12 Things We Need To Stop Romanticizing
by Madeleine Aggeler
Young, loving heterosexual couple kissing in an amusement park.
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We all romanticize certain ideas. Maybe you wish you lived in another decade, when things were simpler, and auto-tune didn't exist yet. Perhaps you yearn for a passionate romance, the kind where you and your partner have explosive fights, and passionate reconciliations. Maybe you just wish for plain old excitement, and don't particularly care where it comes from.

As entertaining as it can be to escape into these daydreams from time to time, there are certain lifestyles, attitudes, and behaviors our society presents as being cool and desirable which are actually far more harmful than they are aspirational. In a thread titled "What do people need to stop romanticizing?" the users of Reddit shared what they thought people should stop glamorizing.

There were hundreds of answers that addressed everything from 50 Shades of Grey to Shakespeare plays, but what all of these idealized notions have in common is that they are based on some twisted version of reality, not reality itself.

Whether it's realizing that your moody, withdrawn boyfriend isn't the tortured love of your life, but just some guy you're better off without, or smoking a cigarette even though you know it's basically death in paper because you thought Don Draper looked so cool doing it, when we romanticize people or behaviors, we are often responding to how we think our lives should be/look/feel. We are not checking in with ourselves to see how we really feel or what we really want, and this disconnect can be extremely damaging to one's mental health.

Ultimately, we can all be into whatever we choose to be into. But when you're deciding how to build your life and what to fill it with, make sure you're making a decision based on facts, and not some romanticized version of reality.

Toxic relationships...

(even when described in such adorable terms)

The whole "ride or die" thing is WILDLY overrated. It is a term often used to romanticize toxic relationships. The idea that true love is painful, dramatic, or dangerous, is both unhealthy and wrong. True love is calming, comforting. It feels like coming home at the end of a long day and curling up under a warm blanket. It does NOT feel like a potentially fatal car chase.

So your S.O. is destructive/lazy/emotionally manipulative/a bank robber? Get out of there! You deserve more. You deserve your blanket.


The romantic, bad boy, devil-may care portrayal of criminals in popular media often obscures the truly horrific ways they hurt and exploited the people around them.

"The good old days"

The good old days were only good if you happened to be a straight, white, male.


The people who have actually experienced poverty are rarely those romanticizing it.

Romeo and Juliet

I must say, a surprisingly thoughtful reflection on Shakespeare from the patrons of Reddit.

Not only is it wrong to glamorize two pubescent kids killing themselves, that kind of romanticization is exactly what Shakespeare wanted to criticize with the play.


There is a common misconception in our culture which suggests the person working the longest, sleeping the least, and stressing the most, is also the person working hardest.

In fact, chronic stress can lead to a number of health conditions, such as sleep disturbances, a weakened immune system, depression, and trouble concentrating, all of which could actually hinder one's ability to work effectively.

So go home, turn off your phone, and take a nap. You'll be and feel better for it.


I thought cheating was regarded pretty negatively across the board, but a reminder never hurts.


For fear of sounding like everyone's grandparents, it does seem that, while fame was once something people achieved after doing something notable in their respective fields, studies suggest it has morphed into a goal in and of itself. This change can lead people to focus more on getting attention than learning and growing their individual skills.

Marriage and parenthood

There's a reason most of the movies and stories we grew up on as kids ended as soon as the two main characters got married. Weddings can be wonderful and beautiful testaments to people's love, but they're just the beginning of a journey together that can be difficult and frustrating at times.

Throw a crying, pooping toddler into the mix, and the whole starting a family business starts to look a lot less romantic.


It may look cool in old timey movies, but smoking can lead to everything from cancer, stroke, heart disease, and emphysema. Plus, it's super expensive, and the smell is almost impossible to get rid of, so you end up walking around smelling like an old ashtray.

Substance abuse

In a column for The Hollywood Reporter, former basketball player turned feminist writer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar pointed out that movies like Bad Moms, Rough Night, and Girls Trip all center around excessive drinking, and while this may make for absurd comedy, romanticizing this kind of behavior has serious consequences on one's health, work, and relationships.


As Bustle's own Emma Lord wrote, in what may be the definitive work of Snape-condemnation: "The ability to feel love for one person does not cancel out the very real and horrible crimes he committed; in fact, it's selfish to think that he was accomplice to the murders of so many but was only able to stop himself to save the one person it suited him to protect."