TV Myths About Relationships
A while back, I drew on my experience as a screenwriter and wrote an article which talked about the lies movies perpetrate when it comes to relationships.
Movies are such a hugely pervasive and persuasive part of our culture, that it only made sense to tackle them head on.
However, we’re also living in the golden age of television, and the fact is, TV is responsible for perpetrating a few big lies of it’s own.
There is perhaps no greater example of this than the character of Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother.
For a good TV show to work, especially a broad comedy like How I Met Your Mother, you need exaggerated characters.
Each character needs to fit into a very specific role, and often you’ll see the characters eventually become more like cartoon versions of themselves.
Such is the case of Barney Stinson.
Barney goes to great lengths through the course of the show to sleep with women. He’s built his entire life around it.
The truth is, you don’t need to put on a scuba suit in a bar to meet women.
Trying too hard is usually the dissolution of game.
Relax. Be confident. And watch as your interaction with girls becomes effortless.
So many shows do this. They’ll mix up the “who’s with who” amongst the characters, leading to the inevitable revealing of the relationship to the ex.
They do this because, well, it’s taboo, and therefor interesting.
But in reality, you don’t want to burn a bridge with a true friend over a girl.
Bro talk time; girls come and go, real friends are for life.
TV shows traditionally make us believe that two characters might hook up at any moment, and that a girl hasn’t ever flat out written off a guy as a sexual candidate.
By and large, many TV shows haven’t figured out gender equality yet, and they use female characters to dangle like carrots in front the male characters, and viewers, for that matter.
They make us think that the female characters are just sticking around so that the male characters can eventually hook up with them.
This is not the case in real life. Women don’t have time for a guy they write off as a sexual candidate and who they don’t find sexually attractive.
That’s not to say that men and women can’t be genuine friends, it’s to say that if they are, the countdown to hook up is most certainly NOT on.
Another TV trope. Inevitably, the two main romantic love interests will get back together. Ross and Rachel on Friends, Jim and Pam on The Office, or Ted and Robin on How I Met Your Mother.
This feels satisfying for an audience because we generally like both characters, and we’ve been anticipating and in some cases rooting, for them to get back together.
But it also works because it satisfies a very rudimentary set-up and pay-off dynamic.
We feel that getting back together is the logical move for the characters because their initial relationship works as the set-up, and getting back together would be the pay-off.
In real life though, relationships fail for a reason.
While you might think that getting back together seems like a poetic ending to your story, your life doesn’t end like a TV show.
It keeps going, and all the baggage and poison from your previous relationship just transfers over to a new, equally toxic one.
Here’s a particularly damaging TV convention.
There’s almost always a big admission of feelings from a character before they hook up with another one.
Emotional reveals are what make good character-driven drama, so we generally buy it on the screen.
However, this is not what will get you girls in real life.
Spewing up your “true feelings” to a girl will most likely have her making a run for the hills if it’s too early on in a relationship.
Good relationships are built on the power of escalation.
You start small and work your way up. You get a girl to create investment in you.
Raw sexual attraction, in and of it’s self, isn’t an emotion so much as an impulse. It’s not a logical thing that can be argued.
You create it with an aura and a dialogue.
On TV, you’re regulated to a relatively small cast of characters, from which there are only so many possible romantic couplings.
The characters might as well be stranded on a desert island.
Even if they do introduce a new romantic love interest for one of the characters, we never really buy that they’ll stay together. We know who they’re “suppose to be with” is one of the main characters.
That’s not how real life works. And you just shouldn’t rest all your hopes on getting together with somebody you already know.
Nor should you get all down in the dumps when you don’t have a romantic interest in your life.
The fact is that you just have to keep on being awesome every day.
If you’re confident, ambitious, well-groomed and flirty; it’s only a matter of time before you attract hot girls right to you.
You never know who you’re going to run into at a party, at a bar or at a bookstore, so be excited.
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About David Maitland David Maitland is a writer living in Vancouver, Canada.