Perfectly imperfect: Finding the beauty in real relationships


A stack of Valentine’s Day cards made by UK students.

Brooklyn Kelley

My immediate thoughts after watching a rom-com are too often along the lines of, “Wow, I wish my relationship was like that,” even though I’m in a great relationship. I’m sure many people today can relate.

Media portrays love in a way that isn’t feasible or realistic, making people search for all the wrong things and become discouraged when they can’t find a partner worthy of a young adult romance novel.

I have always loved love – watching it, reading about it, seeing it – but I have learned that media doesn’t give the whole picture. The messy parts aren’t deemed screen-worthy, but they are just as real as the photo-album moments in real life.

I grew up on Disney movies, and I still love them, but I would say that this is one of the first misrepresentations of love that I encountered through media. I grew up wishing to be swept off my feet by a prince, but not even real princesses live like Snow White or Belle.

Not only do movies and television have an effect on the way we form expectations about love, but books oftentimes do the same. While John Green and Nicholas Sparks books filled many of my teenage days, I can’t help but see the connection between the relationships described in the novels I read and my expectations of my relationship now.

I want adventures, sweet gestures and, to an extent, mind reading, so that my significant other will know exactly what I want or need and respond to that accordingly. These ridiculously high expectations are too much of a burden to put on anyone, though.

I don’t believe in settling for someone who does not treat me well, but I also try to keep in mind the feasibility of my standards and what drives them. Often, it’s simply the idea that the subjects of books and films have something better than I do.

My relationship with my now-fiancé is amazing. We argue sometimes, but we do so respectfully and remember that we’re on the same team. We also dance in the aisles of grocery stores, but we remember that it’s the work that we put in that leads us to have so much fun together.

He is the kind of man who never lets me go without a bouquet of flowers, surprises me with the sweetest gestures and texts me “I love you” and “I miss you” more times than I can keep track of. He is the type of person novels could be written about, but that doesn’t change the fact that we still disagree and mess up sometimes. Our relationship isn’t perfect, no matter how much we both try. That’s what makes it beautiful, though.

Our relationship is a balance, and that is what I wish media would teach people about love. It is sacrificial, fun, difficult, adventurous and a mix of it all. There are ups and downs, no matter how excellent your significant other is.

Sure, I do not have what Noah and Allie do in “The Notebook” or what Chandler and Monica have in “Friends.” Our fights are not always resolved by kissing in the rain or some romantic gesture, but I wouldn’t trade what I do have for anything.

If I had exactly what media told me to have, I’d be wishing for something deeper. My relationship has seen pain, resolution, guidance, brokenness and genuine care. It is weathered with time and seasoned with the reality of the difficulty of love. It couldn’t be fit into a single movie, and that’s the way I like it. I know our love will endure because it is based on effort and choices rather than emotions.

Perfection is unattainable, and some things are better left in fictional stories. My advice is to write your own love story, making it genuine and breaking away from the relationships you’ve come to idolize. For me, it’s been worth it.