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The Media Lied to You About: Romance

Updated: Feb 13, 2022

We love LOVE. Even the chaps that claim that lomance is not their vibe, love LOVE. And it’s okay to love the idea of love and romance. It’s a beautiful thing. We are drawn to romcoms, television series that have got a bit of that spice too. We sink our heads in books whose blurbs promise dragons, wizards, politics only to find lovers with butterflies in their stomachs…which is fine.

But we’ve been lied to over and over again about what love and romance looks like. We have eaten up these lies, digested them and hoped that what we go through IRL (in real life) will taste the same. But boohoo, in real life, a lot of things are different. Here are a few lies the series, movies, books have muddled our idea of romance:

Cuddling all night

If you’re expecting this, sweetie, revise your expectations. First of all, Kampala is HOT. Even our nights get hot. Cuddling all night just isn’t realistic. Unless you want to wake up, sweaty, overheated and irritable.

In movies lovers that wake up in each other’s arms still cuddling from the night before, look sweet. In real life…no please. A few minutes will do. 5 minutes tops and that’s a lot of time to commit to.

Also, most cuddles involve one having their arms under and around the other, or intertwined legs. This obviously causes your limbs to go limp. Blood circulation is important, ba-people. You don’t have to cuddle all night to prove you love your person. You love your limbs too.

Main character syndrome

In romcoms, there’s always a main character, a love interest and a protagonist. The entire story will revolve around the main character, their job, their hobbies, what they are doing to get their love interest to notice them.

This means all the friends will likely be involved in helping the main character land the love interest. They drop everything to help in this scheming. They listen to all the rants the main character has about the love interest. Everything is centred on the main character and this story.

In real life though, everyone else has a life too. Your best friends aren’t going to drop everything all the time to help you scheme landing a date with your love interest. Your friends don’t want to only listen to stories about the love interest. They have stories of their own to share and so you have to be available to them too.

The protagonist isn’t only thinking about how to make sure you don’t get into this relationship either. Your love interest isn’t always available physically or emotionally to go on dates or even be in a relationship. 😅

That’s fine. As you live through the romcom that you’ve crafted in your mind, just understand that there’s more to this universe than just your story.

The rain

Recipe for a bad flu

Do people actually kiss in the rain? Like under the rain? Do you forget how uncomfortable dump clothes are? Is it romantic? Or is it a recipe for some very nasty ssenyiga?

Casual sexing (and STIs)

We’ve watched more than enough movies and listened to enough stories to realise that yes, casual sexing is a thing. Do you boo! My problem is the media doesn’t talk about protection or contraception.

Let’s be real. Don’t get caught up in the heat of the moment and transpose yourself and your senses to “The Notebook” and forget that STIs are real.

Me as me, when I watch these “in the heat of the moment” sex scenes, I wonder, “Are they using condoms?”, “Do they know each other’s status?”, “Did they brush their teeth?” I’ve got many questions.

Just to clear things, HIV status isn’t the only status you should be paying attention to. There are more STIs out there that will f*ck you up.

Romance is all about the highs

Romance in the media is always about the high notes: the butterflies of a new relationship, the tingle of holding hands for the first time, the sweetness of the first dates, the first kiss or the wedding.

Obviously, no one is going to watch a movie in which they show a couple driving to the beach while talking about the news or quietly listening to a podcast together or just taking a nap together (minus the cuddles).

We are unlikely to see couples do the more mundane things…as if there’s no love and romance in the mundane. Romance in movies and books is about the big moments.

Life isn’t like that. So when you’re oversaturated on romance in the media, a quiet Saturday morning with breakfast, dishes, checking emails and just being meh, won’t look like romance. You expect so much razzle and dazzle every time all the time. But life has quiet moments and low points too. That’s fine. It’s life.

On the same note, what’s up with the media always painting marriage as the end of the enjoyment in anyone’s life. Marriage gets a bad rep. It’s as if soul-sucking, boring is universal for all marriages.

The other person always being interested

This is how madness starts

In romcoms, the love interest is always attracted to the main character. They might have always known this from the moment they set eyes on…(you know how the line goes). They might have needed a little convincing but eventually came around.

But let’s be honest here. Your crush won’t always be into you.

No, they do not need convincing that you are their soulmate.

No, they don’t need time to come around.

No, it’s not because there’s something or someone in their lives that just needs to get out of the way so that you have a shot at true love.

It’s not automatic (or by force) that everyone that you’ll be interested in will be interested in you. It’s okay. You’re not bread.

You’re not for everyone (and that's okay).

Enemies to lovers

The story goes: Tiffany and Chad have hated each other from the moment they met each other in middle school. Chad has played so many pranks on Tiffany and she has in turn made her fellow cheerleaders get back at Chad. They are absolute opposites who can’t stand each other’s presence. But now they are both in Harvard and Chad can’t help but notice just how astonishing Tiffany is. The feelings are mutual. Tiffany is surprised Chad could get into an Ivy league school and it seems her eyes open to just how handsome he is. Their stars cross and suddenly, they can’t stay away from each other. There are sparks, fireworks…love.

Are you rolling your eyes yet?

The “enemies to lovers” trope is common in so many stories. It makes it seem like you can’t simply dislike people for reasons known to them only.

Sometimes, you just can’t stand each other and that’s that.

No, there’s no sexual tension between the two of you.

No, this relationship won’t turn into the right type of passion.

No, you don’t need a date to figure out where this could go.

Not all enemies turn into lovers. This trope is honestly problematic in real life.

Me as me, I’ve seen some chaps try to replicate. For instance, you’ll find a chap starting negging* a lil missy to try and create some type of “love-hate” thing and it’s quite irritating.

What is negging? verb (present continuous of neg)

  1. an act of emotional manipulation whereby a person makes a deliberate backhanded compliment or otherwise flirtatious remark to another person to undermine their confidence and increase their need for the manipulator's approval.

The persistent one eventually connects with their true love.

In these romance stories, most times, this character is a boy or man. He hangs around. He goes to all the events that the girl is likely attending. He lurks around. He’s always available for her.

Then one day, she miraculously realizes that he is the one person who was always there for her.

Is he romantic? Or is it annoying and kinda creepy? No means no not maybe.

Another problematic trope that makes men think that if they just hang in there and persist in their show of love, the lady will eventually love him back.

Possessive behaviour

Another cringey one

50 Shades of Grey, anyone?

cc: Twilight 🙃

Is it romantic? Or is abusive behavior with a sprinkling of flavours like private jets, fancy houses, expensive clothes and trips to luxurious parts of the world to make it more…palatable?

“He gets so jealous.”

“He’s so passionate.”

“He doesn’t want to see me around other men…or women.”

How is any of this romantic? How is lacking independence and agency over oneself romantic?

Forgetting a lover’s past so conveniently

So, throughout the movie or book or series, love interest has been an absolute asshole. But all that gets fixed with some rushed apology and kisses under the rain or elaborate showy expression of affection.

Everything is forgiven and forgotten.

Eh, how?

The shut-up kiss

Tiffany and Chad have been having one fight after another. He’s finally come to apologise to her. She goes on a rant about how she would like to be treated, how she won’t take being disrespected any more and then…he grabs her and kisses her *cue romantic music*

Is it romantic? Or is it rude?

Are her thoughts and opinions not relevant? Important? She doesn’t deserve being listened to?

Maybe, I’m the one who doesn’t understand romance or maybe my idea of romance is more realistic.

What do you think?

You can drag me in the comments.

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