Addicted to Unrealistic Expectations


A couple of posts I’ve read today seemed related enough and interesting enough to post about here.

Addiction #1

One is that a recent study seems to show that romantic comedies are measurably bad for you.  They create unrealistic expectations, which go unfulfilled, which leads to unhappiness with one’s life.  This isn’t exactly surprising — neither the fact of it, nor the mechanism by which it works.  We discussed this a bit, once before.  But romantic comedies will always be popular, of course, because they let us vicariously live what we want our lives to be, and that’s the most powerful drug of all.

Addiction #2

The other is another recent study that shows that teenagers who take “virginity vows” are sexually active in exactly the same proportion, at exactly the same age, and with exactly the same number of partners as teenagers who didn’t take such a vow.   So, aside from being incredibly creepy — have I mentioned before how creepy these things are?  if not, let me say they’re creepy as a big ol’ creepy thing that goes creep creep creep — virginity vows don’t work.  At all.

Worse, one area where avowed virgins do differ from their non-vowing counterparts is in their use of protection.  They are much less likely to use any form of protection than teenagers who didn’t make a virginity vow.  So, basically, viriginity vows are great if you’re a fan of extreme creepiness, lying, hypocrisy, teen pregnancy, and STDs.  Or if you’re a parent of a teenager who just wants to feel better about your child’s [lack of] sexuality.  Otherwise, they’re not so great.  But, of course, the addicts in the latter category number in the millions, so we’ll continue to be stuck with all the evils of the former category.


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9 Responses to “Addicted to Unrealistic Expectations”

  1. Whitney Says:

    heh heh heeee heheheheheeee. I don’t know why it all made me laugh. Blatant truth tends to do that to me. 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE romantic comedies. “Sweet Home Alabama” anyone? But I’ve never believed those things even reasonable. Still, they’re sweet.

    The whole daddy-daughter virginity pact is just one of the oddest things E-VER. The purity rings & vows at church got really popular when I was a teenager (though not at my church….where we had no teen pregnancies in my tenure–not bragging, just sayin’). I know a few who stuck to it (they really did, of course they were the ones who were also coming up to me at a bar a few years later going “Look at me! I’m DRUNK! Wheee.”), but just as many who didn’t. It was totally a placating measure and a facade. A couple of them have 15-year-olds now, too.

    My biggest problem with the whole process is that is somehow assumes that teenagers who wholeheartedly make a virginity pledge are miraculously NOT confronted with the same temptations every child is faced with. That just doesn’t compute.

    Well, thanks for that. Hope you have a GREAT New Year! I wish all of you could see Hawaii at the New Year. It is the most insane fireworks show ever seen.

  2. Whitney Says:

    1. Sorry about the grammar.
    2. Para 3 should say “teenager” not “child”…that sounded kind of weird.

  3. alsturgeon Says:

    But what if teenagers took vows never to watch romantic comedies? MUCH less creepy, but probably wouldn’t work either.

  4. DeJon05 Says:

    ISTM that making one’s self feel better is the overarching motivation for many of the ridiculous beliefs and actions of the religious.

    – Outlaw abortion b/c that makes them feel better… although it won’t address the problem… at all.
    – Giving money to one’s church feels good even though most of that money will likely go to paying the electric bill and the secretary’s salary as opposed to making an impact
    – It feels good to disparage or look down on those with differing dogma even though that action is counter-productive.

    I could go on, but the whole “Virginity Pledge” idea is perfectly in line with the “make myself feel better” life of thinking versus the more difficult “address the problem” approach.

  5. uncommonscolds Says:

    Good comments, DeJon05.

    Alas, addressing problems isn’t what America’s all about–at least not these days. I suspect though that many Americans are finally starting to find about about problems that DEMAND attention.

    Currently, the country is, for the most part, still operating as usual. Too many are “waiting for the economy to improve” so they can return to blissful consumption. They may be holding off purchases right now, but most are still stoked by the delusions prompted by popular culture, which in turn is fueled by tons and tons of hot advertisements.

    And so we have feel-good religion, feel-good credit card use, and feel-good mortgages. Unfortunately for America, these delusions have finally ignited a lot of metaphorical, but nevertheless damaging, fires.

    Sometimes I think that I’ll scream if I hear another ad tell me (and anyone else with a radio or television or whatever) that “I deserve it.”


  6. DeJon05 Says:


    I really appreciate how you broadened my initial point. I think you articulately illuminate the systemic problems created by our self-interested behavior that borders on hedonism.

    What do Jesus and terrorists have in common? They both despise our arrogant propensity to consume motivated by our never-ending pursuit of self-pleasure… At least that’s how I see it.

    An OT aside: How appropriate is this?

  7. urbino Says:

    Ha. I don’t know from appropriate, but it’s funny as heck.

    Excellent points, everybody.

    My biggest problem with the whole process is that is somehow assumes that teenagers who wholeheartedly make a virginity pledge are miraculously NOT confronted with the same temptations every child is faced with.

    I think it may work the other way ’round, Whit. The parents who are most inclined to have their daughters (and it’s pretty much always daughters, right?) take these pledges are also the ones most eager to believe their little girls don’t really want to have sex, anyway. So the question of temptation never really enters the picture, for these parents. They see the vows as more a matter of resisting peer pressure and pop culture.

    But I’m old, and this stuff all developed after my time. What do you think?

  8. urbino Says:

    Oh, and speaking of t-shirts, Mikey really did get me a ColonBlow t-shirt for Xmas.

  9. Michael Lasley Says:

    Surely you didn’t think I’d joke around about something such as that.

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