10 lies romcoms told me about love life as a student in my 20s

Repeat after me: Love triangles are not a good idea

I know I’m not the only person who looks at an imaginary camera when something funny happens (thank you Abbott Elementary, The Office, Modern Family, Parks and Rec, The Next Step). The point is, films and television definitely affect the way we interact with our world and with each other. 

When it comes to life, I’m sorted. Confidence, peace, joy: check, check, check. But romance? Silly teenage me turned to romcoms for a guide on how to interpret the mysterious land of boys. Now that I’m older (and wiser) I have identified every outright lie that romcoms told me about relationships.

1. There are no consequences for taking a friend’s man (especially if you met the man before the friend)

Liar: I’m looking at you Emily in Paris

Sometimes romcoms make men seem like the pair of jeans in The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants; we can just borrow and share with no issues. In real life, cosying up to a friend’s ex is never a good idea (unless they gave you the go-ahead, of course… which, let’s face it is weird and unlikely to happen). 

2. For every new stage in life there is a new boy to go with it

Liar: Gilmore Girls

I love me some Gilmore Girls. I could write an essay on that show BUT, they still lied to us. Whilst we were all deciding whether we were Team Dean, Jess, or Logan, subconsciously there was a more sinister work happening. In the seven seasons of the show, Rory was rarely ever romantically unattached. It got to a point where it seemed as if, no matter how good her grades were or her friendships with her mother or Lane, Rory was not fulfilled if there was not a man in her life. A lot of people don’t know how to be alone or the benefits of being single, and whilst this issue isn’t all down to romcoms or shows like Gilmore Girls, they certainly play their part. 

3. It’s your rite of passage to experience at least one love triangle in your lifetime

Liar: Never Have I Ever

If we’re talking about shows like The Vampire Diaries then the love triangle is even better when the protagonist has to choose between two brothers. Big yikes. Love triangles are extremely fun to watch (see: every season of Grey’s Anatomy). They help the viewer compare two candidates and pick a side for the protagonist. Look at Devi’s story in Never Have I Ever, that whole love triangle spanned seasons. However, in real life, they are messy, and tiring, and leave every participant feeling awkward. Also, they’re highly unlikely.

A love triangle is a plot device that increases tension and keeps the main character relevant. If you have a thing for multiple people then make the decision efficiently and with compassion before someone else makes it for you, because, unlike in a romcom, in real life, most people aren’t happy to be strung along until the object of their affection makes a decision. 

4. Clumsiness attracts peng guys

Liar: Twilight 

We all know the cliché: Girl trips or drops her books or gets her Gucci heel stuck in a grate, and Super Cute guy saves her. Bang. Instant romcom hit begins. Despite what Bella made me believe as a tween, having bad balance is a bit of a romance repellent. Some people are clumsy, and some people are sure-footed, it is what it is. The one thing I’ve learnt is, don’t change your behaviour to fit into some arbitrary stereotype of the type of girl who piques a guy’s interest. The very idea is absurd, I’m sure you’d agree. Moral of the rant: don’t orchestrate falls near your paramour.

5. You and your partner will accept and turn down unis solely based on being close to each other

Liar: High School Musical 3

I think this one is more relatable than most of us would like to admit. The truth is, when it comes to decisions like which university to go to, what city to move to, or which job to take, a relationship should be a mark on the pros or cons list, rather than the entire reason for making a life-changing decision.

6. Date your best friend’s brother behind his back

Liar: The Kissing Booth

Thinking about dating a friend’s sibling and not telling them? Please, don’t. They may not take it as well as happy-go-lucky Lee Flynn.  

7. If someone is pointing their feet towards you in conversation they have feelings for you. 

Liar: New Girl

Well, New Girl actually subverted this funny trope in their “Cece Crashes” episode. Although there is apparently scientific evidence to say this lie is in fact a fact, I wouldn’t use it as a hard and fast rule to gauge someone’s feelings. 

8. Date in secret. It’s cute and fun

Liar: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Okay, I confess I thought this one was very sweet. The two of you are in your own bubble, where jokes are funnier and conversations are deeper because no one else knows. There are no external opinions. This is the life, right? Wrong.

Romantic relationships are between two people, sure. But they also make up an interconnected community of other relationships; friendships, siblings, parents, etc. There’s a difference between intimacy and secrecy. Intimacy allows for privacy and accountability. Secret relationships can lead to lies, hurt, and toxic patterns going undetected. And anyway, if your partner doesn’t want to introduce you to the people they care about, there’s a problem, friend. 

9. All you need is a makeover and you will capture the heart of your crush

Liar: Grease

Many romcoms told this lie, but Grease is probably one of the most well-known examples. Again, I have a soft spot for every TV show or film I mention on this list. But as Black Twitter so fabulously puts it, if a man is really worth it, he won’t care what you look like, whether you’re freshly braided, curled, or shaved, or if you left the house in a Party City wig and a pair of Uggs.

10. I can fix him

Liar: Every romcom ever

This lie is usually coupled with the bad boy trope. The bad boy (or girl) is absolutely ghastly to other human beings but there is something about YOU that makes them want to turn their life around. Friend, this ideology is a work of fiction. A nice person is never just nice to someone they fancy- that would disqualify them from bearing their title. The hard truth is a lot of people should work on themselves before entering a romantic relationship. Can you fix them? Possibly. Should you fix them? Nope. 

Whether you’re binge-watching a series or taking a trip to the cinema, who doesn’t love a good romcom? They’re comforting, and entertaining and can even have a good message or two. I suppose my point is to take every couple, every trope, and every convention with a hefty hefty pinch of salt.

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