The film festival has arrived. We love a great movie, a big box of popcorn and the opportunity to immerse ourselves for a few hours into an alternate reality. Nothing makes us feel better than a good old Hollywood romance where boy meets girl, falls in love and the couple lives happily ever after. But do romances actually start and evolve that way in real life? And are we setting ourselves up for failure if our expectations for that perfect soulmate is based upon something we fantasized about while watching the big screen. Not only are movies our storytellers, reflecting our beliefs, concerns and attitudes, they have a hand in shaping us and our culture. Truly a dynamic relationship!
As matchmakers we are continuously questioning and exploring what influences our beliefs about love. Why do we feel the way we do and have the criteria we have when searching and selecting our love interest? How did we arrive at our idealized notions of who we are attracted to and who we rule out?
While looking deeper at romantic movies, their messages and impact, we are struck how they awaken our craving and belief that there is one soulmate & that we’ll know it when we meet. Often it’s depicted as an instantaneous gut feeling, a knowing, of finally being home and fully alive. It’s Hollywood’s version of destiny and we swallow this idea whole. This romanticized notion of true love leads us down the path of searching for and believing in this warped theory. Our subconscious trusts these fictional stories as real life romances and we model our romantic pursuits accordingly. Unfortunately this results in closing our minds and our hearts to a variety of opportunities to fall in love because our dates/partners just don’t measure up.
Craig Malkin, a Clinical Psychologist at Harvard Medical School, explained that researchers describe relationship behaviors as either “destiny beliefs” or “growth beliefs”. Destiny believers subscribe to these common myths: Love happens at first sight, Love will conquer all and we all have one soul mate. These destiny believers terminate relationships at the first sign of trouble. Growth believers are more active and work on themselves and their relationships. With their commitment to understanding themselves and their relationships they succeed in having happier longer relationships. The belief that finding “the one” is pre-destined leaves us with the idea that finding love lives outside our control.
Movies further oversimplify the process of finding the one and wrongly assume little or no effort. In films, the story has to develop in a short time span, so, the sparks fly, and the characters are star struck instantly. Like them, we are looking to be swept off our feet immediately. In actuality we have to engage in a relationship, it doesn’t just happen and unfold. Furthermore once in a relationship our romanticized distorted vision of love includes a belief that trust and commitment happen from the moment people meet. Yet in reality it often takes years to develop.
While we all want “happily ever after”, couples often compare their relationship to Hollywood films. If they feel their relationship doesn’t measure up, then it isn’t any good. But the reality is, life is not seamless. We need to share with our partner if something needs addressing. Unfortunately our movies don’t show us all the time and energy that we must invest to strengthen our relationships. And finally through films, we give love superhuman qualities, like: love will conquer all. But our lives have many twists and actually love is powerless to cure illness, prevent death, etc.
So, while you’re enjoying films this week, keep an eye out for some of these themes and your relationship to these myths. We wish you clarity as you carve out a loving, joyous relationship for yourself. We’re here to help.
Lots of love,
Nancy and Barbara
Founders of Elegant Introductions