Hollywood romantic comedies give “unrealistic expectations” of relationships and could ruin people’s lives, scientists have warned today.
Researchers claim that romantic comedies often portray an idealistic view of the ‘perfect’ relationship and blur the reality of the need to invest time and energy.
Unsurprisingly the study shows that fans of films, such as Sleepless in Seattle, frequently failed to communicate successfully with their other half.
Bjarne Holmes, a psychologist, led the research at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.
He said a common theme which ran through the films included the idea of a pre-destined “soul mate” who should know us instinctively so well they could “almost read our minds”.
Mr Holmes said: “Marriage counsellors often see couples who believe that sex should always be perfect, and if someone is meant to be with you then they will know what you want without you needing to communicate it.”
He went on to warn: “We now have some emerging evidence that suggests popular media play a role in perpetuating these ideas in people’s minds.
“The problem is that while most of us know that the idea of a perfect relationship is unrealistic, some of us are still more influenced by media portrayals than we realise.”
Another researcher on the study, Kimberly Johnson, commented: “Films do capture the excitement of new relationships but they also wrongly suggest that trust and committed love exist from the moment people meet, whereas these are qualities that normally take years to develop.”
For more comprehensive findings, the researchers have now launched a larger international study into the effects of media on relationships.
Earlier this year a realistic Christian movie about long-term commitment in marriage surprised critics and exceeded all box office expectations to reach number four in the US movie charts.
The film, Fireproof, focuses on the importance of learning to love unconditionally in marriage, especially when the going gets tough.
In the movie US television star Kirk Cameron plays Caleb Holt, a fireman, whose marriage is disintegrating.
Rather than pursuing a divorce, Caleb is challenged to win his wife back using Christian teaching which coaches married couples to love one another unconditionally.