Love. How do you feel about that sickly, sweet feeling? Perhaps you think it’s the best thing in the world? Or maybe you could live without it? Regardless of the way you feel about love, television has probably influenced your views on the mystical feeling at some point. Romance is the one genre of television that will never go out of style, because people love to watch men and women fall in love. The ability to know and feel love is a God given gift to help us know Him better. He also wants us to know and love each other. Unfortunately, many of the depictions of love shown on television are skewed. There may be an infinite number of television couples who say they’re in love, but treat each other in a way that doesn’t seem like love. The romance seen on television isn’t always the type of love God wants for us. If you’re familiar with the love of God, then your heart recognizes real love when it sees it—but if you need reassurance, here are some popular TV tropes that often masquerade themselves as love.
Dependency, on it’s own, is not the equivalent of love. You’ll often find couples on television shows who “can’t live without each other.” Literally. They can’t function like normal humans without their significant other. While it’s expected to want to be around the one you love, you should always maintain a healthy sense of self. Your identity is what draws someone to you in the first place; so a vital aspect of romance is knowing who you are in Christ and trusting that that’s enough to satisfy the relationship. Have hobbies, activities, likes and interests outside of the person you love. Spend time with your friends and family—and remember to save some time for yourself and your Heavenly father.
Another misconception in the realm of TV love is reciprocation. In other words, for love to be valid it needs to be returned. You don’t have to wallow in your room, or eat an entire tub of ice cream because your crush doesn’t like you. Love is a gift from God that you’re able to share with others. Take a moment to be thankful for the people you love—even if they don’t love you back. Consider all of the people who love you that you don’t take the time to appreciate—like your little brother or your grandmother. Love is not selfish, and it seeks to give rather than to take. Even though your crush may not like you, that experience doesn’t have to be painful. Let it remind you to appreciate all of the people in your life who do love you. But, not needing to reciprocate doesn’t mean that you need to give every guy what he wants without expecting love in return. Just because a guy says he loves you enough to sleep with you, doesn’t mean you need to offer him that connection – whether you want to or not. Sex is sacred and should only be reciprocated in marriage. It’s in this bound that makes it delightful.
There is no shame in love. You should never feel as though you have to hide who you truly are from the person you love—or pretend to be something different. However that’s a common trope used on television sitcoms. You’ve watched guys suffer through “chick flicks” in order to become closer to their crush, and seen girls who pretend to be bad at sports so their boyfriends don’t feel like losers when they play basketball together. This depiction of love sends the message that to be loved, you have to change who you are. The truth is that God made you the way you are so that the people who are meant to love you could. Have faith in God and His plans for you, and you’ll never have to worry about finding and keeping love.
Another form of hiding that’s common in both TV shows and in real life, is attempting to be perfect. No one is perfect, and trying to edit out all of your flaws only creates distance between yourself and the one you love. So, be vulnerable. It’s scary to open up and show the people you love who you really are, but it’s the only way for them to know and love the “genuine you.”
This trope is probably the most widely understood and accepted by audiences. The perfectly handsome boy falls for the effortlessly beautiful girl and they live happily ever after. On television, appearances are everything. Appearances have their place in real life as well, but not to the same extent. You don’t need airbrushed make-up or impeccably coiffed curls in order to be loved fully and completely. Most people meet and fall in love the normal way—with their hair in a messy bun and a mustard stain on their shirt. Looking past appearances and into the heart of someone is a major part of loving someone; so don’t feel like you need to look flawless every minute of every day.
The most recognizable and frequently used romance trope in television is that of the damsel in distress and the savior. The female in the relationship is almost exclusively the one in need of saving, and the male is typically the one to save her. Not only does this theme suggest that women are incapable of taking care of themselves, it relates back to the theme of dependency. The Bible says that Jesus Christ is our one and only Savior. So regardless of the love you have for someone, they can never replace Christ. They may make you as happy as a buzzing bee, but don’t look to them to rescue you from life’s pains. That sort of pressure isn’t meant for human beings, because only God can do that.
The most fundamental difference between the love portrayed on television and love in real life is the complexity. Television shows depict love as an intensely difficult math equation—but a much healthier metaphor would be a two-way street. The two main elements of love are giving and receiving—this is true for all types of love, not just romantic. The media glorifies romantic love so it can become easy to forget the importance of other forms of love. The love you share with your family and friends is equally important. Even more important though, is the love you give to yourself and to the Lord.