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True romance never dies or diminishes. Rather it grows in charm with the passing years. Only that which pretends to be romance can die.

— Karmayogi

Conflict evolving into romance

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Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind Based on Margaret Mitchell’s famous best-selling novel, Gone with the Wind is a historical romance set in northern Georgia during the Civil War. The story traces the lives of Scarlett O'Hara, Rhett Butler, Ashley and Melanie Wilkes and the complex social and psychological factors that shape their aspirations, relationships and capacity for romantic fulfilment.

 

Articles on Gone with the wind

The relationship between Rhett and Scarlett is classic example of intense energy and turbulence, which never manages to become stable and harmonious. See Opposition Level 1 in Scale of Harmony. See the article and videos.

It also illustrates the problems inherent in a relationship based primarily on physical attraction. See Physical Attraction Level 2 in Scale of Romance. See the article and videos.

The quiet, idealized love between Ashley and Melanie is an exceptional example of Mental Love Level 7 in Scale of Romance. See the article and videos.

Their relationship also illustrates the highest level of harmony that can be achieved under the most challenging and impossible external circumstances. See Complementarity Level 10 in Scale of Romance See the article and videos.

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Plot Summary

 Scarlett is a narcissistic plantation belle, the daughter of a French aristocratic mother and an Irish peasant immigrant who managed to acquire a large cotton plantation and a lovely cultured wife. Scarlett inherited her mother’s beauty and manners and her father’s raw energy and ambition. Beneath her polished exterior, she is dynamo of unruly impulses. Although her beauty and flirtatious behavior have enslaved almost every young man in the region, Scarlett longs to marry Ashley Wilkes, the educated son of a distinguished Southern family. Heartbroken when Ashley marries his cousin Melanie instead, Scarlett marries Melanie’s brother just to spite Ashley. When her husband is killed in the war, she marries a store owner for his money, but never abandons her hope of finally winning Ashley for herself.

Scarlett’s only real relationship is with Rhett Butler, the dashing young blockade runner who was disowned by his family and expelled from Charleston for dishonorable behavior. Rhett sees right through Scarlett’s façade of ladylike elegance and knows the ruthless, unscrupulous, wildcat which lies behind her pretty face. Attracted by her energy, strength, courage and beauty, he pursues her first to become his mistress and later his wife. Scarlett’s heart has always been after Ashley. She admires Rhett’s brute strength, his courage to defy society, his tall handsome appearance and his considerable wealth, but she never feels for him anything like true affection.

But the real love story in Gone with the Wind is not between these two selfish, self-centered characters whose passion torments and ultimately ruins the happiness of both. It is rather the quiet, idealized love between Ashley and Melanie Wilkes that depicts the true qualities and power of love to nurture, save and protect, even in times of extraordinary upheaval. Though Scarlett has set her heart on marrying the refined and cultured Ashley, he chooses instead his mild-mannered and frail cousin Melanie and marries her. Melanie lacks the captivating beauty, energy, vitality, and feminine wiles of Scarlett. But her gentle heart is made of pure goodness and possesses extraordinary power of goodwill that protects Ashley through the long years of fighting and imprisonment. But Scarlett and Rhett's turbulent and unfulfilling marriage is marred by constant quarrels.After the death of their young daughter, Rhett finally leaves her. Only then does she realize how much she needs and wants him. Through her sobs in the final scene, Scarlett begins to think of her home Tara, from which she has always gained strength, and determines that she will return there and will think of a way to get Rhett back.

 

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Gone with the Wind
Directed by Victor Fleming
Written by Margaret Mitchell (novel) & Sidney Howard (screenplay)
Starring Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara, Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes,
Olivia de Havilland as Melanie Hamilton, Clark Gable as Rhett Butler
Copyright belongs to Selznick International Pictures

 

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When Harry met Sally

When Harry met Sally One of the best-loved romantic comedies of all time, this movie poses important questions regarding the nature of successful intimate relationships. When Harry met Sally traces the psychological journey of a man and woman from casual acquaintance and sexual attraction to friendship and emotional intimacy. The story of Harry and Sally depicts a couple who discover how to convert a platonic relationship based on intense reaction into a close friendship love and finally marriage.

