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Saturday, February 5, 2011

"Blue Valentine" - A Realistic Look at Love and Its Undoing

Once in a while I see a movie that stays with me. It doesn't happen often, but "Blue Valentine" is one of those films.

I saw it earlier this week and haven't been able to stop thinking about it. This morning I came across a piece on Huffington Post which crystallized a lot of what I'd been thinking.

What has stayed with me is the realization that most of us are all so fragile, needy and ultimately ill-equipped to be truly intimate - in a healthy way with anyone, that it's amazing the divorce rate isn't even higher. We all come into relationships with a laundry list of needs to be met- most of which are unconscious, of what we need from someone else in order to heal what we bring with us from childhood and past relationships. There are issues of abandonment, of control, fear of intimacy, insecurity and a myriad of other things that may be in the shadows during courtship, but ultimately emerge in full force as time goes on.

When someone pushes all the right buttons and resonates for us at a certain level, we can leap before we look and end up in a situation that was doomed from its inception.

As I watched Dean and Cindy (played with raw reality by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams) fall for each other and then eventually fall apart, I saw that what drew them together is what over time was their undoing. What we find charming initially with someone, those quirks and behaviors that are at first blush adorable or at least tolerable to us, over time can be what leads to the demise of the relationship and erosion of love.

It has taken me a long time finally realize that people are who they are and they don't change. You cannot get into a relationship thinking someone will change and become who you wish them to be.

We live in a romantic comedy culture where people expect a happy outcome. That while at page 90 of the screenplay things are looking bleak, by 120 it will all be okay. The thing is, it doesn't usually happen that way.

As the author of that post says. there are four things that need to happen to grow a healthy relationship: This is Ira Reiss's "Wheel Theory of Love"
1. Rapport - that feeling of comfort with another
2. Self-revelation - where you let someone in, warts and all to see you as you are
3. Mutual dependence - you rely on each other and see yourselves as a couple
4. Fulfillment of needs - this person meets your personality needs.

It's a lot to think about, but as we approach Valentine's Day where everyone seems so desperate to at least think they have someone, perhaps it's a good reminder of what real love is and isn't. Falling in love is the easy part. Making a life someone? That takes a lot of work.

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