3 Ways Media Lies About (Romantic) Relationships

Most people know the media lies about basically everything. Bear with me, Mr. Literal—I know it tells truth sometimes, but we’re going with generally.

There are some lies that we talk about more than others: e.g. ridiculously unrealistic beauty standards, perfectly witty comebacks, and flawless brow lines (seriously, how?).

But there are a few lies that have taken me time to realize I actually believed them, let alone stop believing them. I hope this article saves you some trouble. Also, please prayerfully consider before stoning me (smiles innocently). 

1. Arguing Brings True Passion

For the first 10 months of our relationship, the boyfriend and I didn’t fight. Not once. I give the credit to his unending patience and forgiveness more than “us being perfect for each other.” Still, I found it strange. Ironically, it made me worry. Does this mean we’re stuck in the honeymoon phase? Are we not a real couple?

Soon after, we had our first heated disagreement. I still wouldn’t say we fought because, well…we didn’t. Not like the movies, anyways. There was no yelling. No screaming hurtful words. No shoving. No “I’m tired of this! I’m sick of you!” I was pushing him away amidst my anxiety, and he felt…pushed away. And that was hurtful. So we talked about it. Intensely, but we were still talking.

I’ve been tempted to say hurtful things just to spice things up. When he’s on my last nerve, how about I mention his ex? How about I say how he always misunderstands? What if I give him a dramatic shove just to show him how intensely I feel? Let me give him the silent treatment; that’ll show I mean business, and it’ll increase the passion of our relationship.


But take a look at any major movie or Netflix series and tell me where the lie is. The screens tell us passion is measured in conflict, but the Bible says passion is measured in unity. A godly relationship is where the man loves his woman as Christ loves the Church. Where does Jesus stir up controversy because He wants passion? Jesus lived His passion in pouring out His life for the Church, to bring us back into unity with Himself.

Conflict happens. But ungodly arguing doesn’t have to.

2. Cheating is Good (For the “Right Reasons”)

This is about to get personal. Try your best to not hurt me. Please.

Since when did cheating on someone become okay? It’s painted as bad in the sexy way, and somehow forbidden becomes alluring. As long as the person you’re with isn’t “the one,” it’s enticing and acceptable to go behind their back and be with someone else (many different definitions of be with, but I’ll leave that alone…).

I’m not saying people should always be together. I’m saying break up with the person if you must, but cheating is never, never, never okay.

But moving screens like The Notebook, Me Before You, Scandal make it seem okay.

She didn’t get his letters! It’s not her fault!

She fell in love with the true gentleman! Her boyfriend was a jerk anyways!

He’s the President of the nation! He couldn’t just choose his mistress! 

(if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you haven’t seen these; but you get my drift).

If you feel the need to argue the plot line, that’s my point—these stories are convincing us to defend cheating. They’re shaping the stories to make it valid. Bear with me to remember that none of these people actually exist.

Let me say this again: I’m not saying people should always be together. I’m saying break up with the person if you must, but cheating is never, never, never okay. Cheating is the cowards’ method of breaking up: you think you can get both, but end up loving neither.

Unfaithfulness is in direct opposition to the concept of true love. Love seeks not its own, it is intrinsically others-focused. Love doesn’t rejoice in evil doing, but rejoices in truth. That is true love. Even if it doesn’t have the emotional background music. Instead, this love has the weight of eternity and the soul-satisfaction of truth.

3. Deep Issues Are Fixed in 2 Hours

I have emotional baggage.

(Raise your hand if you do, too. Thank you. You can put your hands down now.)

I thought a lot of that would be fixed in a godly, affirming, Christ-centered relationship.

Spoiler alert: it didn’t.

The boyfriend is amazing. He has walked with me in healing, and has provided a wonderfully supportive and safe place to heal. But he hasn’t healed me. And he will never heal me. Only Jesus can do that. Jesus and I are still working through issues, baggage, assumptions, and expectations that I did not intentionally put in my brain. It’s taken years, and it will continue to take years.

Yet media condenses issue resolution to two hours. We sometimes get the whimsical “three years later” across the screen, but we know they’ll end up together in the end because love conquers all, right? Maybe it spans a TV series or seven, but we see progress 45 minutes at a time! (those darn commercials, stealing our 15 minutes).

I wish issues were resolved that quickly. I wish my friend could heal from her painful break up in only three months. I wish my friend’s miscarriage was not causing her daily mental anguish. I wish I could work through old wounds in just one weekend. But it doesn’t work that way. Relationships are as messy as the people who are in them. And that’s okay. Healing is not linear, nor is it confined to a set amount of hours. You, reader, are worth the time it will take. So take your time.

On behalf of media, I am sorry for the lies that you have been told.

To be fair, true, soul-satisfying, character-enabling love is far greater than a screen could ever capture. God desires your relationship to be far better than airbrushed love scenes and passionate fights. He knows that selfless, sacrificial, vulnerable, honest, daily love is what we need. That’s why He has parameters for how we give and receive the most vulnerable kind of love; He wants us to have nothing less than the best.

2 thoughts on “3 Ways Media Lies About (Romantic) Relationships

  1. Thank you so much for writing this, Callie. You have captured very well three of the big lies that media portrays regarding romantic relationships.
    I, too, have noticed more recently how media is really pushing to excuse or even normalize the very acts/activities that often break people’s lives. In the case of Scandal and other similar shows/movies, it is adultery, but it also includes other issues as well. I don’t watch things like Scandal myself, but even so, it is hard to avoid all the media hype even when just checking the local news and weather!
    I think a lot of it goes back to this: our Enemy, our Adversary, Satan, wants to distort our understanding of what is Right and Wrong, because he wants people to be hurt and broken. He wants to cause pain and suffering. He wants people to feel that they have fallen so far that God will not "accept" them or "take them back", but this, too, is a lie. God loves every single one of us, no matter what we may have done in the past. Jesus forgive the woman caught in adultery and encourage her to turn away from that life by saying: "Go and sin no more" (John 8:1-11) Because He not only forgives us of our sins, but He wants us to have a better life moving forward with a character changed by His love.


    1. Jacquelyn, thank you so much for your insightful thoughts! I think you really hit the underlying issue of all of this–a distortion of right and wrong, which is one of the key weapons of the enemy. And praise God, even if we do fall into what is wrong, God is (more than) willing to forgive us, redeem us, and glorify Himself through us in beauty and truth. Thankful for such a God.


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