Jump to content

500 Days of Summer: a textbook commitment-phobe?


icarus27

Recommended Posts

Watched 500 Days of Summer the other night.

 

The female character Summer

- gives wildly conflicting signals from day one. "Come here/ stay away": telling the guy they are great as friends, then one day unprompted, coming over and kissing him. Doing "couple" things like going to Ikea, but always telling him that she doesn't want a relationship

- does not take the guy's feelings seriously if it will be inconvenient for her. After months of the f***-buddy arrangement, when he says he needs to know what they are to each other, she acts surprised.

- has had a string of superficial involvements with previous partners, all of which ended with no reason given. She also appears to have little regret or feeling for any of the break-ups, they were "just life", she says. As an above-average attractive woman, she doesn't much care where the next guy will come from, but she knows he will come along.

- at the end of the film, she is married (to some other guy). She says, she just woke up one day and felt sure that now was the time, and this was the guy. The film's hero asks her how she could go back on everything she had said before ("I don't want relationships / Relationships are messy"). She just says, She felt sure, "in a way that she never did with him".

 

Firstly, if it was a man acting like this woman did, the world and his cousin would be saying what a jerk he was and how he uses women to get what he wants. Can it actually be that there are women out there who identify with Summer, and see her behaviour as the way to be in real life? Or even, those who put a politico-feminist spin on it and see it as a woman's right to do what she likes as long as she is alright herself?

 

Secondly, how can such women be so toxic? Lead someone on, then use the get-out clause "I was up front, I said I didn't want a relationship" while continuing to use the hapless idiot's body knowing that his feelings are getting deeper? Then breaking up, and when she feels like it, pole-vaulting into a marriage with another man using the smokescreen of "I've found love; s*** happens".

 

Never mind that I think the film's hero was a total idiot for letting himself be involved with a witch like her. They call it a romantic comedy; I found nothing romantic or comedic in this film, it just incensed me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the hypothetical as you put it, I see nothing wrong with what the woman was doing as she was totally upfront about it. If the guy sticks around hoping and waiting for her to change then he's the sucker. Works same way for both sexes. Be honest. Not only with your partner, but with yourself as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't seen this film, but your description just confirms what I have been thinking all along --that there is no such thing as "commitment-phobia". It's just another rather meaningless buzzword that gets thrown around to act as a band-aid for dumped people, while actually doing more damage than good by making them falsely pathologise their ex instead of viewing them as real and complex humans.

 

I don't understand what people mean by "commitment-phobia". I understand "not wanting to make a commitment to you". But this doesn't mean there is anything wrong or broken or off with the other person --it just means that they do not want to make a commitment to you.

 

Like the girl in that film, who apparently had no problems getting married to the right guy. Nothing "phobic" about that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So... wait a minute. She was upfront and honest with him. She told him exactly where she was at all times emotionally and physically, and he stuck around... why? Because he was hoping she'd change her mind? That she'd grow to love him in time?

 

When women at ENA do this, we tell them "It's time to leave." -- Well, he didn't leave. He wanted to assume responsibility and the unspoken (or spoken) truth is "I can handle this too."

 

It's not her fault that he couldn't handle it. It's also not her fault that she didn't have feelings for him "that way" -- She's not a monster, she's not a b***h. She's a human being and just because he's a good guy, and he WANTS/NEEDS her love, that doesn't mean she's supposed to produce it on command like cupcakes from an easy bake oven.

 

I don't think this has much to do with the film, OP. I think you've been in this guy's shoes before, or close to it, and rather than see it logically or in the big picture, you're just reinforcing and justifying your hurt and anger that some lady "done you wrong."

 

It's time to move on. It's time to grow up and recognize that you (and he) are responsible for your choices. If no one's lying to you, who else is there to blame but yourself?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That was a good movie, but it left me not feeling so well afterwards.

I didn't think she was a bad person. She just didn't know how it feels being with the right person. Let's say that he was wiser in knowing how it feels loving someone, but incredibly naive and kinda unfair expecting her to change her mind about their relationship. Yeah, he was a wishful thinker. Did she annoy me? Oh, yes she did.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a male who loves this movie, and relates to it, I am somewhat biased towards it, but I understand your angst.

