8 Movies That Teach Us the Hard Truth About Falling in Love

Falling in love isn't easy.

It takes a lot of vulnerability and trust, and there is never any guarantee that it will work out.

Will Comforting Ronnie

(The Last Song via Touchstone Pictures)

Many movies (I'm looking at you, rom-coms) portray falling in love as effortless and uncomplicated. Sure, there may be a couple little bumps in the road, but these movies declare that once you find the right person, everything will just magically fall into place.

As a self-declared voice of reason, I've put together a list of movies that portray a more realistic side of relationships. Scroll below for eight movies that embrace the hard truth about falling in love (spoilers ahead!):

(500) Days of Summer

As one of my favorites, I absolutely love the lessons that this movie has to offer about falling in love. To summarize the plot, Tom falls deeply in love with Summer and chases after her relentlessly, even though she explicitly states that she never wants to be anyone's girlfriend. Despite carrying on a pseudo-relationship, Summer eventually calls things off because she doesn't want a boyfriend, only to fall in love and get married to someone else later in the movie, effectively re-breaking poor Tom's heart.

Tom can easily be confused for the hero of the story who falls in love with a girl who won't give him a chance, but in reality he just fell for someone who was unable to reciprocate his feelings. Caring for someone more than they care for you is a plight that we can all relate to, and watching his struggle to accept the fact that Summer will never love him is a deeply accurate depiction of the struggle we have all faced at one time or another. Most importantly, this movie teaches us the hard lesson that loving someone does not guarantee that they will love you back. However, it also shows that you will make it through a heartbreak and will eventually enter your next season of love with a smile on your face.

 

My Best Friend's Wedding

A Julia Roberts classic, this movie is an interesting commentary on the timing of love. Jules (Julia Roberts) has been friends with Michael for years, and the pair even had a pact that if they did not marry anyone else by the time they were 28, they would marry each other. Jules is positive that Michael will never love anyone else, but he calls and announces that he has met someone new and they are engaged. At that moment, of course, Jules realizes that she cannot let Michael go and she must put an end to his wedding. She goes a little crazy and it almost seems like she might succeed, but at the end of the day Michael marries the other woman. The story is simultaneously funny and heartbreaking, and it teaches us that you may love someone, but you might not realize it until it's too late. If the timing is wrong, no amount of love will make your relationship a success, and it's better to accept it rather than driving yourself crazy trying to fix it.

 

17 Again

A lighthearted addition to this list, 17 Again also has some important information to share about falling in love amidst the plethora of comedic relief. Mike and Scarlett got married when they were very young and deeply in love. Flash forward to 20 years later, when Mike is upset and disappointed with the state of his life. His marriage has fallen apart, he has a poor relationship with his kids and he just generally feels like his life was much better when he was 17. With the help of his spirit guide, he is transformed back into his 17-year-old self, resulting in a hilarious movie about Mike trying to figure out what exactly is happening and how to deal with it. In the end, he realizes that Scarlett is all he ever wanted, and he transforms back into his 37-year-old self ready to tackle his life again.

This improbable story teaches us that love isn't enough to make your life great—you still have to work for the things you want. A career, a family, and a relationship all take a lot of effort, and you should be prepared to put in the work with whomever you may choose as a life partner.

 

Titanic

This list wouldn't be complete without the ultimate story of unsuccessful love. Rose and Jack are both passengers aboard the Titanic ship. Despite the differences in their upbringings and overall lifestyle, they fall deeply in love and begin a whirlwind romance. When the boat sinks, Jack sacrifices himself so that Rose can stay above water and have a better chance at survival in the freezing ocean (they both totally could have fit on that raft, but that's a story for a different time). Rose goes on to have a successful life, filled with a happy marriage and many beautiful kids and grandkids.

The lesson here is that not all loves are meant to last forever, but that doesn't make them less real. Just because love ends or things don't work out, there is still a lot to learn from those relationships. On the bright side, your relationship will likely not end because your ship hit a massive iceberg.

 

The Last Song

We thank the universe everyday for this Nicholas Sparks love story that brought Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth together. In this movie, a rebellious Ronnie (Miley Cyrus) and her brother are sent to live with their father for the summer in a small beach town. She is angry at her father following her parent's divorce, but when she meets Will (Liam Hemsworth) she takes a step away from her rebellious lifestyle and reconnects with her love of music. In addition to the fact that Will's family is not entirely on board with Ronnie, the couple also has to deal with the difficult death of Ronnie's father.

They end up together at the end of the movie, but their tumultuous relationship teaches us that love cannot protect you from the difficult happenings in your life. It's too easy to believe that if someone loves you everything that is wrong will magically go away, but that is not the reality. Loving someone means working through the difficult things that are thrown at you, which this movie portrays beautifully.

 

He's Just Not That Into You

The title of this movie would suggest that the love lesson is pretty obvious, but it's actually a complicated and interwoven story. The main lesson I gleaned from this movie is that you must expect the unexpected when it comes to love.

Gigi has high hopes for falling in love and is told that she shouldn't expect anything from men unless they make their intentions crystal clear, only to end up with a friend who showed no explicit signs of wanting to date her.

Janine thinks that she has the perfect relationship with her husband, only to find out that he has been cheating on her.

Anna is used to male attention, but is unable to keep the man she really wants.

Beth's boyfriend doesn't believe in marriage, but she decides to be with him anyway and he changes his entire mindset and proposes to her.

To summarize, there is no knowing where love will lead you and trying to plan out the perfect love story will only leave you frustrated and unhappy. Instead, let love occur when it's supposed to and don't spend too much time worrying about what might happen in the future.

 

Casablanca

An oldie but a goodie, this 1942 film is set during World War II in the Moroccan city of Casablanca. Rick is a nightclub owner in the city who used to fight against the Nazi invasion, but now insists that he will not stick his neck out for anyone. That is, until Ilsa arrives at his club with her husband. Rick and Ilsa used to carry on a romance when Ilsa thought that her husband passed away. When she found out her husband was alive, she lift abruptly and broke Rick's heart. Throughout the course of the movie Ilsa confesses that she is still in love with Rick, and tells him that she wants to stay with him when her husband leaves Casablanca to escape the Nazis. Rick refuses to let her, stating that she would regret her decision in the future.

This beautiful and complex love story teaches the important lesson that loving someone means doing what's best for them, even if it's not exactly what you want. It might not be easy, but it's the right thing to do, and you'll be happier for it in the long run.

 

La La Land

Another one of my absolute favorites, this story has you rooting for the main characters to work things out the whole way through. Mia, an aspiring actress living in Los Angeles, meets Sebastian, a struggling jazz musician. The two are both struggling to find success in their fields, but they understand one another's goals and aspirations and fully support each other's dreams. However, their fight for success takes a toll in their relationship.

In the end, the couple doesn't end up together, but they have both realized their dreams. Mia is a successful actress with a beautiful family and a loving husband, and Sebastian has opened a thriving jazz club. The moral of the story here is that sometimes other objectives take precedence over your relationship, but that doesn't mean you won't end up happy.  Even if you truly love the other person, goals and aspirations may mean more to you than a relationship at a particular moment. It's okay to take a step away from someone you love to pursue your lifelong dreams.

 

Looking for more love advice? HERE'S what to text your crush besides "hey."