We have all come across messages about love through media. Romantic comedies are among some of the most viewed films of all time, and why not? They are fun and can make us feel good.

On the flipside, there are some valid concerns about how our viewing habits shape our perceptions about what love is and what it looks like. Are we getting realistic expectations or giving ourselves false hope when we watch rom-coms?

Perhaps some of both. In a recent study, Veronica Hefner of University of Illinois and Barbara Wilson of University of Wisconsin found four primary themes of romantic films.

1. Soul Mate/One-and-Only

Out of the 7 billion people on the planet, there is only one we are meant to be with.

The Cons

The biggest fiction of the soul mate belief is that there is someone we will be perfectly happy and matched with the moment we find them. However, if we are perfect for each other from the start, then there is no room for growth or conflict. As soon as we run into trouble, we are more likely to bail because the person is not our "soul mate" after all. In the end, we leave relationships that could have made us happy.

The Truth

While findinga soul mate is nearly impossible, becomingsoul mates is one of the central and most enjoyable tasks of relationships. In the beginning, it is important to find someone you share enough in common with to build a relationship, but the real journey comes with creating oneness. Learning how to work together to resolve conflict, overcome trials, and become united is what truly makes relationships successful and satisfying.

2. Idealization of Partner

The person we are falling in love with is perfect for us. They are flawless and make us perfectly happy. Nothing they do can possibly make us unhappy, upset, or doubtful of our relationship.

The Cons

The idealizing of a partner can become too extreme if it means we believe our romantic partner can "do no wrong." If our expectations for the relationship and our happiness come from the belief that our partner will never annoy, bother, or hurt us, we will only be disappointed.

The Truth

Eventually, the little quirks and habits of our partners that we once found endearing or "cute" may become annoying or bothersome. Instead of putting our partner on a pedestal of perfection, we should focus on the important things like their honesty, integrity, and commitment. When the little things lose their charm, these important characteristics will become a much stronger basis for a satisfying relationship.

3. Love Conquers All

All we need to overcome obstacles is love. Love is strong enough to keep the relationship alive.

The Cons

Trusting in love to save our relationships in moments of trial is a sure way of losing love quickly. While waiting for love to give us the answer to our problems, the trial can slip out of our control and overwhelm us to the breaking point of our relationship.

The Truth

Love can only conquer when it motivates us to overcome trials we face. Love can do nothing on its own, but it is one of the greatest motivators to change our behavior to accomplish positive results.

4. Love at First Sight

It is important to fall in love the moment we meet someone. Nothing else matters but to be with that person. It is meant to be.

The Cons

Waiting to feel a deep passion for someone after one glimpse or word may leave us looking for a long time. The obsession we may feel after such a moment, may do more harm than good and scare away the other person if we act too obsessively. Obsession isn't romantic.

The Truth

It is very possible to be attracted to someone after seeing them once or meeting them at some social event. But it is attraction only. The actual love comes after more time spent with that person.

While there is nothing wrong with enjoying a good romantic comedy, or even finding hope for love through such stories, they may not be the best source of getting a relationship education.

This article was originally published on Relate Institute. It has been republished here with permission.

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