Thursday, June 19, 2014

relationship lessons from When Harry Met Sally

When Harry Met Sally is probably my all-time favorite movie.  My sister and I have watched it so many times that we know most of the lines by heart.  We can do a whole scene together, which amuses us, but not so much everyone else.

This movie captures so many truths about relationships; the themes withstand the test of time, and that's why this movie has remained popular for so long.  Here are the "truths" that I see come up again and again in my work and personal life.

1) Men and women can't be friends.
This isn't a whole truth, but a mostly-truth.  I have some male friends, but at some point in our relationship, there was sexual desire on at least one person's part.  We were only able to become friends after that desire was acknowledged, if not acted on.

In my work, I see that friendships between men and women, especially when one or both party is in an unhappy relationship, can be dangerous.  Often one person is using the friendship as a substitute for the intimacy they would like in their own marriage.  Friendships often begin innocently enough, but can shift into something else over time.

2) He's never going to leave her.
We all know someone whose husband left for the "other woman," and it does happen, but more frequently, he's never going to leave her.  Don't get involved with a married man under the premise that he is going to leave his wife for you.  More likely, he is just an asshole having a midlife crisis, and at some point in the future, you will be alone and he will be back playing happy family.

3) When you know what you want for the rest of your life, you want the rest of your life to begin as soon as possible.
When someone is ambivalent, they will let things drag out.  I can remember my own college relationship, which lasted for 2 years, only 3 months of which were truly good.  We would: break up, get back together, go on a "break," get back together, take another break, get back together, talk about moving into together, talk about getting married, break up, get back together, and ultimately, break up.  We tried every iteration of a relationship in the hopes that it would work, but in the end, we weren't right for each other and broke up.  When something is right, you'll know. If you have to sell yourself on the idea of being with someone or rationalize your relationship to other people, it's not right.  And when you know it's right, you want to make it happen and seal the deal as soon as you can.

(I should also add, I am friends with my college boyfriend and his wife. We actually can be friends. But first we were more than that, and got that out of the way.)

4) "It's not that he didn't want to get married, it's just that he didn't want to marry me."
This relates to #3. If you find yourself making excuses for your relationship, or the reason why you are remaining unmarried when what you really want is to get married, then it is probably time to move on.  I can recall a high school friend explaining why she and her boyfriend weren't going to get married: "We bought a house together, and that's as good as getting married."  They broke up shortly after, and she was stuck in a legal battle trying to get rid of that house, because without being married, there were no laws governing their break-up.  I'm not saying get married so you can split your assets more easily, but that if you find yourself doing something that's uncomfortable for you, then it's a sign you might not be in the right relationship for you.

5) Sometimes, she really is faking orgasm.
What can I say?  Sometimes, it's just not going to happen, and the woman doesn't want to disappoint her partner, so she fakes it so that everyone can finish up and go to sleep.  So, sorry, Harry- maybe you're not so hot in bed!

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