This Holiday Season, Don’t Compare Your Life To The Movies

By Erika Ettin
Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Dating expert Erika Ettin warns people to be careful how much holiday TV movies they watch this time of year. Ettin suggests that many are a big problem in that they often shape what we think the “perfect relationship” should look like.

Tribune News Service

We’re coming up on that time of year again (seems like it was just here, no?), the one where you turn on the TV and find a never-ending stream of holiday movies.

Sure, plenty of these movies are just plain kitschy, like “Elf” or “Home Alone,” but the good majority of them may start fairly innocuously but somehow transform into a saccharine love story right before our eyes.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love these movies … as long as I have a box of tissues and my dog’s belly nearby to help ease the emotions.

Actually, now that I think about it, I’d bet all four Hanukkah latkes that I ate tonight (two plain and two a fun creation I made … with homemade applesauce to boot) every single holiday movie at least hints at romance if it’s not thrown smack dab in our faces … and most, if not all, have a happy ending.

As a dating coach, I see a big problem: These movies often shape what we think the “perfect relationship” should look like. And I’m not even just talking about romantic relationships here but relationships in general, with family or friends too. But mainly romantic partners.

So many times, a client will report back to me after a date something like this:
The date was pretty good. We sat and talked for three hours, but I’m just not sure if we had that “spark.” We did have a lot in common, and he/she asked me interesting questions, but I’m not sure we’re a match. No need to go out again.

To me, it’s simple, go on a second date! Besides another hour or two out of your life, what do you have to lose? It’s never leading someone on even if you’re going “just to see.” So many people think that they’re going to see fireworks and rainbows and bunnies dancing on clouds on that “perfect” first date, but the reality of it is that it’s really hard to know, especially if meeting for a quick drink or coffee, whether the person you met on Hinge or Match (or insert your favorite dating site here) is going to be someone special in your life.

Love at first sight? It’s not something I believe in. I certainly believe in “attraction at first sight” or “lust at first sight” but not love.

Why, then do the movies show a different story? (I bet you’re now thinking, “I have a friend who said it was love at first sight with his husband,” or “I knew from the moment I met her that I was going to marry her.” But how about all the times someone said that exact same thing, and it didn’t work out? Those scenarios far outweigh the one that did. I mean, I can count on more than one hand the men I said that about … in my 20s. Any story can be tweaked after the fact.) My point is that it’s often unrealistic to expect love at first sight.

Maybe I sound like Scrooge, and while I certainly don’t think most viewers would agree that these movies are really how things go, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that these examples encourage us to believe that everything will work out in the end, or anything is possible, even if our relationship isn’t good.

What’s my point here? It’s important to remember that holiday movies are just that, movies. If you’re single during the holiday season, that’s A-OK! Enjoy yourself and don’t succumb to the pressure to partner up just because you think you’re supposed to.

I can’t think of a worse reason to enter a relationship. And if you are in a relationship of some sort, try not to feel the pressure of movies, or friends or family, to take your relationship to a place that you’re not ready for. Every relationship progresses at a different pace, and only you know what’s right for you.

And those love-struck movie characters? They’re paid to play the part, and each undoubtedly has his or her own real-world problems and relationship woes. While you may feel tempted to compare your life to that on the big screen (or the iPad screen), you’ll be much more satisfied if you put your energy into creating your own, unique storyline.

And for the love of the Red Ryder BB gun, give a second date a chance.
(Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating)

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