Ever sink deep into your seat in a darkened movie theater as you realize the love story projected on the big screen is your own? It's not uncommon, according to Marcia Millman, author of the book, "The Seven Stories of Love: And How To Choose Your Own Happy Ending." By recognizing these seven basic love stories that are reenacted over and over in films, fiction and life, Millman says, we can connect with the motives and early experiences that unconsciously drive our choices and behavior in relationships.
"Titanic" and "Dirty Dancing." This is a powerful plotline for youth when finding romance has much to do with "breaking away from our parents and finding our own identity," says Millman. Later in life, as in "The Way We Were," some people long for their first love to recapture their youth or when something's missing in their current relationship.
"My Fair Lady," "Educating Rita" and "Working Girl." The mentor-and-protege plot revolves around the older partner's need for admiration and control and the younger one's desire to grow. This story line often triggers emotions in women who lost their fathers at an early age.
The Downstairs Woman and the Upstairs Man
"Pretty Woman" and "You've Got Mail." One of the most popular stories usually involves a bright, ambitious woman from a poor and unconnected background who falls in love with a powerful and wealthy man out of her reach. "Her aim is to win the love of a powerful man to make up for the father who never paid attention to her or rejected her," says Millman.
"Casablanca," "The Bridges of Madison County" and "The End of the Affair." This is when people sacrifice once-in-a-lifetime happiness for a higher moral purpose or principle - not hurting someone else, a higher calling. "What these people are often most afraid of is passion," says Millman.
"Beauty and the Beast," "Run Lola Run" and "What Dreams May Come." Common for both men and women, it's the tale of falling in love with someone who's been wounded in the past, and unconsciously seeking to rescue oneself by saving the lover.
Postponement and Avoidance
"An Affair To Remember," "Sleepless in Seattle" and "Forever Young." Perhaps the all-time favorite, it's about having the faith that love will survive every obstacle. Such stories are about "someone who has been inhibited or afraid and finally takes a chance on love and it works out well," Millman says.