“No matter how many years go by, I’ll know one thing to be as true as ever was.”
~ Dear John
If I got paid for every time I tried to convince someone to watch Dear John, I’d probably have quite the sum of money. Honestly, all it takes is hearing the theme by Deborah Lurie, and my emotional state heightens at the possibility of something great, even with the lingering undertones of hurt and heartache.
Whether it’s Dear John, The Notebook, or other romantic flicks that require Kleenex, I appreciate films that showcase what many deem as “unrealistic” narratives.
In a post called Movies versus Your Relationships, Psych Central blogger Nathan Feiles highlights a few sound rationales as to why these films may be dismissed as idealistic.
He’s correct: Your relationship is not “frozen in time” (on screen, it builds to a “stereotyped big moment” at the end, putting past issues aside). Relationships aren’t scripted, and women don’t need to be saved. “The strongest relationships tend to be two people who have already rescued themselves,” he noted.
However, Bhadra Kamalasanan’s article, “10 Love Lessons Movies Teach Us,” conveys valuable insight regarding how this genre actually serves a purpose. I compiled a list of some of my favorite explanations here:
- Chance your encounters.
Sleepless in Seattle uncovers the prospect that you may meet the right person even after you’re already in a committed relationship. Maybe it’s not going to come to fruition on Valentine’s Day at the top of the Empire State Building, but finding a better fit is still feasible.
- Even death shall not do us part.
PS: I Love You demonstrates that despite the passing of a loved one, the root of that love never has to fade. Even though you eventually move on, he or she will always be a part of you and that’s okay.
- Hold onto memories if they motivate you.
Titanic illustrates that “love never sank with the ship.” The past doesn’t have to be a bygone, but thought of as a reminder to go after what you really want. Even when a relationship doesn’t survive, you may still savor the positive aspects of what was once shared, with more of an idea of the kind of connection you’re looking to embrace.
- Learn from bad memories.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind features a world where painful memories can be erased. Yet, this movie upholds two succinct lessons: “One that, while it may seem attractive to erase all the painful memories, one must use them to learn and move ahead. The second lesson is that one must understand the very essence of love.” When two people are compatible for each other, they will still experience ups and downs within their relationship, but they’ll desire to work on these conflicts in order to go forward together as a strong team.
- Learn to seize the day. The protagonist in American Beauty is unhappy with his life (which strains his relationship with his family), and he finally comes to terms with how he must exert control and make important choices. While you have to accept what you cannot change, it’s definitely plausible to change how you cope with life’s obstacles.
Jennifer Rose, a freelancer who studied communications, maintains an optimistic spirit regarding romance movies. “A small part of us uses that fictional element just as an outlet,” she said. “However, there is no reason why we can’t take some hints from these films. Each of them tells you to be true to yourself and take risks in love.”
Although romance films may have a reputation for not reflecting reality as we know it, I find there to be real value and takeaway lessons that we can garner from these stories.
What did I gain from my (multiple) viewings of Dear John? Regardless of whether the relationship lasts, some significant experiences stay with you, plain and simple. Can you learn and grow from its history? Absolutely.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Apr 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Suval, L. (2013). The Value of a Romance Movie. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/04/08/the-value-of-a-romance-movie/