The Love Lessons of Movie Romances or Scoring Chicks, Celluloid Style

Ah, Valentine's Day; the loveliest holiday of them all. But lurking beneath the surface of this fluffy day of sentimentalist cards and over-inflated roses are the same pitfalls and traps that blight 90% of honest relationships. Thank God then, that we have the film universe to draw inspiration and guidance from. So sit back, get your pencil ready to write notes, and absorb these romantic rules. Soon you too will be able to swish around town with a pretty young thing or an enchanting stud on your arm.

#1 Ignore first Impressions

Sandra Bullock has the market cornered on this one, so take a leaf out of her book- or at least her movies The Proposal and Two Weeks Notice- and ignore the fact that you hate that woman you're spending so much time with. Ignore the fact that everything she does makes you seeth, because given time, you will ignore all of these superficial quirks and fall head over arse in love with her. Also, it's clearly entirely acceptable to ignore your company's legislation regarding inter-office relationships: again shoot for the moon, and go after the biggest fish possible, your boss. So what if he or she fires you on the spot for gross misconduct- just take it as a bad first impression and keep on pursuing.

#2 How To Get Your Woman: Be a Dick

It's a well known fact that bad dudes get laid. From a purely amoral stand-point the easiest way to get multiple notches in your bed-post is to stop treating women like human beings- look at Dangerous Liaisons- and while these cads usually get what's coming to them and they end up alone and miserable with their bundles of cash and oodles of care-free sex, there are the odd notable exceptions. Step forward, When Harry Met Sally- the most memorable example of the irredeemable, chauvinist man walking away with the heroine's heart, despite his repeated dickish behaviour. And this is in a film that is held as one of THE greatest love stories of all time!

#3 Or, At Least be a Repentant Dick

Even if you've been an incorrigible bastard for most of your romantic life- like Mel Gibson in What Women Want, you can still pull a Catholic Switch and repent at the last minute, thus ensuring that you will be happy and sexually satiated by the end of the film. This is because...

#4 EVERYTHING is forgiveable

Are you promiscuous? Do you often treat your loved one with open and disgusting contempt? Have you subsequently recently fallen out with that loved one, through your misdemeanours? Well, breath easily, my friends because even the most heinous of crimes committed in the name of love are forgiveable according to film. And that includes dumping your love because you can't stand the idea of her degenerative disease ruining your life and career (Love & Other Drugs) or even having noisy sex within ear-shot of he who you once called the love of your life (High Fidelity). So, basically, do whatever you bloody well want, a simple "sorry" should wipe the slate clean without much lost sleep.

#5 Given the Opportunity ALL Men Will Cheat

According to the film world, it doesn't matter how morally good you are as a man, given even half an opportunity, all men will cheat. This is because, just beneath the surface of all men everywhere, lies an animal driven only by his throbbing masculinity and need to conquer all women. So no matter where you stand on the moral barometer, from Josh Brolin's disgusting rogue in You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger to David Eigenberg's loveable, cuddly and put-upon sap Steve Brady in the first Sex and the City movie, Alec Baldwin in Working Girl, if presented with an offer of sex, you'll no doubt be too simplistic and barbaric to refuse...

#6 Fuck Feminism

Who needs love, right? When you're a strong, independent woman, all the emotional nourishment you need can be found in travelling the world, finding yourself and watching cluck-fests like The View (US) or Loose Women (UK). Well, that is unless you're taking your lead from supposedly feminism-friendly fare like Eat, Pray, Love or Bridget Jone's Diary, in which the prevailing message is not one of strong independence, but rather that such flimsy feminist ideas will always play second fiddle when some dashing hunk makes eyes at you. So remember, burning bras is one thing, but that won't get you wrapped up in someone's strong, protecting arms at night...

#7 If in doubt, Dress Slutty

If you're worried that your intended lover is from a different social circle, and has a worryingly lax attitude to your proclaimed celibacy, there is one sure-fire way to ensure your relationship blossoms. No, it wouldn't be accepting his own decision to abandon his morally ambiguous and sexually promiscuous life-style in favour of a promising athletics career and wholesome living- no, that would be too easy. Instead, it's up to you: simply abandon all of your moral hang-ups and slap on a pair of eye-wateringly tight trousers and wiggle your caboose in his face. Thanks GREASE!

#8 Children Make the Best Pimps

God bless Sleepless in Seattle and The Parent Trap for informing all of us doubting cynics that the best way to encourage the start of a beautiful relationship is to employ a young child in the role of communications officer between the two potential parties. Forget dating sites, just get the local street urchins to match-make for you, thus gaining your own advantages and also performing a public service in getting the kiddies off the streets.

#9 Women Will Always Go To Their (Militant) Sister

This one's more of a warning- from Jerry Maguire in fact- if you piss off your lady, and she's got an older sister, beware. She will invariably be dead set against your very existence. The answer- charm her like your life depended on it, and not just your laundry. She is the key to you being out of the dog-house, so swallow your pride, and that bile she inspires, and crack your sparkliest, slightly manic Tom Cruise grin.

