For better or for worse

When the topic of interpersonal communication was being discussed during lecture this week, one of the several movies that came to mine was 50 First Dates. In the movie, Lucy suffered a bad injury during a car accident several years back, which resulted in her losing her short term memory. In other words, she is only able to remember things prior to her accident and everything that happens after that is only remembered for one day and anything else is somehow foreign to her the second she wakes up the next morning.

From this movie, several aspects of interpersonal communication and communication in relationships can be observed. Dyadic primacy can be observed through the communication between Lucy and Henry. Dyadic primacy refers to a series of exchanges between two persons. Also, dyadic coalitions are apparent between Lucy’s father and Henry as they try to help Lucy in knowing that she is dating Henry in terms of aiding her in renewing her memory every day. Dyadic coalitions is the strategic alliances between two persons within a group.

As the movie progresses, we witness the development of Lucy and Henry’s relationship, especially in the engagement and the management phase. The engagement phase refers to the first contact to richer interpersonal relationships while the management phase refers to the use of communication to maintain a relationship. In the cafe where Henry was having breakfast one morning, we see how physical appearances are usually the start of potential relationship. Henry was first attracted to Lucy due to her appearance. As physical appearance has the biggest impact in the early stages of a relationship, we see how its impact slowly gets diminished over the course of Lucy and Henry’s relationship. Both Lucy and Henry are relatively different people in terms of character and this ties in with another communication concept which is known as dissimilarities. Dissimilarity is the tendency to form relationships with those who are different from us. Also, their relationship developed due to proximity as seen from how Henry always goes to the same cafe that Lucy has breakfast in every morning. Proximity aids in the development of their relationship as relationships are often formed with people around us as there is greater opportunity for interaction and less intimidation and uncertainty.

Through self disclosure, Lucy and Henry get to know each other better by the sharing of information about themselves that the other person is unlikely to know. This form of relational maintenance is crucial as it exhibits trust and commitment to the relationship. Although almost everyone in that town knew of Lucy’s condition, it was Henry who stepped up to the plate to make a difference and to help her be aware. It was only until years later that she realized she was living in the past. Henry was the one who helped her realize it by bringing her to get the relevant tests done and by making video tapes of the time spent together, in order for her to remember who he is. The fact that Henry did not lie to Lucy about who he was and what his occupation was showed that he was willing to commit to this relationship with Lucy as he would often fabricate stories about who he was to previous women that he met.

Although no relationship is identical, I believe that they share similarities one way or another or even share similar differences and that all the three stages in communication in relationships is very applicable to real life situations and not just in movies. 

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5 Responses to For better or for worse

  1. Foo Ye Wei says:

    I agree! This template might exist, but we should pay attention to any possible deviations, shouldn’t we? 🙂

    Another good movie featuring a dystopian love story (oh come on, you know that’s what they all are) is the Time Traveller’s Wife. In that story, the “Management Phase” you speak seems to really mean what it says.

    • Come to think of it, even Nicholas Spark’s other movie The Notebook features a good dystopian love story as well! And yes, there would definitely be deviations of that particular template but I think that template is the most generic one we see around us?

  2. June Tan says:

    Yes, movie scripts are written by humans too
    so very much of it is based from their experiences. I agree w u!

  3. D says:

    YES. i totally agree with you a hundred percent.

  4. amadea says:

    Indeed, it is a nice movie! I agree that communication is important in any relationship. We can’t get to know someone better if there is no self disclosure in the relationship. But I believe that commitment is what that makes a relationship last. If it wasn’t Henry being committed in the relationship, the story would have end witha lousy ending as they would be walking separate ways.Despite the fact of the importance of communication, but there seem to be something to make one attract to another even as they have their difference which puzzled me. Why are we closer some of our friends but not all? Probably communication is important but there are other factors which determines if the relationship work.

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