Something Borrowed: The Ethics of Boyfriend Snatching

Last week, I went out to see Something Borrowed with a group of my girls. I expected to fall in love with the movie, if not for the infinite charm of John Krasinski (not to mention the other eye candy, Colin What’s-His-Face), then for its cutesy romantic comedy storyline (yes, the kind I make fun of). However, I left the theater not really knowing what to think or how to feel.

The scenery, setting and costumes were gorgeous. The dialogue was clever and the characters were believable. I found Something Borrowed entertaining to watch, but I had trouble really rooting for the core “couple” of the movie. For those who haven’t seen the trailers, Ginnifer Goodwin plays a friendly but subdued lawyer who is often overshadowed by her shallow and selfish best friend, played by Kate Hudson. To make matters worse, she has been in love with Hudson’s fiance since she met him back in law school, and on the night of her thirtieth birthday, they finally sleep together.

The characters begin an affair based on the premise that they had been in love with each other in law school but that neither of them had the guts to say something. The audience is okay with this, because Ginnifer Goodwin’s character is just so gosh-darn sweet, and Kate Hudson’s character is self-centered and fairly unlikable. And just a few years ago, when I was sixteen and naive, I would have also been okay with this. Among other things, the romantic comedy genre had always taught me that it didn’t matter if someone was in a committed relationship or not; as long as you were clearly the better choice for that person and the two of you were madly in love, things would work themselves out and become the ultimate love story.

As I got older I realized that things don’t work that way, and that boyfriend snatching is never a good thing. I never stole my best friend’s boyfriend, of course, but I did learn that that would have been the worst thing I could do. In the film, Goodwin and Hudson have been best friends since childhood, and I can’t help but wonder how little Goodwin valued their friendship if she was willing to put it all on the line for a guy. Sure, she thinks she’s in love with him, but if they had gotten together under normal circumstances, would they have lasted? She doesn’t know that, and he doesn’t know that, so why would they sacrifice everything just for that?

I know, I know, I’m being cynical. Maybe they really are “in love” and maybe the relationship is built to last once it finally gets off the ground. All I know is that throughout the movie, I wasn’t really sure what I was supposed to want or what even the writers were pushing for. Perhaps that was just the point — that real life is messy and that nothing is ever really in black and white. But somehow, I doubt that this chick flick was supposed to be nearly so complex.

As a rule, I like to mentally create what I call my pool of ineligible bachelors. Basically, if a good friend of mine has dated someone seriously, I deem him ineligible and will not consider dating him in the future under normal circumstances. My friends tend to follow this as well. (There have been exceptions, of course, but those were ill-advised.) Conversely, I will not date a close friend of anyone I have dated in the past. I think that having these (generally unspoken) rules allows us to maintain some decorum, especially at a time in our lives when dating is one of the first things on our minds.

Your friends can be the most important people in your life for a long time, but most relationships will be fleeting. Forget marriage– do you really want to start a potential six-month relationship with someone by breaking him up with his girlfriend, with whom you have been close friends for years? In Something Borrowed, the characters seem to answer this question pretty easily. However, it is important to remind yourself that your life is not one of these movies, and it doesn’t fit into a neat little script. People do get hurt, and those relationships don’t always work out for the better.

2 Replies to “Something Borrowed: The Ethics of Boyfriend Snatching”

  1. Nicely put.

    I haven’t seen Something Borrowed, but it saddens me to see any movie where people basically throw their friendships out because of a romantic interest that may or may not last.

    1. Thank you! I agree with you fully… what if you’ve risked your friendship for nothing? The friend in this movie might not be the most ideal, but even so, they have been through a lot together!

Leave a Reply