“It’s like watching attraction catch fire in slow motion—and the attraction is multi-faceted. They listen to each other, they make each other laugh, they learn about each other,” she tells Glamour. “The chemistry is palpable and yet it’s not all about physical attraction, and it all takes place practically in real time over the course of an evening.”
For Dr. Bonoir, this on-screen representation of romance is both accurate and dreamy. She notes that, in particular, it’s not the relationship itself that’s meant to be idolized, but how the love interests meet. It’s the active listening, respect, and attention paid to each other that’s so unusual and highly appreciated.
“They build off of what each other is saying,” she says. “They meet each other’s vulnerability with respect and care. They entrust each other with aspects of themselves. They show attentive body language. They prioritize each other’s feelings and preferences. They ask good questions of each other and truly listen to the answers.”
For Dr. Pamela B. Rutledge, Groundhog Day, While You Were Sleeping, Something’s Gotta Give, and Love, Simon all check out.
“[Groundhog Day] centers on the transformation of Bill Murray’s character from a self-focused and smug newscaster into someone who emerges as both lovable and admirable. This reinforces the importance of internal values over looks and other superficial attributes,” she explains.
Adds McRitchie, “On the surface, [Groundhog Day] might not look like your average run-of-the-mill rom-com, as it centers mainly on the male character and the changes he must make in life to be ‘worthy’ of the love of the woman he wants. Years later, it does not surprise me to realize that it is perhaps the closest a movie can come to encapsulating the therapy process: if you want change to happen, you have to be that change. There is no magic romance fairy waiting to wave her wand.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Rutledge says While You Were Sleeping, with Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman, “also underscores the importance of values—humor, family, kindness—over superficial attractions with superb acting from the ensemble cast.” (It should be noted, though, that Bullock’s character in While You Were Sleeping does display some aspects of an unhealthy obsession. She lies about being the fiancée of a man in a coma, and the plot of the film snowballs from there.)