Love Jones is on Netflix. I saw this movie 22 years ago in the theater and I have to admit at that time I loved it. I was also 20 years old. One of my favorite things to do now is watch movies that I saw in my teens/twenties to see how my perspective has changed. It’s pretty interesting seeing how an older perspective changes your point of view, especially about dating.
Societal norms and attitudes greatly influence romance, dating, and relationships and those norms are often reflected in our art and entertainment. However, societal norms change with time. Many behaviors that used to be socially acceptable are no longer acceptable. Love Jones portrays a lot of those behaviors. It also highlights how these changes in behaviors make many people feel that the current state of dating is difficult. I have to agree that in many ways it is. That is because our society and culture are in flux when it comes to romance, dating, and relationships. And, most of that is centered on changes in how we view male behavior.
Let’s start with how persistence from men was considered “romantic.” This is a behavior that is consistent within our culture, that if a man just continues to hound a woman that it’s a good thing and it’s “romantic” and eventually she will give in to his advances. Watching Love Jones brought that to my attention right away.
Things that happen in this movie would not be acceptable now. First off, the main character Darius meets Nina at a club and then proceeds to hit on her by incorporating her name into a poem. He believes this behavior is acceptable and that this is a way to get her to like him. She tells him he embarrassed her by this behavior. He runs into her again at a record store. Being persistent he asks her out. She declines his advances again. So, in the name of “romance” aka “persistence” he gets Nina’s address by stealing it off of the check she uses to make a purchase at the record store.
Back in 1997, I must admit I thought that it was cute that he was so persistent, however, in 2019 I see him as a dangerous stalker because that’s exactly what his behavior says about him. He doesn’t respect a woman’s boundaries. That’s a major red flag. Women should be able to say no to a man’s advances without worry that he will continue to seek out her attention. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with asking a woman out more than once, however, if that involves violating that woman’s personal space, it’s not ok.
Darius’ character then goes on to show up at Nina’s house. Back then this behavior may have been considered ok because “he liked her.” Even today men still have a hard time understanding some behaviors are problematic when they “like” a woman. That’s because our culture has previously embraced problematic behaviors from men when they were attracted to a woman. Many of these problematic behaviors were presented as “romantic.”
The popularity of this movie is a perfect example of how our culture viewed many of these problematic behaviors in the past. However, our culture is changing because women have been harmed so many times by men who displayed these very same behaviors. This is most likely why women’s attitudes around dating and relationships are evolving faster than men. Women no longer accept problematic behavior from men and many men are confused by this because they were taught by our culture that what they are doing because they like a woman should be ok. However, just because you believe certain behaviors are acceptable doesn’t mean they are.
But, let me not completely diss Love Jones. There are things in it that are good as well. Even though society has changed when it comes to dating there are things that have not changed. You still need to be interesting for someone to be interested in you. Social media, instant gratification and attention have created an environment where people are not able to interact in person. However, in Love Jones all of the young 20-somethings were knowledgeable about art, poetry, music, books… They were able to hold interesting conversations with one another. Many people now have a hard time dating because they cannot hold a conversation. Maybe we can blame that on social media and smart phones because 22 years ago young people definitely had more knowledge to share and discuss, probably because we spent more time reading.
Love Jones also shows how you should date for compatibility. While Darius was a nutty stalker he and Nina were actually compatible. They both enjoyed many of the same things, music, dancing, photography, art. Compatibility is so important when dating. You have to have common ground if you want to enjoy someone’s company.
The other thing that was important to note in the movie, when it comes to dating and relationships, is that Darius and Nina did not consider themselves in a relationship right away just because they were dating. It’s important that people not make assumptions of being in a relationship just because they went on a few dates. Also, when they did finally decide to be in a relationship they stated it out loud. Something I discuss in my book!
Other things I talk about in my book, men are competitive. The dynamic between Darius’ character and Wood’s character is something that is real with men. Men compete for the attention of women. I hope more women read my book so they can understand why this is a tool that is useful in dating. I also talk about men being emotional. Love Jones is a good example of how men are very emotional about dating although society puts pressure on them to suppress it.
Anyway, I still enjoyed watching Love Jones again and I am happy to see that my mindset has grown since I first saw it. Definitely check it out if you haven’t seen it and also check out my book if you want more dating tips!
Want to read more dating blogs? Check out DateLikeAWoman.com’ Blog. Be sure to also check out Kai’s personal blog at FlyMommy.net! And, don’t forget to buy the best dating book for women, Date Like A Woman!