Let’s face it — romcoms are seriously addicting. They might be cheesy, over-the-top and predictable, but at the end of the day, they still leave us all swooning like fangirls. But here’s the problem: All the romantic cliches of movie couples: the handsome Prince Charmings and the promise of a happily ever after only cause our expectations to skyrocket — and that can be problematic. We tend to lose sight of the fact that these depictions of relationships are far from realistic. But thankfully, we’ve been fortunate enough to see quite a few movie couples that reflect the awkwardness and imperfections of real-life romances. Because rarely do we ever see how factors like long distance, mental illness, and cultural differences can affect a relationship.
From Dean and Cindy in Blue Valentine to Juno and Paulie from Juno, see some of the most memorable movie couples that are actually realistic.
1. Amy and Aaron from Trainwreck
Amy (an independent party girl who writes for a men’s magazine) and Aaron (a sports doctor who seems to have it all together) quickly fall for each other after they meet over an interview. But during their budding romance, Amy struggles with the fact that she’s not used to being in a serious relationship or depending on someone else. She also has to deal with her aging dad (who suffers from multiple sclerosis) and her jealousy towards her sister for having the picture perfect family.
What’s so unique about this film is that it depicts how most independent women feel when they find themselves in a new relationship. They compromise themselves in a sense. Because the deeper they get into that romance, the more they start to depend on their significant other for support which can be scary if it is unfamiliar. Amy Schumer did such an amazing job of showing how challenging that experience can be, because it’s never easy when you feel like you have to choose between true love and your independence.
2. Summer and Tom from 500 Days of Summer
Even as I write this, I feel the sudden urge to give Tom’s character a hug. In case you’re not too familiar with the plot: Tom, a greeting card writer, falls in love with a beautiful coworker named Summer. In one of their first discussions, she claims that she doesn’t believe in love while Tom does. But from then on, they bond and become closer. All the while, Tom falls deeply in love with Summer, not knowing that she doesn’t feel the same way about him. Fast forward to after their split and Tom finds out that she actually does believe in true love – except she found it with someone else.
Dealing with unrequited love is so common in real life, and Tom accurately portrayed how much it can break a person emotionally. It may feel like it’s the end of the world, but that scene where Tom meets someone new goes to show that you can get your happy ending. Just not in the way you’d expect.
3. Dean and Cindy from Blue Valentine
We all wanted things to work out between Dean and Cindy. They were perfect together from the moment they met, but then things started to fall apart after their marriage. It seemed like no matter what they did, they just couldn’t make it work.
It’s pretty scary to think about but people change over time, and that can be a challenge for couples because these changes can drive people apart. There’s no guarantee that the person you fall in love with today will be the same person in a decade – and this, unfortunately, is more common than we think.
4. Juno and Paulie from Juno
Sixteen-year-old Juno gets pregnant after she sleeps with her friend Paulie (who happens to have feelings for her). When he continues to pine after her, Juno pushes him away and convinces him that the feeling isn’t mutual. But when he tries to move on with another girl, she gets angry and proves that she actually does have feelings for him. Aside from the chaos of their relationship, Juno also has to deal with the added complications of her unplanned pregnancy.
It’s no secret that teen pregnancy is pretty common. But what makes this couple so relatable is the way that they deal with their feelings for one another. They start off as close friends and over time, one person wants the relationship to become something more while the other (seemingly) doesn’t. It’s such a common scenario and I’m sure almost everyone has experienced it with a friend at some point.
5. Sara and Brian from My Sister’s Keeper
Sara and Brian’s lives are turned upside down when their daughter is diagnosed with cancer. While Sara quits working to become a full-time mother, Brian uses his job as an escape from the issues he has to deal with at home. This new dynamic puts a strain on their marriage because their priorities have drastically changed. And it doesn’t help that Sara basically sacrificed her relationship with the rest of the family to focus solely on catering to her daughter’s needs.