 

My girlfriend and I saw the movie on opening weekend together and when it was over we sat there for a moment and she said to me "I'm a lot like Summer, huh?" And she is. Read my threads. She is this character. Fun and exciting when she wants to be and just as ridiculous and unagreeable when she wants to be. Its who she is.

 

I used to fault her for being this way, but mostly now I see that she is insecure and afraid of letting down her walls. She is Summer. And I am Tom, to an extent. I want to believe in love and the things that she says. I want to believe that I can be the one to help her change. Not make her change, mind you, but help her. I see myself being the person that helps her make the changes in her life and then watching her getting it right with someone else. Maybe that's my role in her life. Like it was Tom's.

 

I guess the way I look at this film is that it is fun and it is real. is it depressing at times? of course, but it has a lot of fun stuff in it and if I can live it (sort of) and still find the fun in it, hopefully you can too. And besides, I hate to think that you think Tom is an idiot because then I wonder what that makes me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

She is this character. Fun and exciting when she wants to be and just as ridiculous and unagreeable when she wants to be. Its who she is.

 

Are people any other way? People's feelings and emotions change. That's the very nature of feelings. They aren't static. If they were, you'd be a robot. Everyone is "sometimes fun and exciting" and "sometimes disagreeable". No one is exempt.

 

There is nothing wrong with her character except that some men will hate her because they can't have her and she won't fall in love with them. And as for dating and courtship, is that really how it works in some people's brains? You just meet someone and then, blamo, you have to make up your mind immediately on that person for the rest of your life? Before even going through all the tribulations and trials that are necessary to really get to know someone? It's not like you're buying cattle. Courting and dating are a necessary right of passage. That's how you learn to really know someone romantically, not by just sleeping with them and going out to dinner a few times. You have to make it all the way through a 3 month honeymoon period before you can ever really begin to feel even relatively "sure".

 

For all those that have said, "I just knew and I was just sure right away"... nonsense. You knew no such thing. You simply projected your own fantasies and ideals on the other person, really, really wanted it to work (so you tried a lot harder and were more understanding), and then you got lucky that the other person kept reciprocating your feelings enough so that you got past the honeymoon, and you were completely invested. That's the start of a "real, lasting partnership."

 

The "we just always knew" business and utter nonsense, and just something fantastical we tell ourselves because it's a fun story to tell at dinner parties, and you can feel like you're life is somehow "magic". \

 

The character in the story was "kicking the tires" on a long term relationship with the man. She really liked the man, and thought maybe her feelings would change into full blown "let's make this last", but they never did. That's her absolute right. It's just foolishness to think otherwise.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I certainly agree that when men do this, they are considered assblanks. Without a doubt. There is a double standard there.

 

Yes, I got that impression too.

 

I don't understand what people mean by "commitment-phobia". I understand "not wanting to make a commitment to you". But this doesn't mean there is anything wrong or broken or off with the other person --it just means that they do not want to make a commitment to you.

 

Like the girl in that film, who apparently had no problems getting married to the right guy. Nothing "phobic" about that.

 

Hey ersatz,

 

You see, commitment-phobia is another these oft-discussed topics, and I know full well a lot of people don't believe in its existence. Two things:

- there have been eNAers, people who've looked in deep and realised that they are commitment phobes, and written on here to say so. After a long time of telling themselves that they "were just not meeting the right person". I don't think they'd be that wrong about themselves.

- commitment-phobes can and do get married. Does not make them less of a commitment-phobe. It just means their marriages break up after some time, or never even become healthy marriages in the first place. Ah, we make the mistake of thinking the ring solves it all and puts to bed all emotional issues? It doesn't. Why should it, after all?

 

So... wait a minute. She was upfront and honest with him. She told him exactly where she was at all times emotionally and physically, and he stuck around... why? Because he was hoping she'd change her mind? That she'd grow to love him in time?

........

