Is Aiming for Happily Ever After Unrealistic?

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

Happily ever after is pretty much how every romantic comedy movie or chick lit novel ever made or written ends. This includes the 2001 Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey movie, “The Wedding Planner,” which happened to be playing last weekend at the nail salon where I go.


He’s engaged and she’s got a guy dying to marry her, yet the two characters unexpectedly fall for each other when she becomes his wedding planner. They both decide it’s just too complicated and painful to break up with their significant others, so unselfishly, they go their separate ways. Until the day of their weddings. (In true rom com fashion, both their weddings happen to be on the same day.) So, both decide not to go through with their weddings, McConaughey searches for Lopez and finds her in a park, and…


Well, I wish I could describe that last scene, but my daughter was dragging me out of the nail salon, stating that our nails had been dry for at least 30 minutes. So, I never got to see that romantic kiss or hear that perfect last line of the movie that tells you they lived happily ever after.


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What is so notable is how glued to the TV I was, panting like a thirsty dog to get the satisfaction of seeing every last drop of their happily ever after. I’m not kidding when I say my daughter was grabbing my arm to get me out of there.


Why was I so desperate to get that happily ever after finality? Not just because like most women over 45, my eyes fill with tears instantly the first second of a romantic love scene, but because happily ever after gives me inspiration, hope, and joy. It makes me smile. It makes me feel like happiness in a romantic relationship is possible.


However, what isn’t so great about watching happily ever after scenes and reading romance novels is that life doesn’t happen that way. It just doesn’t. So, does that make me sound cynical? Or am I just being realistic? Anyone who knows me or who reads my blog knows I am a romantic at heart, but there is no way that “The Wedding Planner” would ever have happened that way in real life. And that isn’t a slam against the producers of the movie. Their job is to entertain, to make people smile and feel good, and to make women’s eyes fill with tears at that happily ever after moment.



What would have happened in real life is, (this is just my opinion, and you might think it’s really pathetic) but I think they would have cheated. They would have at least kissed. Also, their significant others would have noticed something was strange. The film for me was a little too perfect and innocent. Two people end up really happy together and guess what? They didn’t hurt anyone! In fact, Jennifer Lopez’s fiancé drives McConaughey on his motor cycle to go find Lopez! And McConaughey’s bride decides she doesn’t want to marry him anyhow. How convenient.


In real life, things don’t wrap up perfectly like that. They just don’t. Here are some examples of romantic comedies, all ending with that perfect happily ever after kiss:

1. When Harry Met Sally

2. Pretty Woman

3. The Wedding Singer

4. While you were sleeping

5. Brigette Jones’s Diary

6. Forgetting Sarah Marshall

7. Four Weddings and a Funeral

8. Moonstruck

9. The 40 year old virgin

10. Last Holiday



Here is a list of rom coms whose storylines and/or endings were a little bit more realistic, with happily ever after definitely present, but not necessarily a given.

1. Silver Linings Playbook

2. Crazy Stupid Love

3. 500 Days of Summer

4. Enough Said

5. The Devil Wears Prada

6. Annie Hall

7. Something’s Gotta Give

8. Juno

Don’t get me wrong. I love love love romance and happily ever after, and all these movies are fantastic! I just think that Hollywood does a great job of making our expectations for happily ever after a little bit unrealistic.


You don’t need a big, drawn out, dramatic love scene with people clapping to get your happily ever after. All you have to do is look within your heart and ask yourself, “Did I get my happily ever after?” The answer will come to you instantly.


Happily ever after, in my opinion means you wake up every morning and you like and or love your life. That doesn’t mean perfection, but rather that you enjoy most of your day and night, and that you truly are happy with the person you are with. Happily ever after can also include a life without a man, by the way. It’s all about making choices that make you happy.


Happily ever after is not only possible for everyone on earth, but should be standard. In other words, if you aren’t living every day thinking you got your happily ever after, than why not work to get there? (or in the ballpark.) I’m not saying life has to be like a fairytale, but I do think everyone deserves to feel like they are living happily ever after, whatever that means to them.

Like this article? Check out my post, Finding Happiness After Divorce Isn’t a Possibility, It’s a Probability
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    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at:

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