6. Pat and Tiffany from Silver Linings Playbook
Pat and Tiff’s relationship is the definition of dysfunctional (as are basc all the relationships in this film). The guy is obsessed with winning his estranged wife back. Meanwhile the girl, who’s a widow, lies and manipulates him so they can spend more time together (romantic, right?). While Pat struggles with his bipolar disorder and remains in denial about his feelings for Tiffany (at least throughout most of the film), Tiffany has to deal with her depression. But fortunately, despite these struggles, they manage to begin a healthy relationship.
It’s the perfect example of how even the messiest and most unstable relationships can actually work. But more importantly, it’s refreshing to see a flawed couple that’s not afraid to just be crazy around each other.
7. Sheila and Troy from Why Did I Get Married Too?
After moving on from an abusive relationship with her ex-husband (Mike), Sheila is now happily married to Troy. However, their perfect romance comes to a halt when Mike shows up during their vacation. He makes it pretty clear that he’s not over Sheila, which creates a lot of tension. But to make matters even more complicated, Sheila goes behind her new husband’s back and asks Mike to help him land a job.
a) Maintaining a relaysh with your ex is usually dramatic with new S.O.’s coming and going but b) it can get even more complicated if that person happens to have the same group of friends as you, because their presence could lead to drama. c) It’s tough whenever you do something thinking it’s for the best, even when it’s not what your partner wants.
Unfortunately, there are tons of people who understand the feeling all too well.
8. Darius and Nina from Love Jones
When Darius and Nina meet at a club in Chicago, they instantly hit it off. But after their first date, they’re not quite sure if they’re meant to be just friends or if they’re falling in love. While Nina tries to move on from her ex-fiance, Darius actually starts to fall for her. So when Nina’s ex comes back, she has to decide whether she wants to rekindle that old flame or move on with Darius.
It’s an experience that’s so relatable for people who’ve tried to move on from an ex. You feel like you’ve finally moved on when you meet someone new, but as soon as you learn that there’s a chance to fix things and be happy with them again… you’re tempted to jump at the opportunity. It’s never easy for all parties involved.
9. Anna and Jacob from Like Crazy
Anna, a British exchange student, decides to stay in the U.S. longer than her visa allows so she can spend more time with her new American boyfriend. However, neither knew that this would eventually prevent Anna from entering the country again. Because of her overstay, she’s forced to stay in the UK — far from her love. And as a result, she and Jacob struggle to maintain a long-distance relationship while they build their separate careers and lives half-way accross the world from one another.
Unfortunately, making a relationship work isn’t all about love and sometimes pure logistics like legal troubles and geographic distance can cause a partnership to fail.
10. Frank and Maggie Wheeler from Revolutionary Road
Frank and Maggie seem like the perfect married couple to outsiders. They’ve got a happy family and a cute little home in the suburbs, but what people don’t know is that their relationship is crumbling behind closed doors. Both pass up their dream careers to settle down with their two children, but in time, they become miserable and start to resent each other for this.
The movie was heartbreakingly raw and honest about the consequences of giving up your dreams for someone you love. In most cases, it only leads to built up resentment in one partner and overwhelming guilt in the other, which a lot of people can relate to in real life.
11. Joel and Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
When Clementine and Joel meet for the first time, they feel a connection. But, little do they know that they had a romantic relationship in the past. It ended so badly that both of them agreed to get their memories of each other wiped (so technically, it was the second time they met…). The film takes us through the ups and downs of their relationship, also calling into question how far one would go to forget the painful memories.
Of course, the chances of anyone actually erasing their memories to forget someone is slim to none IRL. (But how many of us would do it if we could?) The level of chaos and drama in this movie couple’s relationship quite relatable. The rollercoaster ride that is a relationship is full of ups and downs and it’s all about figuring out if the highs are worth the lows.
