Most romantic movies tend to be quite a bit over the top, but there are quite a few realistic romance movies you can actually learn from.
The idea of realistic romance movies or rom-coms is often mocked. The guy gets the girl. A grand gesture means more than months of respect and kindness. Chemistry counts for more than communication.
As an avid romance movie watcher and lover, I have seen my fair share. And 90% of them, although enjoyable, are so unrealistic it can be painful to watch. Now, I am not saying the movies I’m sharing here are 100% realistic in every way, but the romance is certainly believable.
What is a realistic romance movie?
I’m sure you can identify a nonrealistic romance movie from a mile away. Let’s name a few just to make sure: The Notebook, Pretty Woman, You’ve Got Mail. Now, I have nothing against these movies, they are actually some of my favorites.
You cannot argue that watching a couple that has everything going against them work it out and have a happily ever after is enjoyable. But, sometimes you just want to see yourself and your love life represented on the big screen. You want to see people break up or enjoy being single. [Read: How to enjoy being single and enjoy life]
A realistic romance movie is about romance based on practicality rather than happily ever after. It is a movie inspired by true events or true feelings, not dreams and fairy tales. It is a movie you can relate to.
A realistic romance movie does not tell you that you can be awful to someone and expect them to forgive you because you made a speech in front of their coworkers. Instead, it shows how your words and actions matter.
A realistic romance movie teaches you right from wrong. It shows characters dealing with the consequences of their actions, not being rewarded for a brief shining moment. [Read: 40 romantic movie quotes about love and relationships]
Realistic romance movies you can learn from
Romance movies do not have to be cheesy, corny, and fake. Find the right ones and you can actually enjoy them as if they were based on reality.
So, whether you hate rom-coms or just roll your eyes every time the couple ends up together despite everything else that happens in the last 20 scenes, these movies are for you.
#1 My Best Friend’s Wedding. This 90’s classic features Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz, and Dermot Mulroney. From the start, we follow our anti-hero, Julianne *Roberts*, who is determined to breakup her best friend’s wedding because after years of maybes, she finally wants to be with him.
Throughout the antics and even a classic sing-along scene you think she is going through these trials to finally be with the guy she has lusted after for years. But, instead, we see a woman who is selfish and a bit deranged end up alone. We see a couple that is in love overcome doubts. We learn how valuable a true friend can be. [Read: Steps to unfaking your life and love being you]
#2 Bridget Jones’s Diary. In case you were unaware, Bridget Jones’s Diary is based on the classic Jane Austen novel, Pride and Prejudice. This movie is a modern day reimagining of a reoccurring theme in romance all over the world.
In a movie obsessed with judgment and self-pity, Renee Zellweger finds herself while weeding her way through the ploys of Hugh Grant’s character and the miscommunication from Colin Firth’s. While it has a happy ending, it shows you how opening your eyes and your mind can lead you to actual happiness, not what you thought you wanted. [Read: The lessons you need to learn to find true love]
#3 The Break-Up. The Break-Up is a 2006 rom-com featuring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston living in a stunning condo. Then, their long-term relationship takes a hit. Although over the top at times, this romantic comedy is one of the most realistic in Hollywood.
This is a couple that cannot seem to let go of each other. They are petty, juvenile, and jealous. Although they both know deep down they are not meant to be together, they are comfortable and can’t seem to move on from a tumultuous situation. I can name five people in my life that have lived this.
This movie is hilarious, full of awkwardness. Plus, it features the stunning Jennifer Aniston. But, it also shows how a real relationship unfolds.
#4 Before We Go. This is one of my personal favorite movies. It is certainly underrated. But be warned, the ending leaves a lot unsaid, but it is spectacularly relatable. It features two of the most attractive actors, Chris Evans and Alice Eve. They play two strangers that just happen to stumble upon each other in New York.
Throughout the events of the night, they form a bond. They keep secrets from each other but still have a connection and chemistry that cannot be missed. But, instead of dropping their responsibilities and running away together, they are forced to come to terms with their decisions and face their fears.
This movie reminds me of a fantastic first date where you feel an undeniable bond from the start. You open up and expect something to happen. You think this date could change your life. But, things do not always work out how you hoped or imagined. [Read: 15 sad, romantic moves that are a must watch]
#5 The Big Sick. The Big Sick is a realistic romance movie because it is based on the true story of how the co-writer and main character Kumail Nanjiani met his real-life wife, Emily.
The movie starts with a meet-cute. They start an enjoyable romance but end it due to cultural differences. Soon after the breakup, Emily lands in the hospital with a serious illness. Although no longer together, Kumail sticks around to face her outspoken parents, stand up to his own family, and realize what he truly wants.
This is a story of love, unlike most romance movies. This shows the external struggles that are often removed from movie plots but are things we all face in a serious relationship. [Read: 10 inconvenient truths about intercultural relationships]
#6 The New Romantic. This movie just released last year and is stacked full of new faces. Instead of a fairytale-like romance, this movie shines a light on dating in the modern age. It shows the lack of romance that we often see where swiping right is the equivalent of sweeping someone off their feet.
The New Romantic follows Blake through her love life… or lack thereof. She learns what romance really is and what she truly wants it to be. This movie makes you question a lot of what we think is romantic and what we actually want from a partner.
#7 Enough Said. Finally, a romance that stars actors over 40. Just that alone makes it a whole lot more realistic. The talented James Gandolfini and superb Julia Louis-Dreyfus team up to play single parents trying to find love later in their lives.
It shows you that just because you are more mature does not mean you know it all. Being open and honest is front and center in this movie and shows there are truly two sides to every story. It is not the most glamorous romance, but it will leave you smiling.
#8 La La Land. I know, I know, a musical cannot be a realistic romance movie, but give it a chance. I for one did not see what the fuss was about with La La Land. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are fantastic actors and the film is beautifully shot, but I wasn’t really getting it, up until the end.
This movie features a couple with their own dreams. They want to be together, but are they willing to compromise their life’s work for each other? Is there a way they can both get what they want? Or do sacrifices always have to be made?
#9 My Big Fat Greek Wedding. This movie screams 2002. It is funny. It is ridiculous. And it is family. This movie does not feature the most attractive actors in Hollywood. It does not show a dysfunctional relationship working out right at the end.
What it shows is a true romance between two people from different worlds. They have a healthy relationship. They talk, they are open and honest, and they trust each other. And they put up with their crazy families, as we all do because they love each other. [Read: Healthy relationship expectations that define a good love life]
#10 It’s Complicated. Another realistic romance movie that reminds viewers that glowy skinned twenty-somethings are not the only ones with romance on the brain. Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin star in this hilarious and relatable romantic comedy about dating after divorce.
It tells older viewers that love is still out there. It shows younger viewers that growing up doesn’t mean you stop making mistakes. And it really makes clear the difference between a healthy relationship and a chaotic one.