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Sex + Relationships

8 Lessons We Learnt From Gone Girl

Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is a perfect rendition of the phrase ‘hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned’.

The novel turned big-screen thriller drama have both received numerous accolades for its gripping tale and psychotic plot twists which predominantly explores the fantasies of females in an abusive and dysfunctional relationship. Moreover, countless social and personal issues have been addressed by the author, subtly.

Read on to find out surprisingly accurate lessons the movie reveals:

Lesson #1: Ghosting

An issue that has increased at the behest of advancement in social media. The night Amy and Nick meet they end up in bed, and the next day Nick conveniently loses her contact information. A survey conducted by ‘HuffPost’ in 2018 reports that 50% of the participants admitted to either ghosting or being a victim to it. It is a significant drawback of online dating; a lucrative and a hassle-free way to break up, nonetheless the mental trauma that follows it is never accounted. Hence, instead of pulling a Houdini, one should aim to end a relationship in the least hurting manner.

Lesson #2: Being Someone You Are Not

During the courtship phase of a relationship, many a time, it’s easier to uphold a mask that allows natural camouflage into the other half’s idea of a desirable person. Still, in due course, it becomes challenging to keep up this pretence. Even if you succeed in your impersonation, it certainly does not guarantee happiness in the long run. Amy’s first disappearing act came when she revealed to the audience that she hadn’t been herself throughout their relationship. Pretending to be an understanding ‘cool girl’ who accepts her husband abandoning her at social gatherings; Amy had been a ‘gone girl’ ever since. This incident marked just the beginnings of trouble in their relationship. The facade, more often than not, results in losing oneself. Aspire to be genuine.

Lesson #3: Understanding one another

As the recession came into play, the financial scene became troublesome as they both had lost their jobs. So, while Nick sat home, whiling his time playing video games and ordering take-outs, Amy was silently cleaning up after him. Soon after Nick’s mother diagnosis of breast cancer, they left New York and moved to Missouri. Amy hated this move of his, yet, stood by him in his dark times, and took care of his mother. The movie shows the contrasting attitudes between the two towards their relationship, and how, at one point, it was a mere burden for Amy.

Lesson #4: Communication

Facing problems in your relationship? Talk it out; conversing about it might help more than stewing about it and ending up with false assumptions. Nick’s monologue directs how stressful it had become for him to come home to his wife’s hostile stares, always undermining him. There’s something quite spiritual about putting words to your overworked emotion that assists in the healing process. One can only wonder if Nick and Amy had sat down to work out their issues would they still be in the same predicament or would they be residing in a happier place.

Lesson #5: Undermining your partner

Have you ever felt that your partner supports your decision while simultaneously demeaning you? Do they constantly taunt amicably? A jobless Nick showed similar behaviour. He kept reminding Amy of her parent’s fortune and how she need not work. He assumes that her career was just a hobby, not a requirement. Such instances of demeaning a partner have always been prevalent in relationships.

Lesson #6: Gas Lighting
Manipulative behaviour from a spouse is present in most toxic relationships; however, the intensity may vary for different relationships. It’s frustrating to be manipulated more so in a romantic relationship. Flynn’s entire novel is based on Amy and Nick trying to make each other doubt their sanity. Amy’s character personified the act of gaslighting in an almost haunting manner. This kind of toxicity isn’t always perceptible in the beginnings, but as the manipulator gains confidence, it gradually becomes suffocating.

Lesson #7: Effects of a Traumatic Childhood

Flynn has shed some light on toxic parent-child relationships through Amy and Nick's abusive parents. On the surface, they seem to be your average doting parents, but on deeper introspection, the narcissism seems well reflected in their children. If a child is forced to become the parents’ caregiver, then eventually, both are unable to meet each other’s emotional needs. The emotional instability and lack of cherish from the parents can hamper the child’s mental health. It is perhaps evident that her manipulative and counterfeit personality was a product of Amy’s toxic childhood.

Furthermore, an abusive environment during one’s childhood can create patterned behaviour. Nick is shown to be quite misogynistic in his approach to their marriage, which probably stemmed from his equally misogynistic father. He even resented his mother for accepting his father’s intolerable acts. Yet, he ended up re-enacting his parent’s relationship.

Lesson #8: Factitious Disorder

Amy and Nick suffer from numerous psychological problems as ascertained by reviews from professional psychologists, but the one that dominates their relationship is factitious disorder. The victims of this disorder tend to fake events to gain sympathy and attract attention to themselves. Their marriage predominantly suffers from the lack of attention meted out to each other. It makes one wonder whether Nick’s unfaithfulness was just a defiant move to seek attention? Similarly, were Amy’s deviant actions just a simple act to regain her status as the centre of Nick’s world?

Fear of losing a partner, at times leads to excessive toxicity that can result in one creating fake situations to blackmail their partner into staying; emotionally. A practical solution to such cases varies according to the people involved in it, sometimes even psychological therapy might also be useful.

Lesson #9: Addiction to a Toxic Relationship

As we near the end of the story, Flynn has addressed the alarming scenario of addiction to an abusive partner. The desire to stay in a dysfunctional relationship maybe because one can’t understand how to function without it. After getting used to a toxic person, withdrawal symptom does take time to wear off.

Who are you? What have we done to each other?’ Nick leaves us with these questions. Making us wonder about the concept of love and what it can make us do. Amy and Nick were, no doubt, a toxic, volatile couple who claimed to be soul-mates and maybe they even were but did they end up happy? What had started as a sweet - spicy romance with lobsters and red wine turned into something vile that sucked their souls out. Such instances of emotionally and physically abusive relationships are all around us, and we need to learn when to end such toxic companionship.

Perhaps, the most important lesson to focus on is the underlying message of mental health awareness. Mental health might have been a taboo, but in the current scenario, the benefits of clinical therapy must mandatorily be imparted. Maybe we can help the Amy or Nick in our lives through professional treatment.

Sriya Mistry

Manipal '22

Always dreaming new dreams and an occasional guitarist.
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