12. Flipper and Angie from Jungle Fever
Flipper, a married black lawyer, starts an affair with his white secretary after they have a sexual encounter at work. But when word gets out about their secret relationship, things quickly go south. After Flipper’s wife kicks him out, he and Angie start to live together and date publicly. But everyone, including their own family and friends, disapproves of the relationship. The two also have to deal with financial issues and discrimination from total strangers, which understandably puts a strain on their relationship.
Interracial dating isn’t much of a social taboo anymore, and that’s great. But while there’s growing acceptance, the unfortunate truth is that interracial couples are guaranteed to deal with racial tension at some point. Whether it be a racist comment from a random stranger or the disapproval of a family that’s just not ready to accept it.
13. Monica and Quincy from Love & Basketball
Monica and Quincy have been close friends since they were kids. Over time, they bond through their love of basketball and eventually start to date (while pursuing their basketball careers). However, their personal struggles at home and their separate career journeys start to threaten their relationship.
This couple is literally a breath of fresh air. For once, we don’t see the delicate and feminine beauty fall for prince charming. We see a bold tomboy fall in love with her flawed childhood bestie. But also, seeing how they deal with their careers and their family drama makes their relationship feel authentic.
14. Anne and Georges from Amour
Retired piano teachers Anne and Georges are married and in their eighties. They live together in an apartment, but life isn’t all sunshine and roses because Anne’s health is deteriorating. At one point, she ends up in a wheelchair because of a surgical error and this forces her husband to become her (often irritated) caretaker. But in time, it seems that Anne is only getting worse and it puts a strain on the relationship. It gets so bad that Anne tells Georges she no longer wants to live.
Seeing a love story between an older couple is extremely rare, and that’s exactly why this fictional pair stands out. Because newsflash: people over 60 are in relationships, too, despite their love often being ignored in film and on TV. As time passes, all couples have to deal with growing old and the complications that come with it — despite their love for one another. Anne and Georges showed just how hard it is to maintain that spark when youth and beauty fades.
15. Ethan and Sophie from The One I Love
Ethan and Sophie are desperately fighting to save their marriage. After their failed attempt to recreate the moment when they first met, they see a therapist. And at his suggestion, they go away for a weekend retreat… But then they have the weirdest experience with another couple when they get there.
Without getting into too much detail about the plot (it’s a sci-fi thriller that gets weird pretty fast), this couple was quite realistic. They accurately portrayed how frustrating it can be to fight for a relationship that just continues to go down the drain.
16. Jack and Ennis from Brokeback Mountain
Jack and Ennis meet during a summer trip in the Wyoming mountains. One drunk pass leads to a passionate relationship, but the romance is short-lived when they’re forced to part ways at the end of their trip. Both men end up marrying women and they have children, because both were raised to believe that homosexuality is a sin. But it doesn’t stop them from frequently visiting each other to continue their love affair.
Eventually, both guys wind up divorced. But their separate lives only continue to strain their relationship. Though we live in a time where the LGBTQ community is celebrated with pride more often, there are definitely those who still deal with judgment and struggle to come out which can cause massive conflict within a relationship.
17. Mia and Sebastian from La La Land
Okay, we know that movie-musicals don’t tend to scream “realism” but this movie couple really is believable. Mia and Sebastian are struggling to make ends meet as they try to pursue their dreams in modern-day LA. But when they start to see success, their different career paths start to pull them apart, making it hard to sustain a relationship.
Not everyone is fortunate enough to juggle their relationship with a successful career easily. A lot of the time sacrifices need to be made in partnerships and if your bae can’t come to terms with your bustling work schedule, tough decisions need to be made. Which calls into question: Is love more important than following your dreams?
18. Mia and Vincent from Pulp Fiction
The two share a forbidden romance when Mia’s husband assigns Vincent to escort her. Mia easily seduces Vincent and they seem to hit it off. But unfortunately, due to tragic events, they never get the chance to develop what they have. While there is a lot going on in this movie, their personalities would definitely be super compatible IRL, too.