“It was like something out of a movie,” my friend once happily shrieked to me about her first Tinder date with a potential new love interest. I had to stop myself from laughing in her face.
Firstly, which movie is about a couple who meets on Tinder? Secondly, nothing is like in the movies, and this is especially true when it comes to real-life romance.
Dating and relationships in real life are nothing like the light-hearted, comical, happily-ever-after dreams that Hollywood likes to present to us mere mortals. If anything, real-life romance is more like a "cover your eyes at all times" horror movie than a singing and dancing rom-com.
Let's start with the "meet cute."
Every movie has one, and every single girl is craving one. This is an interesting, comical or awkwardly imaginative way in which the two main characters meet for the first time.
Then, in perfect sync, they fall madly, head-over-heels in love with one another, to the beat of an indie soundtrack. In today's society, people meet online, through mutual friends or drunkenly in a bar. These movies give us the false sense of reality that by simply locking eyes with a handsome stranger at a coffee shop, you've bagged yourself a husband.
Real life just doesn't work like that. Meeting new people is just plain and utterly awkward. No one knows how to approach one another in real life anymore, unless they're stumbling across a blurry room and fueled by too much alcohol.
Once you've finally settled on a promising new target, it's time for the next row of obstacles: the first text, the first date and meeting up face-to-face for the first time.
There is no longer a romantic sense of dating anymore.
Instead, there's structure. There are rules to follow and the ever-impending waiting game, which isn't romantic at all. If anything, it's just nerve-wracking and stressful as hell.
How long do I wait to text back? Should I really send him that selfie on Snapchat?
You get the idea: It's a nightmare.
Then, there are the montages that make dating look fun, romantic and – most annoyingly of all – easy.
Dating isn't easy.
Yes, it can be fun. But it can also be scary, awkward and embarrassing.
Deciding what to wear and where to go, the first kiss, meeting the parents, farting in front of one another for the first time and the awkward, first-time sex: These are all things rom-coms fail to mention.
All they focus on are the roses, champagne and strawberries. They're filled with images of the perfect couple with the perfect hair, strolling happily into the sunset.
Not only do rom-coms portray a false sense of romance, but they also sugarcoat the breakups.
Yes, we do sometimes over-indulge in ice cream and talk nonstop about our breakups to our best friends. But where in the movies are the Twitter rants? Where are the scenes that show how we haven't washed our hair for days?
Where is the repeating tune of the heartbreak playlist on Spotify and the endless, obsessive Facebook stalking?
We watch these movies and convince ourselves that once our hearts have been broken, all we need to do is get a new haircut, join a gym and then patiently wait until the sudden moment when he realizes what a terrible mistake he's made and comes running to our front door.
What is it with the running scenes?
No one runs to anyone anymore. We text or call, and we pre-arrange to meet up. Spontaneous midnight wrapping on our front doors in the pouring rain and begging for forgiveness are things of the past.
Plus, let's face it: If people really did run to one another these days, our exes would probably get restraining orders against us. There's a very fine line between thoughtful romance and being a first-class stalker. The movies tend to blur these lines by distracting us with handsome leads.
So, don't base your dating life or current relationship status on what you see at the cinema. Life isn't like the movies, and maybe that's not such a bad thing.
After all, what would we watch whilst nursing our broken hearts and eating pints of ice cream if rom-coms didn't exist? At least their exaggerated, false sense of reality is entertaining to watch.
A version of this post was originally published on the author's personal blog.