1990. The year of Good Fellas, Godfather III, Home Alone and Pretty Woman. All great films but only one left an indelible mark on me. The one where the rich man rescues the poor woman from the streets and they fall in love and live happily ever after. Pretty Woman.
Somehow it got ingrained into me for a long time that relationships were as simple as that. And a whole generation grew up waiting for a rich, handsome man to come along and sweep them off their feet while they did nothing but look pretty. I wanted the fairy tale too.
My first boyfriend was a big industrialist’s son. Loaded. Semi good looking. Funny. I thought I had it all. I went to a prestigious lady college in Delhi and thought I would graduate and live happily ever after with this industrialist. After all Edward and Vivian did the same. I believed I was Julia Roberts. I took loaded son shopping and behaved weird most days trying to mould him and teach him to be grounded. He took me shopping like Edward had with Vivian on Rodeo Drive. I wore beautiful dresses and he even got me a magnificent necklace which wasn’t diamonds but quite beautiful. I was living Vivian’s life. This was it. I was Pretty Woman. The kind he’d like to meet.
Till it crashed. And he dumped me.
So I grew up. 25 years later these are the things I learned from Pretty Woman:
- Baby I’m Going to Treat You So Nice You’re Never Gonna Wanna Let me Go – Relationships disintegrate over time because we stop being nice to each other. We stop listening to our partners, stop caring how they’re feeling, stop looking after their emotional, physical needs. If you want a relationship to last 25 years, you’re gonna wanna treat each other nicely every day.
- It’s just that, uh, very few people surprise me. Yeah well you’re lucky. Most of em shock the hell outta me. – If you saw something different in each other over time, keep the mystery alive. Whether it’s taking a surprise vacation or trying something new in bed, surprise and shock each other in a good way to keep the romance rocking.
- I never treated you like a prostitute. You just did. – Never Stop Working! Earn your own money. Wild women do…and they don’t regret it! It’s a high to get that pay check. No matter what profession, strive to do better, to do different things and be your own successful person so that no one at any point can put you down, not even your partner.
- Do you have anything in this shop as beautiful as she is? You’re Not Julia! God she’s perfect with the perfect hair, smile and oh smoking hot body. And we’re not her. And we’re still fine. And beautiful and sexy. Be proud. Be humble. Be forgiving to yourself. And know you’re not Julia. You’re better.
- You’re Late. You’re Stunning. You’re Forgiven – Let it go. Some fights aren’t meant to last. Men will need space. They will be late. They will forget dates. They’re forgiven. Women may not know how to cook. They may hate children. They blow up too much money. They’re forgiven. Fight over things that are important and let the other small issues go.
- What happens after he rescues her? She rescues him right back. – A man cannot do everything for you. As a woman you’re supposed to rescue him too. You need to do it daily for years. You need to help a man become the person he has dreamed of being, not what you think he should be. Always motivate and support him. And make sure he does the same for you.
- I want the fairy tale – Doesn’t everyone really still want the Pretty Woman fairy tale romance? In 25 years, relationships have become extremely complicated. Not everyone will end up like Vivian and Edward do on that fire escape. Their happily ever after isn’t yours. A great relationship might actually be exactly what you have. And for all the single people, be the king of wishful thinking and find your own fairy tale.