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Romantic Movie Goodbyes for Lovers: Top 10 Reasons Couples Part

Updated on March 4, 2012

Why do we love Goodbyes?

If you are a romantic, like me, then you love the tear-jerkers. Tear-jerkers strike our emotions and touch us on a deep emotional level. We might remember watching a movie that brought us to tears in the movie-theater. The goodbye scene is powerful when it is filled with regret by both lovers. Circumstances beyond their control keep them apart. Death, family-ties, irreconcilable differences, and war may be some of the reasons that lovers have to part ways. Somewhere in the muddle of emotions, the love remains.

Ten Reasons Couples Part in No Particular Order

  • War-torn lovers
  • Homophobia
  • Racism
  • Religious Discrimination
  • Class Discrimination
  • Illness and Death
  • Family Prejudice
  • Age-Discrimination
  • Commitment and Family Issues
  • Addiction

War-torn Lovers

The ravages of war tear lovers apart. Casablanca, a Warner Brothers movie released in 1943 gives us a classic example of war-torn lovers. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman part ways due to on-coming World War II and the terror of the Nazis. This final departure scene is a must-see. As often happens, one of the lovers must flee to safety.

Casablanca Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart


There was a time, not so long ago, that an open homosexual relationship could mean a death-sentence. The argument could be made that this hostility still exists today in many parts of the world and in rural, conservative regions of the Western World. Relationships were kept "in the closet", meaning that the couple often married the opposite sex and kept their homosexual relationships a secret from their spouses and the outside world. This secretive world means a series of secretive meetings and goodbyes for the lovers. Brokeback Mountain portrayed two such lovers and their painful lives. The late Heath Ledger is Ennis Del Mar. Jake Gyllenhaal is Jack Twist. These "star-crossed" lovers star in Ang Lee's beautiful film.

Brokeback Mountain Montage I Don't Want to Say Goodbye

Religious, Racial, and Class Divisors

Religious, class, and racial differences are blatent in 1973's The Way We Were. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, The Way We Were told the story of a wealthy W.A.S.P. with a creative writing streak played by Robert Redford, and a left-wing, politically-active Jewish woman from Brooklyn, N.Y. played by Barbara Streisand. The couple were unable to reconcile their differences despite their love for one another.  The final scene when the couple runs into each other on a busy New York City street-corner remains one of the most heart-wrenching in movie history.  Sometimes love just isn't enough.

The Way We Were- Final Scene- Robert Redford and Barbara Streisand

Love Story


The ultimate goodbye for many loving couples is death. Whether through illness, tragic accident, homicide, or suicide, death leaves them without a choice in their goodbyes. In Love Story, we find a couple who were faced with religious, ethnic, and class differences. They were able to reconcile their differences, but illness and death came between them.

Family Prejudice

William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet has been told and retold in story and film for one reason and one reason only: Romeo and Juliet is the greatest love story the world has ever known. Baz Luhrmann's 1996 version with Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio is a wonderful adaptation of the original. Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 version is a more classical interpretation of the original play.

"Two households both alike in dignity, In fair Verona where we lay our scene. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes, A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life."


Romeo and Juliet- 1996 with Dire Straits


Even in today's tolerant society, couples still face discrimation due to a discrepancy in their ages. An extreme example of love between a young man and an old woman is the infamous Harold and Maude. Harold and Maude was released in 1971. Directed by Hal Ashby and starring Ruth Gordan and Bud Cort, this movie is a classic. Harold is an egocentric, death-obsessed, wealthy young man. Maude is a 79 year, spirited woman whom he befriends at a funeral. Their relationship is doomed, but beautiful.


Alcoholism, drug-addiction, food-addiction, and gambling addictions end many relationships. Despite love for each other, they are unable to battle the addiction together. In 1995's Leaving Las Vegas, Nicolas Cage and Elizabeth Shue meet while Cage is committing slow-suicide through alcohol-poisoning. During their final days together, two souls meet and fall in love. Despite the love between them, the alcoholism wins in the end. So many relationships are destroyed because of the ravages of addictions.

