Updated: Dec 29, 2019

Lessons Learned From Listening to People Who Designed Their Dream Partner

I finally watched John Hughes’s film Weird Science and I wish I had watched it so much earlier in my life.

The reason of course is Lisa.

I'm going to be honest, I could really do without the 2 teenagers doing sexy stuff...with someone older than them no less. Let's take that out...and if you do...

Lisa offers a lot of important lessons on behavior.

If you haven’t seen the film, the premise is that two rather lonely and unpopular 16-year olds (Gary and Wyatt) have a computer program that allows them to feed inputs in and hook a couple of cables to an effigy to create whatever they want…in this case a woman, who turns out to be pretty incredible. We all need role models, and Lisa makes a great one. Why is she relationship role model material? She is…

1.) Completely At Ease: Despite just coming into being and getting into crazy situations with two people who are in a constant state of surprise and discomfort, there is a distinctive lack of awkwardness from Lisa. Lisa moves with a sense of purpose: she knows why she’s there and that she has value to offer. This allows her to be down-to-earth and take action in the best possible ways. First by:

2.) Acting With Warmth and Authenticity: Despite having what are essentially flawless looks, physique, style (she clearly takes care of her physical self, which is super important and a good example on its own), and a bomb accent, Lisa never treats her boys with the kind of pathetic and annoying scathing sarcasm that is so common in female characters these days. She is more mature, more knowledgeable, and more fearless than her two creators, and she knows the reason why she was created is technically an ignoble one, but she never gets a complex about any of it. She acts with complete warmth, with gentleness, and sees the deeper issues at hand. She doesn’t waste energy on the all-too-common drama of feeling betrayed or lording her abilities and attractiveness over her boys to make them feel inferior. Why?

3.) Comfortable With Herself: Because she is completely comfortable with herself. She’s happy with who she is, she loves herself, she knows she is valuable and that enables her to share happiness, love, and contribute true and authentic value to others. She doesn’t weigh herself down with drama and depression because she isn’t carrying that around inside. Why? She’s too busy living! She isn’t worried about things beyond her control, like the process of her creation…she just embraces it and LIVES HER BEST. And since she can live her best, she can help others live their best.

4.) Adventure Curator: So what does she do since she is comfortable with who she is? Instead of feeling betrayed, raging, obsessing, crying, complaining, starting fights, wallowing, and generally being dramatic and boring? She goes on adventures (and drags her creators along for the ride). She pushes them to experience the life they thought they always wanted (which they end up accepting isn’t exactly what they truly want after all): drinking all night in a seedy bar, driving fast cars (that they don’t exactly know how to drive lol), telling off their parents, hanging out at the mall, packing the house with a party, fighting off a gang of motorcycle-riding mutant thugs… Sure it helps that Lisa has what are essentially magic powers (she is somehow (electrically?) able to manipulate matter and memory), so the stakes are somewhat low in some of these cases, but if you adapt the situations to more realistic situations the principles can apply. As Wyatt says, “She could have fun at a insurance seminar.”

The ability to make your own fun and start adventures is one of the best things you can do for your confidence and for your emotional well-being...and for those you love! Too often we look to others to help us get off of the proverbial couch and out of the house, but Lisa shows how powerful it is when we take charge.

5.) Takes Charge, But Isn’t Controlling: Being comfortable and happy with herself, she can see BEYOND herself…one reason she isn’t a drama mama is because she isn’t trapped in her own head and in her own insecurities, so she can see them in other people with clarity instead of drinking the poison of blaming herself for things that should never be taken personally. She can see that the boys need help becoming confident and capable themselves.

Because Lisa is in control of her emotions because she has a fixed, stable, healthy appreciation of herself, she recognizes what is needed by others and is able to help them provide that for themselves (because she knows that no one can give them the emotional things they need other than themselves) by simply providing them with situations and support for what they already want (but don’t know how to get).

