As our culture’s premier popular art form, movies produce a profound effect on how we view and define our relationships. But are the movies really telling us the truth about what love is and isn’t?
Let’s take a quick look at some of the most famous movie quotes of all time on love and see how they measure up to reality!
1. “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” — “Love Story”
If only this were true! Unfortunately, everyone who has ever been in love knows full well that serious, committed relationships are filled with apologies. In fact, it’s more accurate to say that love is about continuously saying “I’m sorry.” And this is a good thing.
Shared personal growth stands as one of the cornerstones of falling in love and committing to a serious relationship. You and your partner can’t help each other grow if you both refuse to admit each other’s faults. And if you fail to acknowledge and act on the personal shortcomings your partner makes abundantly clear, and if you aren’t allowing your partner to help you grow, then you need to ask yourself why you are with this person in the first place.
Yet, there is a shadow of truth in this quote. Love may not be about “never having to say you’re sorry,” but it is about knowing your apologies will always be accepted.
2. “You complete me.” — “Jerry Maguire”
This is arguably the most famous movie quote about love to come out of American cinema over the last two decades, and it’s also one of the most dishonest.
But if this line is so inaccurate, then why is it so famous? Was it Tom Cruise’s sobbing delivery? Nope. Was the line dropped in the context of an otherwise well-written and believable love story? Not at all. This “you complete me” line spread like wildfire because it flatters one of our most persistent cultural myths — that searching for love is really about searching for your “other half.”
The sooner this false notion of somehow being less than full people living less than full lives goes by the wayside, the sooner we can all enter our dating lives without the baggage and colossal expectations that damage so many potentially great connections.
3. “We’re gonna have to work at this every day.” — “The Notebook”
At first glance, the popular cinematic romance “The Notebook” appears to be another dishonest piece of cotton candy fluff. But at the heart of this movie lies a slyly subversive beat, the reality that not only is love not always pretty, but the fact that love is, in fact, hard work.
“The Notebook” uses its central shop-worn conceit of the meeting of two star-crossed lovers from different sides of the tracks and uses it for more than just manufacturing overwrought plot points. It uses the exaggerated difficulties of the central couple’s courtship to highlight the very real fact that the long-term reality of being in love is never as easy as the momentary thunderbolt strike of falling in love.
4. “As you wish.” — The Princess Bride
“The Princess Bride” transcends its apparent limitations. It’s a love story with engaging action, it’s a fairy tale that amusingly comments on other sword-and-sorcery stories, and it’s ostensibly a children’s movie that works even better for adults.
The plot is simple to start with. Farm boy Wesley falls in love with above-his-station Buttercup. Every time Buttercup asks him to do something for her, he complies with a simple “As you wish.” One day Buttercup realizes that every time Wesley says “As you wish,” he really means “I love you.”
Oddly enough, this simple phrase is the most honest quote about love, especially masculine love, on this list. It is love expressed by devoted action, not by flashy declaration.