“I know in my heart, you’re the only one for me.” Runaway Bride.
“None of that other stuff matters you know…After all…I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” Notting Hill.
“The second that I saw you, I knew that we could be great together.” 27 Dresses.
“What if someone you never met, someone you never saw, someone you never knew was the only someone for you?” Sleepless in Seattle (Movie poster tagline).
How do you feel when you read these movie lines? What thoughts come to mind when the main character rides a motorcycle, chasing after whom they believe to be the love of their life? When the “happily ever after” ending is envisioned on the big screen, does it make you believe that’s how love, relationships, and marriage should be?
When Reality Misses Out Hollywood Love…
Most of us are likely familiar with the romance/romantic comedy movies that have been occupying the screen and media since the 1930s Golden Age of Hollywood. We fall in love with charming characters, dramatic plotlines, and most importantly, the fantasies and ideals they embody. We think we have learned the meaning of love, romance, and relationships. We hope that we, too, can find the right one, the soulmate, the perfect half.
However, it is not uncommon for many of us to end up feeling disappointed when reality does not match our rosy expectations. Our partners may not act as romantically as we desire. They may not always be loving and thrilling and look attractive. They may not say the right sweet things. They may not fully understand what we like and dislike. They may not share our beliefs and opinions. They may not already know what we think and feel. They may not remember to plan for our anniversary.
So, are they our true love? Why do our relationships not seem as effortless and affectionate as depicted in the movies? Why does it take more than we anticipated to maintain a strong connection with our partners?
Oh, how much we long for Hollywood love.
But Hollywood Love Is A Myth…
“The Hollywood romance invariably focuses on the courtship, preferring to leave the routinized ‘forever after’ for sociologists and other realists to study…For their neglect of the later moments in the relationship…the romantic film perpetuates the myth of romance as an ideal form of intimacy and one that need never be extinguished.” (James D & Nicole P, 2000).
What’s more, a study has shown some of the recurring themes in Hollywood romance such as “there is only one perfect love out there,” “the true love is flawless and wonderful in a romantic sense,” “love is the only thing needed to overcome all obstacles in a relationship,” “love at first sight…” (Veronica H & Barbara W, 2013). In these themes, love is presented as a destined spark, a breathless sensation, an intense passion, and an obsessive infatuation.
But really? Is that what love is about? A mere feeling with force? A fairy tale on stage?
Not Really… What Love In Reality Is…
Love is action.
Love is as love does.
-Scott M. Peck, The Road Less Travelled
Falling in love may sound wonderful, but we all know, and likely have experienced, that’s not even one per cent of what it takes to maintain a healthy, loving, and sustainable relationship in real life.
What does then?
Choosing to love does.
That means making a deliberate choice to take action, make an effort, and remain committed.
The truth is, we don’t just find “the one,” or stumble upon “the one.”
We make each other “the one.”
There may be many potential partners out there, but we choose to commit to the person we want to be with, grow with, and put in the work with. That is true love—the love grounded in our truth and reality, demonstrated and sustained through our actions.
After all, Hollywood never confirms if the characters are really “happily ever after.”
However, understanding that our relationships aren’t as perfect as Hollywood love stories doesn’t mean we have to settle for less than what we deserve either.
Because we all deserve a supportive, kind, and nurturing relationship.
And that takes two to create.
Hence, here are some questions for us to get started and see if we’re ready and willing to do the work of loving with our current/potential/future partners:
- Do we respect each other and openly communicate about our needs, thoughts, and feelings?
- Do we fully embrace one another as we navigate the muddiness and beauty of life?
- Do we nourish a shared willingness to be inspired and evolve together, to become better individuals and partners?
- And do we, ultimately, feel at home with the person?
Because hopefully by now, we could recognize that we make our “happy ending” with the person who is doing as much hard work as we do to love each other.