What Trainwreck Taught Me About Healthy Relationships

I went to see Trainwreck in theaters with my mom the week it came out. If you’re unfamiliar with the film, it’s a rom-com about a woman whose life is a bit of a trainwreck (haha, get it?) who meets a guy who seems to have it all together. It’s funny, I promise. And as a fan of both female comedians and rom-coms with heart meltingly cute endings, it was everything I hoped it would be. It’s risen to a very high place on my personal movie-ranking scale, mostly because it’s adorable, and also because Lebron James plays himself and shows the world he has a talent in comedy. There’s another reason the film stuck with me so much I’m writing about it a year later: the overall theme of vulnerability and communication. Naturally, here be spoilers, so if you want to see the film and not know how it ends (I mean, it’s a rom-com; you know how it’s going to end), you should stop reading now.

There’s a scene about halfway through, where the honeymoon period is over and it’s that point in the film where the couple always seems to run into problems/splits up for a bit/whatever. They’re in the hallway of this event venue, and the female lead, Amy turns to walk away and Aaron-the-love-interest calls back to her, asking her where she’s going. Amy shrugs, turning around. “What, I’m leaving,” she says. “We’re fighting, we won’t talk for a while. That’s how this works.”

Aaron is bewildered. “What are you talking about? No, we’re just having a fight,” he says, explaining he believes in talking things out and moving on, not just giving one another the silent treatment and growing resentment. This throws Amy completely off guard. Aaron is willing to talk about it, to listen to her and expects that she will listen to him in return. Amy clearly isn’t used to this. And neither was I.

The first time I was annoyed with my fiancé, he completely disarmed me just by listening. He wanted to know what was wrong and why, and because of that, I couldn’t even be mad anymore. At the time, I had previously been in a relationship that worked the way cynical Amy assumed every relationship worked. If we were fighting, we weren’t going to talk for a while. I don’t mean 10 minutes to cool off little while (though we started out in that fairly normal range. It was a process to get to absolute dysfunction), I mean days. It didn’t even have to be a fight; I could express the slightest bit of frustration and suddenly he was nowhere to be found. By the end, it had gotten to the point where he was actively hanging up the phone on me.

So when I found myself in a relationship where we could talk about things freely, it left me a little startled at first. If he did something that bothered me (which to this day isn’t that often), I could just start a conversation. And it would stay a conversation. Definitely not what I was used to, which brings me back to how I found myself sobbing in a movie theater next to my mom, because damn; in that moment, I saw myself. Thanks, Amy Schumer.

In the film, Amy goes on to come up with excuses why Aaron wouldn’t want to be with her, and again, I saw myself in Amy, making excuses why I didn’t deserve what I had. For some reason, it took seeing it played out onscreen between two fictional characters before things could click in my head. Trainwreck portrayed Amy’s previous relationship communication methods (or lack thereof) as clearly unhealthy, and seeing it there on screen, so biased towards the trainwreck end of the health spectrum, resurfaced all the excuses I’d once made trying to pass off a trainwreck as normal.

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Even though it was “just a dorky rom-com,” the film did a good job portraying what a healthy, respectful relationship should look like. Neither character changed the entirety of themselves for the other: in the end, Aaron was still a dork and Amy was still blunt and sarcastic. Yet they also each became better people with the help of one another.

Trainwreck showed its audience that it’s OK to disagree with your partner, and that you can even be mad at your partner and still be able to work through it in a healthy way. In fact, this should be very, very normal. And if you’ve ever experienced the less than normal—Trainwreck will surely hit home.

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