In this month’s Kosher Cinema, we’re going to kick things off with a special section: “Lessons in Love from TV and Film.” As we all know, art tends to imitate life. So, perhaps next time you’re setting up a date with a hot new JDate prospect, you’ll look to some of these tips for advice.
1) Don’t pretend to be who you’re not.
This lesson comes to us courtesy of the mind of Larry David. Let’s face it, many of us have embellished our accomplishments on a date, and it’s generally harmless, but when it rises to a certain level, and becomes an outright lie, things can get dicey. In the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode “The Hero,” Larry ends up taking credit for stopping an abusive passenger on a flight, when in reality he tripped and accidentally tackled the man. Everyone lauds Larry for his bravery, but rather than correcting them, he accepts their praise. In the end, Larry is so pressured by keeping up the lie that his relationship falls apart. I used to teach with a guy whose dating profile said that he was both a doctor and a model. He was neither. When you lie about who you are, it’s going to catch up with you. And if your friends find out about those lies, especially if they’re on your profile, you’re going to be a laughingstock. So skip the lies, and stick with the truth.
2) When engaging in a long-distance relationship, make sure you know who you’re talking to.
The engaging documentary Catfish presented the story of a New York-based filmmaker who stumbles upon an incredibly talented young girl who paints pictures that are astounding for her age. Or so he thinks. Without spoiling the whole plot of Catfish, which is a worthy film to view, let’s just say that when you begin relationships with people on the internet (or long-distance), be cautious. The large majority of people you’ll meet online are honest, and forthright, but if someone seems too good to be true, they probably are.
3) Avoid drama with your ex.
It’s a very easy thing to get pulled into “ex” drama, especially if you don’t break things off as cleanly as you should. Perhaps no TV heroine proved this point more convincingly than Buffy Summers. It seemed like Buffy’s exes (Angel chief among them) were always causing her unneeded drama, and she was often unwilling to cut them out of her life. While it can be wonderful to bring an ex back into your life if you can maintain a good relationship as friends, it’s probably better to banish the ones who stress you. Stressful exes distract you from your current relationships, and don’t add much to your life beyond conflict, and in Buffy’s case, Apocalypses.
4) If your very fit date challenges you to punch her in the stomach, pull the punch.
So this tip is for the guys, and could more accurately be titled: “Gentlemen, there’s no need for competition.” The line above refers to the famous scene in Keeping the Faith where Ben Stiller’s very fit date asks him to punch her in the abs to see how hard they are. He punches her full force and she doubles over. It’s a funny scene, but it points to an actual problem that can occur in dating these days. With the rise of Crossfit Gyms, MMA and women’s sports in general, there are an increasing number of women out there who can give guys a run for their money when it comes to athleticism, or even beat them. This makes some men extremely uncomfortable. The important thing to remember here is that it’s not a battle or a contest. You can appreciate your date’s skills without feeling the need to one-up her (or punch her).
5) Don’t date your best friend’s ex.
Never has the sin of dating your best friend’s ex been more blatantly demonstrated than in The Walking Dead. Oh Shane, we know you loved Lori, but look where it got you. Ladies and gentlemen, dating your best friend’s ex, especially without their permission, is definitely a no-no. And while it may not get you literally killed, like it got Shane, it may very well kill your friendship.
6) Don’t move in together until you’re ready.
Sookie, Sookie, Sookie. Letting Eric sleep in your basement was a really bad idea. Sure, it seemed innocent enough at the time, but did you really think it wouldn’t lead to trouble? As True Blood teaches us, moving in together is a big step, and not something that should be taken lightly. Make sure your relationship is strong enough before you attempt the big move, because the strain of living together has wrecked many a relationship. And as Sookie teaches us, don’t move in together if you’re not even sure you like the person… but that should be a no-brainer.
7) Try your best to be punctual.
No one in pop culture seems to be worse at following this rule than Spiderman. Peter Parker just can’t seem to be on time, and it sure makes Mary Jane mad. Truth be told, habitual lateness will make almost anyone mad, and it’s certainly poor form on a first date. So try and be punctual, even if you have to fight LA traffic or the New York City subway system, or like Peter, the Green Goblin.
8) Sometimes it’s better to go alone.
We’ve all felt the pressure to bring a hot date to a wedding, a big party, or a holiday gathering, but as the Friends episode “The One with the Monkey” teaches us, sometimes it’s better to go alone. When all the Friends try and find New Year’s Eve dates, they end up with duds. Yes, the idea of having someone attractive on your arm seems good, but the fact is, pressuring yourself into going on a date with someone for just that reason often has bad results. For one, if you bring a date, then you don’t have a chance to really meet any single people who might catch your eye at the party, and secondly, the date can easily be a disaster. So bring a date if you want, but don’t feel compelled to, sometimes flying solo is the best way to go.
9) Sometimes the guy or girl for you is right in front of your nose.
Harry Potter, the boy wizard, shows us that sometimes the guy or girl for you can be right in front of you the whole time. Harry, Ron and Hermione spend much of the first few Harry Potter books dating right tossers (there’s a Briticism for you), when their perfect matches were there for them all along. So open up your eyes, people. If there’s a special someone in your life who you’ve been ignoring for whatever reason, maybe it’s time you worked up the courage to ask them out. It could be the best decision you ever made.
10) Tell them you love them.
Piggybacking off our last tip, if you truly love someone, tell them, don’t wait. Don’t be Princess Leia, shouting your love for your Han Solo as he’s slowly frozen in Carbonite. This doesn’t mean you should declare your undying love for someone on the second date (don’t, it generally doesn’t go well), but it does mean you shouldn’t be stingy with the L word. (That’s especially true for you gentlemen.) And no, by L word, I don’t mean Lesbian (thank you Scott Pilgrim). Love is a big word, but it isn’t as burdensome as it’s often presented to be. Telling someone you adore that you love them is a really important thing. They’ll be happier, and because they’re happier, you will be too.