Sparks! with April Beyer

You are closer than you think.

The Friday Takeaway

What We Can Learn From Holiday Romcoms

We can’t help ourselves. It’s a guilty pleasure that tempts us as we scroll through our television channels (or Netflix recommendations) on a lazy, chilly Sunday afternoon. At last! A day with no plans, and a break in the hustle and bustle of the holidays! We put on our cozy sweatpants, throw our hair into a ponytail, and hit up our favorite Eat24 Thai restaurant for dinner for one.

Kleenex within reach? Check.
 Cup of hot tea? Check. Our loving tail-wagger snoozing next to us on the couch? Check. It’s time to sink into a holiday romcom like it’s a cozy throw blanket. We prepare to laugh, cry and curl up in a ball of emotional catharsis.

We expect it to make us feel better, and yet somehow, it actually makes us feel worse — especially those that are single. Why does it feel so good, and then ultimately so bad, to watch these movies?

Powerful Fiction

It never fails: Each year around the holidays, I’ll have a woman I’m interviewing for a potential match make a reference to a romantic comedy when asked about her ideal guy or perfect love scenario. Perfectly good men have been tossed aside simply because they couldn’t live up to the romantic words and gestures created by some of the most gifted television and film writers.

Movies like The Holiday, with Cameron Diaz and Jude Law seem to hit a chord. The chance meeting and onscreen romance make women swoon, and wonder why love hasn’t happened like this for them. Doesn’t everyone rent a small cottage for Christmas and meet a devastatingly handsome, widowed, wealthy man with two beautiful children, who just happens to be the brother of the woman you rented from?

Even television shows are getting into the act. Have you seen The Mindy Project, with all its references and hat tips to romantic comedies through the ages? In the most recent episode (spoiler alert!), a miscommunication between Mindy and the handsome, caring, thoughtful doctor she’s dating is resolved by a Christmas proposal!

Women want a man who is tender, ready for love, willing to climb mountains and steal a car to the airport, just to see her in the nick of time before she boards her flight home. For those of us in relationships or marriages, we look at our mates and wonder why he’s not measuring up to the man in the movie, and suddenly he’s being told he’s not romantic or loving enough.

Very tough for our men to compete, or even understand our crazy romantic whims and wishes. After all, they’re men. These movies aren’t written for them. They’re strategically written for us.

Will You Be Captive or Captivated?

I wish I could tell you that life is like a fairytale movie. A romantic comedy, where everyone ends up spending New Year’s Eve together, dancing around the living room in a cozy London cottage, after meeting their soul mates on an unexpected holiday.

But I have a better story.

It’s your story. The story you create from having a solid and practical understanding of how you truly meet someone special. Can it happen by chance, or by traveling across the ocean to stay at a remote cottage? Perhaps. But if you’re holding out for that, you’ll be in constant state of sadness and making the dreaded comparison to something that simply isn’t real.

Your life is not a Hollywood movie. It’s real life, and that is far more interesting.

Your life is a rich tapestry of moments and encounters, and one that is written, directed and cast by YOU. 
I too love a Sunday afternoon of silly sappy movies. They are my guilty pleasure, just like Monday night football is for my husband.

I also know that we can be influenced by the written word, and sometimes tragically so. Some women allow the story of love to hold them back from finding true love.

A Deeper, More Real Connection

The way a man loves you can be in a quiet and practical way. Maybe he doesn’t show up with a car full of roses or ask to meet you at the top of the Empire State Building, but he’s kind, loving, and he protects you. He’s the kind of man who wants to make your life easier by helping you with the dishes or making sure you get your annual check up because your health matters to him. He sets up your cable box at your new apartment, or calls you to make sure you got home safely from your business trip.

Love and romance come in all sizes and packages. What matters most is how you give and receive, and whatever is most important to you right now, in real time, in your real life.

Movies are entertainment. They are meant to whisk us away from our day to day reality. Do we need that from time to time? Absolutely. Just don’t allow a romantic comedy be your example of how you’re going to meet your guy, or be your dating guide and handbook.

Live Your Life

Your life is waiting! Go outside to a local cafe and smile. Make new friends. Get out of your comfort zone. Get out of your fantasy and into your reality. The holiday season is a great time to meet someone new. There’s a feeling in the air of friendliness and good will. Use this time to explore opportunities that aren’t always available during other times of the busy year!

He’s out there. Just waiting to meet you. And, if you’re lucky, he’ll be wrapped in a package that you didn’t expect, and be far better than your dreams or any Hollywood writer could create.

Wishing you a beautiful holiday season!

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