I’m definitely not the first person to notice that there’s a huge difference between romance in movies and love in real life. It is as if the two are entirely different, distant cousins. Yes, it’s true that in real life people do ‘meet cute’ on occasion. Yes, it’s true that there can be a spark of flirtatious, antagonistic energy flying between two ‘opposites as they attract.’ And yes, once is a while, after years of friendship, two best friends look into each other’s eyes and find LOVE.
But… In real life meeting rarely nets a great story to share with the grandchildren—especially in an age of internet dating when sometimes you don’t even want to tell your mother that all you had was a Tinder profile when you met for a drink. In real life, that spark is more likely to be weighted heavily on the side of antagonism over sexual chemistry. And maybe one of the two buddies is pining away while the other moved on early in their friendship.
Of course the biggest difference between the Hollywood romance and the real deal is that one is a fantasy that lasts the hours it takes to read the book or a couple of hours on a screen. Real life continues after THE END and that’s where it gets sticky, stinky, and complicated.
I’m often struck by how many men hang on to the “persistence pays off” lesson in many a Hollywood Rom Com, where the man pursues the woman despite her repeated rejections. The idea that ‘wearing down her resistance’ is just part of the game can backfire into harassment when she doesn’t play her role in the script in his head and fall in love.
Another Hollywood romance is the tale of instantaneous, overwhelming, all consuming, tear-clothes-off, and do it on the floor attraction. The sex is GREAT even without all the getting to know your fumbling that is also part of real life.
Princes (or knights, cowboys, fireman, etc.) are always good looking, deep thinkers, and, once the story gets going, turn out to be dream-worthy lovers who cook (or vacuum, make gobs of money, save the world, etc.) and move the story along as they find true love with the protagonist.
When a romance feels real in fiction is sometimes reads as off kilter, as stilted, as not romantic enough… Ah well, perhaps my cynicism is only skin deep and I’m captivated by the Hollywood romance, too?