Rom-Coms and Wrong Expectations

I’m addicted to romantic comedies. Be that a Hollywood flick or a local Star Cinema or Viva Films production, just name a rom-com and there’s an 80% chance that I’ve seen it. I know that I may come off as a bro kind of girl, but I lose any semblance of being boyish when I see John Lloyd Cruz spitting out pick-up lines, Hugh Grant going for the chase when he realizes that she’s the one, Aga Muhlach picking the crazy girl over the one who’s prim and proper, or Heath Ledger getting the girl’s favorite band to play for their prom.

This addiction is actually rampant in our household as even my family is into rom-coms. Yep, we recently picked a Sam Milby movie over a highly-acclaimed one when we were deciding what to watch in the cinemas. Despite also being into these happy pills, my mom spurts out a familiar piece of wisdom before we watch rom-coms–

Guard your heart.

When I was younger, the words would just enter one ear and go out the other. The advice was such a cliche, I would think, and I’ve heard it from 20 other Christian adults who seemed to just want to keep the younger ones single. There couldn’t possibly be any harm in watching Adam Sandler sing to Drew Barrymore, right?

As I grew up, had my small share of romantic involvements, and developed my ultimate dream to get married & be a housewife, I’ve realized how important my mom’s advice is. Rom-coms can really be dangerous when watched without caution. They are the ultimate source of wrong expectations, which I will say is one of the deadliest things in the world. These wrong expectations usually lead to these two things which aren’t necessarily helpful in life:

Effect #1: Self-Pity

I cannot count with my fingers how many times I have ended up crying in a movie house because of a rom-com. 30% of the time, it was because I could relate to some extent with the situation (e.g. syinota mo ang best friend mo, etc), but 70% of the time was because it made me so unhappy about my situation. Yes, I cry during the happiest moments in such movies–when the couple dates in a park, kisses under the rain, etc. I get sad knowing I don’t get to have these kilig moments (well, not anymore huhu), then I go spiraling down and start thinking about what’s wrong with me and why I am not married yet despite my goal of getting hitched at 25. I start to draft this mental list of what I need to change to snag the guy I like–I should eat more veggies to have good skin, I should be less madaldal, I should hide my being smart yata ’cause I’m too intimidating, etc. It’s a terrible path that really just ends up with me being discontent with myself.

Effect #2: Unreasonable Standards

Other than my love for Harvey Specter, my unreasonably sky-high standards in love and relationships (which I am trying to get rid of) came from all these rom-coms and their too-good-to-be-true scenes. My taste in guys easily get affected by the stuff that I watch, to be honest. After watching If I Stay (fine, that’s not a comedy but whatever), I wanted to be with a rascal-looking band guy who had a soft heart. After watching Pretty in Pink, I wanted to be with a cool, rich guy who’d pick me over his social status. After watching Love Actually, I wanted to be with a prime minister. While there’s nothing bad with having types, for me it would sometimes reach the point of having unreasonable non-negotiables all because I saw in a movie that it was possible to have that perfect guy.

I also ended up wanting to have ultimate kilig moments. I want kisses under fireworks, holding hands in the rain, play-wrestling in the park, lengthy conversations over coffee, and all those soulmate-stuff, but it got to a point when I wanted those moments more than I actually wanted to love someone. I’m pretty guilty of dating a guy just because I needed the kilig. When things got boring and when I started to see his flaws, I dropped him like a hot potato. Terrible, right? Rom-coms can tend to make us believe that love is all about the giddiness, the emotional highs, the hugs, kisses and physical contact. When love gets raw and real, we get surprised and run for our lives.

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I doubt that I’ll stop watching rom-coms, they are still my go-to when I need a pick-me-upper. With this awareness of the “side effects” though, I can at least watch armed with some caution. Not just in rom-coms, but in all things, let us be more careful with what we feed our minds and hearts. What may seem harmless and innocent may be impacting how we do things.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. – Proverbs 4:23

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