Romantic films can make you unhappy

Date movies best avoided for sake of your relationships and mental health

Researchers in Scotland are finding that Hollywood’s romantic comedies can depress you. Permanently.

Dr. Bjarne Holmes and Kimberly Johnson at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh examined 40 popular romantic comedies from the six biggest Hollywood movie studios — including Notting Hill, How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days and You’ve Got Mail.

They found that they portray relationships with both highly idealistic and undesirable qualities. And when things go wrong in these relationships, which they always do somewhere around the third act, they have no real negative long-term impact on relationship functioning.

Holmes and Johnson added, ‘Adolescents repeatedly exposed to these highly idealised images may therefore come to perceive them as normal, which in turn could have an adverse effect on their satisfaction with their own future relationships.

‘When their own relationships do not compare to the exaggerated depictions in the media they may come to feel as though they are lacking a relationship that others are enjoying.’

In an experiment, Holmes and Johnson showed 100 students scenes from Serendipity, the 2001 John Cusack-Kate Beckinsale romantic comedy, and showed another 100 a David Lynch film.

The Serendipity viewers, when questioned afterwards, were far more likely to say they believed in fate and predestined love.

‘That really creates high expectations for some people,’ Dr. Holmes explained to Australia’s The Age. ‘There’s a lot of research out there that shows that if you hold this idea that there is such a thing as predestined love… then you actually have a tendency to be less happy in your own relationships.’


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