Ever since I was a kid, my favorite movies have been romantic comedies. From How to Lose a Guy in 10 days to Something Borrowed to The Proposal to 10 Things I Hate About You, I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of the perfect love story. Boy meets girl, they initially dislike each other, something happens and they get a little closer than expected, boy falls for girl and vice versa, conflict arises, they confess their love, makeup, and live happily ever after. But what happens when the credits roll, the happy couple frolics into the sunset, and it’s time for the audience, which consists of human beings rather than characters on a screen, to venture into the real world?

Spoiler alert: relationships in the real world could not possibly be more different than how they are in the movies. This came as a big surprise to me when I had my first boyfriend at 15 years old. Although sparks were flying at the beginning of the relationship and I felt just like how Andie Anderson must have felt when Benjamin Berry waved down her taxi on the Brooklyn Bridge and confessed his love to her, the romance didn’t last forever. As most high school relationships do, the sparks faded, and the love boat inevitably crashed and burned.

This experience hit me hard, considering that a majority of romantic comedies end on a happy note and Natasha Benningfield playing in the background. I was led to believe that even if the main character got her heartbroken, the perfect guy was always around the corner to sweep her off of her feet and make all the pain and heartache disappear.

For those of us who binged romantic comedies as easily influenced young children, we have had to deconstruct and readjust what we always believed about love and romance. Romantic comedies paint the picture of the perfect relationship. Although the couples may fight, and there may be a point in the movies where one character’s mistakes seemingly ruin the relationship for good, the two lovebirds inevitably forgive, forget, and come out stronger in the end. However, this is seldom the case for real-life love affairs, especially those that involve immature teenagers and young adults.

When fights don’t end with a stronger bond, when tensions run high, or when jealousy gets in the way of a healthy relationship, the connection can feel somewhat doomed; unfixable. Relationships that are not picture-perfect, from my experience, can be extremely discouraging considering that movies set such a high expectation for what love is supposed to be. If the relationship isn’t spotless, with the exception of a few fixable fights here and there, it is bound to fail.

However, even if a real life relationship is loving, healthy, and strong, romance movies still warp expectations. Movies such as The Notebook, Love Actually, or Like Crazy make it seem like it is normal for couples to be passionately, madly in love until they are old and gray (or at least married for a few decades). About three months into my first relationship, when the honeymoon phase was starting to fade out a bit and the spark wasn’t so luminous anymore, I remember being upset, confused, and discouraged that I didn’t feel as passionately as I did a few months prior. Aren’t the butterflies supposed to last forever?

I later learned that this relentless, passionate, roller-coaster kind of love only exists in toxic relationships, where the couple is constantly on the brink of demise. Although long-term relationships are filled with love and passion, the feelings wax and wane, and you may not want to 50 Shades of Gray your partner 100% of the time.

At the end of the day, all romance movies have one major thing in common: they send the message that the key to happiness is through a partner. Romantic comedies emphasize love as the most important thing someone can experience in their lifetime; the end goal. If you don’t have a partner, your life is empty, unfulfilling, and sad. As someone who watched romantic comedies at a very formative age, I based my life upon finding the person I love and making sure everything was perfect between us until the day we die.

The thing is, if you are constantly looking for love, you’re never going to find it. If your life is boring, meaningless, and seemingly pointless when you don’t have a partner, it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate your priorities; I know I did. Although a loving relationship is a beautiful thing, it’s not everything.

As the great Cher once said, “a man is not a necessity, a man is a luxury”. Sure, having a partner may feel fulfilling at the moment, it may add a little something extra to your life you felt as though you were missing. But at the end of the day, making your own life the most beautiful, exciting, fulfilling place of all is the key to a meaningful existence.

Cover Photo by Bari Lipper (The Crescent Graphic Design Team)

About Olivia Barnes

Olivia Barnes is a contributing columnist for the Crescent Magazine. She is a sophomore majoring in Communications and Cognitive Studies with a minor in English. Olivia is also a writer for the Tulane Hullaballoo and a member of Chi Omega sorority here on campus. In addition to writing for Crescent, Olivia loves to travel, write music, sing, and hang out with friends.

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Olivia Barnes is a contributing columnist for the Crescent Magazine. She is a sophomore majoring in Communications and Cognitive Studies with a minor in English. Olivia is also a writer for the Tulane Hullaballoo and a member of Chi Omega sorority here on campus. In addition to writing for Crescent, Olivia loves to travel, write music, sing, and hang out with friends.