A Typical Love Story: RomComs vs. Reality
I remember it like it was yesterday. I had just gone out the night before with my girlfriends. Over a table of shared appetizers, mozzarella sticks next to poutine, and a plate of onion rings knocking against mini tacos, we lamented how terrible our dating lives had become. We discussed the dirge of men available to us in our great sprawling city. How would we ever find someone worthy of us? Weren’t we amazing? What was going on?
I went to sleep that night filled with so much cheese and worry that I ended up running late the next morning. Thank god for top knots being all the rage. I placed my order for a venti matcha tea as I sprinted towards the coffee shop. I nearly bumped into the person coming out of the door and realized in a split second glance that they’d taken my order. “Sorry, I think that’s mine,” I say. “Oh, is it? Shit, I guess you’re right. I’m sorry. Guess I saw the venti and made a grab for it.”
And when I looked up at him, I could feel it. I could feel the fluttering in my chest like I’d just swallowed a hummingbird, my heart going a million miles a minute. “Here you go, Mia,” he said as he looked at the cup and smiled. That smile sent heat shooting up my spine and flooding my cheeks. “Oh, you’re fine.” He extended his hand. “I’m Adam. I’ll be here tomorrow around the same time. Maybe I won’t take your order this time.” I smiled and shook my head to clear it, knowing I would be late again tomorrow.
And I was for the next four days. First, he asked why I didn’t order coffee. “Because it’s bitter and gross and that’s reason enough.” Then he asked what I do for a living. “I’m an entertainment writer.” Then he asked if I was always late. I smiled. “Not usually.” Finally, on the fourth day, he asked me if I would go see a comedy show and then grab some dinner. It was the start of something magical.
Sure, there were hiccups. He was often late while I was always on time. I would leave a box of cereal open and he would complain that I obviously didn’t want the box to make it to the next day. But they were minor squabbles and we were happy. We communicated easily, even about the hard stuff. When we decided to move in together, it was a lengthy conversation about the middle ground between both of our jobs and cost effectiveness, who would pay which bill. It was easy. It was love. And that’s how it’s always going to be.
Only it’s not. Because that’s not real. That’s the timeline of an unrealistic romcom. Sure, we love romcoms for their saccharine tinted scenes and perfectly crafted scripts. We love them because they bring happiness and joy to our lives. We love them because they’re an escape from the reality of dating and relationships today because that’s what romcoms are: unrealistic. They’re a complete fabrication.
While they’re great, romcoms create unrealistic expectations of how dating and relationships should ebb and flow. We believe that things like speaking our minds will be unlikely to lead to an argument and that if they do, it could be easily settled. Sometimes, speaking our minds create unexpected tension and arguing to occur and that’s okay. Sometimes they lead to the realization that maybe the person we had so greatly anticipated being The One isn’t actually right for us. Sometimes those texts your thumb hovers over clicking send on don’t go as planned or they go unanswered.
Not all arguments are easy or fun. They don’t always resolve themselves with a bouquet of flowers or some grand gesture. Without the help of a screenwriter, arguments are commonly devoid of witticisms. They’re messy and sometimes go too far and what you say is not always what you meant to say. Sometimes when you run away, the other person doesn’t follow. There’s not always a reconciliation in the rain or in an airport or as you’re hailing a cab. Of course, this vaguely occurs in those films, but there’s always something that makes it seem okay.
But life has no script, no writer behind the scenes crafting a perfectly high-stylized scene that makes everything okay. Sometimes relationships aren’t okay. And that’s where romcoms get it wrong the most. Whether the person is The One, an idea that is frequently perpetuated by this genre, or For Now, you’re going to have bad days. There will always be peaks and valleys because that’s how life is. You can’t have the ups without the downs and you can’t have a functioning relationship without the growing pains.
Love is amazing. It’s sexy and fun and illuminating. Here you are sharing your life, your heart with and hopefully feeling that reciprocated. It’s consuming and it’s an exploration. But it’s also a lesson in understanding that what we’ve been programmed to think a relationship should look like, a glossy exterior with a hollow center filled with only rainbows and sparkles, isn’t true. We need to know that sometimes it hurts and sometimes it’s difficult.
Love isn’t easy. It’s a commitment every day to the person you choose to share every piece of your life with. It’s encouraging them even when it feels like it’s falling on deaf ears. It’s letting them pick you up when you’re down. It’s “I’m mad at you, but I love you anyway, so please make sure you grab your lunch today.” Love is communicating even when you know you’ll hurt the other’s feelings because hiding your own isn’t okay.
When you know that it takes work, love opens unfurls into your life in ways you can’t find in a movie theater or on Spotify. It’s real and it’s deep and it’s everything you could ever hope for. The reality may not be as fun all of the time, but it’s worth it. Every time.