I'm broken; please find media to fix me.
October 11, 2012 8:13 PM   Subscribe

I am in need of a very specific type of catharsis. Media suggestions, please.

I am looking for songs, movies, books, visual art, poetry, basically anything, in which the following situation is described:

Two people love each other a great deal, but cannot be together, NOT because of any external circumstance, but because ONE of them cannot fully commit/is not ready to commit due to internal issues (e.g. timing, or a fear of commitment, sexual issues, being insane, or something else). Bonus points for melodrama and heartbreak, and extra bonus points if the half of the couple that deems the couple unable to be together also, due to internal issues, wants to spend time playing the field. I can't believe I just said "playing the field," but here we are, metafilter. Here we are.

I know this is really specific, but there has to be something, right?
posted by millipede to Media & Arts (25 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Well. There's Once.
posted by samthemander at 8:40 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

You are describing Stephen Maturin and Diana Villiers from Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin books. The relationship evolves over practically the entire course of the 20-volume series, so you'd best have some time on your hands if you're going to dive in.
posted by stargell at 8:56 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oddly, Harold and Maude.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:58 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is arguably the Valmont-Mme. de Tourvel plot in Les liaisons dangereuses (nicely dramatized in the film Dangerous Liaisons).
posted by Orinda at 9:04 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

There Are No Claims on You

There Will Be Distance

This may not be as explicit as you would have liked, but there is an intense subtlety. Your emotions will fill the gaps in between.
posted by it's a long way to south america at 9:12 PM on October 11, 2012

I don't know if this is a stretch or not, but She's So Lovely. Spoiler-ish below:

Dude is put in a psychiatric hospital (external factor) but that's due to his mental issues. Also, since he's in a mental institution . . . she, moves on.
posted by Sassyfras at 9:23 PM on October 11, 2012

An Affair of Love. Every few years I stumble upon a person who couldn't possibly realize that this is the movie they need to see, and I grab them by the shoulders, look them in the eyes, and say, You. You need this movie. I am grabbing your shoulders and looking you square in the eye right now, millipede. It's just the thing.
posted by mochapickle at 9:36 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Adele's He Won't Go. His addiction keeps them apart.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 9:49 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Does Jules et Jim work?
posted by yarly at 10:33 PM on October 11, 2012

Don't think twice, it's alright?
This amazing version by singer Odetta.

It ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe
If’in you don’t know by now
An' it ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe
It don't matter anyhow

When your rooster crows at the break of dawn
Look out your window and I'll be gone
You're the reason I'm travelin' along
Don't think twice, it's all right

Well, it ain't no use in turnin' on your light, babe
That light I never knowed
An' it ain't no use in turnin' on your light, babe
I'm on the dark side of the road

Still I wish there was somethin' you would do or say
To try and make me change my mind and stay
But we never did too much talkin' anyway
So don't think twice, it's all right

It ain't no use in callin' out my name, babe
Like you never did before
It ain't no use in callin' out my name, babe
I can't hear you any more

I'm a-thinkin' and a-wonderin' walkin’ down the road
I once loved a man, a child I'm told
I give him my heart but he wanted my soul
But don't think twice, it's all right

So I'm walkin' down that long lonesome road, babe
Where I'm bound, I can't tell
But goodbye's too good a word, babe
So I'll just say fare thee well

I ain't sayin' you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don't mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don't think twice, it's all right
posted by anitanita at 11:11 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

The book and film of One Day by David Nicholls largely features this plot
posted by pink_gorilla at 11:11 PM on October 11, 2012

Also... maybe... Estella and Pip in Great Expectations?
posted by pink_gorilla at 11:21 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Dawson's Creek works this way with Dawson and anybody who Dawson loves or who loves Dawson, most especially with Joey and Jen, who have incredibly contorted juvenile chains of reasons and feelings for not getting together with Dawson or for not staying with Dawson, and who talk to each other and to Dawson at melodramatically rhetorically magnificently overblown length about the troubles and consequences and OMG yeah Dawson's Creek.
posted by cgc373 at 11:51 PM on October 11, 2012

Try MARS -- it's available as an English language manga and a Taiwanese drama. I think it might be what you're looking for.

You've probably also described at least 25% of Korean dramas that are out there now.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 12:09 AM on October 12, 2012

Strongly suggested in the song "Cold" by Crossfade. That song is really wrenching to me, the guy is apologizing for being "the way [he is]", cold/withdrawn (looking back on a past relationship), but it's clear he cares. The music video is pretty good too.

Melodramatic: Celine Dion's "I Love You, Goodbye". She's in love but "knows she'd only hurt you".
posted by iadacanavon at 12:23 AM on October 12, 2012

Lykke Li's "Unrequited Love" and "Sadness is a Blessing" might fit the bill.

(I met up with a guy from my hometown, a guy way cuter than me and the first guy that I kissed, after on-again, off-again meeting up with him when I came into town for THREE YEARS for make-out sessions in one of our cars, and I realized it wasn't going to go anywhere and he didn't care about me, and I realized I didn't even want to kiss him, and told him so, and he drove me back to my car and "Sadness is a Blessing" came on the college radio station there. It was a fitting song.)
posted by shortyJBot at 3:32 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Boots of Spanish Leather
posted by nathancaswell at 6:07 AM on October 12, 2012

The Age of Innocence
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:05 AM on October 12, 2012

If you're looking for catharsis, The Science of Sleep is kind of an extreme version of this and it meets all of your criteria. It's pretty good for catharsis, IMHO.

Another good one for catharsis is Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind. It meets your criteria PLUS it always makes me cry so I can't watch it any more. :(
posted by bleep at 7:26 AM on October 12, 2012

posted by eunoia at 7:44 AM on October 12, 2012

Also, Murakami's Norwegian Wood.
posted by eunoia at 7:50 AM on October 12, 2012

the Mountain Goats

If you do not think that you can be with the other person: autoclave
If you have someone who can not be with you: get lonely

Others: Your Belgian Things Woke up new
posted by bdc34 at 8:07 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

TiMER is a sweet, fun and at times heartbreaking movie with a nifty sci-fi plot device. I found it on Netflix.
posted by recess at 11:49 AM on October 12, 2012

I can't believe no one has had the good sense to mention Brokeback Mountain yet and now I have to figure out how to do the link to it on a phone.
posted by SLC Mom at 1:31 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Kristin Hersh (the DEFCON 1 of emotional catharsis), Me and My Charms, Spain.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:40 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

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