***WARNING: SPOILER ALERT!!
Now, it’s definitely a slippery-slope to start taking advice about life from Hollywood. However, as I was watching Jennifer Lawrence accept the Oscar for her performance in The Silver Linings Playbook, I couldn’t help thinking that many of us ladies could benefit by taking a tip (or three) from Jennifer Lawrence’s character, Tiffany. In the film, the sassy, brassy (albeit fictional) brunette does an admirable job staying true to herself while negotiating her budding relationship with Bradley Cooper’s character, Pat. So here are three tips on holding-your-own-in-love inspired by the Oscar-winning beauty:
1) Own who you are.
Early on in the film, Pat calls Tiffany a “slut” – yikes! But rather than try to deny it, the divine Ms. T acknowledges that yes, she is guilty of some past sexual indiscretions. And then in a truly elegant move, she states that she actually LIKES that “dirty and messy” part of herself which she knows will always be part of her. Learning to accept the uglier parts of yourself is key to finding happiness – both on your own and in relationships. I’m not saying you should broadcast to the whole world the qualities and past choices that you’re less-than-proud of (that tends to make people uncomfortable.) But in any romantic relationship worth having, chances are they will come up organically at some point. And when they do, how wonderfully liberating to be able to say “I’m not perfect, I’m well acquainted with the darker parts of myself, I’m cool with them, and you should be too.”
2) Don’t give unless he’s also willing to give.
Pat’s initial M.O. for spending time with Tiffany is to convince her to do him a favor. She agrees, but first makes him promise to do something for her in return. Way to go, Tiff! Now, again, not saying that all relationships should be a tightly monitored tit-for-tat – that’s a recipe for disaster. But it is a good idea to make sure that you’re not going to be the only one actively working on the relationship. So often women tell me that they always put others needs before their own, and they don’t like that about themselves. Learning how to assert your needs in a positive way is key for having a lasting, healthy relationship. You don’t have to yell or be demanding, just be firm in expressing that he has to be making an effort to meet your needs – and that’s not negotiable. And if you find he’s unwilling to “play ball” then see Tip #3.
3) Be willing to walk away.
Towards the end of the film, it looks for a second like Pat is more into another woman. And as soon as our girl sees that, she is out the door – literally. It’s clear that it’s hurting her a lot to walk away, but that doesn’t stop her from protecting herself. Now, your situation may not be as blatant as finding out there’s another woman in the picture. But, bottom line: if you get a clear signal that you are not a top priority and that’s not changing – go. Period. Just go. Yes, you may end up dealing with some painful emotions up front, but going head-first into the fire is a much better option than allowing the slow-burn of an unfulfilling relationship to drag out over time. Being able to walk away from a relationship that is just not good enough is a mature act of courage that I guarantee will make you stronger in the long run.
And you never know. Once he sees how strong you are, your guy may end up chasing you down the road a la Bradley Cooper. (#swoon!)