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Reel-life Lessons

A look at three classic movie romances and their lessons on love.

By Low Pei Hua

The search for romantic happiness can come with its fair share of struggles. Some of the most well-loved films in the romance genre are popular because they show the turmoils and heartbreaks in relationships. Here are three movies that teach us that the road to love may not always be a smooth journey. 

1) Pride & Prejudice (2005)

As a story about how two people overcome negative opinions of each other and fall in love, Pride and Prejudice gives examples of how to…

  • Move past inaccurate first impressions
    First impressions matter, but it’s important to look beneath the surface. Though Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy dislike each other from their first meeting – Darcy thinks himself superior and Elizabeth finds him a jerk – their good qualities, like her playful wit and his caring nature, eventually shine through. In contrast, George Wickham, well-liked for his gentlemanly and friendly air, turns out to be a very dishonest man. Try not to let initial biases colour your opinion of someone. Instead, take time to get to know them so you see them for who they really are.
  • Handle rejection gracefully
    While rejections can be unpleasant and painful, don’t make quick assumptions about the reasons why you were rejected. When his marriage proposal is turned down by Elizabeth, Mr Collins immediately concludes that she is “not serious in (her) rejection” and is playing hard to get as “elegant females” tend to, by saying no just to “increase (the suitor’s) love by suspense”. Darcy sets a much better example – that one should listen and try to address the other party’s concerns. If your efforts still fail, show that you respect them and are willing to back off gracefully.

2) 500 Days of Summer (2009)

In 500 Days of Summer, a boy and girl meet, have a great time with each other, but ultimately do not end up together. The movie reminds us that…

  • Unrealistic romantic ideals can affect your judgment
    Loving just the idea of someone means you fail to appreciate who they really are, and also become a poor judge of your compatibility. Tom Hansen, who’s head over heels for Summer Finn, ignores her warnings that she doesn’t want a serious relationship, and tries to break down that barrier. While people around him notice tension in their relationship, he believes she’s The One and remains happily in denial. We should seek to understand what our partner wants in a relationship, instead of getting them to fit our relationship ideals.

  • Failed relationships are not the end
    Each relationship can be just another chapter in our lives. In their limited 500 days together, Tom teaches Summer that love isn’t just “fantasy”, and Summer eventually persuades a jaded Tom not to give up on love. It may not be happily ever after with someone you are currently seeing, but each experience helps you learn and grow, leaving you more mature and better able to handle a relationship when someone more suitable comes along.

3) The Big Sick (2017)

In The Big Sick, cultural differences and a sudden illness threaten an interracial relationship, showing us that…

  • Managing conflict is important in any relationship
    Badly handled disagreements can break a relationship. For Kumail, falling in love creates a difficult choice – he’s torn between being with his true love, Emily Gardner, and marrying someone his family can accept. He doesn’t cope well with the struggle at first, keeping secrets and ultimately falling out with both Emily and his own family. He eventually discovers that being honest and committed in a way he wasn’t before helps to slowly mend the trust he has broken. Knowing how to identify problems when they arise and facing them head on instead of running away can go a long way in making relationships work.

  • We shouldn’t appreciate someone only when it’s too late
    Sometimes we don’t value what we have until it’s gone. When Emily collapses from a severe illness following their bad breakup, Kumail is faced with the possibility of her dying and finally realises he doesn’t want to lose her. Terry, Emily’s father, also confesses that cheating on his wife – and regretting it – was what it took to make him appreciate her. Life brings unexpected challenges, so make sure you leave no room for regrets and cherish your loved ones while you can.