I’ve finally figured out why Edward Lewis and Vivian Ward fall madly in love in the 1990 movie Pretty Woman, and why Americans have never tired of watching reruns for almost three decades: While the successful, handsome and rich businessman and the pretty prostitute with a heart of gold surely had abundant sex and numerous relationships before they met, each of them craved a meaningful connection in their lives. Not the connection of intimate body parts, but the deep emotional connection with someone who saw and accepted them for who they really are.
Pretty Woman is a captivating love story because “it’s about acceptance, it’s about trust, it’s about love. I think we’re all looking for that–doesn’t matter who we are,” actor Richard Gere told Us Weekly last year.
If Richard and I sound a bit too Freudian for you about a silly movie, consider what Nonfiction Research recently uncovered when it surveyed 692 Americans about their feelings and experiences on the subject of Intimacy in America, The Secret Story of How Americans Chase Intimacy*: “Lurking behind Americans’ cheerful Instagram images is a secret epidemic of people starving for intimacy in ways they rarely admit in public.” Vivian and Edward gave each other permission to admit their own vulnerabilities without sacrificing each other’s love. If you’ve found your own Vivian or Edward you know just how they felt. If you haven’t you yearn to feel just as they did.
Consider these statistics from the Nonfiction Research survey:
• 21% of Americans have no one in their lives with whom they can be 100 percent themselves
“It would be a relief to have someone with whom I could share all things, good or bad, provided they would still be with me,” said a survey respondent.
Although the vast majority of Americans have had at least one deep emotional connection in one area of their lives, most of us are missing it with a parent (54%); with a sibling (63%); with a close friend (45%), and with a significant other (41%).
• 44% have dreamt of having a deep emotional connection with someone, but don’t have one in their “real lives.” Imagine, nearly almost half of us have experienced deeper intimacy when we’re asleep than when we’re awake!
“I dreamed I was in bed with a man, not in a sexual way at that moment but lying in his arms. I remember looking at him and feeling complete acceptance and connection and thinking that I apparently hadn’t even felt true love until that moment. As I was gradually waking up I was trying to remember his face, because I knew I was slipping back into reality where he would not be,” said a survey respondent
• 29% are unsatisfied with their ability to open up to those whose company they enjoy and will go to all kinds of lengths to “connect,” including having one-night stands (24%), getting high (23%), cheating (14%), hurting themselves (11%) and toying with the emotions of someone they knew cared about them (10%).