Let’s be real: Most of our perceptions of love and relationships are birthed in the movies we’ve come to know and cherish. Let’s embrace the lessons and themes our favorite characters had to learn — sometimes the hard way — so that we can have the best Valentine’s Day yet!
Valentine’s Day takeaway points
From the blatantly obvious to the warm and fuzzy, Hollywood has a knack for instilling incredibly valuable life lessons in beautiful ways. In light of Valentine’s Day, we’re highlighting some of the best love lessons we’ve taken away from the big screen.
The Lake House — The key to long-distance relationships
If distance separates you and your love this Valentine’s Day, watch The Lake House to make yourself feel better. If you think your romance is frustrating, try living in glass house that is like Cupid’s time machine. Still, Kate and Alex prove that when a love is strong enough, it will prevail. All of the meaningful events in this movie take place on — you guessed it — Valentine’s Day.
P.S. I Love You — Real love never dies
This movie delivers on the sighs and the sniffles — have a box of tissues ready and watch it alone because you will probably have the ugly-crying-face without even realizing it. This movie teaches us that real love never dies, even if the love of our life does.
The Bridges of Madison County — Intensity vs longevity
Sometimes incredible love stories have a lot to teach us about being alone, and how alone you can feel even when you’re in a relationship. The Bridges of Madison County is a life-changing bittersweet tale about a married but lonely housewife in 1965 who experienced the love of her life in four days. This story teaches us that it’s not the length of what we’ve experienced that matters but the intensity of what we’ve experienced that haunts our memories and dreams for the rest of our lives.
Enough Said — The importance of loyalty
In James Gandolfini’s final movie, he and Julia Louis-Dreyfus show us the importance of loyalty in Enough Said. Louis-Dreyfus finds herself in an awkward situation she doesn’t know how to get out of, and her morbid fascination threatens to ruin her new love. This story is a careful reminder about the importance of making the right decisions and staying loyal to those we love.
Ted — People, not stuff
So I know what you’re thinking: How the heck are we supposed to take something valuable away from the raunchy, Seth MacFarlane/Mark Wahlberg-driven comedy about an immature bachelor and his binge-drinking, pot-smoking teddy bear? The answer is easy and a good one at that. We’ve all got a teddy bear in our lives — some item or idea that defines and often influences our perspective. In light of this day of love, reflect on your idols and consider the implications they may have for your significant other. Invest your feelings in those around you instead of your stuff. It worked for Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, anyhow.
Knocked Up — Handle your hormones… and alcohol
Whether you’ve had a one-night stand — and even the pregnancy — or not, Katherine Heigl’s character taught us all a universal law of love in this 2007 flick. Perhaps it’s easier said than done, but hormones and emotions have to be kept in check. One scene comes directly to mind concerning this staple love lesson: Katherine Heigl is at the doctor’s office for a checkup, and Seth Rogen‘s character pokes his head in, sensing her anxiety, and tries to lighten the mood with a little comic relief. Heigl, who is not amused, claims Rogen is noncommittal and suggests they break up. Boiled down, take this to heart: You’re going to have stress and emotions at play in your life every single day. The trick is to address them, confront them and digest them in ways that aren’t going to seriously damage your relationship with those around you.
And one more thing: Knocked Up reiterates once again that alcohol and sex can be dreadful bedfellows.
The Notebook — Personal delivery is best
Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams taught us a heck of a lot about love in The Notebook, but we’re going to illuminate a simple lesson here: Personal delivery is best. In the movie, McAdams’ mom kept secret all the love letters Gosling sent her daughter, ruining any chance these young lovebirds had of being together (which was, of course, Mumsie’s plan all along). Maybe you don’t send letters — but I know you text. Consider this on Valentine’s Day: Texts and other electronic communication do not convey strong emotions and body language. Honor your recipient with face time and heartfelt words — it’s more sincere, courageous and, quite frankly, romantic.
Titanic — Don’t let go
I’m praying you never find yourself in frigid waters, teeth chattering and savoring the last remaining minutes with your loved one — but my wish is that Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet left you with an enduring perspective. Titanic reminds us to never let go. Take this with a grain of salt: There’s a time and place to eject from an unhealthy relationship. But if you’ve found that special other, and they indeed feel the same, don’t let go. Hold them tight this Valentine’s Day.
Grease — Don’t dance with the dark side
Danny (John Travolta) had Cha Cha DiGregorio. We, too, have our dark exes. If you’re lucky enough to land a Sandy, don’t screw it up by dancing with the past. It might begin with an innocent text or unplanned encounter, but the hand jive eventually leads to trouble. Cha Cha won’t stick around —you’ll lose her and Sandy (insert your own names here). Stay disciplined and faithful this Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day — Save the proposal
It was the perfect plan — fail proof — or so he thought. But when Jessica Alba accepted Ashton Kutcher‘s Valentine’s Day marriage proposal, the euphoria wore off by the next morning and she changed her mind. Here’s the deal: Valentine’s Day can be a day of magic and intimacy — the kind of stuff sappy cards are made of. But realistically (although the holiday might go awesomely) it never goes completely as planned. Keep your expectations within bounds and savor the memorable moments. If you hype it too much, you may depreciate the value of your lover’s gestures and wake up on Feb. 15 wondering why you’re still there.
What are your favorite love lessons from Hollywood? Share in the comments below!