“We were happy pretending to be other people. We were the happiest couple we knew.”–Amy

I finally got the opportunity to watch Gone Girl last week. Based on the feedback I’d received from those around me, I’d expected to hate the movie…and the main character, Amy. Surprisingly, the exact opposite occurred. I found myself captivated by the movie and fascinated with the character Amy. By the end of the movie, I was reflecting on my previous relationships and dreams of marriage.

Amy and her husband, Nick, started off perfectly. A random meeting between two people with similar passions turns into amazing sex and a whirlwind romance that leads them down the altar and to their happily ever after. Only somewhere between the altar and happily ever after, life happens. Amy and Nick both lose their jobs. They move from New York City to Missouri to care for Nick’s ailing mother, who later dies. And eventually, they find themselves distant, unhappy and cheating in Nick’s case. Completely over what has become a sham of a marriage, Amy uses her fifth anniversary to fake her death and frame her husband for her murder.

“Nick uses me for sex when he wants. Otherwise, I don’t exist. Last night I went from desperate to pathetic. I became someone I don’t even like. The kind of woman I used to mock.”–Amy

Her completely extreme and absurd reaction to her marital problems aside, I stared at the television struggling to understand how something so great could be destroyed in only five years. They answer was revealed in Amy’s on the run monologue—Amy and Nick never really existed.

“Yes, I loved you. And yet all we did was resent each other, and try to control each other, and cause each other pain.” –Nick

Cool girl. I spent most of my teens and twenties playing cool girl. Becoming the cool girl who encompassed all of his dream girl characteristics in hopes that we would end up happy together. By 23, I realized I was miserable, and honestly, I didn’t even know who I was because I had spent so much time becoming my man’s cool girl my personality was just a mesh of the men I’d dated. So I took a timeout, spent some time with Kia, discovered her and fell in love with her.

When I finally jumped in the dating game again, things were different. I was me unapologetically, and I started attracting men who were unapologetically themselves and who enjoyed unapologetic Kia. There was no more pretending, faking or becoming. Either we were or we weren’t. And I was completely okay with either option.

As crazy as she turned out to be, I felt sorry for Amy for 60% of the movie. She faked her way into her dream relationship only to be disappointed and broken five years in. I never want to be in that position. I’m realistic enough to acknowledge that my happily ever after may crash and burn, but I will never again be foolish enough to base my happily ever after on something as artificial as me being his cool girl. “Girls like a fixer upper,” Amy said. Not me. I want to like you just as you are, and I want you to like me as I come. Growing together is great, but hoping to make each other into different people as time goes isn’t even an option for me.