Is It Time To Do A Rom-Com Detox?

It's very interesting where and how we get our ideas about what love and relationships should look like. Recently, I have been looking into this pretty closely and paying attention to the picture the media paints about love and relationships.

In fact, I've been asking friends and family about their favourite love stories and rom-com movies. It’s a really useful exercise so I’d ask you to think about it right now. What are yours? Quick! Go now!

Now the ones that came up most often when I asked this group where:

Romeo and Juliet

Bridget Jones’s Diary

Jerry Maguire

The Titanic

Sleepless in Seattle

How to Lose A Guy In 10 Days

City of Angels

Four Weddings and a Funeral

Pretty Woman

Notting Hill

Moulin Rouge

Pride and Prejudice


Shakespeare in Love

Gone with the Wind

Sweet Home Alabama

When Harry Met Sally

27 Dresses

Why did I ask, you’re wondering? Because I’m fascinated by what we women THINK love is versus the reality. The difference between romance and love. All we are ever shown in movies and through the media is the romance, people love a good romance but we rarely, if ever, see a good love story. We’ve been getting some horrible role models from the media.

There are 18 films listed above:

95% of them deal with an infatuation,
10 of them include an actual death as the end of the relationship,
13 of them set up a relationship that would have to overcome impossible challenges to survive,
In 15 of these films the couple spend less than a week together before we’re led to believe that they would live happily ever after,
2 of them involve the heroine falling for mythical creatures.

At the very best these are films about infatuation and obsession, they’ve got very little to do with love and the reality of living in love with a person. All these films are created to entertain first. Stories have been a part of our culture for thousands of years and they offer an extraordinary insight into what it means to be human.

When we’re little, our parents tell us stories to teach us about how the world works. Aesop’s fables are the perfect example of this. Christopher Booker, in his book The Seven Basic Plots believes that understanding the building blocks of what makes a good story helps us to understand both ourselves and the world around us.

As Booker explains: “Stories present to us what amounts to a kind of ground map of human nature and behaviour, governed by an absolutely consistent set of rules and values”. Stories provide a guide on how to live.

All of these films essentially convey the message that we need a partner a feel complete and balanced. And it doesn’t stop with this small selection, think of how many myths and fairy tales end with a wedding.

We’ve been led to believe that when we meet The One (cue thunderclap of doom!) we’ll know him instantly, our eyes will lock across a crowed room, there’ll some sort of powerful physical sensation (indistinguishable from indigestion) and we’ll ‘just know’. If people “just know”, I’d like to know why the divorce rate is so high. Seriously…give it more than 10 seconds of serious thought and really the only conclusion you can draw is that being powerfully attracted to someone is little more than hormones going crazy.

We’ve also been told that if it’s the right person then it will be easy. There will be no struggles or difficulties that we can’t laugh our way through. Not only that but it’s going to be the best sex we’ve ever had, it will all be totally new and we’ll both want to do it all the time. Most of all though it’s important that we both believe that we’ve never felt this way before and it will always feel this good. If you start from this position, I guarantee you’re going to need relationship help at some point.

So, what can you do differently?

  • Generate a list of healthy relationships that have been portrayed in the media. Two of my favourite shows are Six Feet Under and Brothers and Sisters. But, the best portrayal of love, commitment and a healthy, loving relationship is in another American show called Friday Night Lights.
  • Start to focus on learning some of the skills you need for getting along with a person, not just attracting one. Do an honest assessment of your skills and be brutally honest about any deficits. Do you shy away from conflict? Are your boundaries looking a little wishy-washy these days? Do you need to make saying NO to people more of a priority?
  • Put yourself on a rom-com detox. One of my mentors, Jim Rohn’s most famous sayings is that we are most like the 5 people we spend the most time with. I think the same could be said for the last 5 movies we watched or the books we read. Commit to banning or severely limiting the rom-coms and the Danielle Steele novels, and surround yourself with more realistic portrayals of love and relationships.

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