If You Want A Healthy Relationship, Stop Watching Romantic Comedies

Photo: Snap Stills/REX Shutterstock.
It's no news that romantic comedies are unrealistic — meet cutes and chases through the airport after your beloved just aren't part of a normal courtship process. But a new study suggests that rom-coms may do more than promote unrealistic expectations for your Tinder dates — they may actually convince you that stalking is super romantic.

The phenomenon has been set forth in a paper, titled "I Did It Because I Never Stopped Loving You: The Effects of Media Portrayals of Persistent Pursuit on Beliefs About Stalking," written by Julia R. Lippman of the University of Michigan, which was published in Communication Research in February 2015 (though it's been circulating around the web this week).

As the abstract explains, "Results indicate that media portrayals of gendered aggression can have prosocial effects, and that the romanticized pursuit behaviors commonly featured in the media as a part of normative courtship can lead to an increase in stalking-supportive beliefs." In other words, the rom-com leading man who would follow his crush to the ends of the earth is potentially convincing women that the real-life creeper in their life is actually a super-sweet potential BF.

Think about 50 First Dates. Fans of the film sigh at the romance of Adam Sandler's Henry getting Lucy to fall in love with him every day — learning her schedule, putting her in new and exciting situations over which he has complete control, marrying her and raising children with her on a boat where she can't escape — all the while knowing she can never string multiple days together in her mind. Memorizing a woman's schedule and popping up in her daily routine is what stalkers do. Which is what Henry is, regardless of his waffle house skills.

And then, of course, there's Twilight, the ultimate ode to the "romantic stalker," which taught legions of girls that "I like watching you sleep" is an endearing sentiment, not the first line of a police report. So, the next time you sit down to watch your favorite rom-com, take a moment to consider the message it's sending.
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