I don't think this has much to do with the film, OP. I think you've been in this guy's shoes before, or close to it, and rather than see it logically or in the big picture, you're just reinforcing and justifying your hurt and anger that some lady "done you wrong."

 

It's time to move on. It's time to grow up and recognize that you (and he) are responsible for your choices. If no one's lying to you, who else is there to blame but yourself?

 

Ah, you need to read my final line in the original post.

"Never mind that I think the film's hero was a total idiot for letting himself be involved with a witch like her".

 

By all means, the guy carries responsibility. I watched in disbelief as despite every sign to the contrary, he sat there like an idiot hoping that somehow his love would change her feelings.

 

But respectfully, I completely disagree that doing an unethical thing (playing with someone's emotions) yet being up-front and telling the person that you are doing it, somehow absolves the person of any wrong-doing.

 

P*** on my leg, but as long as you tell me you are about to p*** on my leg while you're undoing your zipper - it's OK. So pissing on someone's leg becomes an OK thing to do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But respectfully, I completely disagree that doing an unethical thing (playing with someone's emotions) yet being up-front and telling the person that you are doing it, somehow absolves the person of any wrong-doing.

 

P*** on my leg, but as long as you tell me you are about to p*** on my leg while you're undoing your zipper - it's OK. So pissing on someone's leg becomes an OK thing to do.

 

It's not an unethical thing to take someone at his word. It's his personal responsibility to manage and be mindful of his emotional state, not hers. I mean, that's like saying:

 

"... I KNOW YOU TOLD ME THE ROAD HAD POTHOLES AND THAT IT WOULD BE SNOWY AND DANGEROUS BUT IT'S YOUR FAULT I WRECKED MY CAR DRIVING ON IT..."

 

Personal responsibility.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

P*** on my leg, but as long as you tell me you are about to p*** on my leg while you're undoing your zipper - it's OK. So pissing on someone's leg becomes an OK thing to do.

 

That's when you decide to either leave or stay there and become the recipient of the golden shower award for person in the greatest state of denial. Either that or getting peed on is your thing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mr Mac, don't know what to say there, unfortunately I did think that the Tom character was a hapless, misguided fool. A nice, decent guy but sadly he wasn't looking out for himself as much as he could have done. Not his fault, I guess he was just young.

 

Jettison, while I totally get you when you question how can people "just know" within 1 date, I wonder if you (in case you watched this film) really understood that Summer had no intention of ever road-testing a relationship with Tom. You mentioned trials and tribulations; what the hell trials-and-tribulations did she go through with him? No, really? She was with him for as long as it was fun.

 

But by the very same token you say, ("how can people just know after one date?"), that is exactly why I think Summer's sudden marriage at the end of the film sounds like she pole-vaulted into it from nothing. She claimed to wake up one day and "just know".

 

I think we get up so hung up on defending individual freedoms, (the freedom of people to 'kick the tyres' of a relationship, the freedom to try out other cars, the freedom to crash those cars as and when they feel like it) that we forget what that freedom is being used to do. But then, I'm old-fashioned - I still think freedom brings responsibility.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Personal responsibility.

 

Wait just a second, it is on him to to be personally responsible for his actions, and whether he protected himself or not. (I happen to think, like you, that he should have taken more personal responsibility).

 

Can you tell me what personal responsibility she had?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wait just a second, it is on him to to be personally responsible for his actions, and whether he protected himself or not. (I happen to think, like you, that he should have taken more personal responsibility).

 

Can you tell me what personal responsibility she had?

 

To be honest with him about her intentions and what she was willing to offer. And she did that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, I kinda thought you would say that. You see, to me that is not enough. We look out for the consequences of our actions, and merely saying something like that while through actions, indicating the exact opposite - (spending more and more time with him, confiding in him things "she's never told anyone" {I am lifting lines from the film}) etc .... is not really being the paragon of honesty you might think it is.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmm, as an aside, since we are also looking at inner motivations ....

I think people so eagerly defend such behaviour, because they have at some stage of life, probably done it to someone else.

