You Had Me At Hello – Why Rom-Com Love Isn’t Real
By Nthabiseng Maphisa – I have lost count of the number of romantic comedies that I have watched. I have spent many Saturday nights curled up on the couch, eyes as wide as saucers cooing at couples falling in love and in turn falling in love with love myself.
One of my favourite lovey-dovey movies is 10 Things I Hate About You, a 1999 film based on Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew.
The plot concerns a young man, played by the late Heath Ledger, who is paid to romance a hard-headed, “all-boys-are-dumb” kind of girl. In the event — you guessed it — he winds up really liking her. There are kisses and aching hearts and misunderstandings but it all works out in the end.
There’s nothing like a happy ending to make you feel all fuzzy inside.
Other romantic comedies follow a similar pattern of “Now you love me, now you don’t”. In these stories things move fast but no one seems to mind. There’s something heart-melting about watching two people declare their undying love for each other having met just five days ago. It leaves you with a marshmallowy feeling.
Watch enough rom-coms and you will convince yourself that love can’t be found unless it comes in the form of a perfectly good-looking person who doesn’t have morning breath and thinks you’re wonderful all of the time.
Movies and television have given us lots of ideas about what love and romance are — and, sadly, most times it ends in disillusionment and dissatisfaction.
We suffer amnesia and forget that God has and always had a plan for human love. The book of Genesis tells us that “for this reason a man shall leave his mother and father, be united to his wife and the two shall become one flesh”.
Love does not always involve perfect people with perfect families and perfect lives. To put it simply, love ain’t nothing like it is in the movies.
Jesus shows us that real love requires hard work, sacrifice and patience. Think of all the effort you put into your career or studies or cooking or pillow-fluffing. Love requires this same effort, and nothing less.
We’re all capable of this, more than we like to acknowledge. But perhaps we’ve seen too much, heard too much, experienced too much, to dare to hope once more for love.
Or maybe you’re like me and you’ve forged this idea in your mind of the perfect partner and have high expectations of the successful candidate’s looks, salary, work status; you name it.
You might then feel angry or frustrated when that person doesn’t come sauntering into your life, designer clothes and all. You’re then even angrier at Bridget Jones for having the suitors you want but can’t find!
So what do we do when the sunset fades and lovers have wandered off and the credits begin to roll? What do we do with that empty feeling and the sense that life is less than it should be?
True love is thrown out of the equation because life has happened to us. It’s then much easier to take what we can get in whatever way we can from whoever will give it to us.
We might even go as far as giving away our bodies—but not our hearts—in the hope that in doing so we’ll have fun with one and protect the other, just like protagonists do in movies like Friends With Benefits and No Strings Attached. As if to say to ourselves: “Enjoy it while it lasts but don’t get too close.”
Christopher West, a Catholic author and speaker on sexuality, understands the brokenness that can be caused from experiencing the counterfeits of love — he is all too familiar with it in his home country of the US.
His knowledge of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of The Body can help us understand the meaning of real love and what its counterfeits are — and give us the tools to find true love and avoid the path of unattached strings.
Christopher West will come to speak in South Africa in September. For more information visit www.tobsa.co.za or call 078 584-0886.