Leaving Las Vegas - Nicholas Cage and Elizabeth Shue

Family and Personal Commitment Issues

Who hasn't been involved with someone who just could not commit to relationships? Sometimes issues from our childhoods get in the way. We may not trust people. We may not trust ourselves. Often, we don't want to be "trapped" in a situation that we can't get away from. Or, we simply can't handle the responsibility of a serious relationship. For whatever reason, couples are forced to split because of a lack of commitment by one or both parties. It is sad when their love is strong, but their commitment fails. Usually, a lingering sadness remains. Peyton Reed directed The Break-Up, a 2006 movie starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn. This movie is a heart-breaking example of this type of break-up.

1995's The Bridges of Madison County with Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood tells a heart-wrenching story of a great love that will never be fulfilled. Streep decides that she is unable to leave her family to be with Eastwood in the brilliantly-acted goodbye scene. Many couples are faced with the same decision. Although we may meet someone who fulfills our heart's desire, we choose to stay in marriages because of our commitment to family.

Barbara Streisand 1975 "Memory" The Best

The After-Math

Recovery from a break-up between a couple who share great love is slow and often impossible. If the couple have children, they often remain very closely tied to one another as they parent. This close bond may make future relationships challenging. More often than not, these goodbyes involve long absences from one another, or no contact whatsoever. The loss that remains may never be healed. Perhaps this is why we feel so strongly for these on-screen goodbyes. Somewhere in our past, we have all suffered a loss. We mourn lost loves, a forgotten friendship, a belief in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, or that once golden summer day in childhood. We all wait for the return of the golden days of summer. In the meantime, we watch flickering images on a movie screen.


Matthew MacFadyen reads Yeats' Poem "When you are old and grey"

W.B. Yeats -

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,

And nodding by the fire,

take down this book,

And slowly read,


and dream of the soft look Your eyes had once,

and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,

And loved your beauty with love false or true,


But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,

And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,

Murmur, a little sadly,


how Love fled


And paced upon the mountains overhead

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.


The Notebook and ColdPlay's Fix You. Beautiful Video.

Casablanca on Amazon


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    • epigramman profile image


      8 years ago

      Bravo!!! You have certainly done your homework and very well indeed!

      My favorite romantic movie of all time (especially for the music by John Barry) is SOMEWHERE IN TIME with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.

    • adite profile image


      8 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Excellent hub. Enjoyed it as much as I enjoy weepy love stories. Just a tiny grouse: You missed out on Titanic as one of the greatest love stories. :)

    • SweetiePie profile image


      8 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Broke Back Mountain had a very sad ending for sure. Too bad they had not just flaunted convention and lived their lives together.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      9 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I get a lot of information hear. I had read twice and still reading now. great hub.

    • Cailin Gallagher profile imageAUTHOR

      Cailin Gallagher 

      9 years ago from New England

      Thanks all! Not every goodbye is romantic. My than likely, they're tragic and don't include the nice soundtrack. But, sometimes, when I remember goodbyes, I put a romantic twist on it. Maybe it's just a way of coping with loss. Many people have that little stack of letters or emails from old loves or a box of photos and momentos of times spent together. Often, a song will bring back a memory. "Misty, water-colored memories..."

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 

      9 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      constant, I think this hub is about goodbyes in a romantic movie and not romantic goodbyes in a movie - there is a difference. That said, i guess everybody has a sense for the tragic, like i for one sometimes go out of my way to watch a weepie as if needing a good cry and this could be for the simplest of reasons to, well, very personal stuff.  Thanks for this wonderful snippets of sad goodbyes :D

    • fishskinfreak2008 profile image


      10 years ago from Fremont CA

      Very informative and thanks for raising some hot-button issues

    • Cailin Gallagher profile imageAUTHOR

      Cailin Gallagher 

      10 years ago from New England

      Constant: Sad, but true. Usually these goodbyes aren't quite as dramatic as the relationships that end due to internal or external forces.

      Chef: Harold and Maude has always been a favorite of mine.

      Meaghan: Thanks for the comments!

    • Constant Walker profile image

      Constant Walker 

      10 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

      This isn't very romantic, but another frequent reason for saying Goodbye is boredom. Two people fall out of lust, realize there is no love and pretty much go, "Yawn! Well, catch you later?"

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      All that you wrote is very true! People experience these feelings every day! well people that love each other very much..

    • Chef Jeff profile image

      Chef Jeff 

      10 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

      Harold and Maude!  What a bizarre, excellent flick that was!  I especially loved the scene where Harold explodes while his mother is interviewing a prospective girlfriend!

      And the ending caught even cynical old me by surprise!


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