I’m the first to admit that I have memorized every song in Beauty and the Beast and that I cried my eyes out when I saw Phantom of the Opera live on stage. I absolutely adore dramatic tales of love, sacrifice, and heartbreak. Unfortunately, as young women in the new millennium, we have all had to learn to separate the fantasy romance of our adolescent dreams from the reality of millennial dating. Because—let’s face it—it’s a struggle just getting a guy to text back within a reasonable time frame nowadays. So, we curl up with a romance novel or re-watch our favorite Disney films and imagine a world of endless chivalry and handsome heroes. Well, it’s time to burst the bubbles of our romance fantasies, because most of those classic tales we adore are actually portraying pretty unhealthy or unworkable relationships. We can still laugh and cry with these fictional couples, but let’s all keep in mind how ridiculous these love stories would be if they tried to take their love outside the happy-ever-after-land of movie scripts and novels. So, in no particular order, here are fifteen pretty questionable love stories that we all will forever gush over anyway.
Ah, the movie that inspired people everywhere to belt out “I believe that the heart does GO ON!” There’s no doubt this is the picture perfect whirlwind romance story. What kind of heartless monster didn’t cry as Rose watched Jack sink to his watery grave? But here’s the problem with this story—if they had tried to take their love on land, it would have been a disaster. Starving artist Jack would never have been able to support Rose’s aristocrat needs. Sure, partying with the third class passengers while their stuffy counterparts discussed politics over brandy was all good fun for her, but what about when she has to sleep on cots and can’t afford her best perfume anymore? Besides, lots of people are amazing for the first few dates. Imagine if you’d only known your ex for a week and never found out he would cheat on you with your coworker a year later? Jack and Rose got to be blissfully in love until Jack couldn’t fit on the floating door, and that’s the perfect love story.
14 Romeo and Juliet
There is not a soul alive that does not know this classic tale and its heart-wrenching ending. Though it is pretty romantic to think two lovers could be so obsessed with each other that they literally kill themselves, it is also pretty much the definition of an unhealthy co-dependent relationship. Maybe if they tried improving the communication in the relationship, this giant misunderstanding wouldn’t have happened. Not to mention Romeo comes off as pretty fickle—he is obsessed over Rosaline a couple hours before meeting Juliet. Was Juliet just a really intense rebound? Also, aren’t they thirteen? When I was thirteen I was trying to win ring pops at the arcade, not trying on actual wedding rings with a kid I’d met five days ago. Maybe you should turn eighteen, get a job, and move out so your parents don’t control who you date instead of faking your own death. Just saying.
13 The Little Mermaid
Though the original tale by Hans Christian Anderson is much darker than the sing-along Disney story, both versions of the stories debut a young woman who literally gives up her entire world for a man she has never had a conversation with. In Disney’s version, she is a mere sixteen years old, upset with Daddy for destroying the life-size statue she keeps of her crush (which was pretty obsessive of her, in the first place), and realizes men don’t need to hear you speak as long as your face is perfectly symmetrical and your hair defies the laws of the physical universe. If that wasn’t bad enough, Eric literally tries to marry some other girl because her voice sounds familiar, even after he spent a near-perfect week with his super hot redhead. But instead of seeing this as a red flag, Ariel decides to marry him anyway. She probably justifies it to her friends by reminding them, “Well, guys, he did kill a giant octopus for me.” I guess that counts for something.
12 Phantom of The Opera
Every woman would be thrilled if a mysterious man serenaded her as he took her on a boat ride to his lair filled with candelabras. But we might be overlooking some very unhealthy aspects of this masked genius. The Phantom, though he is a hopeless romantic with some killer pipes, is also an obsessive and murderous recluse that doesn’t take rejection very well. Hello, those are like the biggest red flags ever! Not to mention he has a double sided mirror in Christine’s bedroom—uh, creepy much? We could excuse his tendency to murder people here and there—he is helping her with her career after all—but he is also expecting her to be the bride of his underworld domain or else he will kill her fiancé. That’s some serious stalker behavior. But then again, even with his face deformity and murderous tendencies, who wouldn’t marry an obsessively in love Gerard Butler?
