I sat up tonight watching the last half of The Notebook. This is one of my favorite romance movies (and not just because I have crushes on both of the leads). I generally hate smarmy, gendered romance movies where some dashing, moneyed guy saves some poor but pretty abused Cinderella from her dead-end life. Excuse me, but I’d like to think that there was more drawing two people together than her desperation to escape a life of abuse and poverty. That’s not romance. Call me not old fashioned.
And The Notebook does something else that I also found interesting in Sweet Home Alabama, a trend I wouldn’t mind seeing more of.
It’s not that the girl needs saving in either of these movies. In fact, she’s quite successful and well-off all on her own. And it’s not that her current boyfriend is an asshole. In fact, her current boyfriend is pretty perfect. Her life is great. It’s just that… it’s that… something’s missing. And she needs to figure out what it is, or just learn how to live without it.
Most of us make the choice to live without it. It’s often easier that way.
There’s this big myth that women like assholes and bad boys, people who treat them like crap. This is a a misreading of something else, I think (though there are, certainly, people who are drawn into or just plain stuck in abusive relationships). In fact, what I think some people are looking for – what I realized I was looking for – is somebody who challenges them. Somebody who doesn’t put up with their bullshit.
There’s a reason I was more broken up about the not-Boyfriend than I have been about any other breakup I’ve had. And that’s because he challenged me. He stood up to me. I can be a scary bitch sometimes, I get that. I’ve dated people who don’t like conflict, and especially don’t like to argue with me. So then you just don’t talk, or you avoid certain subjects, or stuff breaks down, and then one day one of you wakes up and you realize you’ve spent all of your time never talking about anything that matters, and you don’t actually know each other at all.
Go too far one way and you end up dating an asshole (which I did in highschool). Go too far the other way and you get the NY boyfriend, who refused to get into an argument with me about anything. He found conflict of any kind terrifying, which made that whole jokey sarcasm thing that I do when I really like people kind of… well, it didn’t work.
We all need that special someone in our lives who calls us on all our bullshit.
Noah: It’s not about following your heart and it’s not about keeping your promises. It’s about security.
Allie: What’s that supposed to mean?
Noah: [yelling] Money. He’s got a lot of money!
Allie: You smug bastard. I hate you for saying that.
Noah: You’re bored Allie. You’re bored and you know it. You wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t something missing.
Allie: You arrogant son of a bitch.
Noah: Would you just stay with me?
Allie: Stay with you? What for? Look at us, we’re already fighting.
Noah: Well that’s what we do, we fight… You tell me when I am being an arrogant son of a bitch and I tell you when you are a pain in the ass. Which you are, 99% of the time. I’m not afraid to hurt your feelings. You have like a 2 second rebound rate, then you’re back doing the next pain-in-the-ass thing.
Allie: So what?
Noah: So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be really hard. We’re gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, for ever, you and me, every day. Will you do something for me, please? Just picture your life for me? 30 years from now, 40 years from now? What’s it look like? If it’s with him, go. Go! I lost you once, I think I can do it again. If I thought that’s what you really wanted. But don’t you take the easy way out.
Allie: What easy way? There is no easy way, no matter what I do, somebody gets hurt.
Noah: Would you stop thinking about what everyone wants? Stop thinking about what I want, what he wants, what your parents want. What do YOU want? What do you WANT?
Allie: It’s not that simple.
Noah: What… do… you… want? Whaddaya want?
Yeah, it’s not gonna be easy, it’s gonna be really hard. But there was a time I believed it was worth it, and there will be a time when I believe it’s worth it again.
Until then, the beat goes on.