I think there is a possibility I might get kicked out of book club.

Or at the very least I will be labeled a killjoy.  Call it a hazard of the job, but I just find it hard to embrace novels or movies with dysfunctional family drama or unhealthy relationships.

Last month I pointed out the sociopathic behavior of one of the characters and how the heroine of the story got revenge in an equally dysfunctional way.  I was disturbed rather than entertained.  In this  month’s selection I was equally disturbed by a two day torrid sexual affair that the character was convinced was her true love.  She carried the pain of the loss of that relationship for her entire lifetime.

I have a dear friend who refuses to see Rom Coms.  He says that the plot always makes it  permissive for the protagonist to have an affair. The character is made so likeable that the audience is cheering on the infidelity.  Humor is craftily woven into the plot making it easy to condone these behaviors, and since it always works out well for the main character, who cares that the relationship started dysfunctionally?

Well, I guess I do.

I embrace the idea of escapism.  We all need a break from our daily lives and these movies and books offer entertainment and talk around the water cooler.  Who wants to read about stable, healthy relationships that depict mutual love and respect.  We want those relationships in theory but we don’t want to read about them because they are well, uh, kind of boring.

The drama and intensity that is portrayed in the movies often starts with intense beginnings.  The problem is that intense beginnings often have intense endings.  Healthy relationships trade that rapid intensity for the slow development of trust and respect.  Both parties know and  respect themselves enough to maintain good boundaries in their relationships.  By being honest with themselves and with each other, they can adequately deal with their  relationship struggles that will occur along the way.

The seemingly boring plot development of healthy relationships lacks drama and intensity, but the trade-off is a true feeling of trust, validation, intimacy,  and love.  Unfortunately, we don’t all have good role models for healthy relationships.  So without knowing what a healthy relationship is, people may actually believe that what they see in movies or read in books is the way relationships are supposed to be.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.

If you find that your relationship is mirroring the drama of a romance novel or a rom com, it may be time for a tune up.  You may need to trade some of the drama for a healthy dose of reality and some guidance in healthy relationship behaviors.



Mary Beth George
Mary Beth George is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Gottman Therapist, Master Trainer for the Gottman Institute and co-owner of Couples Counseling & Psychotherapy Associates. She is an empty nester with a passion for rescue dogs, traveling and spending time with people that make her laugh.