#10 Always Give Up On Your Dreams

Making hundreds of thousands of dollars/pounds a year in a high-power executive position in an upwardly mobile Fortune 500 company? Here's an idea: why not throw it all away for some dame you just paid to not have sex with you much over a whole week in the style of Pretty Woman, or abandon your promising career on the stock market to convince the woman you love to take you back (Wall Street 2). Or even better, you could throw away all your God-like potential to go and see about a girl (Good Will Hunting)- forget how unrealistic such actions are in a recession, the key thing to remember is that this is a SURE-FIRE way to get laid.

#11 Mental Illness is SO Cute

If we were to believe modern romances (and rom-coms in particular), every healthy relationship has at least one mentally ill partner, so find yourself an obsessive, and you've found yourself a keeper. Just ask Helen Hunt how well her relationship with Jack Nicholson's misanthropic and mentally unstable Melvin went after the end credits of As Good As It Gets rolled. I hear they've already been blessed with the pitter patter of tiny basket-cases of their own...

#12 Never Ever Take No For an Answer

Don't worry if your potential conquest initially says no, or even tries to blast you with her laser-gun arm, stick to your guns like Pepe Le Pew and sooner or later she will discover recorded footage of what you did to her when she was unconscious and will immediately fall in love with you. Well, it worked for WALL-E anyway...

#13 Just Settle For Your Best Friend

Forget wasting hours and your hard earned dollars on playing the dating game. Everyone knows that everyone is secretly in love with their best friend, and so we could all just dispense with the tom-foolery and get it on with our best friends in the manner of last year's mega-Turkey Valentine's Day. Pity mine's a balding truck driver called Steve though...

#14 Geek's Are All Secretly Hot!

Dating during high-school can be a mine-field, and as a guy, the options are limited thanks to every hot girl's incredibly annoying desire to date someone older and less awkward and sweaty (see Grease 2) but fear not fellas, love can come from the least likely of places- band-camp (a la American Pie) or the art class as in She's All That (curious how cultured= dorky in the film universe). Even if she's wearing glasses, or Heaven forfend doesn't wear a push-up bra, the school geek is just one make-over away from you discovering that you actually love her for what's under the surface- but obviously not enough for her to go back to the sweaters and jam-jars eh?

On the male side of things, there's even less to worry about. Look at the films of Michael Cera and Seth Rogen. Those guys are Grade A dorks, and yet they seem to be perpetually fighting off insanely hot girls like Kat Dennings and Katherine Heigl. So break out the comic books and thermos- it's time to go fishing!

#15 Difference is Good

Worried that your girlfriend is from a different part of town to you? Or that she doesn't share your taste in music? Fear not, for the world of cinema teaches us that no impediment is large enough to halt real love: even if the object of your affection is a different species (Beauty & The Beast), from a different astral plane (City of Angels), or even if he's actually a child (Big) and related to you (Back to the Future). In that context, your potential partner liking Justin Bieber pales drastically by comparison, now doesn't it.

#16 It's Love, Who Care What Your Offspring Might Look Like?!

Another revellation relating to your love interest being different. So you're a beautiful blonde, 5'10 with the perfect body, and worried that your future offspring will take after your squat, hairy, googley-eyed, ginger dwarf of a partner: take a lesson from Cocoon, Avatar, and Star Man and forget what the baby will look like. At least yours wont have tentacles.

#17 Everyone Loves a Retard

Brains are overrated, my friends. Just ask Adam Sandler, who gurns brainlessly through the majority of his movies, and still somehow manages to bag himself a hot lady-friend to presumably not be intelligent enough to satisfy in any way every single time. And even Forrest Gump got Jenny, so no need to spend hours on Dr Kawashima's Brain Training prior to that big date, just bluff it and please try not to injure yourself.

#18 Looks Aren't THAT Important

Regardless of what Vogue magazine has been telling ladies for decades, looks are not paramount in getting yourself a partner. Go and watch Roxanne or The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, and you will see that charm can overcome even the most hideous of deformities. Which is clearly why the cosmetics industry doesn't make much money... Oh, and at the end of the day, if Kevin James can consistently get laid in his films, then you probably don't have much to worry about.

#19 Death is no Obstacle

No matter whether one member of your relationship (Ghost), or both (What Dreams May Come) have sadly died, love can still blossom. Just as long as its spiritual, and not, like necrophila-licious. That would be terribly wrong.

#20 For The Love of God, Not In The Hair!

If Leaving Las Vegas taught us one thing (apart from the fact that Nic Cage is evilly hiding some actual acting chops), it is that no matter how tragic your personal circumstances- be it soon-to-be death by alcoholism or some other hideous ailment- it is NOT okay to ejaculate into your partners hair. Further evidence: There's Something About Mary.

Oh and one final rule for Matther McConaughey: If in doubt, just take your shirt off. And who says romance is dead?!

WhatCulture's former COO, veteran writer and editor.