7 Lessons I Learned From Chick Flicks

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Dangerous delusions about love—and the romantic comedies that feed them.

In that spirit, I've identified some of the most common romantic-movie traps. If you feel yourself slipping back into fantasyland, get thee to a Blockbuster and rent Annie Hall—the only romantic movie I can think of that's both satisfying and honest.

The Sleepless in Seattle Trap: Like Bill Pullman in the movie, your current boyfriend or fiancé may have committed some unforgivable crimes, such as having lots of allergies but no nickname. Then you hear a voice on the radio, or see a face across a crowded room. Suddenly, you know this stranger is the love of your life.

OK, you already have a partner who's perfectly stable and lovely, but I'm afraid you will have to end that relationship. After all, in the 30 seconds you've spent with the new man, you've learned everything there is to know about him. And. It. Is. Good. You use Google, gossip, mutual acquaintances, and expensive private investigators to track him down and ask him out to dinner.

See also: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, A Walk in the Clouds.

The Real Ending: Over dinner, you realize he has bad breath, a wife, and absolutely nothing whatsoever in common with you.

The As Good As It Gets Trap: You've found a guy who has that certain something--as well as a bad attitude, a fear of commitment, or just a nonspecific nasty streak.

Other than that, though, what a catch. Minor personality flaws won't stand in the way of your fate. You decide that your love can change him, because that's what true love does.

See also: Jerry Maguire, Reality Bites.

The Real Ending: You go to great lengths to show him that you're worth loving before ultimately deciding that he's never going to change--and that he's the last thing you'd want to complete you, anyway.

The An Affair to Remember Trap: You meet the perfect man and make elaborate, romantic plans for the future right away. He takes your number (no need for you to take his) and promises to call the next day.

When the phone doesn't ring, you don't worry--he's your soul mate after all, there's just been some misunderstanding. Two days later, you start to grow concerned that something has happened to him. Is he under a bus somewhere? Has he been taken hostage?

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