Why Twilight Sucks

Stephenie Meyer very nearly ruined my marriage before it had barely begun. Honestly, Twilight should come with a warning label: May Cause Unforeseen Disappointment with One’s Love Life.

It’s being called The Edward Factor – the power romantic books and movies have to ruin your love life by setting up unrealistic expectations for your relationships.

For those that have been hiding under a rock and aren’t familiar with Twilight: Edward Cullen is an insanely handsome teenage vampire who bloodlusts after Bella, a regular human girl. Bella is flawed, clumsy and emotional (sound familiar?) but nonetheless, her scent is irresistible to Edward. His ‘own personal brand of heroin.’ He literally loves her so much that it’s all he can do not to devour her whole…

It’s dark, romantic and thrilling. Edward is beautiful, educated, mature. Being unable to sleep, he instead watches over Bella all night, every night. He is by her side practically 24 hours a day. He buys her expensive presents, composes songs just for her and protects her fiercely. He is written as perfection. (I know, there’s a huge discussion on the interweb regarding his male chauvinistic tendencies and feminism, but let’s leave those aside for the sake of this post, as they didn’t occur to me at all while reading this book.)

I breathlessly followed their obsessive teenage romance while basking in the warm Thailand sun on my honeymoon… I was swept up in the magnificence of their love, of all love, of how perfect a world could be once two soul mates found each other…

… And as I turned from the pages of my book, enraptured with the romance of my situation, of being a blushing bride on my honeymoon… all I could hear was my new husband hurling his guts up in the bathroom.

The poor guy, it wasn’t his fault he’d gotten Thai-belly. Nor is it his fault that he has no inkling whatsoever to watch me sleep peacefully for eight hours every night. Or that he doesn’t desire me all day, every day with an insatiable thirst. He’s only human after all.

Registering all this, I felt a sense of nagging resentment of my germ-ridden husband. Had I settled for something less than TRUE LOVE?

Of course, it’s not just the Twilight series that we have to blame. Studies have nominated such films as Notting Hill and Runaway Bride (Julia, we’re all looking at you) for women become uncommunicative and sulky with their beaus.

“The problem is that while most of us know that the idea of a perfect relationship is unrealistic, some of us are still more influenced by media portrayals than we realize,” says Dr Bjarne Holmes of Heriot Watt University.

I blame Disney as well. Every movie I loved when I was a little girl ended with Prince Charming and his princess du jour walking off into the sunset… Happily Ever After. That’s what happened, right? They Got Married and Lived Happily Ever After.

Never did Disney fast forward to show me six months on, where Cinderella is picking dirty socks off the floor while Charming burps, farts and scratches in front of the TV… Disney never told me relationships would take actual work! They gave me the impression that once you found The One, love would come easily after that.

Relationships aren’t meant to be hard… are they?

After brooding myself at my less-than-perfect honeymoon situation and wondering why my husband couldn’t just man up and carry me off into the Thai sunset, what I’ve since reconciled is that fitting two lives together isn’t like slotting in a jigsaw puzzle. No two people are ever going to fit perfectly. I knew it all along, but nonetheless I somehow still seemed to be waiting for life to take on a rosy, ever-after glow after the ring was slipped on my finger.

In reality, nothing much has changed between us (finger bling aside!). We still have the huge task ahead of us of a lifelong romance, and I think it’s wrong to expect that it will be smooth sailing all the way. Despite the recent articles from the likes of Sandra Tsing Loh, I happen to believe relationships do take a certain amount of work, and regular maintenance to keep them on the right track. It’s not all Happily Ever After, and quite honestly… where would the fun be in that? But too often, are relationships falling apart because they don’t live up to the idealistic world on our movie screens?

This article was originally published on Mamamia.com.au on October 12, 2009. You can see it on the site by clicking here.