Tag Archives: rom-com

Dear Future Spouses

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Dear reader, I won’t lie to you.  I have reached The Wedding Age.

TWA is not, thank modern life and all its socially advanced attitudes, a self-inflicted notion of when I should be tying the knot.  I really, really could not give a flying fudge about when “they” (who ARE “they”, anyway?) think that I should be committing my life to a relationship.  It’s actually something that most of us are probably pretty familiar with: the age at which we realise we are spending most of our weekends at idyllic country mansions watching our friends get hitched, whereas we used to spend our weekends watching football, drinking, playing video games or indeed all of the above.

I’m really enjoying TWA so far.  My friends are wonderful people who deserve to be happy, and their weddings are, almost without exception, extremely joyful occasions.  My only qualm with TWA right now is that I am also careering headfirst into the world of bridesmaid duties, travelling long distances in high heels and investing extortionate amounts of money in waterproof mascara.  I am also, heaven help us all, being asked for my opinion on wedding things.  For example, a very close friend of mine recently said that she would like this song to be part of her wedding ceremony:

Now, here is the worrying thing: one of my first thoughts was genuinely “isn’t this song a bit unrealistic?  I mean, isn’t it a bit much to ask men to be nice to us for, like, the rest of our lives?”

Shock, horror and other negative forms of surprise abounded as soon as this thought had formed.  What the hell kind of feminist am I to question what women deserve in their marriages?  What on earth did the Pankhursts fight so hard for, if not women’s essential self-worth?  And for heaven’s sake, why hasn’t someone made a mash up of this song with Olly Murs’ “Dance With Me Tonight”?!

Let’s be honest: no one can be nice the entire time.  It’s not a sustainable way to behave and, even if you could sustain permanent affability, your friends and loved ones would start to suspect that you were a robot sent to spy on them.  No one, male or female, can spend their whole lives being unfailingly kind, understanding and romantic.  Having said that, the message of Meghan Trainor’s jaunty tune is basically a good one: we need to have high standards for ourselves.

Relationships are hard, and being in love can be a very messy business.  But if we want to spend the rest of our lives with another human being, we should a) be honest with them about how we would like to be treated, b) give them realistic expectations of what we are like on bad as well as good days, and c) marry the person who wants to treat us well forever more.

Hey: remember that amazing rom-com about that girl who met a guy who flirted with her a bit, replied to her texts after a few days and was a bit stand-offish with her friends?  And then after some clumsy dates and a few awkward advances they got together, moved in because one of their leases was about to end and the guy proposed when the girl half-jokingly pressured him into it?  And then their marriage petered out into a cordial but essentially passionless co-existence?  No?  Of course you don’t.  That, my dearest and most gorgeous reader, is because really excellent relationships and marriages are formed by people who work as a team and make each other the best that they can be.  They are not formed by people who are desperately trying to navigate the complicated world of mixed messages, passive aggression and emotionally distant game-playing.  People who really want you won’t push you away, and even if your loved one falls short every once in a while, the important thing is that they want to be good enough for you.  Trying to love someone well is better than being eligible for a mortgage application.

I sincerely hope that, if you are planning or hoping to marry one day, your future spouse will treat you the way Meghan Trainor wants to be treated.  More importantly, I hope that they want to.

Have a cracking Sunday evening, team.  Don’t let the end-of-weekend blues get you down.

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A Realistic Romance Recipe

One Day - Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess

Hello and happy Wednesday!  You’re looking lovely today, if I may say so.

Not for the first time, my inspiration for a blog post has come from an episode of How I Met Your Mother.  If you’re not a fan, don’t worry – I’m only using a tiny snippet.  Two of the characters are discussing what it takes to make a relationship materialise, and one of them claims that chemistry is the key ingredient, and that “if you have chemistry, you only need one other thing: timing, but timing’s a bitch.”

Chemistry between two people is obviously very important in romantic situations, and timing is clearly essential (and also a bit of a bitch).  But relationships are very rarely that simple, and I think we need a few more bits and pieces to make the blasted things work:

Referees

As in people who provide references, not the football people.  I’m not suggesting that we turn the pursuit of a relationship into some kind of emotional job hunt, but it can be much easier to let your guard down with someone if a mutual friend will vouch for their behaviour.  Lots of people meet their significant others through friends or family, and I think that they start relationships with a very clear advantage.  If you meet someone in a bar and they make a great first impression then that’s lovely, but it’s a massive bonus if someone you trust can tell you for certain that this person has no criminal record, is good with kids and usually remembers to return phone calls.

