I haven’t seen a chick flick in the movie theatre since 2008. Why? Because I got tired of how Hollywood consistently degrades the meaning of the word “love.”
The last movie I paid to see, Maid of Honor, is about a man who goes through life using countless women for his own sexual pleasure, but nearly loses the woman and friend he really loves after she becomes engaged to another man. He of course ends up with her by the end, and somehow she’s ok being the 200th girl he’s had sex with that year! After all, he is rich, gorgeous, and charming–and that’s what every woman wants, right? Regardless of his poor character, the emotional carnage left behind from previous relationships, or the number of STDs he may be packing. Happily ever after—The End.
And with that, I was done. Hollywood has reinvented the word “love.” It’s now used to describe a selfish act where one’s needs and desires are fulfilled regardless of who it hurts. The body, instead of being respected, is thrown away again and again on “harmless” pleasures. Only we rarely get to see the confusion, guilt, and diminished self-respect that accompany such choices.
For instance, most movies/TV shows teach us to follow our feelings and that by doing so, we will find our soulmate. They teach that we will walk away from each one-night stand or live-in partner fulfilled, experienced, and complete with no emotional damage, no diseases, no untimely pregnancies—no consequences.
But reality teaches us a much different story. Regardless of what we have been taught by the media and our media-influenced friends, sex outside the security of marriage is hardly “safe.” Sure, he may be wearing three condoms, she may have been completely honest about her medical history, he may have even waited until the third date (wow! What a gentleman!) but that doesn’t guard us from the emotional consequences that may stick around the rest of our lives.
Breakups can be painful, but how much harder is it to heal when we have given a piece of ourselves to someone without thought to a lasting commitment? Research doesn’t have to tell us that sex is tied to our emotions and psyche as much as it is to our physical bodies.
I can only point to my own experience: As many couples before and after us have done, our wedding night was the first time my spouse and I had sex. As a result, there was one thing in our hotel room that evening that simply did not exist: fear. I knew that after I gave myself to Eric, he would still be there the next morning, and the next and the next. I knew that he wanted all of me, not just my body, because he had waited for me. The time we had taken to understand each other and build our relationship was all worth it in that very moment. No fear. No regret. Just unrestrained love.
We all have to deal with the choices of our past, but it should be encouraging to know that even if you didn’t wait to have sex, you can start again right where you are. It may not be easy to hit the brakes if you are already sexually active, but it is possible—it’s never too late to begin guarding our bodies, minds, and emotions.
I have an incredible friend who always reminds me that it’s never too late for new beginnings. After many painful years of giving her body to countless non-committed partners as she searched for true love, she finally found the man of her dreams. She decided, for the first time, to wait for sex until they were married. I’m sure it wasn’t easy, but it helped that her partner respected her decision. They got married, and twenty years later, they have a beautiful life together.
In Hollywood, love is scripted, pain from broken relationships is downplayed, and “happily ever after” comes no matter what. But real-life love is more fragile, and yet infinitely more beautiful. Maybe it’s time to evaluate whether our choices fall in line with Hollywood’s version of love or the kind of committed love that can produce true safety and sexual freedom and last a lifetime.
Photo Credit: Flickr/David Zellaby