Sometimes a movie touches us because we've lived a similar story. We recognize the narrative threads. We've been there. And it is real and it feels like the unfolding emotions have been borrowed from our very own playbook.
A New York Love Story certainly struck a chord with me. I could relate to the girl and her misgivings about the painter she's been seeing. Despite the many red flags, she can't seem to entirely let go of him. One kind word, one sexy remark, one puppy dog look, and she's being reeled back in.
When we find ourselves invested, we will try to make it work, to make it fit. If it were anyone else, someone we didnt feel so beholden and attracted to, we would not in a million years accept or tolerate such behavior. But there is always that one person - who can somehow make us feel less about ourselves, who can make us doubt what we want, and who will make us want him no matter what.
Suddenly, we find ourselves justifying each cruel and indifferent move. We fit it in with a constantly switching narrative because otherwise we wouldn't be able to look into the mirror and feel proud of who we are being, right now, in this situation. We need to tell ourselves lies to sustain the status quo.
Sure, I can be cool and relaxed. Like you, I'll have dalliances on the side. We are seeing each other casually, sure. Yeah, I'll make dates with other men. No problem...thing is though, it does become a problem, because deep down, in moments of utter disclosure, all we want is to be with that one person. Not only that, the knowledge that this person splits his time between you and one or more other women, makes you feel even more desirous of his time, of his attention and affection.
It is quite easy to get caught up in a vicious cycle. The addictive attraction, and enmeshment become such that even in moments when you know that you should leave immediately never to look back, you hesitate. You want him to reconsider, to finally pick you. You want to stick it through. So much time you've already invested, it has to lead somewhere. It's incredible what the mind concocts to keep you in an unhealthy spot.
Even when friends are voicing their discontent, when they in an unguarded moment scream out their frustration about your poor decision making, you can't seem to cut all ties. Each time you swear that this is it, you end up wavering again.
It's an insidious situation. Maybe the painter knows what he's doing. Maybe it's all premeditated bordering on the malicious. Maybe that's the only way he knows how to be with someone, sexually and intimately. Maybe he is commitment phobic. Maybe he wants to be better but gets sucked back into a routine he's used to. Maybe it's plain old fear...
...but does any justification or explanation excuse his behavior? He must know the effect he has on women, on the woman he's seeing. He blames her for ruining moments, for being too dramatic, but if he were honest with himself and put himself in her shoes, he would know that what she calls him out on is legitimate. If he were honest with himself, he wouldn't tolerate any of the questionable things she's had to deal with if tables were reversed.
In the end, it is both people's responsibility to be transparent about what they truly want. It's difficult but it must be done, or an untenable situation just drags on until a final blow occurs. Sometimes, it peters out slowly, after multiple attempts at making it work. Sometimes, people stay like this for life, going through cycles of separation only to end up back in each other's arms. It's unfortunate and cruel when so much hurt emanates from something that often feels like the apogee of someone's life.
I could certainly relate to the action on screen. I've been there - incapable of wrestling myself away, knowing that the situation I'm in is bad for me, unhealthy, and yet, hoping, hoping that if I stay maybe he'll finally see me and want me the way I wish to be wanted. It's easy to get caught up when we think we like, let alone convince ourselves that we love someone. We are willing to go through so much, and oftentimes, we delude ourselves that the pattern we've lived through can change into something beautiful, and glorious. It most often doesn't work like that. We can't live on scraps. We can't repeat again and again the small words of encouragement and hope that people like the painter in the film maybe negligently or even maliciously dish out. No one can actually thrive on little snippets that are meant to warp someone's mind into thinking there is more than meets the eye.
A New York Love Story is good in telling the stages, in showing how a hookup turned semi relationship can take over someone's life, how it can disrupt the inner peace, how it can mess with what's real.