Fools in Love - Why We Do It
Let's Start With a Movie...
I spent Valentines Day watching romantic movies, just like millions of other couples in the US. On the verge between realizing the one we love isn’t as bad as we think and isn’t as good as we hoped there are those of us who laugh at the thought that these movies never tell the story of what happens after the movie ends and everyone goes home.
As I remind my daughter often, everyone burps and passes gas and there is no such thing as a perfect person. Yet still, in my heart of hearts I want to believe that isn’t so. With my heart in my mouth I cry often for the little girl dream of a happy ending that will, most likely, never come.
I often chastise even my dream couples. Mr. Darcy, after you married Elizabeth, how many times did you insult the background of her mother or hurt Elizabeth with your snobbery? I seriously doubt that you maintained your unexpected gush of humble adoration of Elizabeth’s strong will much after the honeymoon ended.
What happened, Edward, when you went shopping with your Pretty Woman and she was spotted by one of her past John’s? Did you still look at her the same or did you immediately and romantically drive her to the nearest clinic for testing? Did you both find kissing as exciting as the first time 5 years into the marriage? Did you ever get tired of her awful singing in the tub? Did she ever get her own bathroom so she wouldn’t have to floss in front of you?
I want to know if the RunAway Bride ever started to like all the things her husband did or did their apparent differences make them grow in separate directions in life? Did Lancelot ever wonder if Guinevere had a wandering eye, after all, and did he start showing jealousy toward all her attendants and every other guy at the round table? Did Maid Marion ever wonder if her relationship with a thief made her an accessory to a crime and did Robinhood ever wonder how he could have ever been attracted to such an opinionated woman? Did Cinderella ever give up her victim complex? Did Prince Charming ever tease her unmercifully about her dwarfish feet?
I can’t help my brain freeze when watching romance movies that seem incredibly naïve. Someone makes the decision to suddenly interrupt the marriage ceremony of a couple to profess love that should have been stated long before the cake was ordered, the guests arrived and the intended paid for the attire. In real life that person would have gotten a good left hook by one of the fathers and the guests would’ve done more than politely shrug and leave the building. Or how about the movie where someone decides that leaving the foreign country they’ve visited when they found their true love won’t be a lesson in politics and futile job hunting.
The truth is, we are only told half the story in a movie and we are happy to leave it that way. We don’t want to know what can go wrong when the high wears off and they start to worry about all those things that kept them apart before the happy ending. Boy meets girl, girl ignores boy, boy does something dramatic to get girl, then girl falls in love too. So what happened when she realized he snores with his mouth open and can’t remember the last time he actually put the lid down on the toilet?. And what happens when he realizes that all that hard work and he’s married to a know-it-all witch with snobby friends that still hate him?
I’m not down on love. I’m just having a difficult time explaining to my daughters, how we know someone is right for us. Okay…and myself since I’m single too now. Where is the dividing line between settling for something not quite what you want and being realistic enough to know that we all have flaws and life isn’t like the movies?
I used to say, “I don’t want a perfect man. I just want one with flaws I can deal with.” Still a good euphemism but it feels rather hollow when you’re making a life-altering decision about whether to quit your job and move to a new city so you can be closer to someone. Decisions of such caliber can’t be easily dismissed with a magic wand or swelling music anywhere except in the movies.
So why do I watch them? Why do millions of people, women especially watch these movies? Rose said, in The Mirror Has Two Faces, “The question is, why do we buy it? Because, myth or manipulation, we all want to fall in love. That experience makes us feel completely alive. Our everyday reality is shattered, and we are flung into the heavens. It may only last a moment, an hour, but that doesn't diminish its value. We're left with memories we treasure for the rest of our lives. So the final question is: Why do people want to fall in love when it can have such a short run and be so painful? l think it's because, as some of you may already know ...while it does last, it feels f**k**g great!”