It is Friday night, the girls are over, you have a Vino in hand, cheese and crackers on the table and ‘Love, Actually’ streaming on Netflix.
Of course nothing suits a girly-night in better than a rom-com, but could these movies be doing you more harm then good?
Yes they run the risk of setting unrealistic expectations when it comes to love, because no one is going to build you a house with a white picket fence or turn up on a ride on lawn mower blasting a tune.
But rom-coms are actually increasing our chances of being put in a dangerous situation.
A study by Julia R. Lippman’s, aptly named “I Did It Because I Never Stopped Loving You,” suggests that watching heartstring-pullers may actually be lowering your defenses against stalking behavior.
The study discovered that women who frequently watched romantic comedies were more likely to accept stalking behaviour as normal, whereas women who watched less endorsed fewer stalking-supportive beliefs.
“I was inspired to pursue this research by observing that stalking often seems to be trivialized in our culture. We joke about ‘Facebook stalking’ crushes, for example,” Lippman told Canada’s Global News.
The female-only participants were randomly assigned to watch a half-hour excerpt from one of six films. Two of the films exemplified romantic persistent pursuit, There’s Something About Mary and Management, two others depicted scary persistent pursuit, Sleeping With The Enemy and Enough, while the last two were control films that acted as a baseline for comparison, March of the Penguins and Winged Migration.
After watching the excerpts participants were assessed on how they felt about ‘stalking myths’.
“Stalking myths are false or exaggerated beliefs about stalking that minimize its seriousness, which means that someone who more strongly endorses stalking myths tends to take stalking less seriously,” she said.
So the theory goes, the more rom-coms you watch the more likely you are to turn a blind eye to someone’s otherwise unacceptable actions, just because you are attracted to them or find them heroically romantic. Where as those who watched films that portrayed stalking in a darker manner were less accepting.