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(561) Days of [Insert Failed Relationship of Choice Here]

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“Some people are meant to fall in love with each other but not meant to be together.”

Boy meets girl. Boy falls for girl. Girl tells boy she doesn’t want a relationship. Boy says it’s ok, he can handle it. Boy and girl become this weird kinda sorta no one is not sure what to make of it relationship that’s not an official relationship.  Boy falls in love with girl. Girl decides she wants to back away because to her it was never a relationship, needs space, and disappears. Boy gets confused. Boy seeks advice. Time passes. Boy meets up with girl again. Boy thinks he has a chance. Boy finds out girl is engaged. Boy goes into depression. Time passes. Boy refinds his passion and himself. Boy starts to move on in his life. Boy sees girl one last time. Girl tells boy she found love, just not with him. Boy hurts one last time. Boy realizes she’s right and he will be ok. Boy leaves older, wiser, and smarter about relationships. Boy then meets new girl…

No I did not just tell you about myself and genderswapped all the characters. (Though it’s a familiar story…) What you just read is a very simplistic plot of one of my favorite movies (500) Days of Summer. (Props again to @theharmonyguy for making me watch this.) Why is it one of my favorites? Because as I just said, it’s horribly relatable.  Almost everyone can usually identify with the two main characters, Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschenel).

The movie is told in a nonlinear format, which initially can be confusing and if you are the type of person who needs to have their story told in order, well you’re not going to like it. I personally really like it here because it gives the viewer a chance to view the rise and fall of a relationship perhaps in the way you wish you could have viewed yours.

“Did you ever do this, you think back on all the times you’ve had with someone and you just replay it in your head over and over again and you look for those first signs of trouble?”

When I first saw the movie, I was wearing my JGL glasses and was like poor Tom! Summer is a horrible person! Who wouldn’t want him? Then after multiple rewatchings, I soon realized that while I am still a Tom, he’s not perfect and he has MANY flaws. I think the problem stems because he is played by JGL who is insanely likeable is so many ways that I will not go into right now. And I think the audience is focused more on that vs the character itself.

These are my thoughts. Tom is a romantic who is so intent on finding the myth of “the one”. Why shouldn’t he be, when in all aspects of our society and culture we’ve made finding our soul mate the holy grail of everything? When he finds Summer, he falls head over heels in love with her, and just disregards everything else, including the fact that she says that she does not want to be in a relationship now. I kinda now feel like he set himself up for it. He probably should have asked himself “Am I in love with this person or am I in love with the idea of this person?”

It probably didn’t help that they ended up sleeping together which most likely made Tom feel even more connected with Summer. This is why it’s good to learn to be intentional up front and realize that if the person doesn’t want what you want, it probably won’t work. At the same time, sometimes you can’t help who you have feelings for no matter how much you guard your heart. And sometimes you really care about someone and when you realize that the other person doesn’t want you, it is painful. The reality vs expectations montage is exactly what I think everyone goes through.

The funny thing is I’ve had discussions with friends over who’s at fault for what happened in the movie. Like I said, it mostly comes from people relating to either character. The Toms will say Summer because she kept leading him on, mainly due to the scene at the wedding when she doesn’t tell Tom she’s engaged. The Summers say it’s Tom because he knew what he was getting into after she told him. Personally I do think both are at fault. Summer could have been more insistent from the beginning and I know she tried to make it work with Tom and she couldn’t. There’s no really right or wrong answer. Because this happens so many time in real life, it’s a painful way to visually see how a relationship doesn’t go the way it was hopefully supposed to.

There are so many freaking wonderful quotes in the movie (as I have sprinkled throughout this post) that make me feel that the script just needs to “STOP. JUST STOP TALKING ABOUT ME.”

“A girl and a guy can be friends, but maybe at one point or another they will fall for each other. Maybe temporarily, maybe at the wrong time, maybe too late, or maybe forever.”

“Just because she likes the same bizarre crap you do doesn’t mean she’s your soul mate.”

“Look, I know you think she was the one but I didn’t. Now I think you just remember the good stuff. Next time you look back, I really think you should look again.”

The final scene with Tom and Summer on the bench kinda kills me a little every time I watch it. When Summer tells him that she could have never really loved him and he looks away and you see the pain in his face, it’s like a stab to my heart every time. The whole bench scene can be uncomfortable to watch if you’ve been there (“You don’t want to be named as someone’s girlfriend but now you’re someone’s wife?”) but at the same time, it’s rather reassuring to know that you are NOT the only one that’s been in that situation. (Quality is kinda bad on the video below)

“I just…I just woke up one day and I knew.

Knew what?

“….What I was never sure of with you.”

Let’s put it this way. This is not a movie with a happy ending for this couple. They didn’t end up together the way they thought they were going to. There is a solid chance that Tom didn’t learn a lesson at all and will go about with the new girl in the same way that he and Summer acted. And I’m also hoping that the movie makers aren’t saying that Tom can’t be fully happy unless he has someone else in his life. But at the same time, this movie is a really good example of how you can get really swept up in a relationship, put your heart and soul into something that you really want, only to fall down HARD when it doesn’t turn out the way you want.

This can be one of the most uncomfortable movies to watch and at the same time, it’s therapeutic as well. You realize that the hurt will go away, you will have learned lessons from that relationship, and you can have the beauty of hope in a new one. All part of growing up and living life.

