In the movie 50 First Dates, Adam Sandler’s character, Henry Roth, falls in love with Drew Barrymore’s character, Lucy Whitmore. In the beginning of the movie, he learns the hard way that Lucy has brain damage from an automobile accident that results in her short-term memory being erased every time she goes to sleep at night. Since she can’t remember even meeting him the day before, he spends each day courting her all over again. At one point in the movie, Henry and Lucy are at a beach party with Lucy’s friends. They are discussing Lucy’s injury and their relationship. Stacy, one of Lucy’s friends comments, “So every day you help her realize what happened and you wait patiently for her to be okay with it…then you get her to fall in love with you again?” When Henry confirms, Stacy then turns to her boyfriend and reprimands him for not even so much as opening a car door for her.
While Henry’s patience and effort to build a relationship with Lucy is admirable, and the plot of the movie interesting and fun, building a relationship from the beginning is much easier than sustaining a long-term relationship. Just about anyone can be charming for a day, but it takes integrity and commitment to building a genuine, long term relationship. You must first build trust, and as you learn about each other’s weaknesses, acceptance and forgiving is essential. Willingness to be vulnerable and letting the other person know you’re not perfect, as well as accepting the other person’s imperfections is key to building and sustaining any relationship, whether it be romantic, or simply a friendship.
“In healthy development, trust evolves. How do we decide whether to trust? We share a feeling with someone and watch their reaction; if the response feels safe, if it is caring, noncritical, non-abusive, the first step of trust has developed. For trust to grow, this positive response must become part of a relatively reliable pattern… Trust develops with consistency over time.”
― E. Sue Blume, Secret Survivors