There’s nothing like cozying up on the couch to a good romantic comedy. They’re the perfect escape after a busy day at work. From rom-com classics like When Harry Met Sally to watching your bestie get married in My Best Friend’s Wedding, and heartwarming teen love stories like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, the options are endless. However, society is rom-com obsessed, not just because they give people hope that their true love is out there — there are more psychological factors that are at play. Below, we explore the connection between our emotions and rom-coms.
Most rom-coms follow the same format. There’s a classic meet-cute where the audience is introduced to the two characters destined to fall in love. Then the couple goes through a series of obstacles, providing the viewers with some comedic relief. After overcoming those obstacles, the two lovebirds end up living happily ever after.
Whether it’s knowing how the movie will end or watching your favourite rom-com for the hundredth time, being aware of exactly what’s going to happen helps ease anxiety. Psychologist Pamela Rutledge says that re-watching movies provides a sense of security and safety knowing that “there’s order in the world.” She explains that re-watching “a feel-good movie is a way of controlling your emotions when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed.” Watching something predictable provides us with comfort and a sense of stability.
Re-watching some of your favourite rom-coms can evoke positive memories. According to psychologist Neel Burton, watching the same movies or shows over again makes us nostalgic for the past and provides us with solace in our times of need. So, the next time you watch 10 Things I Hate About You, you might be recalling your youth or thinking about your first love. Perhaps watching The Parent Trap again reminds you of a special someone you miss. And maybe watching The Princess Diaries transports you to a time when you wanted to be a princess.
As a society we have a desire to relate to others and long for a deeper connection. Neuroscientists from Princeton University discovered that when people are told stories that resonate with them, “The characters are brought to life and our levels of oxytocin, otherwise known as the love hormone, increase.” According to The Startup, “Our brains react as if we are experiencing it ourselves. It can make us feel like we’re also falling in love with the characters.”
In an interview with Complex, clinical psychologist Dr. Bart Rossi explained why younger people are a fan of romantic comedies. He said teenage girls “like watching rom-coms because they can emotionally relate to them — even if they haven’t experienced those emotions yet.” Rom-coms don’t just give youth hope that true love exists but showcases what love can look like once they’re older. Nevertheless, no matter how old you are, rom-coms will always be a much-loved genre.
Mursal Rahman | Contributing Writer