If there's one thing Hollywood films and royal weddings have in common, it's to sacrifice reality in the name of fairytale.
Eyes meet across a crowded room; will they? Won't they? Of course they will and they'll live happily ever after. To the media (and indeed, to most of us) the prince and his bride aren't people, they're characters in a story. In the world of the modern fairy tale how can romance possibly fail?
So, subscribing to that logic let's take a moment to drag a few other modern love stories into a real world where – without a script – they'd probably fall apart. On hand with expert advice: relationship psychologist, Jo Hemmings.
Han Solo and Princess Leia (Star Wars)
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a princess fell in love with a scoundrel (and kissed her brother, but we don't talk about that).
"Traditionally – and psychologically – they're not compatible at all. It's simply because in terms of lifestyle compatibility those implicit values that Han's grown up with and is used to are less likely to be the same as those of someone with a royal background, such as Leia. That's important. The more socio-economic disparity there is between a couple, the less the chances are of that relationship working out."
So let's suppose they overcome those differences. This is a couple born out of intergalactic war – their entire relationship is engulfed and defined by it. How would that affect them?
"War makes you painfully aware of your own mortality and that general spirit and desperation of wanting comfort during bad times encourages people to rush into relationships and get married when normally they wouldn't. It's why divorce rates shoot up after major wars – people take a more in-depth look at their own lives rather than what's going on around them. So Han or Leia may look at each other after this war and think 'I wouldn't have gone into this relationship if it hadn't been for those kind of circumstances'. So on the whole, it's not looking too great."
Edward Cullen and Bella Swan (Twilight)
While it might be the archetype of 21st century fairytale romance, the story of a 104-year-old killing machine who falls in love with a 17-year-old girl devoid of personality is also the most contentious.
The reasons are many, but beyond having nothing in common and an age difference mathematically akin to a 60-year-old going out with someone who's 10, there's also the issue that Edward Cullen is presented as condescending, misogynistic, overbearing, violent and joyless while Bella is disturbingly submissive.
"If he's possessive and controlling then he'd have to have a submissive partner who'd buy that because if she rebelled against him in any way then there would be friction between them. The only way that sort of relationship works, where you've got one very dominant partner, is for the other one to, invariably, be much weaker and accepting."
Can a relationship possibly survive without chemistry? They appear to have none.
"It's the four Cs. When you meet someone there's chemistry and compatibility, without which your relationship won't survive. And then down the line you have compromise and communication. Once you've got the two fundamentals – which you have to have to make a relationship work – if you can't compromise or communicate properly that starts to erode the relationship, the compatibility and the chemistry starts blurring and they can't endure to maintain a relationship. So, basically, to answer your question: no."
Pretty much any Disney film ever
The beautiful woman who fell in love with the beast (Beauty and the Beast)? The princess who falls for a street rat (Aladdin)? Forget royal weddings, if there was ever a reason why a generation of women grew up disillusioned with the reality of modern love, it's Disney. However, that's nothing compared to The Little Mermaid, in which by the closing credits a 16-year-old girl surrenders her entire life (and a hefty chunk of her fishy anatomy) for a man she barely knows. So, how big of a deal is such a one-sided sacrifice in a relationship?
"I think it's with hindsight that it starts to grate. If you've given up everything – your home, your family, your job – to move, and it all works out then you wouldn't see a problem. But the danger is that the minute something starts going wrong leverage and resentment will build up because you think 'I gave up X, Y or Z to be with you' – and it will build and build. In the case of Ariel, she's leaving her family, her friends and the life she knew. It's not healthy, especially at such a tender, impressionable and impulsive age. She may come to regret that decision one day."
So, do you agree with Jo? What other fallible film romances can you think of?
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