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Should You Date Someone Who Scorns Your Dreams?

Should You Date Someone Who Scorns Your Dreams?


Have you seen the new Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris? Slate's movie critic described it as "a trifle in both senses of the word: a feather-light, disposable thing, and a rich dessert." I agree: It may not be too filling or sustaining, but it sure tastes great.

Starring Owen Wilson as a successful Hollywood hack named Gil and Rachel McAdams as his wealthy, spoiled fiancee named Inez, the film follows them during a trip to The City of Lights. There, the two of them have very different objectives: Inez wants to shop for wildly overpriced antiques with her mother, dine out at exorbitant restaurants, and flirt with a pedantic professor while he bloviates about the sights. Gil wants to walk the picturesque streets in the rain, when he thinks the city is at its most beautiful. He also fantasizes about going back in time, to the 1920s Paris of Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald and Pablo Picasso — when life was a moveable feast. Gil is toiling away on a novel and is hoping the splendor and history of Paris will infuse him with new insights. Meanwhile, money-hungry Rachel seems to wish he would stop being silly and just stay focused on the far more lucrative world of screenwriting. (Not to spoil it, I won't say much more about the plot than that — except that you should keep your eyes peeled for Adrien Brody's delightful little cameo.)

Gil and Inez seem wildly mismatched: Their improbable pairing is probably the most salient plot weakness, although Inez is pretty enough and Gil comes off as just dopily sunny enough that it's not much of sticking point. And though the movie is mostly a statement about how nostalgia can distract us from life in unfortunate ways — about how our longing for the past often prevents us from living fully in the present — it also got me thinking about dating people who find our fantasies annoying or silly.

I'll acknowledge that plenty of people with far-flung fantasies can be a little hard to take, mainly if reality is wildly at odds with their desires. (A 42-year-old banker who hasn't written so much as a line of poetry in his life hopes to become the next T.S. Eliot? Hmmm.) And at a time when so many of us are concerned about money, and just making enough to stay afloat, it seems like an especially difficult time to be encouraging a significant other to take a career risk …

Nonetheless, I have to wonder: Does dating someone who discourages us about pursuing our wildest dreams amount to settling? Would we all be better off if we avoided those kinds of people? Do you have any stories about dating someone who was a downer whenever you mentioned your interest in dramatically changing your life — or about how being with a fellow dreamer isn't necessarily all it's cracked up to be, either?

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