Have you ever thought about what would happen if relationships as we see them in today’s romance movies existed in the real world? Would they endure once the crisis subsided, the stage lights dimmed, and the characters settled into everyday life together? My guess is probably not.
The emphasis of chemistry over compatibility-based relationships in modern media sets unrealistic standards for love, negatively impacting young people today. This imbalance overlooks the importance of shared values and longevity, leading society to idolize superficial aspects of relationships.
You don’t have to look at real-life relationships for very long to see that this is the case. In the US, where 50% of all marriages end in divorce, many people miss out on witnessing healthy parental relationships as children. We are only starting to comprehend the true extent of media’s influence on behavior, but it’s safe to say that if children without exposure to healthy relationships rely on media alone for guidance, they will encounter dysfunctional, toxic portrayals of chemistry-based relationships designed for drama and viewership. This misrepresentation can distort their understanding of love, resulting in potentially abusive or unhealthy relationships and eventual heartbreak.
The Negative Effects of Chemistry-Based Relationships
Media’s focus on chemistry-driven relationships can set unrealistic expectations, causing people to forget the importance of qualities like character, kindness, and emotional intelligence. As a result, they may pursue relationships based on instant attraction rather than seeking a lasting, fulfilling connection.
Relationships based solely on chemistry oftentimes lack the foundation required for a successful long-term relationship. While attraction and intense emotions feel amazing in the moment, they often change or fade with time, leaving partners feeling disconnected, unfulfilled, or as if they are in a relationship with a stranger.True compatibility in areas such as values, goals, and communication styles are vital for a sustainable relationship. Click To Tweet
True compatibility in areas such as values, goals, and communication styles are vital for a sustainable relationship. Neglecting compatibility can result in constant disagreements, misunderstandings, and unmet expectations that ultimately lead to the downfall of a relationship.
So, What Does Love Actually Look Like?
1. Love Modeled after God’s Relationship with the Church
Scripture describes love as selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a). Just as Jesus exemplified selflessness by laying down His life for us (Ephesians 5:25), we are called to selflessness within relationships as well. Sacrificial and unconditional love are vital in forming a solid foundation in a relationship.Just as Jesus exemplified selflessness by laying down His life for us (Ephesians 5:25), we are called to selflessness within relationships as well. Click To Tweet
2. Seeking Compatibility and Shared Values
Additionally, Scripture emphasizes the importance of shared values and compatibility in relationships. First Corinthians is clear that we must prioritize traits like kindness, humility, and patience.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, NIV).
3. Effective Communication and Emotional Intimacy
Another key aspect of a healthy relationship is open and honest communication (Ephesians 4:15), as well as active listening (James 1:19). Healthy relationships require emotional intimacy built on trust, vulnerability, and effective communication. By nurturing emotional intimacy, we deepen the connection between ourselves and our partners.
4. Christ-Centered Relationships
Growing up, one of the practices my parents shared as a couple was a daily time of prayer. Every morning, without fail, they prayed together before leaving for work. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to understand what a unique and beautiful practice this is. In scripture, God’s relationship with the church serves as a model of a Christ-centered connection. By incorporating prayer, Scripture study, and mutual encouragement in faith, we strengthen our relationships. A relationship with Christ should not only be at the center of our own lives, but at the center of our relationships with our spouse as well.By incorporating prayer, scripture study, and encouragement, we strengthen our relationships. A relationship with Christ should not only be at the center of our own lives, but of our relationships with our spouse as well. Click To Tweet
I asked my parents about their daily prayer time together, and my mom told me that they do it because there aren’t two people in their relationship, there are three. This isn’t a relationship between my mom and my dad, it’s a relationship between my mom, my dad, and God, and it’s vital to them that they keep Him at the center.
Observing and Rectifying the Problem
While chemistry is important in relationships, it is imperative that we find a way to balance both chemistry and compatibility. Chemistry within relationships can change or fade over time, where compatibility is an essential element of a healthy foundation. By ensuring that both are present within our relationships, and being mindful of how media may be unconsciously shaping our relationship expectations, we are already well on our way to building a healthy relationship.
Media professionals also carry a great responsibility in shaping societal perspectives on love. By creating narratives that emphasize healthy communication, the importance of character, and selflessness between characters, they can promote healthier relationship models, and positively impact society. However, this is easier said than done. The media is going to promote what audiences want to consume. It is much more entertaining to watch a show containing dramatic chemistry between characters than those where characters slowly and carefully analyze their compatibility. However, there are many media relationships that contain a healthy balance of chemistry and compatibility. Ultimately in many forms of media, it comes down to whether the characters’ intentions are rooted in love or lust. By being mindful of the content we are consuming and promoting, we as individuals are playing a small role in shaping media trends.
In a culture where modern media often distorts love by replacing it with lust, and overemphasizes the importance of chemistry in relationships, it is vital to maintain a healthy perspective. This can be done by filtering our own relationships through the lens of the Bible. By redefining our understanding of love through scriptural principles, we can foster healthy, fulfilling relationships based on compatibility, selflessness, and shared values. Through effective communication, emotional intimacy, and a Christ-centered focus, we can navigate the complexities of modern relationships and find joy in a love that reflects God’s example through His relationship with the Church.Through effective communication, emotional intimacy, and a Christ-centered focus, we can navigate modern relationships and find joy in a love that reflects God and the Church. Click To Tweet