An open letter to anyone whose relationship doesn’t look like a rom-com

Dear stranger, 

Whether you enjoy rom-coms or not, I know you’ve seen one or two.

You’re familiar with the relatable yet seemingly mismatched characters,their instant and undeniable connection cleverly disguised by playful banter. 

And of course, the mid-way conflict that will magically resolve itself to a blissful ending. 

Romantic comedies have a unique talent for showcasing an idealized version of love and relationships. They entertain, warm our hearts, and, at times, leave us with unrealistic expectations.

Maybe you watched them at a pivotal point in life when you were still discovering what a relationship meant. 

And, maybe they set some very specific expectations for the kinds of relationships you’d have later in life – whether you liked them or not. 

The influence of a rom-com can often be subconscious. 

Yet, as most of us quickly realized, life and relationships rarely stick to such simple plots.

In the real world, relationships are messy and require continuous work, and there’s guaranteed to be more than one single conflict along the way. 

They’re not scripted, and there are no directors yelling “cut” when things get tough. Instead, it’s a journey filled with highs and lows, compromises, and tears. 

But that doesn’t make them any less beautiful or worth it.

So if your relationship doesn’t look anything like a rom-com, Disney movie, or epic love story – I want you to know that that is perfectly normal. That is real-life relating.

Your relationship is a unique entity, with a unique chemistry combined by two individuals. It might not follow the cookie-cutter storyline of a romantic comedy, and that’s perfectly okay. In fact, it’s more than okay; it’s wonderful.

Real relationships are not about perfect meet-cutes or love at first sight. They’re about two imperfect individuals coming together and choosing to grow together.

They’re about navigating the storms and celebrating the sunshine, or forging a deep connection that withstands the tests of time.

They’re about maybe not liking each other at all, at first. Or going through a period of unrequited love. Or, they might be about two people of the same gender falling in love. 

Maybe your unique story involves being friends for many years before dating. Maybe there wasn’t that incredible love-at-first sight chemistry that movies depict.

And in your relationship, you may not always agree on everything. There will be disagreements, arguments, and moments when you wonder if you’re on the same page at all. 

Sometimes, the best relationships aren’t two people that are incredibly similar. They’re two people who are vastly different from each other, trying to navigate how to love and support one another despite their differences

What a humbling and beautiful journey it is when you learn how to love another who is not like you. 

It’s about allowing each other to learn about ourselves, to grow, and to find common ground. 

Conflict doesn’t mean your love is flawed; it means you’re both human.

Your love story might not involve grand gestures or extravagant surprises. It could be the simple, everyday moments that matter the most – a quiet cuddle on a rainy morning, a heartfelt conversation, or a comforting hug after a tough day. 

These are the building blocks of a real, lasting connection.

And while there may not always be a neatly wrapped resolution to every conflict, there’s something beautiful in the journey of working through issues together. It’s in the compromise, the understanding, and the commitment to finding solutions as a team.

In your relationship, you might not always feel like you’re in a fairy tale. There will be moments of doubt, of uncertainty, and of vulnerability. But it’s in these moments that you discover the depth of your connection and your capacity to love – if you embrace these moments. 

So, welcome the imperfections, the complexities, and the uniqueness of your own love story. Your relationship doesn’t need to fit into a predetermined mold to be extraordinary.

And one last, but very important thing I’ve learned in real-life relationships: In a romantic comedy, the journey of the characters seems to be realizing they love each other. 

Boom, fireworks – the characters kiss and proclaim their undying love at the end. You know the drill.

But stick out a real relationship for long enough, and you eventually learn that the purpose of this connection is not only about your love for the other. It’s about shining a light on how you are loving yourself. . 

Sounds even cheesier than a rom-com, right? But it’s true.

I’ve learned that you can only truly love another as deeply as you love yourself. One who loves another more than themselves isn’t truly in love – they are in infatuation. 

So if you’re fortunate enough to have a relationship that teaches you every day how to be a better person, how to love yourself better and in turn, love another better – you are growing as a person. 

Your emotional capacity is reaching new heights each time you reflect internally during a conflict, swallow your pride when needed, and listen to your partner’s feedback on how to communicate better with them. 

You’re also learning how to treat yourself better, by treating them better. Isn’t that incredible?

So, the beauty of your love being real and not scripted runs deep. It runs far beyond the narrative of “loving each other, forever after” that we have seen countless times on the big screen. 

A real relationship is a beautiful self-growth journey, of learning how not to need each other, to be complete humans on our own, but to continue finding ways to share that joy anyway.

And the unpredictability of real life only adds to that magic. How incredible is it that we get to write our stories day by day, with the unknowing of what could happen tomorrow?

This is the key to truly cherishing what you have in front of you. 

With love and understanding,

Someone else whose relationship definitely doesn’t look like a rom-com.

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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