She takes charge by helping them get out there and by being a gentle and frank voice of mentorship (when dealing with parents, bullying siblings, and courage). And because Lisa is secure in herself and therefore in control of herself, she can mentor with warmth and authenticity and take charge *without being controlling*. At every turn, she lets the boys take control, from choosing her name, to how they mingle at the seedy bar, to standing up to their persecutors. She doesn’t see “unimportant” (read: does not impact her dignity, or self-respect, or human decency, or things that don’t have much to do with her and more to do with them) decisions as a threat to her self-sovereignty (the way I would have in the past). She enjoys giving the boys opportunities to have power and importance. And because she understands people learn through opportunities she…

6.) Encourages And Gives Voice To What She Knows They Already Know They Want: Most of my life, and in most shows, people (especially female characters) seem to nag and criticize endlessly instead of making it easy and fun to change behavior or even bother proposing viable, good solutions.

My childhood was a rather joyless one, and part of the reason is because a person in my life was never happy with who I was or what I was doing, and reveled in criticizing, nagging, and manipulating me every which way.

Criticisms were usually unaccompanied by any helpful, understandable, or implementable solutions. Proposed solutions, and attempts to implement them, were rarely enjoyable and usually unpleasant and demeaning. Usually the advice would eventually contradict itself and become a mutually-exclusive frustrating mess (and inevitably ended in failure), and any ideas I had were shot down as impossible and attacked later. It was a years-long lesson in misery and ineffectiveness that made me feel utterly broken.

Why Lisa is so awesome is because she doesn’t waste everyone’s time and energy nagging, cajoling, criticizing, talking out of her ass…she makes things happen and she lets it be a good time. SHE TAKES ACTION. I remember reading an article a long time ago about a woman who wanted her man to wear nicer clothes (evidently he constantly dressed like a slob). She nagged/criticized/complained/filled his ears and…nothing changed except both of them were irritated and frustrated. Eventually the woman realized she needed to make it easy for him to say yes…in other words, she bought him some “nicer” clothes and rewarded him when he wore them.

This will never work if the person is fervently devoted to not changing…but if they want to change (look nicer, get out more, interact healthily with others, etc.) and just don’t know how, we can make it easy (and rewarding…and enjoyable) to say yes by taking action and doing it…by being a partner in the mischief and mayhem of personal growth! It's powerful! And what about people who don’t want to change?

7.) Speaks With Actions More Than Words: When people don’t want to change, in the case of school bullies for example, Lisa doesn’t beg them to change…instead she orchestrates the opportunity for her boys to grow (conveniently in front of their peers) so that the school bullies lose their power. With Gary’s incredibly asinine bully big brother, Lisa lists his bad behaviors and tells him he needs to stop…she doesn’t beg, explain why the behavior is wrong or hurtful, try to understand his motivations, or second-guess her perceptions, all of which are entirely pointless and destructive behaviors. When the bully big bro turns nasty, she doesn’t argue, Lisa acts by turning him into a giant fly-eating talking turd. And while that is beyond most of our powers, what we can do is see a person who behaves like a pile of sh*t as such, and use our disgust to take action and create space between us and our bad situation.

8.) Knows How To Let Go: When the classmates that the boys had been crushing on finally take an interest in them, they tell Lisa and she knows how to “make a dignified exit” (as Natasha Adamo says). She expresses how much she loves them and admits that it hurts to let them go (when they ask), but she isn’t gratuitous or over-the-top about it. She doesn’t try to draw things out and delay the inevitable, she touchingly and gracefully wishes them well and leaves by fixing all the things that she disrupted.

9.) Knows How To Move On: Lisa doesn’t self-destruct or dematerialize herself, she knows her life isn’t over…and she doesn’t pathetically double-back and chase after her creators. Instead, the person who “could have fun at a insurance seminar” gets a job and moves on to her next adventures!

Weird Science offers some great lessons in how to handle relationships, how to act mature and powerful, how to be confident, in control, and generous with your kindness especially with those who are growing emotionally.

It’s refreshing in a world where cardboard cut-out caricature characters set all the wrong examples in how the handle things in exaggerated, and often cruel and selfish, stereotypical ways, to have this mature behavior modeled. Especially if our real-life models, just like the parents in the film, weren't much better...or even worse.


I love you!


Image Credit: https://www.reshot.com/photos/showering-soap-soaking-in-details-on-my-tattoo_rs_0A4RY9

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