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My kids love this movie "Hotel Transylvania". I like the goth feel and it has funny lines but I hate the message it sends about love, relationships, and (duhn duhn DUUUUHN) SOULMATES.

In the movie, the daughter Mavis is coming of age and meets a boy she adores. Her single dad tries to split them up. She discovers a message left by her dead mother about how her mother and father fell in love at first sight with a ZING and how... get this... you only get one ZING.

Yes, the mother's one message left behind for her daughter who would grow up with out her was that if you fall in love, that's it. Better make it work because it won't happen again. It literally says, "You only get one ZING."

So I hate this movie, and the whole idea, and think it's downright awful to tell kids that love works this way.

You know how many terrible breakups I had in college because one or both of us was convinced that dammit this was IT and we are meant to be because 75% of this relationship works so surely we're supposed to work hard enough to get to 100%! What we have is so special and irreplaceable! We love each other! This amazing (okay, at least pretty darn good) relationship is not something to throw away!

Then one person decides no, it's not worth fighting for, and rather than say "Okay it wasn't meant to be" the other person CANNOT let go because they're convinced that we're supposed to fight for every relationship because... soulmates.

I came to realize that it's really a mark of immaturity, not loyalty, to say "well this person isn't that great now but we all change and what if they're going to be the perfect person to me in five years?"

We have the opportunity to meet thousands or millions of people in our lives. Every person you date, you calibrate your brain to make a decision about what you're looking for in a person. You're going to meet thousands, maybe millions, in your life. Your odds of making great decisions with zero calibration data are very, very low.

When I was 24 or 25 I had a breakup and was telling everyone that we were actually okay, the guy wasn't flipping out, I was like "this is awesome, how can I date more non-psychos, how can I make sure all my relationships give me this freedom to get out if it's just not right?" and my friends said, "You know why this happened? Because someone has broken up with him before and he knows it's going to be okay. You want it to happen again? Date people who are over 23!"

In early relationships, we pick our dates very randomly, and then tend to stay with them out of fear because we're scared to pick another one. Later, we pick our dates more strategically, knowing a few red flags to look for, and we stay in because we realize hey, this person has something really rare and wonderful that the last person didn't have. We know good reasons to stay. There's less fear because we've learned that yes, another bus will come along in 15 minutes. All decisions are smarter.

I read a great article about divorce in fundamentalist Christian communities called Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed. The author initially thought that each teenager should marry his or her first love and that it was "traditional". Then he learned that his grandparents, who had successful marriages, actually grew up in households where they were forbidden to date the same person twice in a row! They were forced to get out there and meet different people to make a smart evaluation about who to marry. Then they got married. Again - smarter decisions.

Which brings me back to my beef about soulmates: I think the idea of soulmates leads to unsmart decisions. We should teach kids that first loves are great, but they pale in comparison to third loves, trust me. Maybe it'll take ten. Don't count. Just learn.

Dear daughters - if I'm not around to give you advice but I can leave you this note, have this one. I'm not going to tell you to treasure your first love. If that first committed relationship doesn't work out? GOOD. Trust me. Good!

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( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
sandokai
Nov. 18th, 2015 05:42 pm (UTC)
"You only get one zing!" is really stupid.

Likewise, the whole "I don't know if we should marry" "Well do you love him?" "Yes" "Then marry!" thing that happens in a million movies. Really, based solely on your loving him, you should decide to marry? And that scene is SO COMMON in movies!

I never dated anyone I thought was a soulmate though, but for me it was a fatal flaw in that I'd go YEARS of not dating because I thought person X was my soulmate and soon they'd figure it out, and in the meantime I was WAITING. Which is even worse than actually thinking the first person you are dating is your soulmate I think.
ironphoenix
Nov. 18th, 2015 06:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the warning... I'll put that on the "don't watch" pile. Or maybe on the "watch with poly partners and friends to snark at" pile.

Another blog post on relationships which might interest you: Riding the relationship escalator (or not).
lavenderspark
Nov. 18th, 2015 07:51 pm (UTC)
I completely agree. Between this and the stigma of having more than one sexual partner (more for girls), relationships are doomed to be horrible.

Then there's the stigma of divorce. So if you do fall into the trap of "if you love them, get married!" you're discouraged from ending the relationship. The whole, "marriage takes work!" Yes, it does, but no more than a committed, non-married relationship. I am so sick of the images that pop up randomly on FB that talk about how the "older generation" has a lower divorce rate because they got married with the idea of "if it breaks, fix it." No. That was a time when women were taught to do EVERYTHING their husbands wanted and were pretty much still property. And they were all instilled with how horrible it was to be divorced.
calzephyr77
Nov. 18th, 2015 08:01 pm (UTC)

The truly oddball thing is that this movie is not about the daughters feelings but completely about Drac's.


I enjoyed the movie regardless because my dad put my husband through the wringer in much the same way.


On second thought, you are overlooking the positive metaphor for interracial or interfaith relationships by focusing on the zing aspect.



