Side Effects of the Modern Romantic


We are a romantic generation of women. No, I don’t mean the literary or artistic movement that ran counter to the Industrial Revolution. I mean the generation of young women who grew up with the romantic comedy. You know what I’m talking about. Everything from The Notebook to How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days to every movie Katherine Heigl has ever been in.

We love romantic comedies. If we don’t own them, we binge watch them when they’re on TV, and there have been many a sleepover that revolved around a romantic comedy marathon and painting each other’s nails. Don’t deny it. You know you’ve been there. And you loved EVERY second of it.

Unfortunately, what seemed like a harmless pastime has started to skew our brains a little…. As I said, we are a generation of romantic women. We claim to be romantics, and that comes with certain…side effects, shall we say?

  1. You tend to think things will work out on their own, sort of like in those Katherine Heigl movies or the sappy Nicholas Sparks books you pretend not to like but secretly binge watch or read, respectively. The sad thing is that life doesn’t generally follow movie plots, so things don’t always work out like they should. The universe is not on your side.
  2. You watch rom-coms a little too often, and it’s starting to affect the way you think about relationships and how they work. Well, it is. Gerard Butler won’t change for you. Josh Duhamel won’t come back for you. Ryan Gosling won’t spend years pining after you. And James Marsden won’t try to convince you that you deserve more. Guys like hard work about as much as you do, and they definitely don’t think sappy thoughts most of the time. Sure, they have their moments. But, come on.
  3. You probably have this really nice picture of your perfect relationship, “the one,” if you will. You know this is pretty unrealistic, even impossible, but that doesn’t stop you from fantasizing. And man, do you have that down. You have mastered this fantasy and have it planned down to the second, from your first date to your wedding to the names of your children. Wake up ladies. Life likes curve balls and plot twists. And ripping your pretty plans to shreds.
  4. You daydream…a lot. You probably can’t help it, it’s just a by-product of your romantic nature: what if he does this or says this, or what would it be like if…you fill in the blank. It leads to even higher expectations and disappointment when reality doesn’t live up to your fantasy, as it won’t 85% of the time.
  5. And the worst part is that anything could set it off: a song on the radio, a random conversation, a movie, a book, or even a commercial, doesn’t matter what kind. And there you are, lost in this pretty dream of what-ifs and future impossibilities. And then you have to wake up to reality.
  6. It’s really easy to talk yourself into and out of relationships, or particular guys, that you probably shouldn’t. You have all of these romantic notions of what a relationship looks like, probably á la The Notebook, and it makes you question the validity and viability of what’s in front of you. The sweet guy standing in front of you might not be perfect or even half of what you imagined, but he is real and he really likes you. At least give him a shot.
  7. You think you can change him. You know the type: the bad boy who’s just this side of dangerous. Not to the point of being really frightening, just extremely appealing. You see the good in him, the potential to be this “amazing” man. Let me stop you right there. You won’t convince him to be a better man if he doesn’t want to be a better man. You’ll just end up with wasted time and a broken heart.
  8. When you get into a real situation, you expect the guy to do sweet and romantic stuff to get your attention. Turns out, he does the same thing you do: looks away and tries not to say anything stupid, which usually ends with neither of you saying anything.
  9. You have this really unfortunate talent for reading into things. The fact that he’s doing “x” must mean “y,” it’s the only thing that makes sense. But then you find out that it, in fact, does not make sense, and that the whole situation was much simpler than you thought. Like, he was distracted by his sister or dog, and that’s why he didn’t text back. And the fact that he overuses that winky emoticon isn’t his way of flirting. He does it with everyone…oops.
  10. The romantic comedy is obsessed with the exciting moment, convincing you that life is made up exclusively of exciting moments. The thing about moments is that they are fleeting. Life is comprised of the ordinary stretches and the daily routines and the everyday beauty. Every night can’t be the party that changes your life, the race to the airport, the sort-of-chance meeting atop the Empire State Building. A lasting relationship is built on the ability to live with one another through the cranky days, the illnesses, the nights the baby can’t sleep because she’s colicky, and the normal rigors of balancing your schedules and prioritizing your lives. We can’t live on a constant high. It would be exhausting.

We are romantics. We grew up inundated by Jennifer Aniston and Katherine Heigl movies and the naive idea that the world works for us and “the One” is out there searching for us, as if he doesn’t have a life until he finds you.

Sorry. That’s not the case. He’s just trying to figure out his life, same as you. There may be a chance meeting or a magical moment in a foreign country, but just because your “how we met” story is perfect, doesn’t mean your relationship will be.

Life is full of ordinary protagonists and ordinary love stories. There’s a special kind of beauty to the ordinary life, especially since it has so many lovely and varied incarnations.

I’ve grown to believe that the exciting, adrenaline-filled love affair really only works out for some, and sometimes only for a short time. In my opinion, the ordinary lives and loves of those we deem “uninteresting” are more extraordinary than any love story I’ve ever heard. Imagine the endurance of a pair of people and the events a couple witnesses together.

My point is: we may be romantics, but that doesn’t mean we should always leave our heads in the clouds. At least keep your feet firmly planted on the ground, or else you might miss your ordinary hero in an “uninteresting” love affair.