Gina Florio
February 03, 2016 6:54 pm
Summit Entertainment

It turns out there’s a much finer line between romance and stalking than we once thought. A recently released study from the University of Michigan suggests that women who watch rom-coms are more inclined to find obsessive behavior from a male love interest acceptable.

Julia R Lippman, a gender and sexuality expert at the University of Michigan, led the study — and she found that women who watched the romantic films had a very different take on stalking myths (ways in which we understand stalking that have been defined by pop culture) than those who viewed nature documentaries or movies displaying overt male aggression, such as Jennifer Lopez’s Enough. Stalking myths include the idea that the women who men stalk are asking to be pursued, and that stalking isn’t really a big deal for either romantic party. And also that stalking just = romance.

Obviously, this can be very problematic when translated into real life. Women, according to this study, are less likely to listen to their instincts when they’re driven by these instilled romantic values. Lippman says they are overcome by the “love conquers all” myth, and they aren’t able to see just how unhealthy and invasive stalking is. To put it simply, their judgment is clouded.

Entering Valentine’s Day season, we’ll be slammed with our fair share of romantic, heavily heteronormative comedies. While there’s nothing wrong with indulging in them, just make sure you’re not taking them quite so literally. Because no matter what, it’s not sweet for someone to follow you around and stare at you while you’re at the office, or in your bedroom. No matter how many lyrical signs he holds up for you to read.

Here are some examples of movies that teach women to think stalking is romantic:

1. There’s Something About Mary 

In a nutshell, the protagonist finds out everything he can about a woman he’s had a crush on for years, and uses that information to trick her into liking him, totally lying all the way through. It’s classic stalking at its rom com best.

2. Love Actually 

One of our favorite Christmas movies unfortunately has some creepy obsessive behavior mixed in there, but it’s twisted to make us ooh and ahh in romantic bliss. In reality, though, there’s nothing cool about showing up at a woman’s doorstep with that kind of display — especially if your best friend is her husband.

3. 10 Things I Hate About You

Sweet-faced, seemingly innocent Joseph Gordon-Levitt does everything in his power to serenade his love interest, from following her every move to learning a new language. He even hires another dude (RIP, Heath) to date her sister. In real life, that would be a huge Ew. And yes yes yes, 10 Things I Hate About You is based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, but we all know how Shakespeare plays go.

4. Crazy, Stupid Love

It may seem adorable because he was a middle school kid, but Steve Carell’s son in this movie was already displaying some serious signs of stalking. Nonstop texting, over-the-top public displays of affection, and biking to his babysitter’s house late at night? Not OK. No matter how young he is.

5. The Amazing Spider-Man 

I mean, Spider Man’s got Gwen’s picture weirdly plastered as his desktop background? Oh, and he perches outside of her window, watching her do homework, without her knowing. He might be pegged as the protector kind, but make no mistake — he’s got some creeper tendencies.

6. Twilight 

Two guys are guilty of stalking in this love story saga. Both werewolf and vampire are so head over heels in love with Kristen Stewart (aka, Bella Swan) that they follow her every move and get wildly overprotective. And they both weirdly love to watch her sleep.

7. 50 Shades of Grey

Besides the arguably inaccurate representation of a BDSM relationship, 50 Shades of Grey portrayed a super unhealthy relationship. The following, the controlling —Christian Grey was NOT being romantic when he tracked Ana down at a bar she was at with her friends. Or when he found out where she worked and “teasingly” bought rope.

8. American Beauty 

The constant filming is so creepy.

9. 27 Dresses

You can’t just steal someone’s planner and not return it, okay?

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