I love a good romantic comedy. It’s all the drama and sweetness of falling in love without seeing the married fights about whose turn it is to take out the garbage. Just the important stuff.
Women are trying their best to balance work and life in the big city, and aren’t even looking for love when, boom! Love finds them. That’s nice. The men in romcoms, however, need to calm down.
I’m getting married this year (sorry, ladies!!!). My future wife loves to watch movies about love. I’m sure it’s because it reminds her of us, and not because of my inadequacies as a partner, right? That’s a different article.
We’re gathered here today to talk about what I’ve seen in movies that would be creepy or straight up dealbreakers if my fiancée ever caught me doing it.
Here are the things men do in romcoms that would absolutely be red flags in real life:
1. Showing up at random places to profess their love.
For example, the cue card scene in Love Actually (2003).
Not only is this a creepy gesture, but let’s say Keira were my future wife. Is this really so different from sliding into someone’s DMs a week after they got married? “Hey, just saw the news! Congrats. Anyway, I’ve always been in love with you, Merry Christmas.” Obviously, this is bad for many reasons (not the least of which is that Keira kisses the friend!), but the biggest issue for me is that we could all do this right now with our smart phones.
Right now, we could send these messages, with pictures, and the person receiving it would say “welp, I guess this guy is lonely, back to watching TV with my new husband.” It’s borderline psychotic what this guy did.
Bro, you’re trying to sleep with your best friend’s wife.
Anyway, I would love it if Alan Rickman would come back to life and give me a necklace, regardless of his marital status. RIP.
2. Catfishing or otherwise pretending to be someone you’re not.
You’ve Got Mail (1998) is the worst culprit.
Listen, I know it was the 90s. I know When Harry Met Sally is a great movie. I know this is a remake of an older movie. But, Nora Ephron took this romcom in a weird direction. If you’re unfamiliar, the two leads are falling in love via email without knowing who the other one is. Surprise! They know each other in real life, and (wouldn’t you know it?), they’re mortal enemies.
When Tom Hanks figures it out before Meg Ryan does, rather than immediately tell her the truth, he attempts to seduce her in real life without acknowledging their previous emotional affair online. This is tantamount to stalking. Stalking plus catfishing plus emotional manipulation. Years of therapy would ensue before Meg Ryan could trust again, but it’s a movie and it’s Tom Hanks so… it’s cool.
It’s also an extremely wonky Third Act, but I will save that for the screenwriting workshop that I’m not taking right now.
3. Letting every single emotion be publicly displayed.
Nora Ephron is at it again with Sleepless in Seattle (1993), a movie obsessed with movies just like it. Ill-advised romantic gestures abound.
Tom Hanks bears his soul on the radio. Airs out all his dirty laundry, and a woman listening is like “Yes. That’s my guy” instead of wondering why he hasn’t spoken to a therapist yet. There’s a difference between being emotionally available and being so open, you let the whole world know your emotional state.
How do I know this is a dealbreaker? My fiancée has told me multiple times to stop posting about depression on Twitter.
4. Going on a date with you while engaged to someone else or keeping your engagement a secret.
Matthew goes out with the ladies to see a movie in The Wedding Planner (2001). That’s up there with George Costanza’s romantic gesture of going on the date with Marissa Tomei because come on, it’s Marissa Tomei!
This movie has an extended opening shot that rivals The Player and Snake Eyes. Director Adam Shankman clearly knows a thing or two about filmmaking, but does he know that straight-up going on a date with another woman while engaged is a no-no? They don’t kiss or anything… but how did that conversation go later on? “What did you do this evening?” “Oh, just went to the movies with two other women, nothing serious.”
If he’s willing to do that with you, and he’s able to fall in love with you while you’re planning his wedding, how would you ever be able to deal with the stress of getting married to him later? It would be in the back of your mind the whole time you were planning your wedding. “Let’s see. All the caterers are gonna be dudes… and we need a DJ, not a band.” Good luck to you both.
5. The nerd who gets the girl while she’s barely conscious trope.
The 80s were different. Nerds were allowed to do a number of cruel and criminal acts because they were the underdogs. Though it’s not spelled out explicitly what happened during the drunk escapades in 16 Candles (1984), the set-up is creepy and not romantic at all. In fact, the final scenes have been cited several times as exemplifying “rape culture.”
But we should all be cheering that the nerd finally got to be with the hot lady, right? It’s the inside that counts and she finally sees that. He’s a “good guy”! All it took was being completely drunk and unaware of her surroundings to accept that sex with him is a good idea. I’m sorry if you thought this was cute in the 80s. It wasn’t.
