Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey – and even Cinderella! – have a lot to answer for, leading many to develop unrealistic love expectations. Psychologist Lauren Brockie explains.
From a very young age we are bombarded with the idea of a fairytale romance.
Many girls grow up dreaming of the day their dashingly handsome prince will sweep them off their feet, before riding into the sunset together to live “happily ever after”…
Disney isn’t the only franchise making billions of dollars a year out of idealising the fairytale/fantasy love story. How can we forget the sensationalisation of “Twilight” and the more erotic fantasy world of “50 Shades of Grey”?
I believe it is important to state that it doesn’t hurt anyone to get carried away every now and then. A book or movie, no matter how compelling, cannot be dangerous by itself. It all depends on our perspective when we sit down to watch the movies or read the books; usually, we are quite able to separate fact from fiction, and reality from fantasy. “Twilight” certainly isn’t the first love story to inflate someone’s wants and needs within a relationship.
Love is day-in, day-out – not just Twilight!
In the “Twilight” saga, Bella and Edward share a connection, an overwhelming distraction with each other that leaves both of them breathless, tingly and in some ways, overwhelmed by each other. There is a magnetism that draws them to each other no matter how hard they fight it.
Is it possible to be so drenched in emotion and even deep love for someone else that everything else falls away? I suppose it’s possible, but the chances of actually finding, experiencing and holding on to that for the long-term are slim.
In the early moments of a relationship, holding each other tenderly, feeling that rush of excitement with each text or phone call – it is hard to imagine that ever fading. But the truth is it does, because emotions change, and the way we experience and feel love changes over the course of the relationship. Most of us know this, but we get so hooked on the adrenaline and passion that we expect them to last.
In real life, we settle into a comfortable relationship. We can’t be constantly distracted by love because we have jobs to work, bills to pay, dishes to wash, kids to raise and life to live. Being constantly overwhelmed with obsessive thoughts about the “love of our life” would make our lives non-functional.
Most partners are not as generous in word or actions as Edward or Christian Grey. If an individual expects their partner to buy them jewellery or shower them with gifts, or be effusive with praise and declarations of love, that individual will most likely be disappointed. This relates to the concept of the “Love Languages”.
In fact, several Facebook groups have been founded since “Twilight” was originally released, such as “Twilight has ruined any chance I have at a realistic relationship”, and “Because I read Twilight I have unrealistic expectations about men.”
Why do we become obsessed?
The love between Bella and Edward, and the sexual connection between Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, is so intense and obsessive in its own right that it can imprint our minds with what love is or “should be.” Individuals are idealising the relationship between these two couples, to the point where real relationships can’t compete anymore.
Women are wired for emotional connection, so they are more than happy to bask in the eager anticipation, and the mental and emotional longing that “Twilight” and “50 Shades” can provide.
What may begin as harmless fun, or a little escapism from the rigours of real life, can easily become an obsession – especially if there is a void in our own lives, that is hankering to be filled. If the connection in our relationship is already weak, and there is little happening to nourish it, filling the void with a fantasy is an easy snare to slip into.
Partners may become even less motivated to please their significant other if they know they are competing with a fantasy – it’s a contest they can’t win. Most partners won’t even try.
This makes for a vicious cycle of the individual feeling unloved – making them more susceptible to the “50 Shades of Twilight” fantasy, and the partner being less likely to even try to connect with them.
Potential Benefits from 50 Shades of Twilight
Noted Australian Psychotherapist, Dr Russ Harris, suggests that it is more helpful to think of love as an action, instead of a feeling. The FEELING of love comes and goes; it is not something we can control. The ACTION of love on the other hand, is something we can do, regardless of how we are feeling.
The “50 Shades of Twilight” mixture of love and fantasy can stoke an individual’s intimate fires for their partner – if they direct those energies towards their spouse. Putting your partner’s face on the romantic and sexual scenarios you play over and over in your mind can keep the focus where it should be! Looking at your partner the way you would look into the eyes of your fantasy man or woman, and nourishing intimate thoughts about your partner, are other helpful behaviours that can strengthen your relationship.
From our very first fairy tale, right through to the Hollywood blockbusters, we are exposed to the same relationship myths over and over again: the “perfect partner”, “you complete me”, “love should be easy”, and “everlasting love”.
Instead, allow the stirred up excitement created by these fairytales and fantasies to provide a spark for your own relationship, by directing the thoughts and emotions toward the partner you already have – and can actually hold!
Author: Lauren Brockie, B Beh Sc, PG Dip Psych, M Psych (Sport & Exercise), M Psych (Clinical), MAPS.
Lauren Brockie is an experienced psychologist, working with adults, couples, adolescents, and children. With a warm and practical approach, Lauren enjoys supporting and challenging her clients, to assist them with reaching their goals.
To make an appointment with Lauren Brockie, try Online Booking – Loganholme or call M1 Psychology (Loganholme) on (07) 3067 9129.