I think it would be interesting to watch this movie from the Summer perspective but it’s not worth having to go through the personal experience for it. I also wonder how it would be if the roles were reversed and Tom’s character was a girl and Summer’s the guy. Would the audience still relate to the “Tom character” as well? Or would they think because it was a female, she was just too emotional and all that? And if the male “Summer character” is more of a jerk for stringing “Tom along? Interesting points to ponder.

The other thing I love about this movie is the so excellent soundtrack. I borrow this CD from the library all the time (yes I know I could just buy or rip the songs but I don’t) and it’s constantly playing in the car because of how good it is. While every song is good, the two that stand out the most for me are “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” by The Smiths and “She’s Got You High” by Mumm-ra. Just go listen to it. I can’t fully describe the awesomeness of those songs

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Sigh. Yep.

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Wait, they don’t love you like I love you…

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” – C.S. Lewis

I am fairly confident that I would say about 98% of people who are reading this post have been in love at some point in their life. You may not have told the person the actual words of “I love you” but it’s probably a safe guess that you have held feeling of that nature towards someone else.  And it’s probably a pretty good guess that a good majority of those folks have also been in love with someone who doesn’t love them back.

Now either you actually told them how you felt and then were disappointed when they said they couldn’t return the feelings or you loved the person from afar and watched as they gave those feelings away to someone else. Either way, unless you have an unbreakable heart or cannot feel things, you have experienced pain and heartache. When you feel deeply for someone and they can’t return those feelings, it hurts like crap. And because you’ve essentially offered up yourself only to be rejected, what usually follows are feelings of wondering what is wrong with you and what does someone else have that you don’t.

The emo song of all girls everywhere who love a guy that doesn’t love her back.

Because we feel better knowing that we’re not alone in feeling this way, I’ve chosen three examples from TV shows and movies that I believe describes the feelings that come with having a love that is unrequited.

WARNING! THERE BE SPOILERS THROUGHOUT! YOU WERE WARNED!!!!!

The first clip is from the 1994 version of Little Women, starring Winona Ryder as Jo and Christian Bale as Laurie. Jo and Laurie have been best friends for several years. Jo wants to go out, make her mark in the world, and live out her life, before even considering to think about settling down and getting married.Laurie, meanwhile, has decided he knows what he wants now. Every time I watch this scene, I’m like “Who on earth would say no to Christian Bale????” Laurie’s pain is very evident here as shown here by the words he says to her refusal. Unfortunately I believe what he does later on in the story and who he ends up with is purely a rebound from this scene. Start at the :52 mark.

The next scene is from the series 3 finale of Doctor Who, where Martha leaves the Tenth Doctor as his companion. Even though the two became extremely close friends, Martha had the unfortunate opportunity of being the companion following Rose Tyler who had been very close to the Doctor. Martha is a very smart and independent woman, herself a medical student, but she falls in love with the Doctor who doesn’t love her back. Some people aren’t a fan of Martha for this reason (they must be Rose fans). Throughout most of her season, you can see Martha struggling with her feelings, hoping that he’ll change his mind but he doesn’t. There is one episode where he does fall in love with someone, but it isn’t her and it pains her tremendously. The following clip is when Martha finally realizes what she has to do in order to help herself. Start at the 1:40 mark.

The final clip is from How I Met Your Mother. The majority of the entire series deals with Ted and Robin’s relationship. Ted and Robin are best friends. Ted has been in love with Robin from the beginning of this story and it is because of their relationship that triggers the search for the mother. From the very first episode, Ted has had strong feelings from Robin that have pretty much never wavered. Robin, on the other hand, has been pretty unsure about her feelings for Ted. She cares for him, but not as much as he does. Ted has lost several relationships because of his continued feelings for Robin and it is something that he keeps struggling with because she is one of his best friends. However, this scene marks a strong turning point for Ted in terms of their relationship. (The original clip got removed so I’ve replaced it. For the most part it’s the same thing)

The biggest thing to remember when your love isn’t returned that is you can’t let the hurt take over you. Yes, perhaps you do have some flaws but so does everyone. However just because the other person can’t return how you feel doesn’t mean you are a failure. Do not put the other person on a pedestal and think that their love is more worthy than yours They aren’t perfect and they are just as flawed as you are. You are not any less worthy a person just because one person doesn’t love you back. Having their love will not validate you as a person and they will not fix you. Only you can do that.

However, it’s perfectly normal to feel like you’re in the worst pain that you’ve ever felt in your life. Being rejected no matter how nice the other person was about it still sucks. You’ve basically offered what you thought was the best of you only to get turned down. And yes, there is the temptation to become bitter and angsty (and sometimes pyscho) and wish that one day this would happen to the other person so they can in turn understand all the hurt that you’re going through now. I caution against that. Accept the hurt. Mourn the loss. Let the pain happen. It sucks. It’s painful. Don’t try to play it off as it’s nothing and shove those feelings under a rug and ignore them.

BUT don’t let it take over you. It’s not always going to feel like that. You’re going to be ok. Things will get better. Or I’ll let Iris (Kate Winslet) from The Holiday explain it:

You may be in that deep, dark hole right now. You may feel like your heart has been ripped apart. You can cry and yell and curse at the world. But soon you will want to look up. And you will see the light trying to reach into that pit. And you will crawl out of there. And you will have hope. And you will be whole again.

  • “I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: “Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.” You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.” You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life.”  (Lamentations 3:55-58)
  • “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.” (Psalm 25:16-18)
  • “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:1-3)