6. Kissing a person who is not the person you’re dating.
If you haven’t seen 13 Going On 30 (2004), the main character finds herself transported to a future existence where she’s 30, Flirty, and Thriving in New York City. Her potential future is full of bad behavior, not the least of which is breaking up a marriage!
That’s because Mark Ruffalo, her love interest, kisses her while he’s engaged! I know it’s an alternate timeline, and Jenna can go back in time and act like it never happened, but she’s seen the adult world now. She knows that there aren’t any rules. Every time her childhood sweetheart goes to do a photo shoot with a magazine, she’ll be wondering if he’s really on a perfect date with an old flame.
Unless she also used the magic dollhouse dust to go back in time and kill baby Hitler and change history for the better, I don’t see how this jaunt through her 30s made the world a better place.
7. Breaking into a woman’s apartment… but in a romantic way!
Any movie where the guy breaks into the woman’s apartment and it’s supposed to be cute… it’s not. For example, the neighbor character in What’s Your Number? does it. I mean, it’s nice that it’s Captain America, but damn. Breaking into a woman’s house without her consent is a dealbreaker. Doesn’t matter what the intention was. For the rest of her life she’s going to think “well, I guess anyone can just do that. That’s nice.”
How many times has a guy in a TV or movie appeared in a woman’s apartment with dinner and candles. Don’t get me started on This Means War. Two men sneak around Reese’s house while she’s dancing in her kitchen, and we’re all supposed to smile and say “awww, they love her.” Breaking and entering is a law for a reason! It’s a big violation of someone’s privacy.
8. Making all the big decisions for your lover even if she asked you to do that.
Casablanca (1942) is one of my favorite romantic films. The only problem I have is that Rick sleeps with his ex, and then decides, “eh, I can put her on the plane.” He could take it or leave it. I’m not saying he doesn’t love Ilsa. I’m just saying men think more clearly after sex. It’s the way of the world. It’s sadder than it is hot.
Rick puts her on the plane without really telling her the plan. He gets a sweet speech, but he also didn’t tell her the plan ahead of time. I would get nagged the rest of my life “and then you were going to put me on that plane with my husband without even telling me that was the plan?” It would come up every time she had two drinks in her, which, in the 40s seemed to be often.
Then, there’s Laszlo. The man who loves his wife enough to never leave her behind, but also hears the news that his wife’s old boyfriend spent the night with her, and Laszlo doesn’t react. That would have been a long plane ride for me. “Oh, so you don’t care that I hooked up with an old lover? I guess I’ll find some other ones on Facebook if it doesn’t bother you. Have you been seeing your exes? Is that why this is OK with you?” And on and on until we’re all dead. But at least we survived that cruel war.
9. Paying for sex with your partner to kick things off.
The story behind the Pretty Woman (1990) screenplay is interesting. Originally, the lovers try to make an honest go of it without money involved, and in the third act, Julia Roberts succumbs to her drug addiction, not her friend. They changed the script to make it a lovable romance about turning a prostitute into your real-life partner. That’s Hollywood for you. You try to say something honest, and they’re like “nah, it’s gotta work out in the end or people will lose their shit.”
In reality, if a woman got out of sex work, she would likely not go live with a former client. I’m guessing. I don’t know. I’m not saying she doesn’t deserve to be happy. She does. But it’s like a therapist falling in love with a patient. Something’s up. Find literally anyone else you’re compatible with. Otherwise, you’re gonna wake up one day and think “I’m married to a rich loser who had to pay me for sex. And now he covers my rent. Wait a minute…”
10. Seducing someone when it’s a complete abuse of your power.
Speaking of fraught relationships, in Never Been Kissed (1999), Drew Barrymore goes undercover at a high school to get the feel for what kids these days consider romantic. Her teacher, while thinking she is a student… falls in love with her. I think the only way this could work out in the long run is if he stops teaching forever.
Falling for students and acting on it is not good. If she were a cop instead of a journalist, he would not be able to teach anymore.
11. Emotional manipulation, cheating physically and emotionally, cold feet, etc.
Nearly everything that happens in My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997) is bad.
This movie has every dealbreaker there is. Emotional cheating, physical cheating, pulling the wool over the eyes of your future spouse. Allowing your friend to manipulate your future spouse. Going back to hug the friend that nearly ruined your wedding day after you’ve gotten married. Canceling then un-canceling the wedding. And, the big one for me: that scene where the guy sucks the ring off Julia Roberts’ finger. Was I aroused? Yes. Does that make it right? Things that arouse me are rarely right.
I’m not saying the movie is bad. None of these movies are “bad” per se (except 16 Candles. I mean, come on). I simply wish they were a little more honest. Or that the people watching them were more honest with themselves. You don’t want anyone to act like this! Especially not your future husband.
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