 

Articles on When Harry met Sally
Growing in Love - Harry and Sally's relationship is a fine example of Vital Attraction, Level 4 on the Scale of Romance See the article and videos.
Love, Romance, Sex & Marriage - From Sexual Attraction to Friendship to Affection Read the article and videos.
Contrast between two Relationships is brought out in this example of Reaction, Level 4 on the Scale of Harmony Read the article and videos.
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Plot Summary

Harry meets Sally when they share a car ride to New York City upon graduation from the University of Chicago. A few minutes into the trip, the conversation between them becomes heatedly contentious. Harry is strongly attracted to Sally physically. Sally is repulsed by his aggressive manners and obvious sexual intentions.

Over the next 13 years they meet repeatedly, then drift apart and meet again. Each passes through many failed relationships. Harry gets married and divorced. Eventually they develop a close, platonic friendship and find that they understand, like and enjoy each other’s company more than any other relationships they have been in. Observing the changing relationship between their close friends Jess and Marie, they acquire deeper insights into themselves and the challenges that every relationship has to overcome. Finally it dawns on them that life together is far happier and more fulfilling than their other romantic pursuits and an intense intimacy grows between them.

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When Harry Met Sally
Directed by Rob Reiner
Written by Nora Ephron
Starring Meg Ryan as Sally Albright, Bill Crystal as Harry Burns, Carrie Fisher as Marie, Bruno Kirby as Jess
Copyright belongs to CastleRock Entertainment

 

 

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Sabrina

Sabrina This movie starring Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond and Greg Kinnear is based on Samuel Taylor's play Sabrina Fair and is also a remake of the 1954 version starring Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Boggart and William Holding. The contrast between physical attraction and emotional love is beautifully depicted in the love affair of two brothers, David and Linus, with the chauffeur’s daughter, Sabrina. Younger brother David falls in love instantly with Sabrina’s beautiful appearance when he is on the verge of marrying another woman, whereas older brother Linus discovers to his surprise a gradual, inadvertent and unwilling affection growing when his only conscious aim was to save a big business deal. Sabrina matures from an infatuated teenager into an exceptional woman capable of mature insight, idealistic love and rich emotional intensity.

 

Articles on Sabrina
Sabrina and Linus’s relationship is based on deep admiration and mutual affection and is a good example of Admiration- Level 6 in the Scale of Romance. See the article and videos.
David’s feelings for Sabrina is a fine example of love based on physical attraction- Level 2 in the Scale of Romance. See the article and videos.
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Plot Summary

Sabrina Fairchild is the daughter of a chauffeur working for the Larrabees, one of the richest families on Long Island. She is a shy, awkward teenager madly infatuated with the Larrabee’s younger son David, a strikingly handsome and charming playboy who has the pick of New England society women longing for his attentions. His older brother, Linus, is a hard-nosed, serious businessman who has expanded a successful family business into one of the world's largest communications company, while David cavorts with one woman after another. Sabrina moves to France to work, and it transforms her from a shy girl to a mature, stunning woman. But on her return, she's still infatuated with David. Unfortunately, he's engaged to Elizabeth Tyson, a society woman whose father is planning to merge his business with the Larrabee’s company; and the billion- dollar deal is contingent on the marriage going through. David's ever wandering eyes land on Sabrina, and he’s ready to abandon Elizabeth Tyson and the deal to win the new love of his life.

Linus decides he must stop his brother from ruining his marriage and the deal. He woos Sabrina himself, but finds his own feelings getting mixed involved in the process. Although he lacks the charming manners of David, Sabrina discovers a deeper value in Linus as a human being and begins to feels an ennobling love for him that is both intense and uplifting. At the last moment, Linus confesses to her his real intentions and arranges for her to be reunited with David. Unable to switch her affections from one man to another on a moment’s notice, she decides to go back to Paris to nurse her broken heart and build a new life. Before her departure, her father reveals that he has earned $2 million on the stock market by listening to what was spoken by the Larrabees in their car and that money is intended for her.

When David learns that Linus is capable of sacrificing the deal of a lifetime for the sake of the chauffeur’s daughter, he realizes that Linus must feel a love for Sabrina that he himself is incapable of feeling for any woman. So he commits himself to marry Elizabeth, takes over negotiations on the Tyson deal and dispatches Linus to Paris where he is reunited with Sabrina .

