When was the last time this happened? You come home from a first date. Things are hot and heavy and you’re kissing passionately at your doorstep, nosy neighbors be damned. You fumble blindly behind you, somehow manage to unlock your door, mule kick it open with your new heels. You back into your home, breath ragged, not bothering with the light switch. With one fluid motion you sweep the stuff off your coffee table, where the two of you fall in an animal heap to make love for the first time while unseen angelic choirs sing Britney Spear’s songs.
This has never happened to you because this has never happened to anyone not standing on a Hollywood sound stage. This is Hollywood’s way of quickly communicating to viewers that a couple is passionate about their new relationship. It’s what you call a storytelling “trope.” But it isn’t real life. And the coffee table? Really? What did your coffee table ever do to deserve this sort of treatment?
So many of our ideas about dating, romance, marriage and parenting are fed to us, again and again, by Hollywood. Take a moment and consider these major life events: child birth, wedding, funeral. How many images that come to mind are from the TV or movie screen? No matter how many real life weddings you’ve attended, you’ve probably watched way more on TV. Consider this: Many of the ideas you hold dear about romantic relationships were likely penned by an unmarried 24 year old male with a bad haircut.
Next time you’re watching your favorite show or movie, ask yourself how you are being manipulated. This is the job of drama: to help you feel things. Nothing wrong with this, so long as you realize you’re responding to a Hollywood formula–not necessarily deep insights about real life.
If you want to know more about parenting, spend time with real parents. And marriage? Don’t “research” it by watching rom-coms. Take a trip to the Costco with a married couple while they buy toilet paper in bulk. Real life is real. Enjoy it, squeeze it, roll around in it. Just not on your coffee table.
About the Author: James Robbins is a licensed professional counselor, published author and co-owner of Dallas Whole Life Counseling. He has over 15 years of experience helping people in various life stages that come from a wide variety of cultural, economic and family backgrounds. Learn more about his background by clicking here.