Boy meets girl. Girl falls in love with boy. Boy loves girl back.
There are many variations of this, but one fact remains: it all works out in the end and the boy and girl end up together. Happily ever after. But is that real life? Absolutely not.
Everyone can appreciate a good rom-com movie, but it seriously goes to your head. After watching, you start to think, "if a boy isn't like that, doesn't chase after me, it's not the real thing." This bordering on stalkerish behavior has become so normalized that women actually want men to act like that.
Girls are told when they're young that when a boy is mean to them, that's just a way of showing that the boy likes them. How messed up is it that having your pigtail pulled by a little boy or being called names becomes associated in our brains to the equivalent of flirting? We see it so often that it becomes what we actually want from a relationship.
Romantic movies and novels make it seem that a bachelor is constantly avoiding his feelings for some woman, only to lose her and realize that he's fallen deeply in love. A man that is emotionally standoffish is also who you're supposed to fall in love with. All of these crazy notions from mainstream media develop a rose-colored glasses version of what is actually an abusive relationship or create the picture perfect romance that is highly unattainable.
In "Titanic," Jack literally dies from hypothermia just so Rose can hog a piece of driftwood. The expectations of undying young love, your best friend turned lover, or some fling that turns into so much more makes reality pale in comparison. There are so many stereotypes that it almost gives you that much more hope that you can find one of those men.
The movie "He's Just Not That into You" says it best when they explain that these amazing love stories you hear about aren't the rule, they're the exception. All of these romance movies and novels are exceptions. It's fiction for a reason.
Am I going to stop watching these movies and reading these books? No. Should I? Probably, if I want to keep realistic expectations of men.