Researchers at the Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh have found that the thing on the right is responsible for problems in the way people relate to each other. It’s also responsible for making real men vomit repeatedly. They found fans of romantic comedy films such as Notting Hill (their example of comedy, not mine) often fail to communicate their needs with their partner. Many held the entirely unrealistic view that if someone is meant to be with you, then they should know what you want without you having to tell them.
Psychologists at the Family and Personal Relationships Laboratory at the university studied 40 top box office hits between 1995 and 2005, and identified common themes which they believed were unrealistic, including You’ve Got Mail, The Wedding Planner and While You Were Sleeping. The study found that fans of romantic comedies had a stronger belief in predestined love.
Marriage counsellors often see couples who believe that sex should always be perfect, and if someone is meant to be with you then they will know what you want without you needing to communicate it. We now have some emerging evidence that suggests popular media play a role in perpetuating these ideas in people’s minds. The problem is that while most of us know that the idea of a perfect relationship is unrealistic, some of us are still more influenced by media portrayals than we realise.
Dr Bjarne Holmes – project leader
Films do capture the excitement of new relationships but they also wrongly suggest that trust and committed love exist from the moment people meet, whereas these are qualities that normally take years to develop.
Kimberly Johnson – researcher on the project
Is it really just me that realises that a good relationship takes work right from the beginning? I’ve always known this. It’s common bloody sense! I just can’t quite wrap my head around the concept that there are people out there who actually believe the sort of crap that these films sell. People who believe we’ll all meet someone new, be perfectly in tune with each other, have great sex straight from the beginning (even if it’s good, it gets better as you become more in tune with each other), and know exactly how to make each other happy without being asked. The idea that there are people who are stupid enough to not only believe that but to base their relationships on it scares me, and also helps to explain the amount of divorces we have these days.
The study has moved online, so if you’d like to have your relationship views analysed to see where you’re going wrong, hit this link.