The reality: Sure, it happens. But typically if you sleep with your best friend, he bolts the second the deed is done and tells you he slept with you out of pity, you won't be enjoying the same happy ending as Harry and Sally.
3. The Great Muppet Caper
I'm really showing that I'm a child of the 80s, aren't I? I could have picked any muppet movie, but the Great Muppet Caper was my favorite as a kid. Can you guess why the delightful muppets made my list? It's because of our favorite cross-species romance, that of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. Sure, Miss Piggy has style, she has confidence and a certain kind of pink, golden-haired beauty. But she is also demanding, overbearing, pathologically vain and jealous and downright mean to the docile Kermit. Yet their love for each other never fades and there is really never a question that Kermit and Miss Piggy will have their happy ending. Miss Piggy will karate-chop anyone who says otherwise.
- The message: Cooing "Oh Kermie, I love you!" will cause any offensive behavior to be forgiven.
- The reality: I'm not sure humans have the same level of tolerance as frogs.
- Update: According to Kermit's publicist, he and Miss Piggy are separating. Is nothing sacred??
4. Legends Of The Fall
Oh, poor Julia Ormond. It is perfectly understandable why she fell so hard for Brad Pitt. I mean, perfectly understandable. But the problem began when she couldn't let go of her bad boy fantasy and move on with her life. This part is less understandable. In the end, she couldn't even appreciate her loving husband. And let's face it. Aidan Quinn is a decent consolation prize. When obsession drives you to kill yourself, that's not romantic. That's pure tragedy.
- The message: If you truly love someone, you can never and will never get over losing them.
- The reality: He was young, he was hot, he was unavailable. No reason to let your fling ruin your entire life.
5. Pretty Woman
I'm pretty sure even the most diehard romantic would agree that the premise — handsome millionaire bachelor falls in love with Hollywood Boulevard hooker after a life-changing week together in a suite at the Beverly Wilshire — is not really a good scenario for lasting love. But this movie brilliantly manages to make a first kiss romantic even after the couple has already had sex.
- The message: Sex is a powerful weapon that can melt the heart of the most jaded bachelor.
- The reality: Sex is not the way to a man's heart. If that was the case, everyone's first would have proposed
What do you think of the list? Are there any movies that influenced the way you look at love? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
(I originally published this article for www.yourtango.com.)