 

 

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Sabrina (1954) - Directed by Billy Wilder
Written by Samuel Taylor (Original Play); Billy Wilder  & Ernest Lehman (Screenplay)
Starring Humphrey Bogart as Linus Larrabee, Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina Fairchild,
William Holden as David Larrabee

Copyright belongs to Paramount Pictures
Sabrina (1995) - Directed by  Sydney Pollack
Written by Barbara Benedek & David Rayfiel (Screenplay)
Starring Harrison Ford as Linus Larrabee, Julia Ormond as Sabrina Fairchild,
Greg Kinnear as David Larrabee
Copyright belongs to Paramount Pictures

 

 

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You've Got Mail!

Opposites attract. Romantic attraction is strongest between complementary personalities. Sometimes the contrast between characters is so strong that they start off their relationship in conflict or even as bitter enemies. This romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks depicts the process of two strikingly different and apparently incompatible individuals learning to respect, like and ultimately love one another.

 

Articles on You've Got Mail

 

 Read how personal conflict can develop into enduring romance. See the article and videos.
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Plot Summary
Kathleen Kelly is the owner of a little and famous bookstore for children's books in Manhattan, New York. Suddenly, her business gets endangered by the opening of Fox Books discount store just "around the corner". She meets Joe Fox, son of the owner, and soon gets annoyed by his arrogant way of managing business matters.
Joe and Kathy become bitter business enemies when Joe's superstore puts Kathy's little shop out of business. Meanwhile, the two of them meet in an online chatroom under the pseudonyms NY152 and Shopgirl, without knowing each other's the identity. What starts as anonymous flirting via e-mail slowly converts into a deeply meaningful relationship in which they confide in each other, share everyday life problems, and exchange their inmost thoughts and feelings.

They finally agree to meet face-to-face. Joe discovers Shopgirl's true identity just before going to meet her. Realizing she will never accept him as her on-line friend when she knows who he really is, he conceals his true identity and creates occasions to run into her apparently by accident. Each time they meet, she abuses him for his cruel, ruthless business practices. Attracted by her gentle, affectionate sweetness, he comes to truly appreciate and understand Kathy's view of things. By contact with her, the ruthless, arrogant, sarcastic businessman gradually awakens to the joy of warm human relationship, small joys and compassionate human values. In exchange Kathy learns from Joe to be more assertive, face the challenges of life boldly, take hard decisions and move beyond the sense of failure arising from the closing of her store. Increasingly attracted to the real life Joe, her mind clings to the anonymous relationship with NY152, until Joe finally discloses that the two men she loves are one and the same person.

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Directed by Nora Ephron
Screenplay by Nora Ephron & Delia Ephron                                                                                             
Starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks
Copyright belongs to Warner Bros. Pictures

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From Conflict to Enduring Romance

The phrase ‘love-hate relationship’ expresses a deeper truth that in intimate relationships love and hate are not really opposites. They are both forms of intense relationship. The true opposite of love and hate is a state of neutrality where two people are oblivious or indifferent regarding each other’s existence. That is why we find numerous instances in both life and literature of intensely negative relationships gradually or suddenly evolving into their very opposite.

Why is it that sometimes we see intense dislike rapidly transformed into intense attraction or lasting affection? Physical attraction and short term infatuation are usually based on surface appearances or superficial similarities. Whereas, love and romance derive their enduring intensity from complementarity between partners at deeper levels of personalities. Often complementarity in the depth goes along with sharp differences on the surface, so the initial response may be indifference, dislike, opposition or even conflict. This is the truth behind the evolving relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth in Pride & Prejudice , which commences with dislike, develops into conflict and then gradually evolves into romantic love.

This same phenomenon is depicted in You’ve Got Mail, a popular comedy combining love on the internet with real life conflict. Like Darcy and Elizabeth, the two main characters transform their relationship from bitter antagonism to true romance. Kathleen Kelly runs The Shop Around the Corner, a quaint little children's bookstore in New York's Upper West Side, made popular by her mother for its personal touch and homey atmosphere. Living with a newspaper columnist, Frank, whom she thinks she is in love with, Kathleen believes her life to be going well and enjoys the company of her friends and employees. Her life suddenly turns upside down when a large discount bookstore run by Joe Fox opens around the corner. Joe Fox is a cut-throat businessman, with a thriving business and a satisfying personal life living with his girlfriend, Patricia, an equally arrogant, business-like book editor.

Joe and Kathy become bitter business enemies when Joe's superstore puts Kathy's little shop out of business. Meanwhile, the two of them meet in an online chatroom under the pseudonyms NY152 and Shopgirl, without knowing each other’s identity. What starts as anonymous flirting via e-mail slowly converts into a deeply meaningful relationship in which they confide in each other, share everyday life problems, and exchange their inmost thoughts and feelings.

