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  • Writer's pictureShannon Johnson

What Romantic Comedies and Pornography Have in Common

If you read my blogs, you've gotten a snapshot of what it's like to live in my head. My own experiences, combined with conversations with everyone I meet, spark my interest and intrigue in the relationship world. Relationships are all very unique, so I never get bored. I dissect a concept to identify the patterns, and then I write about them, so I can move on to a new topic. This week I have been puzzling over both romantic idealism and sexual fantasy. This is an explanation of my latest connection.

Let's begin with romantic idealism. I know I am not the only woman who has an infatuation with romantic comedies. I have gone on countless adventures with Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon, Kate Hudson, and Matthew McConaughey over the past 25 years. Although the storyline shifts from movie to movie, we generally witness a couple ending up together in the end. Even when things look incredibly bleak, the main man will eventually come to his senses, race through crowded streets, and reach the airport just in time to miraculously breeze through security and profess his undying love and commitment to the leading lady.

I love to spend my Sunday afternoons soaking all of this in. However, it's really easy to start holding our significant others to the standards portrayed in these films. Life gets hectic, and the ideas creep in. I tend to fantasize that I will walk into an absolutely pristine home, and Brad will announce that he is whisking me away for a week in Bora Bora. At this point, this has not become a reality, but wouldn't it be lovely?

I meet with countless couples who tell me their engagement stories -- served with a side of shame. They tell me it just wasn’t romantic enough; or maybe the husband is having a difficult time articulating his feelings in a way that brings his wife to tears. Maybe the relationship is full of ebbs and flows, instead of the hot, passion-filled adventure they had imagined.

Even though we can all agree that romantic comedies have an element of fantasy, we still get caught up in comparing our relationship to this ideal. I mean, who doesn’t wish Matthew McConaughey would rush onto their airplane and profess you are the one? Oh wait, maybe that’s just me! But, all joking aside, comparison ultimately leads to the demise of satisfaction.

Next, let's talk about pornography. This blog isn't about whether it’s good, bad, or ugly. That’s another topic. For this week, I want to look at the impact it can have on expectation. For some couples, pornography does appear to create a sexual ideal. Like romantic comedies, pornography depicts a wide range of fantasy. I don't want to stereotype this entire genre, but I think it's safe to say all the actors appear to be having a good time, the limits and boundaries appear to be quite absent, and there is a happy ending for everyone.

Well... in reality, sex is quite complex. Our mood, our circumstances, our past, our likes and dislikes, and our feelings of safety all play into the experience. Like every aspect of our relationship, this is an area where we have an opportunity to learn and grow. It is an area that requires honest communication, patience, and exploration, because each person has different wants, needs, and desires. If we compare ourselves to pornography, or try to emulate what is depicted, we may experience a great deal of discord and shame.

So what do we do now? First, have a big sigh of relief. You are not broken if you are not living up to the romantic and sexual ideals and fantasies portrayed in movies. Your relationship is NOT fundamentally flawed. Second, it's good to infuse romance and passion into your relationship. Just do it within the scope of reality.

Third, if you find yourself in a relationship where you are being compared to an unrealistic standard, please seek support. This can be incredibly confusing and painful, and a professional can help you sort out what is “normal."

And finally, take a little time to check in with yourself on what ideals you are measuring yourself and your partner against.

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