In a lot of books and TV shows targeted at young people, the main character usually feels so empty and inadequate until they get a romantic partner. And when they do finally get one, they usually make all kinds of mistakes and come away from the experience quite scarred. That saddens and mildly irritates me. There’s so much more to adolescent life than pretending to be grownups (and failing at it miserably). After all, don’t wise men say that only fools rush in?
Another annoying trope is having a friend, traditionally of the opposite gender, who the protagonist feels attracted to. As far as the friend knows, they’re just friends, but the protagonist wants more.
(And sometimes, the protagonist is the one who just wants a friend-friend, not a partner, and the friend is the one exerting pressure to take things farther.) Our protagonist struggles heroically to escape from the horrible clutches of the Friend Zone, making some awkward blunders and irreparable mistakes along the way. In the end, they become a couple and everything’s happy ever after. In the real world, that just might be the case … until they have their first argument.
Unfortunately, a lot of us still believe that the media’s portrayal of life is how life should be. But try as we might, hair still greys, faces still get
wrinkles laughter lines, teeth aren’t really snow-white, David Tennant isn’t really a time lord (or a psychotic, mind-controlling murderer, thank goodness), and most people can’t help being faithful to their families.
Yet, multimedia is conditioning real-life kids to feel like they need to be in a relationship or else their lives are over. Starting in our tweens, the pressure from that and our multimedia-influenced peers to commence the mating rituals gets so unbearable And you know what else is really annoying? If a real-life teenager is friends with someone of the opposite gender, nosy adults and immature little children alike can’t help but wonder if something more will come of their relationship. Plus, all the jealous contemporaries who think you have something they don’t get all nasty and impossible to be around.
One never knows what their friends are thinking – mind-reading is, alas, a rare mutation – but sometimes, maybe all a person really wants are some plain old, platonic friendships. That’s kind of hard once you hit a certain age, though, because we’re conditioned, again, by the media (and our confused teenage brains) to perceive any attention by contemporaries (traditionally) of the opposite gender as having romantic overtones.
It’s time to bring everyone back to reality. Romance is shoehorned into everything, cheapening the concept of unconditional love between two people, and leaving all other healthy interpersonal relationships behind in the dust. Romance isn’t necessarily a bad thing (I still think it’s yucky though 😛 ), but it is being overused to unrealistic proportions in the realm of fiction, and causing a lot of heartache in real life.
Writers, let’s try to incorporate more friendships that start and end as friendships into our stories. Friendships, no pun intended, need to be shown a little love too. 🙂