Four Lies Movies Taught Us About Dating

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I’m a big believer that when it comes to love,  you can learn a lot from movies. The problem, of course, is making sure that you learn the right things from movies. As inspiring as it can be to see the nerdy kid finally win the heart of the most popular girl in school through following her around until he’s learned everything about her, then covering the entire campus with his declaration of love for her, when these lessons are applied to real life… yeah, they never really go so well. In fact, most of these lessons will end up blowing up in your face.

Before you decide that the key to love is to follow John Cusack’s example in Say Anything or find your own Manic Pixie, you need to understand a few things about the lies movies teach us about love and dating.

Things like…

The Grand Gesture

Bigger is always better, isn’t it? How better can you show your love for someone by making a giant production out of it? Are you too late? Is your girl already dating someone else? Or worse, is she about to get married? Well, the Grand Gesture can help you here too! So whether it’s secretly filling her office with roses, standing in the rain with a boombox or infiltrating her wedding in order to proclaim your love in front of God, her family and everybody,  your inventiveness, creativity and passion can’t help but melt her frosty heart.

Famous Movie Examples: Wedding Crashers, Bed of Roses, Love Actually, The Graduate, Big Fish

The Problem Is:

You’re not coming off as romantic and clever. You’re coming off as desperate  and pathetic…if you’re lucky. If you’re not, you’re coming off as actively deranged.

The underlying idea is that if your crush could only see you for how you much you care for her, she would surely realize that deep down, she loves you too. The problem, of course, is that if she’s not actually attracted to you in the first place, then all you’re doing is wasting your money and  making it clear that you don’t understand how relationships work in the real world. The depth of your sincerity isn’t the issue. The issue is that she doesn’t like you. I’ve personally seen people attempt this in the real world, including one guy who tried to woo his crush by buying giant plush toys to be delivered to her house. Then, when that didn’t work, he filled the back seat of her car with yellow roses.

She had to be talked out of filing a restraining order against him.

(Interesting side note: despite being the first thing that comes to mind, Say Anything isn’t an example of this trope; Lloyd’s holding the boombox up over his head doesn’t win him Diane’s love back… in fact, it’s the event that makes him realize that it’s time to move on.)

Crashing her big event isn’t going to make things better either. In the movies, the audience sees the depth of your  love and actively encourages her to come back to you. In real life, you’re looking like an obnoxious asshole who’s ruining things for everyone and embarrassing her in front of all of her friends and her family. And depending on where you are, you’re also staring down the barrel of trespassing charges if someone decides to call the cops on you.

Image from Improv Everywhere

Generally, objections to weddings aren't terribly well received.

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Is Here To Save You

Let’s face it: you’re a geek. You’re a little introverted and reclusive. You’re on the passive side. You’d love to grab life by the horns and chase down the adventures of the day and break out of your shell… if only there were someone who could help.

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl to the rescue! She’s a quirky free spirit who comes whirling into your life like a tornado with dyed bangs and and striped stockings. Her bubbly – if a little off-beat – personality and casual disregard for social norms are what allows her to see the potential raging within you and inspires her to drag you into a world of wonder and teaches you embrace life like a giant smorgasbord of magic and experiences.

Oh, and there’s sex too. Y’know. As a bonus.

Famous Movie Examples: Enchanted, Bringing Up Baby, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Girl Next Door, Sweet November, 500 Days of Summer

The Problem is:

This is just an excuse for not actually taking control of your own damn life. If you’re dissatisfied with who you are or you have some deep longing for a life that you don’t actually have, you need to man up and find it for yourself. Waiting for someone else to come around to “inspire” you to it is just another convenient excuse for not making the effort.

It’s understandable, really. Change can be scary and sometimes you don’t know where to begin. When you’re trying to make substantial lifestyle changes, especially ones that run counter to how you’ve been living for years – if not decades – you’ll have that little voice in your head telling you that you’re an idiot and that you’re just doomed to failure. Breaking the habits of a lifetime takes a lot of effort and determination, and you will feel like you’re a fraud and everybody can tell. But putting up roadblocks in your own way isn’t going to help.

The appeal of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is that she’s there to do all the heavy lifting for you, and be your cheerleader at the same time. In the real world, most women have their hands full managing their own lives. Expecting them to be responsible for yours as well is an absurd amount of pressure to put on a relationship. And falling for this quirky hipster girl… well, you’d better make sure that there’s more to your attraction to her than just her cats-eye glasses and thrift-store fashion – otherwise, it’s no different for dating women strictly because they’re Asian. Or geeks.


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