5 Major Lies Soap Operas Told Me About Love

Real love is not at all like what's depicted on daytime television.

Last updated on Oct 23, 2023

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Growing up, I'd spend most afternoons after school visiting my grandma. We'd share a snack and we'd then watch "her stories"— generally, Days Of Our Lives on NBC, followed by the ABC soaps for the rest of the afternoon.

I was a relatively precocious child, but innocent in the ways of intimacy and relationships — I didn't even kiss a boy until I was well into my latter teen years — but I got my formative education watching these soaps. Or, at least, what I believed was intimacy.


I think Grandma had faith in my ability to discern fact from fiction, and didn't know I was watching these steamy fests — or "love in the afternoon" as the promos called them — and believing they were the real deal.

Taking my romantic cues from soap operas has led to a great deal of complications in my real-life love scenarios.

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Here are 5 major lies soap operas told me about love:

1. All conflicts will have a happy ending

Call it romantic idealism if you want, but no matter what the problem on soap operas, the couple will inevitably end up in a snowy mountain cabin having steamy intimacy by November. This has ruined me. No matter how perilous a relationship situation is, I refuse to ever let go and believe it's a lost cause — because it's not. We know that the more hopeless a couple looks on TV, the bigger the romantic payoff will be by the end.

2. Random drunk intimacy totally leads to marriage

Let's look at all of our timeless soap couples. General Hospital's Sonny and Carly are a fine example: Say you get drunk at the local watering hole and have meaningless (but super hot, obviously, because soaps) intimacy with someone you vaguely know. It won't be an awkward, forgotten night. Instead, it's a sure sign you will be in love within a month. Sadly, this hasn't translated to reality. When you have a drunken hookup, it's sadly, just a hookup. What gives?

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3. Love is forever 

Soap stars are amazing at falling in love. Look at Susan Lucci's Erica Kane. She was head over heels in love like 12 times. And each of these guys married her. There are no commitment phobes in daytime, alas. And even if the love of your life falls off a cliff into a waterfall, you'll probably find love within a few months. (But tread lightly: That love is sure to return on your wedding day and make life really complicated.)


4. Intimacy is the answer to problems

Whether it's Carly and Sonny on GH (or EJ and Sammi on Days), if you had a personal tragedy, grief intimacy is the only logical conclusion to feel better. Cycle of life, and all. Public or forbidden place intimacy is even better — so, go ahead. Go hook up in your dad's office or on your ex's kitchen table. It'll only make it better. In real life, this doesn't often fix any problem. In fact, it's been my experience that it can create whole new ones.

In soap operas, everyone is always gorgeous. It doesn't matter if you just came out of a 20-year coma or had a baby last week, you have a perfect body, perfect hair, perfect tan…you know the drill.

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5. All couplings involve extreme passion 

Intimacy on screen is always steamy. It's just not an option for it not to be. You throw two beautiful, perfect people together, thrust them (sorry, couldn't resist) into a situation where they are wearing perfect underwear (even when they are in an impromptu situation!), and magically have satin sheets and ideal mood lighting waiting.


The more forbidden and illicit, the better. They're grinding against walls, screaming out in passion, drenched in sweat and their makeup never smears even as their body glistens. It's simply bizarre.

But what does that do for the impressionable young girl watching in real life? We grow up, with this as our guiding light — what intimacy and romance are supposed to look like. When intimacy is anything less than that (which I know now, in my 30s, is the norm and not the exception), we think it's us. That we are doing something wrong, because we need to have that passion that's on TV. It's crazy and unrealistic, except it's not … because it's what we grew up expecting and looking forward to.

Anything less is just disappointing. But what does that mean, ultimately? Do we seek the forbidden and passionate, to seek a reality we've learned may not exist? Or do we accept what is likely the very real truth? Real life is simply not as exciting as soap operas.


I'd rather live the dream.

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Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyle writer. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly.