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Nothing New Under the Sun Dept., Pt. II


This just in from the BBC: “Rom-Coms ’spoil your love life’”:

Watching romantic comedies can spoil your love life, a study by a university in Edinburgh has claimed.

Rom-coms have been blamed by relationship experts at Heriot Watt University for promoting unrealistic expectations when it comes to love.

They found fans of films such as Runaway Bride and Notting Hill often fail to communicate with their partner.

Many held the view if someone is meant to be with you, then they should know what you want without you telling them.

I’m pretty sure there’s never been a period in human history when certain people haven’t had this particular kind of unrealistic expectation when it comes to love. We typically refer to those people as women, and they also happen to make up a majority of rom-com-watchers. If there’s a connection, it’s that women enjoy these films because these films show guys acting like women want guys to act, i.e. irresponsible and hopeless at first before their love for the female lead transforms them into stable, romantic (and telepathic) adults.

Don’t get me wrong: I know a lot of people — guys — who don’t know what “rom-com” means, yet whose expectations when it comes to love are about as realistic as the fridge scene in the new Indiana Jones movie. And like women, they seek fantasy mirrors of their own expectations in popular culture — shows like “Entourage,” mafia movies, rock bands whose members subsist on Jack Daniels and penicillin. A study seeking to link the consumption of these diversions to unrealistic expectations about love among men would probably find something there, but the causal chain would be backward. 

These are broad generalizations, of course. I like some rom-coms, and my wife likes some guy movies. But we prefer our own brands of escapist fare. Everyone does. Nor does preferring certain movies necessarily mean that you have unrealistic expectations about love — your expectations are more a product of your experience and your willingness to learn from experience. I’ve found that it helps to possess the conservative instinct to accept the things you can’t change and to recognize the other person’s flaws in yourself. Like humanity, humans are not perfectible.


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