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Want a Quick Way to Ruin Your Relationship? Watch a Movie

Just last week, I was sitting with the object of my affection. I silently reached across the table and took her hand. I looked into her eyes, and I somehow knew — I just knew — exactly what she was thinking.

You see, earlier that day I boarded a plane and flew halfway across the country for a suprise visit. Of course I brought her flowers … just because. Later that night, we sat arm-in-arm around a pottery wheel, molding a vase. Our arms were covered with wet clay, and the vase never quite turned out. But we didn’t mind, because we are in love.

Our evening concluded with me standing outside my beloved’s window, hoisting a boom box high above my head while the sounds of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” filled the air. Sure, my arms got tired after a while — those things are quite heavy — but I drew all the strength I needed from the power of our love.

Isn’t that what true romance is like?

Isn’t it?

Have I been watching too many movies? Or am I simply dreaming? (Or dreaming-within-a-dream, perhaps?)

Nah, I’m pretty sure it’s too many movies. According to a recent Rueters story, Hollywood’s happy-ever-after romantic comedies are influencing real-world perceptions of love and relationships:

A poll of 1,000 Australians found almost half said rom-coms with their inevitable happy endings have ruined their view of an ideal relationship.

One in four Australians said they were now expected to know what their partner was thinking while one in five respondents said it made their partners expect gifts and flowers “just because.”

Let’s get all the facts up front right now: This was a survey — not a scientific study, mind you — and it was released not by a university, but by Warner Home Video to highlight the DVD release of the film “Valentine’s Day.” (I’m not reading too much into the fact that they surveyed Australians; I’m guessing Americans would respond much the same way.)

That said, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that so many people admitted to being influenced by on-screen romances. For perspective, Reuters turned to an Australian relationship counselor named Gabrielle Morrissy.

“The warm and fuzzy feeling [these movies] provide can adversely influence our view of real relationships,” Morrissey said. “Real relationships take work and true love requires more than fireworks.”

I can attest to that. I’ve been married for several years now, and while I have bought my wife gifts or flowers on occasion, I don’t exactly do so on a regular basis — and I rarely do it “just because.”

Yet, amazingly, she still knows that I love her.

We’ve never made pottery together, or danced so fluidly that onlookers formed a circle around us, and I’ve never proclaimed my love while standing outside her bedroom window.

And still she knows I love her.

That’s because we talk to each other, and we listen, and we still make each other laugh. If I said our marriage is just like a Hollywood romance, I’d be lying. Like our friendly Australian relationship counselor said, real relationships take work.

But I can tell you this: Sometimes, when we’re together, I will take her hand or catch her eye — and with a sly glance or a knowing grin, I can tell exactly what she’s thinking.

And it’s the greatest feeling in the world.

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About the Author

Thomas Jeffries

Thomas Jeffries is a journalist, editor and recreational basketball player. He was born on the east coast, grew up in the Midwest and now resides with his wife and kids in Colorado. Thomas has written for several magazines, newspapers and websites, but his greatest passion as a writer is long-form narrative nonfiction. His journalistic adventures have taken him from Washington, D.C., to inner-city Chicago to Florida’s death row. In his spare time, Thomas does a lot of mundane things — none of them worth describing in detail.

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