There is no breakup that doesn’t hurt, even when things end well. If they have left us, it is even more difficult. Of course, the first thing we think is that everything is going to work out and we fantasize about a thousand and one scenarios where that happens. And Hollywood loves to do just that: show us those fantasies where everything works out, even if it’s just fiction.
In Bright Side We’ve compiled a list of breakup clichés so prevalent in romantic movies that we’re almost convinced they can actually happen.
1. A loving farewell letter, where the person explains everything to you in a reasonable and empathetic way
First of all, if they are going to leave us, there is nothing romantic about doing it by letter (or its equivalent today, such as by message or WhatsApp). Let them come and tell us everything they have to say to our faces! The letters are romantic in the movies, but in real life, it probably means that the person doesn’t have enough courage to face the situation.
This happens with Mr. Darcy’s letter in pride and prejudice (2005), or all the ones Noah writes in Diary of a passion (2004).
2. Your ex or someone is going to show up at your wedding to stop you from getting married.
If someone waits for our wedding day to ask us to go back with him, then it couldn’t get more selfish. Really? Wait until the last moment, in front of all our family and friends, to tell us how he feels? In real life, if you’re already at the altar, let’s say there’s a 99% chance you’ve already made up your mind, and surely your ex’s common sense knows it too.
We can remember Tom in I want to steal the bride (2008), the lawyer who interrupts Melanie in Sweet Home Alabama (2002), or how Charles realizes at his own wedding that he’d rather marry Carrie than Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994).
3. Your ex shows up by chance to see you succeeding and you can rub it in his face that you’re better off without him.
In the movies, heroines run into their exes right when they’re fresh out of the salon, arm-in-arm with their handsome new boyfriend, or even just succeeding at work. But these coincidences only happen in Hollywood: If you happen to cross paths with an ex, it’s probably when you least expect it (and least want it).
How not to think about the beloved Elle triumphing in court in front of her ex in legally blonde (2001), or even Bridget in Bridget Jones: On the Edge of Reason (2004), reuniting with Daniel when he is already in a healthier relationship with Mark.
4. They are both singing the same song at the same time
Perhaps the least believable cliché of all, but it works nonetheless. If there is something that gets along with breakups, it is music, and there are no shortage of songs that make us think of that lost love. But maybe singing the same song at the same time is a bit much; it can only happen in a fiction.
The consecrated Pierce Brosnan and Meryl Streep in Mama Mia! (2008), or Gabriela and Troy in High School Musical (2006) are examples of perfect duets.
5. Have them cross the city to get to the airport and stop you before the plane takes off
Like getting married, getting on a plane is a pretty final decision for them to wait until the last minute to pick you up. In real life, how awkward it would be to lose the ticket and change all the plans because it occurred to your ex that he doesn’t want to let you go. Better wait for you to come back or send you a message, right?
In How to lose a man in 10 days (2003), Benjamin chases his love interest’s taxi to the airport. Let’s also not forget Adam Sandler looking for Drew Barrymore in a very funny scene in The best of my weddings (1998), and of course we also have Ross looking for Rachel in friends.
6. They go to your room to see you and talk to you
The protagonists are very calm in their rooms and, suddenly, they hear a noise at the window: it is her ex-boyfriend, who has come to talk to them. In real life, this would be in pretty bad taste and we’d get quite a scare. At best, they’ll be pushy on the phone, but if they come to your window, they’ll only win an argument.
These scenes can be found in 10 things I hate about you (1999) or in High School Musical (2006), with a Troy banging on Gabriela’s window.
7. They cross paths in some unexpected way
This is the most frequent fantasy when we want to see an ex again: that we are going to run into him at any moment. The reality is that if they have social networks, it is very likely that you know where that person is, and if you know them in time, you also know what places they frequent and decide to avoid them (or not). But in truth there is little chance of that happening without you paying some attention to it.
In Diary of a passion (2004), Allie finds out about Noah just as he is about to get married, and in The best of me (2014), the characters meet again by chance in their hometown.
8. They already have a new partner, but they run into you once and leave from one day to the next
Let’s give Hollywood a break, as you may find that you’re still in love with your previous partner. But suppose you meet your ex, who is already in another relationship. And he wants to get back with you, how wonderful. In real life, however, the first thing your friends will tell you is that if they left their new partner so easily, they can just as easily leave you again.
In Always the same day (2011), Anne Hathaway’s character only needs to see her ex to realize that she never forgot him and to leave her perfect boyfriend.
9. After the breakup, you take a trip and there you find the love of your life
In our opinion, this is one of the clichés that we believe in the most and that disappoint us the most. A trip can help us get some perspective, to distract us from the sadness of the breakup. But, seriously? How many chances are there that right at that moment we will find the love of our lives?
In Eat Pray Love (2010), right from the title we are being warned that Julia Roberts is going to fall in love, and in Holidays (2006), Cameron Diaz swaps homes with Kate Winslet and conveniently finds her true love.
10. It had all been a misunderstanding. The person will shortly explain to you what has happened and you will forgive them as if nothing had happened.
Of course, then your ex comes and tells you that it’s not like you thought, that things weren’t like that, and that what you thought you saw or heard hadn’t been quite like that. Does it ring a bell? Yes, of course, but the end of that conversation usually ends with a door slamming, not a reconciliation, and oh, surprise, you had understood perfectly.
We’d get tired of listing examples, as this is one of Hollywood’s favorite clichés. In Jerry Maguire, seduction and challenge (1996), Renée Zellweger only needs an explanation to return to her husband, and in A place called Notting Hill (1999), Will (Hugh Grant) just needs to tell Anna (Julia Roberts) that he’s been a fool, and that’s enough for her to give him a chance.
11. The last romantic gesture that finally convinces us to give them another chance
It seems that from Hollywood they want to convince us that everything can be fixed with a great romantic gesture. A very big one: that they shout in front of a crowd that they love us and cannot live without us, that they put on an innocent face and stay a few hours in the rain is proof that they deserve an opportunity. That is the secret so that all couple problems disappear, how could we not have noticed?
Do we have to name all the romantic movies at this point? Grand romantic gestures are Hollywood’s favourites: Richard Gere in Pretty Woman (1990), Ashton Kutcher in Friends with benefits (2011), and many of the films that we have already mentioned, such as A place called Notting Hill, The diaryof Bridget Jones, 10 things I hate about youand we stop so as not to stay all afternoon.
12. If the relationship doesn’t work out, they can always stay best friends.
Okay, this one hurt us a lot, because, at times, we thought it was real. And it’s not that it can’t happen in any case, but come on, most don’t make it (and there must be a reason, right?). The best thing we can do, and that Hollywood rarely tells us, is to move on with our lives, remember the relationship with the feeling it deserves, and learn from mistakes.
And this time we can’t help but think of Rachel and Ross from friends (1994-2004), and in Robin and Ted’s how i met your mother (2005-2014), who fit perfectly with the saying “Where there was fire, ashes remain”.
What things about breakups seem very common to you in movies, but you’ve never heard of them happening in real life? What would you really need to happen to get back with an ex?