Break-up Themes

June 20, 2013 at 9:03 pm 1 comment

I have noticed there are a cluster of films, and songs, about breaking up, where it’s a good thing.  I thought it would be interesting to look at the common themes in break-up movies.  What is the take home message that is to make us a little bit wiser?  First I want you to play the song by Kelly Clarkson “Stronger” to get you in the mood.

This is the heroic response to an ending.  It says I am not a coward, I can be alone.  Each challenge to my survival makes me stronger and more connected to myself and in particular my ability to push back the boundaries of my mortality.  This is empowering.

I want to note that this works when you are talking to the ex.  If you are looking for a good obstacle to love, however, it would be continuing this attitude in your new relationship.  “I’m strong and independent.  If you leave I will be fine.  As a matter of fact leave and I’ll prove it.”  This is a recipe  for never finding happiness in love.  Think about He’s Just Not That Into You.  The women, and one guy, have to learn to recognize when someone is not seeing them for their intrinsic worth and simply give them the boot.  You also have to be willing to be vulnerable and wear your heart on your sleeve when the right guy comes along.

Then there is the tough girl who has been hurt and was strong enough to get out.  What she doesn’t know how to do is to admit she has been victimized by the experience and take the time to restore her healthy entitlement to love – that she doesn’t have to be tough all the time, or accept being treated badly and live with the high drama of a bad boy.  To go into her next relationship she has to move her internal world from Victim to Virgin again.  Whatever happened hurt.  How can the protagonist be open and vulnerable and receive what a new guy has to offer?  This is the theme of Veronica Mars (great tv show – I hope the rumors are true that it will be a movie) and Pretty Woman.

When a bad thing happens our inner victim feels things like “why is it nothing goes my way” or “what did I do to deserve this?”  This quest for meaning needs a place to be expressed (I like journaling and whining with my girlfriends).  Once it is made tangible it can be address.  If the victim feeling is denied or suppressed, and let’s face it, nobody wants to admit their shadow side, it will sneak up and bite you when you don’t expect it.  Can you say self-sabbotage?  Hey, that sounds like Hitch.  

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Lorne  |  June 21, 2013 at 6:53 am

    Terrific blog once again, Kim. Movies cover the waterfront on how to handle breakups, from the vindictive victim response to the made-stronger-through-adversity archetype (as Kelly Clarkson’s song reflects evocatively).
    I think your point about recognizing the virtue of vulnerability during breakups, being able to see the growth opportunities inherent in what initially appears to be a sad, is insightful. The importance of keeping a soft and open heart during such emotionally challenging times is always good to see in movies.
    Well done again!


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