Like every basic bitch with a bottle of rosé in one hand and a low fat ice cream sandwich in the other, I live for romantic comedies. I have been known to browse amongst the horrors, dramas and conspiracy-theory documentaries, but like a bad penny, I always find myself back with the unrealistically beautiful people living out a predictable and adorable love story. What the 2000s lacked in fashion, it made up for with Matthew McConaughey.
If you’ve seen any rom-com, you’ve seen them all, but lemme give you a run down anyway: Unrealistically hot girl works either 1) a dream job where she kicks ass, or 2) a mediocre job that she still provides enough money to supply a killer wardrobe and an apartment overlooking some cool landmark in her city. She meets a guy in an unrealistically cute way (AKA not online), who is charming but infuriating enough to keep her on her toes. They clash over some kind of plot device, but find common ground and fall in love. The device rolls back around and breaks them up, but they realize a montage later that they need each other and get back together with an impassioned speech A) in the rain, B) at the aforementioned landmark or C) in a way that ties back into the plot device and/or meet cute. They kiss, credits roll, house lights come up.
Since nothing is fair and TV lied to us, life isn’t like a romantic comedy. Even though I insist on walking in time to pop music played through my headphones when I enter a room, there are no lighting people to make sure you can only see my best angles. I just look insane. That also means I probably won’t get a cute one-bedroom overlooking Battery Park in NYC, nor will I even wear a vintage Givenchy gown that I just *happened* to find in a thrift shop.
In terms of relationship success, like a romcom heroine at the start of the movie, I have had none. I have been involved with and witnessed a number of breakups, but never any blindly romantic reconciliations. I don’t think they exist. If you see one happening, please call me, and I will exercise for the first time in a month in order to come and watch. My sisters, best friends, exes, and loud strangers have all proven the same thing to me over and over: people break up and do not get back together just because the weather forecast is calling for rain.
Relationships are these weird marking points for who you are at times in your life. You’ll think you like theater and date someone very artsy who drags you to ten boring plays in a month before realizing you only thought you liked theater because celebrities keep starring on Broadway. You might date a gym rat who encourages you to count your macros and take protein supplements, or a drug enthusiast who displays a bong on above his bed like it is a work of art, or a super zen person who does yoga every morning and rearranges your apartment so it has a better energy flow. At some point you realize that you’ve eaten flavorless chicken and steamed broccoli six days in a row, the bong tipped over and slipped dirty water on your face while you were asleep and that having your couch face into the kitchen is really inconvenient if you want to binge watch Scandal after classes, and you snap because you actually hate all those things and just because they were fun for awhile does not mean that it is who you want to be forever.
College is this weird time where you constantly stop and start in an attempt to “find yourself.” You sign up for a billion clubs your first weekend of freshman year because you don’t know who you are or what you like yet. You end up making amazing friends and learn to define yourself within a really old, oddly ritualistic organization. When you date someone, you adopt their hobbies and stomach their habits until one of you no longer can take it and (usually) that’s why things end.
Breaking up is just another chance to start moving forward in your self-discovery. If you realize that working out is awful because you tried couples exercises and wanted to die, you know not to waste your money or time scoping out guys at the gym. Breakups are definite ways to say “this is not who I am or who I want to be.” Real breakups don’t come with a romantic reconciliation, because stepping backwards into an old relationship means slipping into someone you aren’t or don’t want to be with. No matter how much I time I spend crafting the perfect Spotify playlist to accompany me, no one’s life is a rom-com. Breakups happen in movies because the writers have to fill approximately two hours worth of runtime. Breakups happen in real life because we need to grow as people and let go of things holding us back.
It hurts at the time, but there is a reason, eventually, you look back on a relationship with a fondness, even if you were ghosted by a guy who actively talked about how his home brew was going make it big in niche markets. Now, you can go on with your life, knowing that home brewed beer is gross and niche markets don’t buy Range Rovers. Even if it sucks at the time, you can’t deny that you learned a pretty important lesson.
Or maybe I love them because breakups are the only thing dramatic enough to placate my desire to drop out of college and audition for “Real Housewives.” Who knows, I’m still trying to find myself..