Anyone over the age of 25 should have experienced a good range of relationship woes. And if you're single by the time you're 30, you should be an expert (or veteran, depending on your sensibilities). Sure, there's marriage and kids, but the spectrum of emotions experienced being in a relationship - the ups and downs, the pain of separation, rejection, loneliness, etc etc are all part of the molding process in your 20's, and if you can get through all that relatively unscathed, you should have fairly realistic and positive expectations going forward.
In about the most cynically hilarious piece on relationships I think I've ever read, Brad Pike at Thought Catalog pours cold water on the notion that there are any 'happily ever after' stories. In the guise of a 'Review of Romantic Comedy', Pike argues that modern culture has imbued us with completely false expectations when it comes to partnering with someone in a romantic capacity:
Romantic Comedy Movie was not live, but still managed to reinforce my wildly skewed expectations regarding romantic relationships. As far as I can tell, an acceptable girlfriend will be hyper, funny, responsible, gorgeous at all times (as in, wears make up to bed), the precise weight between anorexic and curvy, a good singer, and the exact perfect human match engineered by God to fulfill my every need. I will be incapable of conjuring romantic affection for any other girl. A mystical force will guide me via destiny/fate to this woman because, as we all know, the universe is nurturing and benevolent and definitely not a bleak dystopian hellscape with aforementioned dead horses, etc. She will solve all my problems and be the most important thing in my life.....
Romantic Comedy Movie is an excellent addition to the romantic myth genre, which arose at a time when most marriages were arranged by malevolent forces. Romantic myths arose from a desire for a deeper connection to the random men/women to whom you were sold or raffled or obligated to marry in order to merge property. Now, however, they serve only to unhinge us from this stark hopeless reality where we all inevitably die alone — a function Romantic Comedy Movie performs perfectly.
I showed a friend going through his own relationship trauma the piece, asking him whether he thought it could get any worse. He responded brightly, "Well, there's always malaria!".
I guess that's one way of looking at it.