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10 Movies Every Young Woman Should Watch Before Her First Date

Updated on November 8, 2014
Young girls don't always have an idea of what to expect or what they want. Giving them other narrative scenarios to explore before her first date can safely broaden her horizons.
Young girls don't always have an idea of what to expect or what they want. Giving them other narrative scenarios to explore before her first date can safely broaden her horizons. | Source

My initial impression of how to behave in romantic relationships came from my mother, who was all about trusting yourself, not letting anyone else pressure you into doing anything you weren't ready for, and having others earn your trust. But if ever there was an issue she couldn’t address, we’d watch films to explore the answers for us. Considering the rate at which teenagers consume media in this day and age, it may be worth it to choose wisely which films influence the next generation of women. I'm not saying young women will magically make good choices after watching the following movies, but I feel confident they will feel empowered to explore better alternatives.

For those of you who have daughters, feel free to watch these films with them. Maybe have a little Q & A afterwards! Storytelling can be a great learning tool, especially when parents/guardians feel at a loss for how to start such conversations. If you are a young woman with questions about dating, love, and intimacy, may these films open your mind to how you would like to experience romantic love.

Knowing what you really want is the first step to pursuing what you want.

Penelope (2006, PG) with Christina Ricci and James McAvoy

Synopsis: A modern romantic tale about a young aristocratic heiress born under a curse that can only be broken when she finds true love with "one who will love her faithfully."

Lesson for Young Women:

A lesson in self-love: it is only when you learn to love and accept yourself for who you are that you will be free to let others love you, too. This is also a great fable about being with someone for your own reasons versus someone else’s reasons. Knowing what you really want is the first step to pursuing what you want.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999, PG-13) with Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Synopsis: A new kid must find a guy to date the meanest girl in school, the older sister of the girl he has a crush on, who cannot date until her older sister does.

Lesson for Young Women:

A lesson in façades: don't let anyone tell you you have to act like someone else to be loved. Sweet-natured or brash, people will accept only the authentic version of "you". This is also a great interpretation of William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.

Juno (2007, PG-13) with Ellen Page, Michael Sera and Jennifer Garner

Synopsis: Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, an offbeat young woman makes an unusual decision regarding her unborn child.

Lesson for Young Women:

A lesson in honoring what you feel is right: adult situations can get complicated; learn to deal with what is in front of you. This is a witty and bold look at teen romance and teen pregnancy, while glorifying neither.

Cruel Intentions (1999, R) with Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon

Synopsis: Kathryn makes a bet that her step-brother, Sebastian, won't be able to bed Annette (a virgin, who wants to wait until love). If he loses, Kathryn gets his Jaguar, if he wins, he gets Kathryn.

Lesson for Young Women:

A lesson in trust: you never know other people's intentions, so let them earn your trust. Also, trust your instincts. This film is rated R for a reason. It’s sexually driven, but it also brings to light the rewards and pitfalls of a sexual relationship.

Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998, PG-13) with Drew Barrymore and Angelica Houston

Synopsis: The "real" story of Cinderella. A refreshing new take on the classic fairy tale.

Lesson for Young Women:

A lesson in changing because of a relationship (not FOR a relationship): you never know people's potential, so let them change as they see fit. They might surprise you; they may disappoint you. Also, Drew Barrymore’s character is a great example of gumption in a female protagonist.

Who is your favorite female protagonist in a romantic film?

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To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995, PG-13) with Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo

Synopsis: Three drag queens travel cross-country until their car breaks down, leaving them stranded in a small town.

Lesson for Young Women:

A lesson in self-worth: playing hard-to-get is a woman's prerogative. Their "four steps to becoming a Queen" are priceless. Let him hear it sizzle!

PLEASE NOTE: If you are sensitive about your teenager watching a movie with drag queens as the main characters, then I wholeheartedly invite you to watch this movie on you own first. You’ll quickly see that the theme of the movie is more about self-expression than it is about sexuality.

Part of letting go is also letting go of the illusion that the relationship was great. Breakups happen for a reason.

(500) Days of Summer (2009, PG-13) with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel and Chloë Grace Moretz

Synopsis: An offbeat romantic comedy about a woman who doesn't believe true love exists, and the young man who falls for her.

Lesson for Young Women:

A lesson in perspective: when it comes to the end of a relationship, recalling with a clear head usually reveals a different story. Part of letting go is also letting go of the illusion that the relationship was great. Breakups happen for a reason. This is a touching exploration of infatuation versus love.

Say Anything (1989, PG-13) with John Cusack and Ione Skye

Synopsis: A noble underachiever and a beautiful valedictorian fall in love the summer before she goes off to college.

Lesson for Young Women: A lesson in communication: be honest and forthright in your communications, and trust your heart. No one else can tell you when you are ready. Ready for love, ready for sex, ready for commitment. That is something you have to figure out on your own.

PLEASE NOTE: While the theme of the couples’ love is faith, the ending does not answer whether or not they stay together; only that they try. Thus, my analysis is the greater lesson to be learned is how not to alienate your family while pursuing romantic love.

No one else can tell you when you are ready. Ready for love, ready for sex, ready for commitment. That is something you have to figure out on your own.

William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (1996, PG-13) with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes

Synopsis: Shakespeare's famous play is updated to the hip modern suburb of Verona still retaining its original dialogue.

Lesson for Young Women:

A lesson in passion: Going to any length for love can be hazardous to your health; love wisely, love well. Impulsiveness, while exhilarating, does not lend itself to prudent choices.

PLEASE NOTE: Most teenagers will read this in high school, but not many enjoy the experience. This film took a classic story with outdated language and presented it with a contemporary interpretation and soundtrack. The film has the ability to speak to young women in ways the text may not.

Before Sunrise (1995, R) with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy

Synopsis: A young man and woman meet on a train in Europe, and wind up spending one romantic evening together in Vienna. Unfortunately, both know that this will probably be their only night together.

Lesson for Young Women:

A lesson in connections: having the feeling of love does not mean that you are meant to be together forever; every person comes into your life for a season or a reason. Learn to love and let them go. This film, while dialogue driven, shows how experiencing love is just as important as finding a life-long partner.

Any other movies that have influenced the way you interact in relationships? Leave your suggestions in the comments, and may the next generation of young ladies have a little class and a lot of self-respect.

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