When I saw Titanic, for the first time, I left the movie theatre with tears in my eyes and a newfound belief in true love.
Numerous obsessions with other romance films followed, but Titanic was the pivotal one. After seeing the movie, I believed that relationships needed to be dramatic, at times tragic, and full of nothing but a fiery passion.
Today, the romances that I once idealized have changed in my eyes. Noah doing everything to win over Allie in The Notebook borders more on stalking versus determination. Bella and Edward’s obsession with each other in Twilight feels more like codependency instead of passion.
Although these relationship tropes are misleading, they are still portrayed in cinema, which isn’t necessarily bad, but we need to reshape how we view them.
Here are examples of five relationship tropes that we need to be able to recognize and stop romantizing.
#1. ”A savior will alleviate all of my problems.”
From the age of eight to eighteen, I diligently wrote in my journals.
The constant theme was a deep-rooted belief that a relationship would eventually save me from all of my troubles and woes. When my first love swept me off my feet at seventeen, it felt as if everything would finally fall into place.
Due to a toxic home situation, I lived with a friend prior to my eighteenth birthday. Rarely was I ever at her house, instead, spending every moment with my boyfriend. It wasn't easy to process what had happened at home, but he promised to take care of me through it all.
My need to be saved overwhelmed the warning bells in the back of my head that I was in an unhealthy and toxic situation.
#2. “Life is pointless without my lover, and I can’t go on.”
A tragedy often misperceived as a love story, Romeo and Juliet perpetuate the belief that life has no meaning without our “soulmate.”
Entertaining the thought of losing my partner is terrifying and a scenario that I hope never to come to fruition.
Due to us getting married next year, my partner and I have had challenging/realistic conversations about what would happen if either of us were to pass. The pain would be unimaginable, but I would want for him to move on and find happiness, and he wishes the same for me.
There is nothing unhealthier than putting so much of yourself into another human that you believe you would die without them.
#3. “My jealous lover is simply overcome with passion.”
I used to believe that jealousy was sexy. The idea of two men fighting over me seemed romantic. However, the reality looked very different.
The night of my graduation party from college, my boyfriend had a few drinks and stood watching while I spoke with one of our mutual friends. For some reason, he decided that he no longer trusted this friend (who had introduced us) and went on a jealous rampage. He ended up screaming at me to choose between the two of them and even tried throwing a punch at our friend for absolutely no reason.
In the aftermath of the situation, my boyfriend tried to claim that he was overtaken by a passion for me and couldn’t stand seeing me talk to another man. Our relationship right then and there, and jealousy became a dealbreaker from there on out.
#4. “He/she is the one who just keeps getting away.”
Perhaps they were emotionally unavailable, or it felt as if the stars didn’t align. They’re the person that you’ve kept in touch with for years, and they give you just enough to think that maybe someday, they’ll provide you with everything.
For almost a decade, I had a situationship with someone from my hometown. In-between dating other people (when we were both single,) the two of us would fall into what felt like a relationship… except that there was never any commitment.
Eventually, it got to a point where I had to let him go because I had strong feelings and knew he wouldn't reciprocate them in the way I needed. Letting go of the idea that he was the one who had gotten away allowed me to work on myself and be in a place where I could have a healthy and fulfilling partnership in the future.
#5. “We are destined to be together.”
Most of us have met the couple from middle school or high school, and although life has said, “You shouldn’t be together,” they are convinced that it’s destiny.
A close friend of mine is trapped in this situation. She had two kids with the man that she met in middle school. Through his infidelity, she stayed with him, convinced things would change. Even when he left her for another woman, she insisted that destiny would bring them back together.
First off, destiny shouldn’t have a place in your relationship vocabulary. Blindly believing in fate/destiny can allow us to settle in unhealthy relationships because we tell ourselves that we are meant to be with that person.
I still enjoy a good romance trope now and then. However, I can take it for what it is without believing it to be reality.
The truth is that a movie about a healthy couple that communicated, faced a few challenges, worked through them together, and ultimately were a great team wouldn’t be the romance film of the year.
Let’s face it, watching an average, stable couple doesn’t have the same impact as two lovers torn apart by fate, reuniting in the rain after being separated.
Accepting over-the-top love tropes as entertainment rather than truth, helped me to stop romanticizing unrealistic ideals for love and to learn what constituted as a normal and healhty relationship.