11 Beauty and the Beast
If a man with anger management issues locks up your sick and dying dad, subsequently takes you as a prisoner, and is verbally abusive until he sees you in a pretty yellow dress, do not give up on him. He could still turn out to be Prince Charming. How twisted does that sound? Once you get past his abusive shell, he’ll even gift you a giant library. Does no one realize that this story is kind of a glorified fairy tale about Stockholm syndrome? But even with all of these glaring faults, who doesn’t love a story that involves a gentle woman melting a beast’s heart? He starts out as a mean-spirited and confrontational jerk but melts into a ballroom-dancing gentleman. All for love. Not to mention the fact that he fights off a pack of wolves for her. That’s more than most of us can say about our boyfriends.
10 Sleeping Beauty
In this classic tale, Aurora ends up marrying a stranger she meets in the woods, who just so happens to also be a wealthy prince. Where can I find one? Five minutes and one Disney song after meeting him, she’s madly in love. Aurora then proceeds to take a nice long nap while Prince Phillip jumps through all sorts of thorny and flaming hoops to kiss her near-corpse lips. Romantic, right? Of course, it is! An unlikely meeting with a hot prince AND a heroic escapade to free you with true love’s kiss after only knowing you for one day? Sounds like he will probably let her decorate the castle, however, she wants and will give her the wedding of her dreams. But, realistically, meeting strange men in the woods probably won’t lead to marriage. Besides, how many women has he used that “once upon a dream” line on before?
9 Moulin Rouge
Though Moulin Rouge was a visual masterpiece, the love story within it was a bit ridiculous, to say the least. First of all, a man constantly writing and singing about love is bound to fall in love at the first chance he gets—even if it is with a random woman with a questionable job. Also, a woman of this nature who is desperate for escape is bound to fall in love with the first guy that tries to save her—even if he’s broke and slightly delusional. Once they’ve met and “fallen in love” based on their awkward almost-sexual meeting, they proceed to plan an escape…but without an actual plan. Their “all you need is love” philosophy is very worrisome—where is their savings account? What is their career trajectory? But even though we can see how stupid they are, we all end up crying at the end anyway when—surprise—their non-plan doesn’t end up the way they had hoped.
8 The Notebook
Ugh. Probably one of the biggest love stories out there, after Rose and Jack of course. First of all, kissing in the rain is not all that this movie made it seem. I don’t care how romantic Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling make it look—it’s all lies. Second of all, why would you write the woman of your dreams a letter every single day and then not check up on her when she isn’t responding? You don’t think maybe there was a problem with the post office or her super over-protective mother is intercepting the letters? You’re just going to completely give up on contacting her and build a house? Makes sense. Also, I had no idea we could just will ourselves to die at the exact same time as our romantic partner. Is there a seminar on this? I’ll be expecting my future husband to study up on that.
Our hearts all melted when Cinderella danced with her prince for the first time and we all rooted for her to break out of her room to try on the glass slipper. But I’m pretty sure that there are lots of women in the kingdom with a size six-and-a-half shoe, so the prince is already proving he’s not the brightest bulb in the castle if that’s his game plan to find her. He doesn’t even go out to look for her himself; he sends his monocle-wearing lackey to go do it for him. What if his lackey brought back a random blonde woman who had fit the slipper? Would the prince not be able to tell that it wasn’t the girl he had danced with? That’s a pretty bad sign, Cinderella. Next thing you know, he’s justifying cheating on you by saying he thought the blonde girl he hooked up with was you—her foot did fit the glass slipper after all.
6 Pretty Woman
This story, though it is a romantic and witty tale, advocates that women can make awful choices in their lives and then be saved by a very wealthy man somewhere down the road. Wouldn't that just be the most perfect ending to any story? If only it was that easy. It’s okay to be a working as a lady of the night as long as you hold out for that knight in a shining white limo to come save you from your actually-pretty-nice apartment in Los Angeles. The next time a man offers you three thousand dollars to pretend to be his girlfriend for a few days expect that this will probably turn into the romance of your dreams. Julia Roberts was the original successful sugar baby, an inspiration to all the aspiring women on SeekingArrangments.com. Just keep sleeping with older men and taking their money. Eventually, one of them is bound to look like Richard Gere and fall in love with you.
