Are you secretly still in love with Mr Darcy from Jane Austen’s classic, 'Pride and Prejudice'? Do you wish your lover would sweep you off your feet like Raj from 'Dilwale Dulhaniye Le Jayenge' (DDLJ) did? It’s common to easily fall for the fictitious romantic heroes you read about in childhood. What’s problematic is if you begin to idolise your hero so much so that you impose your expectations on your real-life partner.
Take the case of Nikita Chatterjee, a self-employed professional, who’s grown up on Mills and Boon novels. She confesses, “I was smitten by the idea of the romantic hero existing in the fictitional world. I devoured all sorts of romantic fiction, be it classics from English literature or the happily-ever-after chick lit. My ideas about my knight in shining armour were shaped accordingly. After a point, I realised my expectations were unreal. That’s when I decided to get a grip on reality.”
Dr Hemant Mittal, behavioural expert, says, “If you like romance, you can get infatuated with a certain character, and even get influenced. Movies do that a lot. When it released, every young guy wanted to be Raj (Shah Rukh Khan) of DDLJ. Someone may want to be macho like Salman Khan in 'Bodyguard'. Women want their bahus to be copies of Tulsi Virani from 'Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi'.” He adds that it’s likely that one might “push his/her partner to adopt those characteristics, dress in that way, consciously or sub-consciously”.
“But eventually, he/she may get bored. It’s mostly people with an inferiority complex, who need that sense of attraction, or those suffering clinical depression are susceptible to outside inputs about their partners. Basically, it’s an emotionally unstable person who romanticises fictitious characters,” argues Hemant. He says that the long-time effects could be detrimental to a relationship, as the person only relates to the fictitional character’s characteristics and hence wants the partner to ape him/her.
Suman Gupta, a 27-year-old corporate lawyer, warns that one must practice self-regulation. “I was making impractical demands from a close friend. I knew she was in a relationship with another guy, and yet I’d pursue her. I was depressed. I had to consult a counselor to come back to reality,” he recalls. Hemant advises, “Communication and trust are important in any relationship. Set rules for yourself, accept your partner the way he/she is and accept the fact that the relationship will mould with time. If self-regulation doesn’t work, seek professional help. Happily-ever-after requires a lot of hard work.”