A hopeless romantic watches Disney movies and waits patiently for her night in shining armor to whisk her away to her happily ever after.
Romance movies push narratives showcasing fantasies about love and relationships that don’t live up to reality. Some are ridiculous, but others are downright dangerous, leading countless generations to believe in falsities surrounding the true nature of romance.
While scrolling the popular R/askreddit community, I stumbled upon a thread asking users to share the biggest misconceptions about love, romance, and relationship that Hollywood and the entertainment industry, in general, continually push.
Love is Easy
Movies love to pretend love is easy. Once you find that special someone you’re meant to be with, you fall into a lifetime of marital bliss.
“Real life is not a movie, and it gives people a very wrong image of what a healthy relationship looks like,” stated one user.
Lasting relationships take work, and it’s not always easy.
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“Happily Ever After”
They lived “happily ever after” is a perfect way to tie up a fairy tale into a neat bow. In reality, it doesn’t exist.
There may be a pivotal moment, the massive declaration of love or the big fancy wedding, but that doesn’t mean life stops.
A lasting relationship takes work outside those significant moments.
“It’s all the little moments, the everyday caring, the small affections, and the avoidances of trust pitfalls,” said one user. “They add up to a Happily Now. But there’s not a point you can hang your hat up and say, “Okay. I got this marriage thing sorted out. Now I get to do whatever I want.”
Persistence Pays Off
Hollywood teaches men that abusive behavior wins women’s hearts. How many movies feature an obsessive man going to great lengths to showcase his love and affection for a woman who constantly turns him down, only to finally give in at the end?
“The worst one is that persistence pays off,” said one Redditor. “No. That makes you a stalker.”
“Or generally how so many movies end with The ManTM getting with The WomanTM because he did a Great ThingTM. Just no,” added another, saying the format “puts such a wrong image of how to treat women into boys’ heads.”
Interrupting a Wedding Works
“If anyone objects, speak now or forever hold your peace” is more of a formality than a genuine request for grievances. Still, Hollywood loves to use it as an opportunity for sweeping romantic gestures.
The bride is about to make the worst mistake of her life. She’s at the altar about to say “I do” to the wrong man, but our hero swoops in at the last minute, objecting to the union by professing his undying love.
She ditches the groom and rides off into the sunset with the usurper. Ah, romance.
In reality, it would never play out this way.
“For the love of god, DO NOT interrupt a wedding. It will not go how you think it will,” stated one user.
He’s a loving goofball with no plans for the future, and she’s a serious med student with her entire life mapped out, but they come together and form a fantastic partnership because opposites attract.
Relationships like this often don’t work in reality. Though they may be attracted to each other’s differences, it may be hard to compromise on things essential to building a happy life together.
“We tend to fall for people who are like-minded to us. People who have similar values, morals, thoughts, etc., to us,” said one user.
Others pointed out that some differences can be complimentary.
“I know a lot of couples where one side is outgoing and impulsive while the other is quiet and thoughtful. Those kind of opposites can be complementary, and as a unit, they can adapt well to all sorts of situations and support and learn from each other,” replied another user.
Personality quirks and differences can lead to great partnerships, but those with opposing values will rarely make strong couples.
The Girlfriend Award
Many movies showcase our hero triumphing against his greatest challenge and “winning” the girl in the end. They convey that a woman is a prize for a man to win after accomplishing some task.
Women aren’t prizes. Women are human beings with independent thoughts, goals, and desires. You don’t get awarded a girlfriend for doing a good thing.
Love at First Sight
Hollywood loves to sell the “love at first sight” trope. One fateful glance in the park is all it took; they knew they were soulmates destined to be together forever.
“It’s a nice sentiment, but love takes time and effort to develop,” said one user.
Another commented that attraction at first sight is real, and some people confuse it with love, while another added that you could feel that spark at first sight, but true love takes a long time.
Love is Everything
The media promotes the idea that love is everything and that life is incomplete unless you find someone special to share your life with. The myth leads to countless people spending their lives searching for a soul mate that doesn’t exist or staying in abusive relationships because love is what matters.
In reality, love isn’t everything. You don’t need a romantic partner to be happy. Some people thrive when they’re single.
Finding a great partner is a spectacular bonus for those who want it, but it doesn’t have to be the ultimate life goal.
Single Hood Is Horrible
The movies that push the “love is everything” narrative also push it from the other end. Singledom is a horrible outcome to be avoided at all costs. Unmatched people are presented as miserly, unhappy, and unfulfilled.
One user said Hollywood’s worst myth about romance is “That you cannot be happy single and it’s better to work hard for a so-so or bad relationship than to be single.”
We see it all time, where the career woman gives up everything she’s worked hard for her entire life to couple up with some mediocre dude and live a life of “domestic bliss,” which, in reality, seems a lot worse than her life before.
It’s better to be single than be in the wrong relationship.
Toxicity Shows Love
Far too many movies promote toxic behavior as “showing love.” It goes far beyond the persistence pays off trope discussed above to include grand gestures that would be terrifying in real love, controlling behavior as a sign of love, and the general “you make me crazy” trope as something to aspire for.
People emulate what they see in movies and exhibit this behavior, thinking it shows love. True love doesn’t have to be toxic. The best relationships have trust and healthy communication, not jealousy and abuse.
Of Course Hollywood Lies, It’s Fiction!
This Reddit thread highlighted numerous examples of Hollywood tropes promoting unhealthy relationship standards.
Of course, as adults, we understand these stories are fiction, and the added drama keeps the story compelling. Hollywood is fake, and real life isn’t like the movies.
However, teenagers and young adults are susceptible to the underlying messages these stories promote. It can be hard to shake as we grow up, especially when we’re never shown the other side.
What can society do to shift the messaging about what healthy relationships look like?
Melanie Allen is an American journalist and happiness expert. She has bylines on MSN, the AP News Wire, Wealth of Geeks, Media Decision, and numerous media outlets across the nation. She covers a wide range of topics centered around self-actualization and the quest for a fulfilling life.