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The Dirty Dancing Love Lie

The Dirty Dancing Love Lie

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"In Hollywood, a marriage is a success if it outlasts milk."
-Rita Rudner

Unfortunately this joke reflects a sad truth. Anyone who reads the entertainment section knows how quickly celebrity relationships rise and fall. And when we watch the movies, we all know that the relationships aren't real. So why do we keep thinking that they are? Because there are major lies that Hollywood has led us into believing, that literally kill our relationships.

The Dirty Dancing Love Lie
If you remember, in Dirty Dancing, 17 year old Baby Houseman is vacationing in the Catskills with her family. Bored to tears by the activities, she comes upon a dancing party and is immediately struck by Johnny Castle, the dance instructor. She ends up becoming the pinch hitter in a dance routine and as Johnny teaches her to dance, they "fall in love" and risk his job and her relationship with her family to, as one reviewer put it, "show that their love is worth fighting for." This sounds wonderful. To find such a deep, meaningful relationship that within two weeks of dancing with each other you're ready to sacrifice so much for one another? Wow. Add to that the fact that he is a very handsome, talented and single man, while she's a perky and strong-willed 17 year old. What could be bad? (Except the fact that he could've gotten thrown into jail because she was a minor!)

Welcome to the Hollywood Lie, what I call the Dirty Dancing lie: Love just "happens."

The producers behind the movie would have us believe that in order to find a meaningful relationship, you don't have to have anything in common. No common background, no common goals, no common principles. You don't have to know anything about each other. Love is an exciting, thrilling experience that just comes along.

The only problem is that life doesn't work that way.

In order for a meaningful relationship to flourish, you need to have common goals. You need to know that the two of you are moving in the same direction if you want to truly share a happy life together. If you don't, you can both be wonderful people but it's not going to work. Love doesn't change the core being of a person. And even though it may sound romantic, you don't want the other person to sacrifice their goals for yours, because that's a recipe for big trouble down the line. You want your goals to be compatible so that you can work together towards something that's important to both of you.

Now, obviously, that doesn't mean that you have to be clones of each other. What it does mean, though, is that if his dream is of being a dancer, and hers is of joining the Peace Corps and changing the world, then that marriage can only work on the big screen, in make believe. Which is why in a survey done among fans of Dirty Dancing, one fan wrote that if there would have been a sequel in which Johnny and Baby would have gotten married, they would have also gotten divorced, because they were really so different.

Remember the theme song? "I've Had the Time of my Life"... The idea that you can have the time of your entire life with a person you just met is a very appealing one to us folks who have grown up in the "instant" generation. But in order for a lasting, loving relationship to flourish with a soul mate, you need to get to know each other well, and discover whether or not the two of you have similar ideals and worldviews.

If you really want to share a level of commitment in which the two of you are willing to sacrifice so much, it has to be based on a lot more than being able to gaze into each others' eyes. You have to be able to gaze in the same direction together. That's the true foundation of a relationship and a marriage in which you'll stand up for each other, no matter what, and be able to say, "Nobody puts my husband/my wife in a corner."

Now you know why that's the most famous line in the movie. Because deep in their hearts, that's what everyone wants - a relationship filled with such love and commitment that come what may, you're willing to stand by and support each other. And the truth is that you can have it. But contrary to the "love happens" lie, it's not going to be with someone you just looked at, had "Hungry Eyes" and fell in love with. It will be with someone you've gotten to know slowly, who wants the same things out of life as you do and wants to achieve them together with you. You know what that's called? It's called growing in love. And ultimately, that's the person with whom you're really going to have the time of your life.

And it'll last a lot longer than two weeks in the summer.







The Pretty Woman Lie | 10 Stupid Things You Shouldn't Say On a Date Quiz | Relationships Require Patience | Avoid the 5 Dating Pitfalls | The Dirty Dancing Love Lie | more articles »
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