College girls believe so many relationship myths: we think love is supposed to be easy, that sex should resemble a John Mayer song, that even jerks are soft and sweet on the inside like Tootsie Roll Pops. Somehow, even though we were smart enough to get into college, we still make all kinds of dumb emotional mistakes.
It’s moments like this that make us look back and wonder: why did these two kids ever break up?
The problem isn’t reality. Reality (except for in its uglier, televised incarnations) is one of our favorite things! The problem is when expectations clash with reality, leaving you broken-hearted. The source of these expectations? Middle school. While we were feeling awkward and decorating the inside of our lockers, we absorbed every bit of non-wisdom imparted by pop culture. We grew up under an umbrella-ella-ella of songs so sugary you could get cavities just from singing along, assured by every teen movie’s prom queen and homecoming king that the road to romantic bliss was paved with bets gone awry and bad boys hiding hearts of gold beneath their varsity jackets. Our perceptions about realistic, healthy relationships were bound to be warped by all this pop propaganda; it’s sort of a miracle any of us have boyfriends at all.
It’s the New Year and we want to look forward, but to ensure successful dating in 2010, we first need to look back. Do a jump to the left and a step to the right, because we’re doing the time warp to the beginning of this new millennium, where all our silly love ideas began.
Boy Meets World
Collages are precious, but everyone knows that the real life high school yearbooks’ “cutest couple” will break up shortly after publication.
For seven seasons, we watched Corey Matthews go from cootie-fearing teen to facially-hairy hubby. He and Topanga were cute, but what’s this middle-school-to-married madness? You and your high school boyfriend probably don’t belong together forever. However, if you truly are meant to be, your relationship will survive without you sacrificing, say, a Yale education. Topanga proposes to Corey, turns down her dream school and joins the whole gang at Pennbrook University (what the hell is that?). Corpanga live happily ever after in an on-campus apartment for married couples, which most universities provide. Really? No. Our advice: date around.
“Your Body is a Wonderland”
John also thinks sex sounds like “ba ba ba, ba ba ba dah dah, ba ba ba, dah dah dah dah.”
We could do a line-by-line breakdown of why this song sets you up to be disappointed about sex, starting with John’s promise that “this is bound to be a while.” In the interest of saving time and space and letting you down easy, we’re just going to tell you that you shouldn’t be comparing your hookup sessions to a song you hear on that old people’s station your parents like or in the waiting room at the dentist.
Gilmore Girls and The O.C.
Both Ryan and Jess are bad news, but Jess is hotter so he gets to be in the picture. Sorry, Ryan.
Nestled in a private Hollywood backlot is the mythical “track.” Whenever a television show is getting dull or a movie needs some edge, producers travel to the wrong side of this track and pluck a dark, attractive nobody from the depths of obscurity and cast him as the Bad Boy. Countless impressionable teenage girls have fallen into non-relationships with guys who are trouble—and not the fun pop-o-matic kind. Bad guys are great for tear-out posters and movies, but don’t assume the ones you meet in real life are anything like Rory Gilmore’s Jess or Marissa’s Cooper’s Ryan. Really, how likely is it that is actually a good guy? Most of the real-life Jesses we know (this writer excluded) barely read street signs, let alone the great pantheon of American literature Rory’s badass boyfriend loved so much.
Britney, Mandy and Christina
Remember when they were young and blonde and clothe—oh wait …
Before Britney became the hottest mess from Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina, she was the ringleader of a trio of typically blonde pop starlets whose lyrics filled our heads with lies about boys. Aguilera, Moore and Spears took TRL by storm, speaking of genies, doing it again (ooh baby baby) and telling us boys were flawless. Man’s imperfection is part of what makes him real and fun. A boy who’s cute and quirky? That’s someone we’d be cravin’ for like candayayayay.
She’s All That and Ten Things I Hate About You
Note that in movies in which guys bet on girls, the girl is generally the hotter party.
In She’s All That, Freddie Prinze Jr. appears to hold the key not only to an empty hotel room (to make Laney’s prom the Best Prom Ever!) but also to popularity, happiness and our pre-pubescent hearts. In reality, he plays yet another tool who reinforces the falsities that a bet can result in real love and that your life will climax at the prom. These messages are also mass disseminated in the otherwise practically perfect 10 Things I Hate About You. Boys who bet on love are typically immature jerks, and prom is good for goofy dancing and cute dresses, not realizing sexual clichés. Just do the math: if your life peaks at the prom, you’ll be a has-been by 20.
Hey Aaron, we never noticed just how huge your eyebrows are. It’s like Martin Scorsese meets the Muppets.
Tina Fey, we think you’re amazing. We mostly think Mean Girls is amazing. With this film, you taught us valuable lessons: use your boobs to predict the weather, stop trying to make fetch happen and if you’re ever at a cool party, sit around and soak up everyone’s awesomeness. Yet you committed an unforgivable teen movie sin with Aaron: the mythical popular jock who is in fact a deep, thoughtful young man. We aren’t saying that hot, popular adolescent males are never deep and thoughtful. Just that, well, chances are if he’s dating some gorgeous bitch and is naturally athletic, the odds of his being a considerate, insightful guy are not exactly in his favor.
The Little Rascals
Don’t you just wish your boyfriend had hair and wiggly ears like Alfalfa?
This ‘90s classic had hit cable by the time we hit 6th grade— just in time for the “OMG-we’re-going-steady-because-he-bought-me-Doritos-from-the-vending-machine” phase of our lives. While we all fondly recall Alfalfa’s cow lick and that ever insightful pickle song, we’d like to punch darling little Darla in the face for sending the message that a girl has to come between a guy and his friends. Aim to emulate more sophisticated gals; get to know your guy’s friends and you likely won’t even have to crash their He-Man Woman Haters Club meetings.
Ow Oww, Chris Kirkpatrick.
It’s pretty obvious *NSYNC was the victor in the epic Battle of the Boy Bands, but that doesn’t mean Justin, Tara Reid’s ex, the almost-astronaut and those guys with the gross facial hair aren’t responsible for tearin’ up our hearts. They swore to us: “You’re all I ever wanted, / You’re all I ever needed / Tell me what to do now / I want you back!” Unfortunately, our seventh grade boyfriends wanted and needed other things (video games, sports, fast food, breathing room), and believe it or not, college boys do, too. And so should you. The idea that a boy will be singularly obsessed with you is inaccurate and unhealthy. Do the American thing and declare your independence.
Holiday in the Sun
You may be wondering, “Is that Megan Fox between our two favorite Olsens?” Yes, yes it is.
Even when Mary-Kate rolls out of her house wearing all her clothes at once or Ashley decides to charge $1,700 for a pair of glorified leggings, we still adore them every time we turn on Holiday in the Sun. Just like every other MK and Ash production, Holiday in the Sun took the twins to an exotic locale where they had a challenge to overcome and — what a coincidence! — two hot guys to help them. Say it with us now: you will not meet a boyfriend on a family vacation. You will more likely be stuck with your family, “bonding,” and there’s no point in trying to ditch your parents because (we really hate to say this) life is not actually like a Mary-Kate and Ashley movie.