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Redefining Relationships: Beyond Rom-Com Expectations

As Valentine’s Day nears once again, I am finding myself consuming an unusually high number of romantic comedies. They’re easy to watch. Even though the couples always face some kind of challenge or miscommunication, the films end with me feeling warm and sentimental. I definitely spent a significant portion of my early dating life focused on chasing the connection that I assumed the couples in these movies had – but as soon as the wistful romantics ended, so did my desire for a long-term relationship. I know that I’m not alone in having been fed unrealistic, unattainable expectations about my relationships with others. 

I’m sure that, on some level, most people think that their most cherished relationships are determined by an undefinable level of fate and chemistry. It’s true that it feels as though there is a level of destiny that led me to meet some of the most cherished people in my life, but these relationships became so close to my heart as I put more effort and care into them. Once I learned that I need to redefine how I approach connection, both romantic and platonic alike, I realized that I can help create a healthy relationship, rather than just fall into one. This realization can be empowering – I have control over my behavior and can help foster good relationships and positive interactions. Resilience, mindfulness, and active listening emerged as pillars in this transformative journey. 

As I celebrate this Valentine’s Day, I’m not just indulging in romantic fantasies. Instead, I’m embarking on a journey to nurture authentic connections, recognizing that the magic of lasting relationships is crafted through intentional effort and genuine care. This newfound perspective has reshaped my outlook on love, emphasizing the importance of resilience and mindfulness in creating relationships that stand the test of time. Our Relationship Wellbeing course can support you in building skills that will enhance and deepen your connections with others, to slowly and authentically build in a way that romcoms can’t hold a candle to.

Victoria McKelvey is on the education team at the Foundation for Family and Community Healing and a Master of Public Administration candidate at Virginia Commonwealth University.