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Hollywood Love Triangle

- by Tracey Baxter, Think Twice Educator

I love Disney. I also love a lot of the most popular TV shows and movies: The Kissing Booth (parts 1 and 2), Brooklyn 99, The Office; classics like The Notebook, Titanic, and The Tiger King. Okay, maybe not The Tiger King, but you get the point. I love romantic movies and romantic comedies.

I grew up watching everything Disney and moved on to more serious films as I entered adolescents and adulthood, much like many of my friends. I can still remember how I would imagine my true love meeting me for the first time, sweeping me off my feet, and declaring his unending devotion to me, the same day we met, or within the first week for sure. You know, like in the movies. I had this perfect, beautiful image of what true love really was thanks to Hollywood and the Wonderful World of Disney. The characters were my Mr. Miyagis and I was their eager little grasshopper (that’s a Karate Kid reference for those of you who remain oblivious to past pop culture). All I knew about love I learned from the experts in Hollywood.

Then the magical day happened, and I met my boyfriend! Everything was perfect, just like I was expecting it to be. For our first date, he took me to dinner and a movie. Sure, it wasn’t a nice restaurant, and I didn’t really want to see the movie Next Friday. I didn’t even know what happened the previous Friday, so the movie didn’t make much sense to me. But it was perfect, other than that. We were going to fall in love and get married, have two kids (a boy and a girl) and live in the country with horses.

On our second date he took me to his house to hang out. Ummm, is that technically a date? No dinner, no movie, but we did spend a good hour together in his bedroom, watching basketball. I’m a short white girl. Basketball isn’t really my thing. Then he made me leave because he wanted to go hang out with some of his friends at a bar. Did I mention I was 18 and still in high school, and he was 23? Other than that, the “maybe date” was perfect!

Then I didn’t hear from him for a couple of weeks, but on the third week he called me, and we had another “maybe date” just like the second one. Except he really wanted to, you know, do stuff. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. But it was fine. I would tell him I wasn’t ready, and he would respect my boundaries. And he did. Instead of trying to pressure me, he made me leave so he could go to the bar with some friends. But other than that, it was perfect! Except it wasn’t perfect at all. Not even close, and he broke up with me shortly after that.

What went wrong?! I had everything planned out. We meet, fall in love, get married, buy a house, have kids, get some horses, feed the dog, do the laundry, wash the dishes. You know, have a normal life!

I actually thought for a bit that it was my own stupid fault for not giving in and letting him cross my boundary lines. Yeah, because in the Notebook they end up madly in love forever and they were having sex before marriage. And Jack and Rose in Titanic, well, if Jack had lived, I know they would have lived happily ever after. That’s all I wanted! I wanted the Disney dream castle and my happily ever after! Was that too much to ask?!

After a while, I realized that wasn’t reality. My adorable little adolescent mind learned that a love triangle with romantic Hollywood hits and a real flesh and blood boyfriend wasn’t going to work. I needed to break up with Hollywood. It was a bittersweet ending to an otherwise wonderful relationship, but Hollywood love stories weren’t helping me learn how to build a lasting, healthy relationship. Hollywood was teaching me that the way to love is quick and without regrets. “Just follow your heart, and you’ll never go wrong” was, as it turned out, a terrible way to live, and I was full of regrets. Thanks for nothing Little Mermaiden. I hope you become sushi and Cinderella has to scrub the fish smell off all the dishes!

The truth is you need only a little heart and a lot of brain power. Being able to think things through instead of acting impulsively on what your heart wants is a sign of maturity, and your chances of ending up with a real happily ever after are much better when you let go of Hollywood fantasies and use your brain.

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THINK TWICE Sexual Risk Avoidance Education Initiative is supported by the United States Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children, Youth and Families, Grant #: 90TS00230100.
Opinions and findings of the program do not reflect those of the U.S. DHHS.

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