Jack and Rose, Noah and Alley, Baby and Johnny, Danny and Sandy — the list of movie couplings that hopeless romantics strive to emulate is long. Besides the undying need to fall in love, there is one more thing these movie romances have in common: they’re unrealistic.
In fact, the secret to a happy relationship isn’t passionately kissing in the rain, tearfully telling your partner “You complete me,” or being caressed by Patrick Swayze while sitting at a pottery wheel as the Righteous Brothers belt out Unchained Melody.
Nope, it’s actually having low expectations, a 2016 Florida State University study says. The higher a couple’s expectations, researchers say, the more likely the relationship will fail.
Global News spoke with dating and relationship expert Shannon Tebb, who outlines some relationship myths Hollywood blockbusters have put forth, and explains why striving to re-create them can hurt your love life.
Pretty Woman (Being swept off your feet by a knight in shining armour)
Released in 1990, Pretty Woman was a film directed by Garry Marshall and starred Richard Gere and a fresh-faced Julia Roberts.
The story starts with workaholic businessman Edward (Gere) who decides to hire a prostitute named Vivian (Roberts) to accompany him day — and night. While staying at a fancy hotel in Beverly Hills, Edward spoils Vivian with expensive dinners and a massive shopping spree on Rodeo Drive. What started out as a business proposition between the two unfolds into a romance.
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (Creating a different persona)
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days was released in 2003 and starred Kate Hudson and rom-com go-to guy Matthew McConaughey.
Andie (Hudson) is a journalist who writes a ‘How to’ column for a fashion magazine; Ben (McConaughey) is an advertising executive at a big firm in New York City.
For the next magazine issue, Andie must write a story that tells women everything they’re doing wrong in relationships. In order to do this, she must go undercover and has 10 days (the next’s magazine’s publishing date) to drive away a guy she’s pretending to date, all for the sake of her work.
Ben wants to land one of the advertising firm’s biggest clients but two other executives are also in the running. The three of them agree to a bet, and whoever wins gets the contract. The bet? Ben must make a girl fall in love with him before a big gala (coincidentally in 10 days).
Both Andie and Ben meet one night and continue on with a fake relationship, each for their own personal professional gain. But little do they realize, the two of them are falling for each other.
Playing games and pretending to be someone you’re not is never a good thing for any relationship, Tebb says.
The Notebook (Believing in ‘the one’)
Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams starred in this 2004 tear-jerker that remains one of the best romance novels-turn movies in recent cinematic history.
The story follows Noah (Gosling) who falls in love with Allie (McAdams) in this 1940s period piece set in the south. The problem, however, is that Allie is upper class while Noah is a working man, and the two aren’t fit to be with one another, according to Allie’s parents.
After a turbulent summer romance and fallout, the two go their separate ways and live different lives – Noah goes off to war and Allie gets engaged. But Allie never leaves Noah’s mind and he’ll do whatever it takes to get her back, even if it means building her dream house in hopes she’ll one day return to him. Long story short, she does return and they live happily ever after.
“It’s the notion that they will always be waiting for you and that ‘the one’ is out there for you and you won’t quit until you find them,” says Tebb. “That one soul mate may not exist so why not make the one work for you in your happy relationship. This waiting for ‘the one’ can be damaging as the wait can be forever and you end up missing out on present relationship opportunities.”
Jerry Maguire (If you love someone set them free, if they come back it’s meant to be)
The movie rich with one-liners (“Show me the money”) came to theatres in 1996 and starred Tom Cruise, Renée Zellweger and Cuba Gooding Jr.
Jerry (Cruise) is a sports agent who’s fired from his job. The movie follows Jerry as he tries to get his life and career back on track but ends up falling in love with single mom Dorothy (Zellweger) along the way. In a short amount of time the two get married, but as Jerry’s professional life continues to struggle, it creates problems for him and Dorothy and the relationship falls apart and they separate.
But after his only client, football player Rod (Gooding Jr.), receives an injury on the field and the two share a moment in front of millions of Americans on television, Jerry has an epiphany. Realizing he misses Dorothy, he goes to her house to profess his love for her in front of a room full of women who don’t think much of him. But all is good as Jerry has Dorothy “at hello.”
“Man meets the right women, who supports him when he’s at his worst, thinking they can get through anything,” Tebb says. “From being terrible with intimacy and a playboy to showing up post breakup telling her ‘You complete me.’” Does this really happen?”
She adds, “This notion can be tricky when dating because we always think that maybe the guy or girl will change and have an epiphany of feelings to run through that door professing their love. We all know we can’t change a person. In this movie, he changed himself after experiencing joy in his career and wanting to share it with no one other than then woman he loved.”
Hitch (Fix me first)
Nothing can go right for Hitch in this 2005 movie of the same title starring Will Smith, Eva Mendes and Kevin James.
Hitch is a smooth-talking suave “date doctor” who helps others find love after giving them personality and physical makeovers. His latest client is Albert (James), a shy accountant who just can’t seem to land his crush.
But as Hitch helps Albert, Hitch unexpectedly falls in love himself when he meets journalist Sara (Mendes) who is writing a story on him. But unlike the success his clients found thanks to his advice, Hitch has a hard time scoring with the woman he’s falling in love with.
“It’s the idea that we have to change and be more cool in order to attract a gorgeous women,” says Tebb. “In this movie they shy accountant hires a smooth-talking Hitch to help him land the woman of his dreams. Although the coaching helps bring him face-to-face with his crush, it was when he was his real true self that made her fall in love with him. This can be damaging for single daters because they feel they lack the confidence based on their physical appearance or shy nature. It’s about working with what you’ve got, making a few changes along the way and then owning your flaws and letting your true self shine.”