How Dirty Dancing Ruined My Love Life

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dirty dancing
Dirty Dancing made her crush on Patrick Swayze and believe too much in fairy-tale romance.

I was 10 years old when my mother took me to the movies to see Dirty Dancing. I, like so many women, fell head over heels in love—with the movie, with the soundtrack, and most definitely with Patrick Swayze. I loved that movie so much that when I couldn't sleep at night I used to recite the movie in my head line by line.

That was the summer of 1963, when everybody called me Baby, and it didn't occur to me to mind. That was before President Kennedy was shot, before the Beatles came, when I couldn't wait to join the Peace Corps, and I thought I'd never find a guy as great as my dad. That was the summer we went to Kellerman's.

When the 20th anniversary of the film rolled around in 2007 it was finally time to admit what I had long known—Dirty Dancing ruined my love life. I'm not sure how one movie could so deeply affect me. Maybe it was because I saw the movie when I was young and impressionable, or maybe it's just that I watched the film so often that my VHS copy actually broke in the VCR. The lessons I learned about love in the summer of 1987 set me up for some massive disappointments later in life. Happily, as a single, thirtysomething woman, I've learned not to believe the romantic myths of my youth.

Movie Myth: The Bad Boy Really Isn't That Bad
It doesn't matter how many articles we read or quizzes we take, women always seem to fall for the bad boy. More often than not they break our hearts, except in Dirty Dancing. In this case, Johnny Castle acts tough because no one has ever really loved him. He's had to fight for everything he has, until Baby trips into his life. She respects him and believes in him, and he pays her back by giving her the best summer of her life. Before the film is over, we find out that he's honest, loyal and a hopeless romantic.

Truth Time: This never happens. Men don't change who they are just to be with you. I know, I know, the film's message was that people are more than outside appearances, and Johnny Castle was never really a bad boy. But this subtlety was lost on my decade-old mind. I thought that I could bring out my bad boy crushes' soft, vulnerable inner self. The truth is, your love can't change him. You know all of this and, thanks to some ex-boyfriends, I know this. Quiz: Do You Fall For Bad Boys?

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