The Effects of the Media on Women’s Priorities and Expectations in Romantic Relationships – Part 2
In Part 1 we spoke about the detrimental ways in which the media influence womens’ expectations when it comes to choosing a romantic partner. Part 2 focuses on what you can do about it.
Step 1 to ensuring that your expectations of a guy are reasonable, is to develop an awareness of when you are being overly inveigled by things you read or watch. It’s important to begin to make clear distinctions for yourself between what is realistic and what is fantastic. This part is fairly straightforward. If Danielle Steel wrote it or David Selznick produced it, you can rest assured that it is fantasy based. You can enjoy it and be inspired by it, but don’t expect to run your life by it and don’t expect it to happen to you.
Let’s take an example from ‘Dirty Dancing’. Remember the scene when Baby is over at Johnny’s house and suddenly he gives her ‘the look’ where it becomes clear they are going to go all the way? The scene goes something like this: he holds her, she begins kissing him all over and things proceed perfectly romantically from inception to completion, at which point they hold each other close and share intimate details of their lives. Had this been a part of Baby’s real life, the scene probably would have unfolded something like this: Johnny gives baby ‘the look’, at which point Baby claps her hand over her mouth and gasps “uh-oh, since I’m practically a virgin, I haven’t given any prior thought to birth control ever in my life and I am wholly unprepared for what is about to take place.” To which Johnny would reply, “Well, since I’m not even close to anything resembling a virgin, I have plenty of condoms, don’t worry.” Then, awkward lovemaking – the only kind that a seasoned player can have with a an inexperienced virgin, would have ensued, leaving baby somewhat discombobulated and Johnny likely unsatisfied. Since it was a movie, Baby and Johnny continued to see each other and sleep together. But in real life, the chances that Johnny would have had a continued interest in Baby are pretty slim. The important lesson for you in all this is to leave the fantasy with the fantasy. Take it for what it is, but when it comes to your own life, you must be prepared to live by a different, more realistic set of expectations.
Step 2 is to create “The List”. That is, make a distinction for yourself between what you feel you need in a guy and what you feel you want in a guy. There is an important difference between that which you need and that which you want. Qualities you need in a guy are things you absolutely can’t live without. Qualities you want your guy to have are traits that would be nice, but the absence of them are not deal breakers. Some examples of qualities you may need in a guy are: honest, responsible, loyal and kind-hearted. Some examples of qualities you may want in a guy are tall, funny, family oriented, wealthy, romantic. Use the qualities you come up with as an outline to help you prioritize your goals and objectives when looking for, or meeting someone. This will help you keep your eye on the ultimate prize, and minimize the degree to which you will become distracted by examples of guys and relationships you may experience in some form of media. Sometimes you meet someone whom you really click with, who doesn’t fit perfectly with your organized list of traits. That’s fine. The sum of a relationship or the depth of what two people can create can’t be summed up in a few character traits. “The List” is just a simple way of creating some organization out of a part of life that can potentially become confusing and frustrating.
After developing an awareness of what is fantasy and creating an idea of what you want your realistic man to be like, step 3 is evaluating whether or not the lifestyle you currently practice is conducive to meeting the kind of guy you want to be with. If you find that your lifestyle is not consistent with meeting the kind of guy you ultimately want to commit to, you may need to make some lifestyle changes that will lead you to your Mr. Right, instead of your Mr. Right Now. So if a religious, church-going boy is important to you, stop frequenting bars at 3 am. Chances are, your Mr. Right won’t be there. However, if a social, life-of-the party kind of guy is what you are looking for, then perhaps you are better off staying at the bar. If an educated guy is important to you, consider going back to school yourself, or frequenting venues that offer higher education. Perhaps you picture yourself 5 years down the road married, in a house, with a toddler and another baby on the way. But for now, you are not ready to give up partying and hanging out with guys who aren’t interested in a long-term commitment, just a short-term good time. It’s important to acknowledge that priority so that you can make an informed choice, and get what you really want out of life right now. Not ready to make any changes or sacrifices just yet? Then you may need to re-evaluate your priorities.
To conclude, finding Mr. Right may not be a simple or as natural as the (ahem) media may make it seem. You may need to be prepared to give some things up or make certain lifestyle changes in order to meet the man of your dreams. Or you may just need to make sure that your idea of Mr. Right is realistic and not the figment of a producer’ imagination. Just be sure to think all of your choices through so that you will be more likely to reap the rewards of romantic satisfaction and contentment with a worthy partner.