While Aladdin lied his Arabian butt off for the “right reasons,” it’s still a huge red flag if a guy is completely untruthful about his entire upbringing and lifestyle. Can you imagine the horror of meeting someone who tells you all these amazing things about himself only to find out everything he told you is a complete and utter lie! Jasmine even gives him a chance, to tell the truth on their magic carpet date and he still keeps up his ridiculous make-believe alter ego. True, he technically needs to be a prince to marry her, but her father is literally the sultan! You don’t think the sultan can pull some strings for his only daughter? Here’s an idea: wish that it was legal for you to marry Jasmine instead of wishing for giant elephants and a gaudy white outfit. Obviously, Aladdin is in it for the show. Not to mention he’s basically a pathological liar. Someone needs to warn Jasmine about dating actors.
4 Jane Eyre
This is a refreshing tale because the two lovers are not gorgeous and royal-blooded, but are instead ordinary people with extraordinary inner qualities that come to appreciate one another. But there is one tiny issue—Mr. Rochester’s crazed ex-wife is kind of locked up in his attic. That would be a pretty intense deal breaker for most women. It would be one thing if he explained the situation to Jane and they worked through it, but he completely keeps her in the dark until the truth is thrust upon her on her wedding day. A little late to find out don't you think? The pair do eventually get married—but this only happens because Mr. Rochester’s insane ex-wife decides to burn down the mansion and accidentally kill herself in the process. What is the lesson here? Let’s wait for our fiance's ex to accidentally burn herself to ash so we don’t have to actually deal with the issue?
3 Wuthering Heights
Emily Bronte’s tale is purposefully more dark and star-crossed than her sister’s love story and makes no attempt to disguise its obviously dysfunctional pair of lovers. Heathcliff is immature and revengeful while Catherine is shallow and weak-willed. Really, they are both the worst. So maybe that makes them perfect for each other? Or is it opposites who are supposed to be attracted to one another and make it in the end? Even though they are terrible people, it is their love that is so powerful that drives them to do crazy things—you know, like marrying someone else or making yourself sick for attention or torturing the love of your life’s daughter for revenge…. They are definitely not relationship goals, but they are poster children for how crazy love can make us. And we all find ourselves swooning over the everlasting love Heathcliff harbors for Catherine until he is laid to rest beside her tombstone.
2 Gone With The Wind
Where to even start with this one? Well, despite being considered a love story, this very lengthy novel-turned-film is more of a tragic love triangle that is sprinkled with marriage issues and war. Sounds like the perfect ingredients for the most unhealthy, ridiculous love story, but also one that we would probably love anyway! Maybe we are the ones who are actually twisted? Scarlett literally pines after another man her entire marriage to Rhett, until he decides to leave her—then suddenly she’s “loved him all along.” Right. You don't realize what you got until it's gone much? And Rhett literally rapes her, causes her to fall down the stairs and have a miscarriage, and verbally degrades her through much of the story. Not exactly a match made in Heaven. If anything, the audience should be rejoicing as Rhett finally leaves Scarlett weeping on the staircase. We were all low-key rooting for that divorce.
This is actually a pretty solid love story. The two lovers get to know each other longer than one dance or one catchy song, they have a united and noble goal to end the war between Europeans and Natives, and they share some of the most romantic moments ever animated. Not one 90’s kid will ever forget the line, “I’d rather die tomorrow than live a hundred years without knowing you.” If that isn’t fueling our unrealistic fantasies about love, I don’t know what else to blame. Really, the only problem with this story is how unfairly perfect it is. Why does my hair not blow that perfectly in the wind, where is my pet raccoon, and why is there not a handsome adventurer painting the colors of the wind with me? Then again, John does have to sail back to England without her in the end, breaking both of their hearts. Thanks Disney, for letting us know only healthy and developed relationships are the ones that end.