If Love Actually is one of those movies that leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy, you’re going to be really unhappy by the results of a new study.
The University of Michigan has found that watching romantic comedies where men demonstrate stalker-like behaviour can make women accept obsessiveness in potential partners.
Now we think about it, Andrew Lincoln’s cue-card confession to Keira Knightley and Hugh Grant turning up to Martine McCutcheon’s family home unannounced would be a bit weird if they happened in real life.
And Love Actually isn’t the only movie which trades on this aggressive male pursuit of love; in There’s Something About Mary, Ben Stiller hired a private eye to track down his high school crush and John Cusack routinely hounds his ex-partner in High Fidelity.
The report, called I Did It Because I Never Stopped Loving You, questioned women about aggressive romantic behaviour after they had watched a series of films with different themes. It found that women who watched films with a persistent romantic pursuit were more likely to accept stalking as normal.
“[Such movies] can encourage women to discount their instincts,” Michigan University’s Julia R Lippman told Canada’s Global News. “This is a problem because research shows that instincts can serve as powerful cues to help keep us safe."
“At their core, all these films are trading in the ‘love conquers all’ myth,” she added. “Even though, of course, it doesn’t. Love is great, but so is respect for other people.”