 

Which, who knows, there were probably reasons for. I'll leave that in the mists of the past.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, I kinda thought you would say that. You see, to me that is not enough. We look out for the consequences of our actions, and merely saying something like that while through actions, indicating the exact opposite - (spending more and more time with him, confiding in him things "she's never told anyone" {I am lifting lines from the film}) etc .... is not really being the paragon of honesty you might think it is.

 

I disagree. If he had a problem with her actions, he should have said so. He very clearly had ulterior motives. He was watching for a change, essentially being a passive observer waiting for some magic thing to happen so he's be given what he wanted.

 

If you make no effort to be mindful of your emotions, or your own self-preservation, then yes, I believe it is that person's fault he was hurt. She did nothing but be herself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All I'm saying hex, is that in situations like this, a whole lot of people seem to defend the right of the (in this case) girl to do as she pleases, while the guy is left with the onus of defending himself. Why is this, I wonder?

 

In psych-talk, this is enabling. Enabling a loose cannon to go out and do the same thing to another guy. And if that guy doesn't protect himself, it's his fault, again.

 

I don't really see that this line of thinking gets anyone, anywhere. The same justifying talk would be very, very out of place when it comes to other kinds of abuse - physical, financial etc

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's when you decide to either leave or stay there and become the recipient of the golden shower award for person in the greatest state of denial. Either that or getting peed on is your thing.

 

Erm sorry, you completely missed the point. The point is, something as ridiculous as peeing on people is wrong whatever the circumstances. What kind of jack-*** world of moral relativism does someone have to live in, where they think peeing on someone is only wrong conditional on whether the victim likes it or not? (I.e. whether they are staying or leaving?)

 

(yes, you're right, I can't believe I'm having this convo either)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Erm sorry, you completely missed the point. The point is, something as ridiculous as peeing on people is wrong whatever the circumstances. What kind of jack-*** world of moral relativism does someone have to live in, where they think peeing on someone is only wrong conditional on whether the victim likes it or not? (I.e. whether they are staying or leaving?)

 

(yes, you're right, I can't believe I'm having this convo either)

 

It's not a matter of whether the way someone treats another is right or wrong. It's a matter of dealing with it in a way that's best for the person being treated in a manner less than what they feel they deserve. If they're gonna settle for less, they're going to end up with even less than what they thought they settled for. When a person reveals their intentions honestly, then it's clear what's in store. If it's not acceptable, then continuing to hang around is to set oneself up for disapointment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought it was a great movie and spoke to a lot about relationships- how some aren't going to last, how sometimes we (from Tom's perspective) get disappointed, how we (from Summer's perspective) are in situations where our partner wants more from us than we are able to give.

 

I didn't think either character was wrong, or needy, or callous, or anything negative. They had some wonderful times together, but it was finite.

 

The guy knew going in that she didn't want a serious relationship, and he hoped against hope that she would change her mind. The girl really liked the guy, but not enough to fully commit and fall in love. They break up, she moves on, and so, eventually will he.

 

It's the way it often works in real life.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are people any other way? People's feelings and emotions change. That's the very nature of feelings. They aren't static. If they were, you'd be a robot. Everyone is "sometimes fun and exciting" and "sometimes disagreeable". No one is exempt.

 

There is a difference between feelings changing and being difficult and complicated for the sake of being difficult and complicated. There are many scenes of her being very passive aggressive with Tom. Look at the bar scene when Tom got in a fight. Was he looking for validation? Of course he was, but did he deserve her to be snotty with him after the fact? No, but she was and then she sent him away. Only after he was gone did she want him. And then she went to him because it was what she wanted. But what about what he wanted earlier in the night? That's the rub and what I often deal with. When I want something there is almost no flexibility, but when she wants something I'm expected to acquiesce. There's a difference between having a bad day and being self-centered.

 

Anyway, I don't hate Summer because, honestly, Zooey Deschanel is just too adorable to dislike.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is exactly what I was talking about. In this case, he should have cut his losses. He KNEW how she was, but he stuck around, hoping and waiting. He was wrong. He's not a bad guy for doing that, but he let hope blind him to reality. And at the end of the day, it's his responsibility to look out for his own well-being.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...