Rom-Coms are ruining your Love Life- Here's How
“If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell so at once. My affections and wishes have not changed, but one word from you will silence me forever. If, however, your feelings have changed, I will have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love-I love-I love you.”
-Pride & Prejudice (2005)
There was not a single dry eye in the theaters when Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy spoke these words to Ms. Elizabeth Bennet. These words have, for more than a decade and a half, continued to make women and men all over the world swoon in public and private. For people who are unaware of this story, Pride & Prejudice is a love story written by Jane Austen and has garnered the attention of lovesick individuals all over the world across generations. It is what you would call ‘an ideal love story’.
Throughout our lifespan, there must have been at least a single love story that must have caught your eye, even if you are a self-proclaimed love story hater. Maybe it was Romeo and Juliet or Rahul and Anjali or Aysha and Vinod. The fact is, you must have heard about seen a film or a book whose characters represented your ideal mate or romantic relationship. If that was not the case, then there wouldn’t be a multi-million dollar demand for romance books. Just take a look at the sales of books like Twilight, and you will see just how much people yearn for a soulmate or their perfect companion. These romance materials provide people with a world where they can project their desires onto a character and live vicariously through them. Sound pretty harmless, right? And it is…to an extent. The truth is that, although the preoccupation with love stories might seem like an innocent way to pass your time, it can actively harm your love life without you even knowing it.
First of all, take a look at the love interest of the protagonist in your favorite love stories. Most (but not all) of these love interests in love stories are: insanely attractive, insanely rich, and insanely in love with the person of their affection. These characters create an ideal image of a partner in the minds of the consumers. This is an image that no normal human being can even dream to live up to. The standards for a partner are set so high that anybody else, in your real life, who is interested in you would look far inferior in your Rom-Com filtered eyes. Nobody in your life would be good enough for you. The term “book boyfriend” or “book girlfriend” is quite popular among love story readers. One thing that you will find as a common denominator between these individuals is that they seem to value their fictional love interest while completely ignoring real-life potential partners. This is the portion where you might tell us that people are not that vain or ignorant, that adults are well aware of how reality is different from the land of fiction. You are not entirely wrong, but you are not entirely right, either. While there are many emotionally mature individuals out there in the world, there is also a population that is not quite there yet. For example, in conservative communities such as ours, Bollywood films and Hollywood films give us our first taste of love. We learn the concept of love by watching Shahrukh Khan, Surya, or Prithviraj hot in pursuit of the person they love. With bright song numbers or with larger than life romantic gestures, the person is won over. This superficial image of love stays with us, even when we do reach adulthood and should know better. This is because these in our minds, the perception of love was formed by books and movies, not real-life experiences or seeing a healthy love life being modelled by our elders.
Due to this, we are bound to be disappointed every time we do enter a relationship. Everything feels just how it used to, your personal struggles haven’t disappeared into thin air, and the rush of love and passion that millions of books, movies, and songs promised you seems to be missing in your daily life with your partner. Too many people enter serious relationships having their expectations sky high and are confused when real life and relationship problems hit them straight in the face. There is a reason why most love stories end after the big confession scene or marriage. What comes next is not nearly as interesting or desirable to the audience. If a movie or a book does dare to show what happens to the lovers after reality males itself known, the audience is going to be thoroughly disillusioned. A number of individuals become pessimistic about love because their past relationships never seem to match their expectations. There is also this intense need amongst most people who are always looking for love to have a partner whose world would begin and end with them. In cases in these, we forget that the other party is a human being who has a separate life of their own. Instead of seeing them as their own person, we expect them to fulfill our wish list and make us happy. We end up wanting a genie instead of a real person who is willing to be our life companion. Putting these many expectations on someone is unhealthy at best. There is no questioning that the person would buckle under this immense pressure and opt-out of the relationship.
Maybe it is time to re-define love instead of taking what pop culture tells us at face value. Love should be built on mutual respect, partnership, compassion, loyalty, empathy, and genuine affection for each other. We should stop waiting for a knight in shining armour to hand us a ready-made box of happiness and stop looking for a Beauty who would leave everyone and everything in her life to lay her world at your feet. Maybe then, we would be able to have a happy relationship where we are honour commitment and effort more than an ideal checklist that will only disappoint you.