Reaf­firm­ing a bond need not i nvolve sil­ver screen­wor­thy acts — much as the movies tend to lead us down the gar­den path

WKND - - Reality Check Fact Vs Fiction - By matt hus­ton 3 MARCH 2017

man spots a woman across a crowded room and knows that they’re meant to be to­gether. He wins her heart, but then he makes a big mis­take — or fate pulls them apart — and he is sure he’s lost her for­ever. Talk­ing with his clos­est friends, he re­alises that she’s still the only one for him. So he tracks her down and pub­licly de­clares his love ( in song, per­haps), and they end up in each other’s arms with a story to tell their kids. Sound fa­mil­iar? Any­one who has seen a movie star­ring Hugh Grant or read a ro­mance novel on the beach knows some ver­sion of this story. But how would the con­ven­tional plot points of ro­man­tic fic­tion play out in the real world? We asked a few ex­perts for a re­al­ity check.

What ro­man­tic doesn’t hope to one day be stung by the feel­ing that he or she has fi­nally laid eyes on “the one” — like when Jack first glimpses Rose on the deck of the Ti­tanic? Hold­ing out for love at first sight, how­ever, may be ill- ad­vised as a dat­ing strat­egy, es­pe­cially if “the zing never comes and you’re pass­ing by other great op­tions,” says psychologist Maryanne Fisher of Saint Mary’s Univer­sity. In re­al­ity, love can take root with or with­out that kind of light- bulb mo­ment, she ex­plains, and com­mu­ni­cat­ing openly ( as op­posed to falling for some­one with­out say­ing a word) is key to love’s flour­ish­ing. Con­versely, any­one who is thun­der­struck by a beau­ti­ful stranger but al­ready com­mit­ted to some­one else should take a sober view of the sit­u­a­tion — rather than leap­ing into ac­tion, as movie char­ac­ters in less- than- en­chanted re­la­tion­ships of­ten do af­ter dis­cov­er­ing “the one”. Ro­mance plots “seem to per­pet­u­ate the no­tion that if you are at­tracted to some­one else, you must be with the wrong per­son,” says Galena Rhoades, a psychologist at the Univer­sity of Den­ver. “But feel­ing at­tracted to other peo­ple is nat­u­ral, and it doesn’t al­ways mean that there’s some­thing wrong in the re­la­tion­ship.”

Once a pro­tag­o­nist has “the one” in his sights, he of­ten locks in and goes to great lengths to prove his de­vo­tion. That could mean plant­ing a field of her favourite flow­ers, ren­o­vat­ing a house for her ( per The Note­book), or just re­fus­ing to go away. Sound a bit like stalk­ing? Films that ro­man­ti­cise this kind of be­hav­iour send a du­bi­ous mes­sage, ac­cord­ing to Ju­lia Lipp­man, a com­mu­ni­ca­tion re­searcher at the Univer­sity of Michi­gan. ( Oth­ers seem to agree: see the Youtube video that re­cuts The Note­book as a stalker thriller.) “It can be a nice, es­capist fantasy, plac­ing your ideal man in the role

— Galena Rhoades

of some­one who wants you so badly, he will stop at noth­ing to have you,” Lipp­man says. But re­place that fic­ti­tious fel­low with a real guy in whom you are not in­ter­ested? “Not so great.”


In movies like Say Any­thing and The Wed­ding Singer, a ro­man­tic cri­sis leads to an 11th- hour dash to save the re­la­tion­ship — one that of­ten re­quires loud mu­sic and reck­less driv­ing. But what if your own ro­mance lacks such thrills? “Peo­ple may get the sense that a re­la­tion­ship must not be mean­ing­ful if it’s not hap­pen­ing with the ur­gency that we of­ten see in the movies,” Rhoades says. “That mes­sage may do them a dis­ser­vice.” Grand ges­tures are fine, as long as they don’t mor­tify their au­di­ence. But chas­ing some­one to an air­port gate to win him or her back may be a mis­take. “If you’ve ended a re­la­tion­ship and are start­ing fresh,” Fisher says, “I don’t think you’d re­ally want your ex to turn up and say, ‘ I love you and let’s try to make it work’.” ONE- FIX FOR­MULA: Like many oth­ers in its genre, too fol­lows the same sto­ry­line of boy meets girl- falls in love- loses her- then wins her back RO­MANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS: Jack and Rose's im­mor­tal love story on board the Ti­tanic be­gan with a sin­gle glance SWEET OR SCARY?: In The Noah never gave up on Al­lie, build­ing her a house and pur­su­ing her re­lent­lessly

Ro­mance plots seem to per­pet­u­ate the no­tion that if you are at­tracted to some­one else, you must be with the wrong per­son. But feel­ing at­tracted to other peo­ple is nat­u­ral”

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