When I was younger, I had a fascination with romance movies. As a guy, it’s a bit embarrassing to admit. But it’s true.
Growing up, like many other kids, I lacked the proper models for what a healthy relationship should be. I had enough dysfunction in my family to sink a small ship. Naturally, this affected the way I looked at the world and how I saw myself.
Among many of my escapes from reality and in the hopes of finding my one true love so that I could one day experience a normal relationship, I took to watching the romantic exploits of others, Hollywood-style.
I watched cheesy films such as “Sleepless in Seattle,” “He Said, She Said” and “Untamed Heart.” (Go ahead, make fun. I deserve it.) “As Good as It Gets,” “Jerry Maguire” and “The Graduate” were also favorites. I bought into the Hollywood love myth that I could, for all intents and purposes, fall in love with a girl in one day, that fate would bring us together and that if I looked hard enough, there would be signs that we were destined to be together forever.
I had fallen in love with falling in love. And I blame it partly on the Hollywood love myth.
What, exactly, is the Hollywood love myth? It’s a culmination of popular love beliefs that happen in romantic movies, such as:
—There’s only one true love for me: “Twilight”
—Alone = You are a loser: “Bridget Jones’s Diary”
—Love at first sight or falling in love in a very short amount of time: “Titanic”
—We just need to meet the right person to make us happy: “The Holiday”
—It’s fate: “Serendipity”
—Cheating isn’t wrong if it’s romantic: “The Bridges of Madison County”
—You can fall in love with ghosts: “Just Like Heaven”
—And my favorite … it’s not co-dependency; I’m just looking for someone to complete me: “Jerry Maguire”
And I just knew that the woman I married would have long, thick, brunette hair and bright, blue eyes. I had a special feeling that we would meet under some quirky circumstance—I would save her from being hit by some sort of fast-moving vehicle or accidentally bump into her at several different places around town, undoubtedly the universe trying to tell me something.
Or she would be with the wrong man and I with the wrong woman, both mutual friends, and after giving each other knowing glances, brushing up against each other by accident while in the arms of our significant others, fending off our passion for each other for an extended amount of time, we would finally find ourselves alone, in the rain, embrace and kiss, forced to keep our undying love a secret.
Yes, I had it all planned out. This was the stuff that romantic Hollywood movies were made of. And one of these scenarios, or all of them, would happen to me.
But, after various dysfunctional, back-to-back relationships; a failed marriage; therapy; and some time to myself, I realized that there is no screenplay for love. The only person that can make you truly happy is yourself. And, despite what Hollywood tells you, if your significant other has issues, your love alone can’t fix them or vice-versa. And relationships are a hell of a lot of work.
Common sense? Maybe.
But I’m willing to bet that there are more people than you think that have done the exact same thing as me. Because most of us, whether we want to admit it or not, want to be in a happy, healthy relationship. But sometimes, we just don’t know how to find it.
Fortunately, I did. Ten years ago.
I remember exactly what my wife was wearing the first time I saw her. I can tell you what I was doing and what I told my co-worker when I first laid eyes on her. And I have a photo that was taken of us together the first night we met.
We dated for five weeks before we split. She was afraid of commitment. I said some things. We both spent the next five days miserable. And then, she showed up at my apartment. She had driven all of the way from Huntsville, where she attended college. Her face was tear-stained. She said she was wrong. I let her suffer a bit. And then I apologized, too.
We’ve been married for seven years and have two little boys.
Sounds like a Hollywood love story. Perhaps it was fate.
Author’s note: I’ve mentioned several films in this column, some that I still love and some that I think are horrible. “The Graduate” doesn’t necessarily fall into the Hollywood love myth. It’s just a great movie. “Twilight,” however, is really bad, and I’ve never cared for it, though my wife is a fan.
Charlie Moss writes about local history and popular culture, including music, movies and comics. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.