I’m a romantic comedy addict. No matter how many I watch, I constantly feel myself wanting more and more! Unfortunately, this gave me some pretty messed up ideas about love and nearly ruined my marriage. Thankfully, I was able to get a grip before I lost my partner entirely.
Rom-coms set up unrealistic scenes. Maybe you actually have kissed someone in the rain, but it’s not really an everyday occurrence, nor is it all that practical. You’ve probably never had someone running through the airport to stop you before you board the plane either—you’d never be allowed through security without a boarding pass. The draw of romantic comedies is that they excite you with these unrealistic moments and make you doubt your less extreme real-life romance. I found myself desperately wondering, “Would my husband run through an airport like that for me?” If the answer was no, what kind of life was I living?
They show the humdrum or the day-to-day. I’ve seen a lot of chick flicks and not one of them has shown me the awkwardness of having to poop at a guy’s house for the first time, nor do they feature the days when you look bad, you’re sick, or your breath smells. What happens in all the moments between the grand gestures? Real life is full of awkward moments, weird sounds and smells, and it flat out pales in comparison to the beauty of the perfect chick flick world. That comparison made me want to delve more and more into the fake world and exit my real life.
Everyone looks perfect all the time in rom-coms. I’ve never been able to make my hair look perfect. Ever. I also don’t know much about makeup. How is everyone looking so amazing at every moment on screen? Who wears makeup to go hiking or swimming? Whether during the walk of shame or after falling in a swimming pool, the women in rom-coms always look absolutely pristine. No wonder men are falling all over them all the time! And don’t get me started on the guys! Rom-coms are definitely to blame for our adult obsession with meeting our own personal Prince Charming.
They only show they honeymoon stage. I think that’s the real reason I kept going back for more. Real life was so normal and boring—eating and watching TV together after work, scheduling in time for sex, and no more first date flowers or first date drinks. There were no more butterflies and the excitement of wondering whether or not my partner was “The One” had long since faded. Rom-coms give you all that and more. You know the ending is going to be happy, but you can’t help falling for the “will they or won’t they?” ruse. I was drunk on that first-time high and kept wondering if marriage was for me or if I should just fill up on first-time moments and say goodbye to my old life instead.
I eventually saw too much. I could see myself from the outside and I knew I had to help myself. I’d gone too far. Relationships were entirely different in the movies than they are in real life. I pictured my life without my husband, constantly drinking in those exciting first-time moments, and it was simply empty. It was a life of highs but with nothing normal and nothing real. I knew I had to do something if I wanted to stay in this marriage and make it work.
I put a ban on rom-coms for a time. Sometimes cold turkey is best and I definitely needed a break. It was like I’d overdone it on sweets or alcohol and needed a detox. So I just stopped, simple as that. No more romantic stories at all for as long as it took to snap out of it. It was the best decision I’d ever made.
I reflected on my romantic life. Once the spell was broken, I could actually take the time to reflect honestly on my romantic relationship and it wasn’t as horrible as I thought. It was real and true and everything in the movies was the opposite of that. I could kiss and stay dry in my own house with my husband. I could wait for him to return from a flight to tell him how I felt about him. Plus, I don’t have to just accept that the butterflies are gone—I just have to work to find some of those moments again.
I looked around at REAL people and REAL relationships. Looking at the love that existed between my family and friends, I saw what I couldn’t see before. Phases are natural. Yes, the first stage is fun and exciting (that’s why there are so many movies about it!), but the other phases are just as good. Moving in together, getting engaged, getting married, and figuring out how to live a life together are all beautiful periods that help to create a new and better you and a new and better relationship.
I’m back to a healthy dose of rom-coms, but now I can separate myself from it. Since I took the time off that I so desperately needed to detox and get my head on straight, I can watch rom-coms with the appropriate attitude. Now, it’s simply entertainment and a bit of nostalgic nudge to the past, but it’s not going to take over my life and mess with my mind and my relationship. I can see my husband with the eyes of someone who’s not in the honeymoon stage but a far better and stronger stage—and it will only get better from here.
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