They finally agree to meet face-to-face. Joe discovers Shopgirl's true identity just before going to meet her. Realizing she will never accept him as her on-line friend when she knows who he really is, he conceals his true identity and creates occasions to run into her apparently by accident. Each time they meet, she abuses him for his cruel, ruthless business practices. Attracted by her gentle, affectionate sweetness, he comes to truly appreciate and understand Kathy's view of things. By contact with her, the ruthless, arrogant, sarcastic businessman gradually awakens to the joy of warm human relationship, small joys and compassionate human values. In exchange Kathy learns from Joe to be more assertive, face the challenges of life boldly, take hard decisions and move beyond the sense of failure arising from the closing of her store. Increasingly attracted to the real life Joe, her mind clings to the anonymous relationship with NY152, until Joe finally discloses that the two men she loves are one and the same person.

The dramatic twists and turns of the story make good entertainment, but appear at first glance too implausible to hold lessons for real life. In fact, their relationship illustrates some profound truths of real life romance. Like Darcy and Elizabeth, Joe and Kathy start off their relationship on the wrong foot, deeply prejudiced and in open conflict with one another. Like Darcy, Joe is the first to perceive beyond their superficial differences the deeper commonalty and complementarity they share. He takes steps to overcome the animosity and resentment that separates them by employing several of the strategies mentioned on this site . (See Romance Strategies)

Like Darcy, Joe realizes that any change in the status of their relationship will have to be by his initiative. He takes responsibility for what has happened and decides that it is in his power to change the situation. He is the one who has offended her and he is the one who has to make amends. He does so not by any outward signs of flattery, apology, or wooing in the normal sense, but by trying to get to know Kathy and relate to her genuinely. First as NY152 and later as Joe, he offers her genuine positive attention and learns to listen deeply and truly to Kathy’s concerns without passing judgment or reacting to anything she says. Delighted to find someone to whom she can bare her soul and be accepted as she is, Kathy warms first to the anonymous stranger and eventually to her former enemy. Joe’s patient listening is not mere formality. He takes genuine interest in who she is and what she feels and comes to appreciate her perspective on life, which is so very different than his own. Unable to resist the gratification arising from such deep sympathy, Kathy begins to see Joe differently.

Attention, listening, understanding and taking the other person’s point of view can convert a bitter enemy into an intimate friend, but they are not enough to generate deeper feelings of love. For that, the relationship has to go beyond mere listening and become a genuine act of sharing and self-giving. Like Darcy, Joe not only listens and understands. He also honestly acknowledges and accepts the need to change himself. More importantly, he does all this without asking, demanding or expecting anything in return. He does not seek a physical relationship. He does not expect her acceptance or appreciation. He simply gives of himself, quietly and unostentatiously. When completely genuine and done with pure goodwill, this approach unfailing wins the other person. When done out of need or calculation, it evokes a response of need or taking in the other person.

Many people are willing to accept the other person as they are during the initial period of courting.  But how many can truly extend freedom to a partner to be and live as themselves rather than as what we want them to be? The romantic feelings that grow between Joe and Kathy are not mere infatuation or physical attraction. Initially they gravitate toward one another without even knowing what the other person looks like. It is commonalty of mind and feeling that draws them together. The fact that they have already met and disliked each other socially reflects the truth that often we are attracted physically to those with whom no real affection is possible and superficially reject those with whom we are most deeply compatible. Contrary to popular belief, true romance is never determined by either physical appearance or social acceptability. The discovery of romantic compatibility makes the other person beautiful to our eyes, where previously we may have been indifferent. Beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder. Rather romance is seen with the soul, not with the eyes.

Improbable as it may seem, Joe and Kathy, like Elizabeth and Darcy, discover that despite superficial differences, they have much to offer one another. Indeed, their deeper attraction arises precisely from the fact that they are so very different and therefore able to complement and complete one another. Kathy acquires something of Joe’s strength, confidence and spirit of adventure. She brings out his capacity for goodness, gentleness and self-giving. Their attraction to one another is founded upon the fact that knowing each other, they both become better, happier more fulfilled human beings.

For another in-depth example of the evolution from conflict to love, see the story of Darcy & Elizabeth.

For strategies to convert a conflict-based relationship into a harmonious, loving one, see Harmony Strategies and Romance Strategies

 

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