Fictional Characters Are Not Our Soulmates

Every girl has said it at one point or another: I’m looking for my Prince Charming. Mr. Darcy. Edward Cullen. Noah Calhoun. Jake Ryan. Seth Cohen. Regardless of what we look for in a partner, most of us have idealized a “soulmate” some time in our lives, and often that image is based on a fictional character that appeals to us. If we’re realistic about everything and we don’t let our thoughts run too wild, the idea of a real-life Zack Morris or A.C. Slater probably isn’t the worst thing we can think up. However, sometimes the line between fiction and reality becomes blurred, and we begin to hope for something that doesn’t actually exist.

In my first entry onΒ A Paper Town for a Paper Girl (my previous blog), I discussed the dangers of taking romantic comedies too literally, because we are often disillusioned by the way relationships work on screen. The entry dealt mainly with the plot of these movies as a whole, but not so much about the specific characters that we fall for every time.

The thing is, romantic comedies aren’t the only ones guilty of deceiving us. The books we read and the TV shows we watch can also present those same male leads that we can’t get enough of. And isn’t that every writer’s goal — for the audience to become invested in the characters and their fates? So maybe it isn’t the creator’s fault; maybe that lies in the way we absorb what’s in front of us.

In his book Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, Chuck Klosterman illustrates this point with Lloyd Dobler (played by John Cusack) from the movieΒ Say Anything. Although Lloyd Dobler is completely fictional, the actor who plays him is not, and therefore according many women (including Klosterman’s then-girlfriend) transferred their love for Lloyd to John. Even when Cusack took on grittier roles, those women still perceived him to be exactly as Lloyd Dobler was. They would always see him as the hopeless romantic who held a boombox over his head and played Peter Gabriel for the girl he loved… even though he was really just John Cusack, an actor who merely did a good job delivering a role.

So then, what happens to those girls who pray for a Lloyd Dobler in real life? I’ve blogged before about the dangers of building our significant others up to be something they’re not, but what about the dangers of those comparisons between fictional heartthrobs and the ones in our own lives? If you always have the manufactured image of that boy with the boombox in the back of your mind, and you can’t replace it with something tangible, then you may never be totally satisfied in your love life.

Ultimately, if we’re ever going to have healthy relationships, we need to ditch our fictional “soulmates” and go with the people in our real lives who will make us happy just by being themselves. πŸ™‚

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7 comments

  1. Thank you so much! I started blogging officially in April on Blogger but I didn’t do much with it and I wanted to try WordPress out instead. So far I like it much better! πŸ™‚ I’m glad you enjoyed. Hopefully will update soon!

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more! I do believe some of our favorite characters from movies and literature do tend to deceive us about the realities of love and just the world in general. Personally, I also gravitating to bordering on crazy female characters, not only because I related to them-lol, but because they always seemed to be in the most intense torchureous love affairs, filled with passion etc, with men who desperately wanted to save them. It took me several relationships that ended VERY badly to realize playing up your insecurities and being a sobby mess will only attract equally nutty men. The good guys want their women sane.

    I also use to be fixated on the unattainable male character- think Jordan Catalano from My So Called Life. I felt the harder it was to get the guy to fall in love with me the greater the reward. Um…I was certainly wrong there.

    On a side note- I really enjoyed this post. You are an excellent writer. I hope to read more of your stuff and thanks for commenting on my recent blog post:)

  3. I see what you mean about the female characters! The first literary couple that comes to mind for me is Cathy Earnshaw and Healthcliff from Wuthering Heights… it was one of those epic, tortuous love affairs that ended badly, but it was passionate nonetheless, so I can see why people might sort of want that. It never ends well though! 😦

    I think a lot of us have gone for that unattainable guy once in a while, with the idea that someone who is hard to get must be worth the challenge, even if he isn’t.

    Thank you both for your comments! πŸ™‚ I’m glad you enjoyed this entry and I appreciate the feedback!

  4. Another great post πŸ™‚

    Also, sometimes when you stop having unrealistic expectations and just let it be, life can surprise you and bring its own movie-worthy moments. True story.

    1. Thank you so much! I definitely agree with you. At some point I think everyone has their own little love story that could be in the movies and that others might envy! I’m glad life brought you your movie-worthy moment : )

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