Romantic Lessons to Unlearn

We love rom-coms, love songs and breakup songs as much as the next person, but there are a few lessons they teach us we’d rather do without.

1“Jerry Maguire”

The whole “You complete me/You had me at hello” scene in “Jerry Maguire” is a big old lesson in what not to believe about relationships. First of all, Tom Cruise’s Jerry was a pretty crappy husband, so Renee’s Dorothy definitely needed more than “Hello” as an explanation. Plus, the whole idea of completing another person isn’t exactly healthy. As YouBeauty Relationship Expert David Sbarra, Ph.D., says, “We get messages about happy endings, soul mates and destiny. In this way, pop culture ideas—while fun to engage in and with for a bit—can cast a huge shadow over real-life relationships.”

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2Classic Disney Movies

Ladies, we can all move past the, “Save me, my handsome prince!” mentality, right? Let’s all agree to be a little more Merida (from “Brave”) and a little less Sleeping Beauty… and raise our daughters to do the same.

3“Love Story”

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry” is the most famous line from “Love Story,” the tragic tale of WASP-y Oliver Barrett and working class Jenny Cavalleri. But seriously, what does that even mean? Sorry, but love is all about having to apologize—not for being who you are, mind you, but compromise is key. “Even the happiest and most successful couples fight and sometimes quite a lot, but they’re fighting for their relationship,” says Sbarra. “If we see a fight as a sign that things aren’t ‘meant to be,’ we’re only ever engaging a fantasy relationship.”

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4“How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”

Both Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey are playing games to try to NOT end up in a relationship. And yet somehow they still manage to fall in love and work through all their lies without much drama. Well, there is a motorcycle/cab chase, but the emotional part is pretty darn easy! Sbarra is right yet again in saying that rom-coms portray love as something that magically “works out.” “This causes two problems,” he explains. “First, we come to think we’re defective if things don’t work out. And second, we come to see the hard work of making a relationship successful as indicators that something is wrong.” Amen.

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5Emotionally-Distant Leading Men

Every hard-hearted, gruff loner is not actually an awesome person who will love you forever underneath it all. But the movies would have you believe otherwise. See: Edwards (both Cullen from “Twilight” and Richard Gere’s character in “Pretty Woman”); or Mr. Big (though at least his flaws showed more frequently). Just remember that dark and angsty can also turn out like the philandering Don Draper.

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6“Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail”

Stranger Danger is real, but not in rom-coms. And definitely not for Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Whether Tom’s creeping on Meg (in “Mail”) or vice versa (in “Sleepless”), I think we can agree that in the real world, these stalker-ish tendencies would freak us out.

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7Country Songs

If only it was as easy to get over a breakup as Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton or the myriad of country stars make it sound in their songs. “I think country music is terrific but that it can do a disservice for some people,” says Sbarra. “A lot of the music is about loss and breakups, but one of the messages is that it might be fairly easy to get over a breakup by having a few beers with your friends. In this way, people again see themselves as defective if they don’t or can’t have a beer and ‘get over it.’ ”

8Makeover Movies

From “Grease” to “Bridget Jones” to “She’s All That,” we’ve been bombarded with scene after scene of changing appearances being the successful way to finally get the guy to notice you. Is there anything more infuriating, perhaps because there may be a grain of truth to this one? We stand behind being who you are, always!

9“Cruel Intentions”

Reese Witherspoon’s good girl Annette loses her virginity to Sebastian in a pretty romantic way, even though his initial intentions were, well, cruel. It’s all sweet and set to the Counting Crows with lyrics that even say, “I am ready…” Let’s see a show of hands of whose experience was that lovely… especially in high school. Nope, usually it’s more along the lines of the Taylor Swift lyrics “Abigail gave everything she had to a boy, who changed his mind. We both cried…” Well, at least she got that one right!

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