Does your partner ever say “this reminds me of that episode of… [fill in the blank],” when discussing a relationship matter? How often do you do the same?
It’s actually fairly common, especially when couples find themselves homebound thanks to the pandemic. Now more than ever, we are looking for ways to feel connected and socially stimulated. What you see on TV and in movies can help foster a sense of community.
But there’s a big catch. Pop culture content is designed to entertain and sell merchandise. Thus, no matter how edgy, realistic, or inspiring a script gets, your favorite TV show is not a reflection of real life. More specifically, it does not serve as a useful role model for your relationships.
3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Compare Your Relationship to Those in TV and Movies
1. Missing Context
Somehow, fictional characters, without much money, tend to live in massive, well-furnished homes. They’re always clever and ready with a snappy comeback. Even their kids are smart and funny — all the time. Their cars are gassed and ready to go. Their bosses might grouse but deep down, they respect the character’s work.
I could go on but you get the idea. Of course, things can and do fall into place for many real-world people. But it often comes with a lot of struggle and sacrifice. It is no different with relationships.
Without the necessary context, you may find yourself wondering why your mate isn’t buff or bubbly all the time. Remember, on-screen, romantic depictions are fiction. They rarely highlight the mundane or irritating. Enjoy them as romantic fantasies but avoid comparisons.
2. Ulterior Motives
Movies, television shows, and streaming series are expensive to create. The sponsors of such content are not running a charity. They want something in return. Therefore, it behooves them to foster an audience that craves the qualities that fictional characters have. From beautiful bodies to fairy tale endings, they are marketing to you 24/7.
This isn’t mean to imply some kind of evil conspiracy. It’s just more of the missing context mentioned above. Media sponsors and advertisers simply love an audience that wants to emulate make-believe characters and situations. It’s easier on you and your partner to recognize this. Avoid unrealistic comparisons that could distract and misdirect your relationship energy. Worse, this could promote relationship dissatisfaction.
3. Comparison is the Thief of Joy
Your life, your situation, and your relationship are unique. Some universal commonalties exist but comparisons will not lead you to improvement. Almost without fail, this path leads to frustration.
Basing your happiness on the assumed happiness of others is a fast track to bitterness. Stacking your relationship up against that of an imaginary romantic connection is self-sabotage. If you and your partner are struggling, it makes sense to seek new approaches. But that’s a job for couples counseling, not Netflix.
(The Same Warning Goes For Social Media)
A casual scroll through your social media news feeds can induce the same kind of feeling you get from watching a movie. Online, many people carefully curate their posts to present an illusion.
Once again, there is a ton of missing context. By measuring yourself against the highlight reels of others’ relationships, you create a negative self-fulfilling prophecy. Unconsciously, you begin comparing your worst moments to someone else’s top accomplishments.
Counseling Helps You Avoid the Comparison Cycle
Whether it’s a TV show, a Facebook friend, or your next-door neighbor, some comparisons are hard to avoid. Doing this every now and then is normal. Yet, when comparisons of any kind become a fixation, seek support. Counseling sessions offer a safe space to learn and grow together.
I’d love to help you both form a realistic, self-affirming set of goals and standards. Please take some time to read more about couples counseling. Let’s set up a consultation to talk things through.