How Watching Rom-Coms Completely Ruined My Expectations For Dating
I'm a single girl who was raised on "Sex and the City" and British rom-coms, and I'm about to call bullsh*t on the entertainment industry's portrayal of love. See, I never used to be this cynical. I'm happy, healthy, privileged and loved, so I'm not exactly nursing battle scars from a hard-knock life. But if we don't count preschool, then I've been single my entire life.
My preschool boyfriend's name was Ryan*, and we had the perfect relationship. I picked him from the crowd in a near scientific way. I closed my eyes on the playground, counted to 10 and decided the first boy I saw would be my boyfriend. That boy was Jake*, but he picked his nose, so I chose Ryan instead. My relationship with Ryan lasted three years, until I broke things off the same way I had begun them: quietly and without his knowledge.
I'm in college now, and I pick my boys in a shamefully similar manner. But, the good judgement that stopped me from falling in love with Jake The Nose Picker is tainted by tequila, and I find myself walking up (sometimes waking up) to whichever guy was there when I opened my eyes after counting to 10.
In my first year of college, I got with the hot guys I never felt good enough for, the ones who were just there, the ones who broke my heart with their careless forgetfulness and the ones who drove me crazy with their inability to text back. I've been with the wrong guy at the right time, and I've had my heart broken by the right guy at the wrong time. I've dated, and I've tried. I've been a plus one, a date, half of a "thing" and the girl someone was "seeing," but the girlfriend game has always eluded me.
I've always seen everything as a story, and when I was 16 and finally came into a bit of gumption, I told myself I would never settle for second best. I told myself I would be the main character in my own story. I was the heroine. I was the "it girl," and Jennifer Lawrence would play me in my biopic.
I've watched the films, and I've read the books. I know the princess has to kiss a few frogs, but come on. I've kissed enough frogs to be on a PETA watch list. I've given chances to Swedish backpackers, friends, acquaintances, bad boys and the actual boy next door. My patience with amphibians has come to a close.
I'm single (again), and I'm justifiably upset. Like every good drama queen, I looked for people to blame, people I could take to task about the bill of lies I'd been sold. And I found them.
I'm going to war with Richard Curtis, Bridget Jones, Carrie Bradshaw, all the girls who broke Ted Mosby's heart and every girl in every movie who looked at the boy of all our dreams and said, "Promise not to fall in love with me." You b*tches have a lot of explaining to do.
First of all, you romantic-comedy-HBO-rent-controlled assh*les should have warned me it would be this hard. Someone should have shown me how to be single in a way that did not involve buying Manolo Blahniks. And for the love of God, someone should have shown me in a way that was not a montage.
We all find montages very relatable, and the one in "Notting Hill" is a work of art. But, it's over in 45 seconds. What's a girl meant to do after that? Julia Roberts was gone for a year, and all we see of Hugh Grant is a walk through Portobello Market. We never see him curse at her picture or try to move on, knowing fully well he'll feel guilty if he does, and guilty if he doesn't.
None of you even told me where to look. In the movies, there's always someone about to make an entrance, and there's the one who's been right in front of the person all along. But as a girl who was raised to expect movie meet cutes, but is living in the times of Tinder, I don't know how anything starts anymore.
Whenever I meet a guy, I put it through the posterity filter. I stop and think what this story going to be like to tell my kids.
"Mummy and Daddy had been Netflix and chilling for months, when at one point, Mummy finally snapped and said to Daddy, 'Jesus Christ, Jake. You can't just call me at 2 am. I need to know what we are, damn it!' From then on, Daddy and I Netflix and chilled at a reasonable hour."
It's not quite the romance I was raised on. It's not the story I was told, but whatever. Times change, I guess.
I know I'm not alone. There has to be others like me. And to all the naysayers out there, the cynics and the skeptics, I have to tell you that I'm not naive. I'm aware that movies are make-believe fantasies.
I swooned when Colin Firth and his beautiful Portuguese maid learned foreign languages for each other, but I shared your concern that the proposal was the first real conversation they'd had with each other.
"Where are you going to live? Is there some sort of passport concerns? Are you going to have bilingual babies? Do you share the fundamental ethics? Pull your sh*t together, Jamie and Aurelia."
I never thought that when I fell in love, it'd be just like the movies. That's not why I'm upset. I'm upset because no one really taught me how to be alone. Turns out being single isn't all mimosas at brunch, and girls nights out.
Being single is throwing popcorn at teenagers making out in the cinema. Being single is calling your brothers to find out the name of the "stabby screwdriver" you used on your IKEA furniture. Being single is mourning every single "Downton Abbey" death on your own because there's no one on the left side of the bed. The movies never told me that.
But, don't cry for me. I haven't given up yet.
The main things about romantic comedies is they give you hope. And despite all the bullsh*t, I'm hopeful still. I'm just stating, for the record, that I'm ready for my story to start now. You can step forward. You're not interrupting anything.
So, if you're out there, I'm waiting. I won't ask you where you've been. I'll take you "just as you are" (#MarkDarcy), and I'll love you if you let me.
*Names have been changed.