Edited at 2015-11-19 12:10 am (UTC)
astrogeek01
Nov. 18th, 2015 08:48 pm (UTC)
<3 I love the way you always throw in some geeky stuff into these things, like calibrating your data. ;)
altamira16
Nov. 18th, 2015 10:23 pm (UTC)
Does this mean I am not a cold-hearted cynic when I want to scream "Noooooooo" every time my twice divorced friend writes something about believing in love at first sight?

This Tim Minchin song is relevant to this thread.
timprov
Nov. 18th, 2015 10:43 pm (UTC)
Based on this post and previous ones on this topic, it seems to me that you've constructed a systematic moral framework which allows you to avoid the fact that not everyone experiences their emotions in the same limited way that you do. You're fairly casual about both your own emotions and others' in a way that I find disquieting, and you're consistently wiling to be derogatory and minimizing to anyone who isn't. I really would like it if you reconsidered.
spacefem
Nov. 19th, 2015 02:39 am (UTC)
Appreciate the honest feedback.

But I gotta say, lj is the one place that remains where I can be totally blunt and honest about who I am and how I feel. I don't get this in the real world. I'm not sure I want to change, here. I'm changing in other places and it sucks.
tabloidscully
Nov. 18th, 2015 10:54 pm (UTC)
I realize most life decisions aren't made at 5, but I think it's pretty rad that my kid has said she doesn't see a reason to get married ever.
dark_phoenix54
Nov. 18th, 2015 11:46 pm (UTC)
What utter bollocks. Bad message, bad. That's right up there with letting young people read or watch 'Romeo and Juliet', something I always have a problem with. 'Zing' is so frequently a product of hormones, not the soul.
songblaze
Nov. 19th, 2015 02:22 am (UTC)
I've had 2 guys I'd say I really loved. Not just liked, not just had hormonal stuff with, not teenage feelings, but really, truly, whole-heart-is-in, making plans for marriage and the rest of our lives kinda loved. If you know I'm mono, I think it becomes clear that love #1 didn't work out (transatlantic relationships are a special kind of hard, especially when one of the partners changes their life plan. That was me.).

It's so, so bad to let our young ones get messages that things will always work out with The One. I think I let that first relationship linger way past its expiration date because I loved him, so of course we were going to make it work.

Now, I'd say that my second - current - love is my soulmate...but I say that after nearly 8 years together, 6 1/2 of them living together, growing together. If you'd asked me a year in, I would have told you that I loved him and he was really something special, but that first awful breakup (no, really, awful - I didn't have a functional relationship for a year and a half afterwards because my heart had been broken so badly) taught me that you don't KNOW that he or she is The One until you've got time and life challenges under your belt. And that, I think, is what we should be teaching kids about relationships- that it takes time to know if they're the right person, and that you never really know how people will respond to the hard times unless you go through some together. Yeah, it's not as cute and neat, but it's a hell of a lot more true.
fansee
Nov. 19th, 2015 04:46 am (UTC)
I did marry the first person I had a relationship with, but my circumstances were unusual. I graduated high school when I was 16. We were living in Oklahoma, near an Army fort, and community colleges were not yet thought of. I had taken a strictly academic course and had no job skills; the number of possible jobs for me in Lawton were few or none. The obvious course for me was to go away to college. I was ready for it academically, but I knew I wasn't ready socially.

On the other hand, I had been dating a guy seriously for eighteen months, the kind of dating where he hangs out at your house all week-end every weekend, goes to the movies with you a couple of times a week during the week, takes you out to dinner and a concert a couple of times a month. We knew each other very well, and he was crazy in love with me. I liked him a lot, but I wasn't in love. I thought about my options...I am very much a head-over-heart person...and said Yes.

We were married the month I turned seventeen. We had sex, and I started liking him a whole lot more.

Forty six years, four months, and 18 days later, he died. In between, the love-like thing shifted back and forth. There was always one who loved and one who was loved, but the balance changed over the years. For me it always worked, but I know that there were several times during Walter's life time when he wondered what the hell he had done. FanSee
spacefem
Nov. 20th, 2015 12:41 pm (UTC)
this is an amazing story :) there are no hard set rules when it comes to the ways we meet our person, for sure
meemo506
Nov. 21st, 2015 05:13 pm (UTC)
One of the most important things my mom ever told me was that her and my dad weren't soulmates, and that the concept of soulmates was kind of dumb. What if your soulmate was born in another country without phones or internet? It struck me as oddly pragmatic for my mom to say, especially since her and my dad are one of those disgusting couples that buy matching hats/shirts and enjoy antiquing and visiting small town hardware stores and like, discuss their problems and feelings openly. But as I got older, I realized she was right. They were mature adults who worked well together, but could be just as happy with someone else. The soulmate/first person you date/have sex with being "the one" trope is SO dangerous. I've seen first hand how women stay in bad relationships or marriages thinking they're stuck.

My best friend's mom told her something similar, but more sexually oriented. The first person you have sex with is never the one. It'll be dramatic and ridiculous and painful when it ends, but that's how it is. Your first experience in everything is like that. It's almost never the best or only time you try something. If your only experience eating out is at Applebee's, that would probably seem like the best thing ever. And that's just sad.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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