In comparing real life romantic relationships to romantic relationships in movies and TV shows, one can see an obvious disconnect between fact and fiction. Media romantic relationships are idealized, romanticized and unrealistic, while real life romantic relationships are messy, challenging and complex. This difference is apparent to anyone who is media literate, yet media portrayals of relationships are much more frequently unrealistic than they are realistic. This has many people wondering why our media depictions of sex, love and romance are so skewed. Sex, love and romance in relationships are something that many people hold unrealistic expectations of, and the reasons are many.
The truth is, people crave the romanticized, idealized version of relationships. Trying to determine if we crave this version of relationships because of media portrayals, or if we create these media portrayals because we crave this kind of relationship, is futile. For whatever reason, we all share a common ideal that relationships are going to be effortless, therapeutic, thrilling and rewarding, and we are all completely jarred when they are not. Media portrayals are merely the expression of these idealized, romanticized notions.
People who indulge in these romantic ideals of relationships turn them into personal fantasies. Instead of removed characters on a screen, the unrealistic notions begin to feature them in their imaginations. This is where an ideal turns into a delusion, and unhealthy thinking begins. The more entrenched someone becomes in their fantasies, the more out of touch with reality they become. Ironically, this romantic fixation makes them much less well suited for an actual relationship because they will very unrealistic expectations.
Some people take their fantasies to the next level and become addicted to them. At this level of indulgence, someone may own every romantic film and TV show ever made, they may go through relationships like changes of clothes and they may obsess over their own romantic relationships to the point that they are entirely dysfunctional. Sex, love and romance addictions are real, very destructive and warrant professional counseling.