January 30th, 2011 in Advice, Entertainment, Feature, Fun Stuff, Social, Women
One of the worst things about starting school can be trying to make friends, even if you are really ...More
It's all fun and games until someone breaks up. You can't blame Facebook for all failed rela...More
Dating can be tough, especially when mixed with the drama of college life. For many students, the four(ish) years they spend at university are like practice hours for real-world relationships, offering plenty of chances to mess up and learn from painful mistakes. But who wants to do all that learning first-hand? Do yourself a favor and study up on what to do (or not to do) by re-watching these movies. They've got more dating advice than you probably remember, and they're guaranteed to help get you through some rough patches when dealing with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Or, if you wind up single, they'll just be there for you, period.
- Do be honest: Judd Apatow's The 40-Year-Old Virgin is hilarious, but after all the effort Andy (Steve Carell) puts in to hide the fact that he's a virgin, his girlfriend (Catherine Keener) tells him it's not a big deal. He could have saved himself plenty of hassle if he'd just been up-front about the whole thing. That goes for all relationships. Honesty really is the best policy.
- Do give your date some space at a party: Take a tip from Lloyd Dobler: at a party, it's a good idea to give your date time and space to mingle on their own. When he takes Diane to the graduation party, he gives her room and lets her get to know people. It's a good template. You aren't trying to ditch them, but allowing for space is a way to reinforce independence and not look like a hanger-on. Even in a serious relationship, you don't have to be next to the other person at every moment. You'd both go crazy.
- Do have some perspective: The main character in (500) Days of Summer gets his heart broken because he falls wildly in love with a woman without seeing her as a real person or bothering to consider whether she's right for him. This leads to inevitable heartbreak. The lesson? It's not worth it to delude yourself. Your significant other might be as wonderful as you think, or they could be the worst partner imaginable. You won't know unless you take a cold, hard look at the relationship.
- Do be spontaneous: Before Sunrise requires some suspension of disbelief, and it shouldn't be followed to the letter. (No matter how tempting, you should not have sex with a stranger in public.) But there's something to be said for the spirit of spontaneity that inhabits both the characters played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. When you're looking for love, it often pays to be open to new things, new people, and new experiences, especially on the spur of the moment.
- Do be emotionally available: Hugh Grant's character in About a Boy is a rich, isolated guy unwilling to be vulnerable or real enough to let someone get to know who he really is. It's only when he lowers the wall that his love life starts to work out.
- Do make grand gestures: WALL-E is all about saving the world and getting the girl, and WALL-E never fails to come through. From rescuing the last living plant on Earth to inspiring a robot uprising, the little guy will do anything to be with the woman of his dreams. And it works.
- Do pay attention to what's right in front of you: Juno, for all its stylized slang, dealt with one of the oldest stories there is: what happens when you fall in love with your best friend. It takes Juno (Ellen Page) the entire movie to realize she's got feelings for the friend that got her pregnant, but once she does, everything clicks. It's a reminder that sometimes, what you're looking for is staring you in the face.
- Do take risks: Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan became a modern classic screen couple in Sleepless in Seattle without ever spending any real time together on screen. Despite this, there's a lesson here for daters. When Meg Ryan's character throws caution to the wind and travels to meet Hanks, she has no way knowing what to expect. But of course they're perfect for each other, and they get a happy ending. Sometimes, great rewards only come with great risks.
- Don't take your date to a porno theater: Taxi Driver is many things — searing examination of social alienation, showcase for Robert De Niro in his prime — but a dating guide it is not. When Travis Bickle (De Niro) finally lands a date with pretty political volunteer Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), he takes her to see Language of Love, a "sex education" film from Sweden, and a straight-up porn called Sometime Sweet Susan. She understandably gets offended and storms out, after which his life starts to spiral out of control. Guys, you might not want to see the new Jennifer Aniston movie, but it's better than getting dumped for being a skeevy creep.
- Don't take your date to a strip club, either: Basically, fellas, don't do anything on a date that you're expected to do at a bachelor party. In The Graduate, Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) takes Elaine (Katharine Ross) on a date to a strip club. Granted, he did it to intentionally upset her, since he was forced into the date by his parents and he was already having an affair with Elaine's mother — you know, like you do — but still, even for sabotage, that's a rough choice.
- Don't insult your date's attire: "Look at this place. They make me buy a new outfit, and they let you in in a house dress." Dumbest thing a man could possibly say, even if he's got as much charm to fall back on as Jack Nicholson. His character in As Good as It Gets is full of little misstatements like that one, and though he's usually able to save the situation, you shouldn't count on that working in real life. There's only one Jack Nicholson, and it isn't you.
- Don't ignore warning signs: Cher (Alicia Silverstone) spends most of Clueless ignoring the come-ons of guys her age, only to wind up with a crush on a new student without even realizing he's gay. She's not dumb, just blinded by infatuation, so much so that she wasn't able to see that the relationship could never be.
- Don't settle: The heroine of Waitress (Keri Russell) is locked in a stale, hurtful marriage until a brief affair helps her remember that it's OK to look for the good things in life. Granted, having an affair is not a good idea, but the underlying theme of the film — that you should never sell yourself short — is one everyone can understand.
- Don't be scared of rejection: Every good (and bad) romantic film has a moment where one person realizes they're in love and they resolve to act on it. The only way their plan will work, though, is if they accept the possibility of rejection and go ahead anyway. One of the best moments showing this leap of faith comes at the end of Sideways. Miles (Paul Giamatti) has messed up his fledgling relationship with Maya (Virginia Madsen), but he finally resolves to go knock on her door and try to win her back. It's a moment of bracing optimism and freedom, and it's the only way you'll ever wind up with the right person.
- Don't vent online: The Social Network took a few dramatic liberties with modern history to create a gripping story of a weird loner driven to extremes to be popular, but even so, we can all agree on this basic truth: it's never a good idea to vent about exes online. Over drinks with friends, yes; in a semi-permanent forum where your unfiltered thoughts can be cached and screen-capped for posterity, not so much. Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) winds up burning his ex online, so much so that when he tries to reconnect with her, she doesn't want anything to do with him. Always think before you type. If it feels too harsh, it probably is.