Confidence

As Dexter says to Emma in One Day, “You’re gorgeous, you old hag, and if I could give you just one gift ever for the rest of your life it would be this: confidence. It would be the gift of confidence. Either that or a scented candle.”  Confidence covers all sorts of things, including the belief that you are a lovable person, the ability to look (and more importantly feel) good in your own clothes, and the willingness to start a conversation.  You might have unbelievably strong chemistry with someone and the timing may be perfect, but if all you can do is mumble into your shoes then your would-be romance will go nowhere incredibly rapidly.

Communication

This one is the most difficult (especially for us Brits), and annoyingly it is also the most important.  Nothing will work between two people unless they communicate.  (I’m starting to feel uncomfortable even typing this bit, to be honest.)  We don’t like talking about our feelings, do we?  Oh, sure, over a drink with our friends or in a post-break up rant, absolutely.  But with the person we want to go out with?  Good heavens, no.  It can’t be done!  We’re supposed to tell each other where we stand, how we feel and make sure that no one is being led on or getting confused?  What a ridiculous notion.

Communication issues are the reason that Jane Austen novels are longer than two pages, why Bridget Jones takes so long to get Mark Darcy, and they make up the basic plot line of every rom-com film ever made.  If the characters told each other the truth earlier on in these stories, they would be happier much sooner.  Sure, the films would be rubbish and the books would be abysmal, but you are not a character in a story.  You’re a real person, and no one is going to write your happy ending unless you flipping get on with it.

Besides, you deserve to be happy.  You’re a legend.

Have a superb Wednesday.

Top Ten Lessons Not to Learn from Rom-Coms

Hello, lovely reader! Congratulations on being half-way through the week.  You’re doing great.

Today I’ve been thinking about romantic comedy films, and how quickly we are willing to exchange our common sense for warm and fuzzy feelings.  Don’t get me wrong: I love rom-coms, and Richard Curtis provides me and my friends with ample opportunity to waste an evening bewailing our boringly realistic love lives, but seriously.  The morals and attitudes encouraged by Hollywood’s happy endings are appalling.

If we actually examine the lessons in rom-coms instead of concentrating on the smouldering glances and mushy moments, we can see that these films are dangerous.  They could create a generation of women who will negotiate the dating world with all the skill and success of a neo-Nazi who has halitosis.  (This may be slightly melodramatic, but you know what I mean.)

As I said, I do love these films, but I also worry that there’s some murky moral ground being covered.  Here are some lessons that I really hope none of us learn from our favourite romantic comedies:

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1) Grease

If your boyfriend is nice to you when you’re alone and acts like an asshat in front of his friends, get a makeover and wear clothes tight enough to give you gangrene.  That’ll get him back.  Obviously, you are the one who is not good enough and you need to adapt to his shallowness.

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2) Pretty Woman

Go on the game.  A handsome, rich and charming man will inevitably sweep you off your feet and fall madly in love with you.  You will definitely not get pregnant, contract a horrible disease or be putting yourself in serious harm’s way every night.  Not even a little bit.

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3) Four Weddings and a Funeral

Be horrible to a guy for ages, sleep with him a bit, get engaged to someone else, sleep with him again, take him WEDDING DRESS SHOPPING and then turn up on his doorstep just after he gets punched in the face at the altar.  Also, lose the ability to notice basic environmental factors like whether it’s raining or not.

Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones's Diary

4) Bridget Jones’ Diary

Waddle everywhere.  Colin Firth will totally fall for you.

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5) Serendipity

Let the amazing guy you just met get away because a piece of paper flew away.  Obviously it’s fate and not just the traffic passing you by in the middle of a New York highway.

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6) America’s Sweethearts

Keep quiet about your feelings for years, and then get annoyed with the guy without explaining yourself.  Also, spend your entire life slaving away after your bratty sister.  Way to respect yourself.

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7) The Princess Bride

When the love of your life reappears after a few years, completely ignore his height, voice and facial features.  A few inches of eye mask should completely obscure any idea you might have about his identity.  Sure, you love him, but you’re blind and deaf, ok?

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8) 10 Things I Hate About You

Lead a guy on for as long as you can, and only be nice to him when he’s gone through ridiculous amounts of nonsense to make you happy.  If your big sister has ideals and can be a bit snappy about them, make sure that you use her as a pawn in your relationship games.  Being manipulative means that you deserve your happy ending; after all, you’ve worked for it.  Or at least your boyfriend has.

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9) Friends With Benefits

Define what you want from your relationship with a guy, and then completely change your mind.  Make sure that he is unaware of this for as long as possible.  Remember, only a flash mob is enough to regain your attention, preferably in a busy train station at peak time.

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10) One Day

Keep chasing the unobtainable guy who probably wouldn’t make you happy anyway, and in the meantime settle for someone you don’t really love.  Also, change your accent a lot.

Have a great Wednesday, and please enjoy your rom-coms responsibly.