Searching For Harry Burns

When Harry Met Sally
When Harry Met Sally

I’m not the type of girl who goes to pieces over Ryan Gosling and “The Notebook,” nor am I the sort to drag her man to a rom-com he has no interest in seeing (that’s what girls’ nights are for). I, like so many of you, buy into the idea that romantic comedies do just as much to warp our perception of real relationships as over sexualized mediums like pornography do. It’s not real. It’s smoke and mirrors.

However, this does not stop me from loving “When Harry Met Sally.” Because I believe that that film is the exception that proves the rule.

“When Harry Met Sally” is my all-time favorite movie, if it’s on TV I will drop everything to sit and watch it. I know every line by heart and it’s my go-to choice for those rainy nights when I’m curled up under a blanket with a bowl of ice cream. I believe that “When Harry Met Sally” has endured the way that it has because it is a romantic comedy that feels real. The characters are people we know, the situations are relatable, and the message is so much more true to life than Southern class struggles or Matthew McConaughey refusing to move out of his parents’ house.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m not the type to try and model my life after a romantic comedy because what good is fantasy when we live in reality? However, this last time I watched “When Harry Met Sally,” I was struck in a way that I hadn’t been before. Billy Crystal’s character, Harry Burns, has always been one of my favorite male leads and, after this last viewing of the movie, I realized that perhaps the reason that I love “When Harry Met Sally” so much is because I’ve been looking for a Harry Burns and I don’t feel like that it’s at all outside the realm of possibility that I may find one.

Let me explain…

I’m looking for someone who will challenge me.

Gooey, sappy, finish-each-others’-sentences relationships are boring and cliché. It’s no fun to be with someone who just nods and says, “Yes, dear.” I want someone who will argue with me, disagree with me, try to get a rise out of me, not because we’re incompatible, but because we are both separate beings trying to grow together. Relationships cannot grow stronger without a little bit of struggle. Harry Burns is the ideal representation a man who challenges his partner, in the best ways.


I love a man who reads.

Every time Harry starts a new book, he reads the last page so that in case he dies before he finishes it, he knows how it ends. That’s commitment to the written word and THAT is hot! Lauren Martin of Elite Daily recently wrote a piece on the pros of loving a reader and, as an avid reader, myself, it only served to solidify a fact that I have always known: The best people are people who read.

I want someone passionate.

This goes beyond the bedroom (though that kind of passion is also important). Passionate people take an interest in everything. They are experts on, at least, the one thing they are passionate about and often many more things. They want to know everything about the important people in their lives and, in turn, want those people to know everything about them. Even more so than this, passionate people have strong opinions on everything and no qualms on sharing these opinions. Which is, at the same time exasperating and exciting, everything that a real relationship is supposed to be. Some of you may think Harry is an asshole. I think he’s passionate.


I need someone I can watch a movie/show with.

A recurring theme throughout “When Harry Met Sally” is Harry and Sally’s love for “Casablanca” and the way their outlook on the classic movie evolves as their relationship does. I’m not necessarily looking for someone to analyze with, I just know the value of having someone who will geek out with you over something.

I’m looking for someone with quirks (and who will embrace mine).

None of us are perfect and, actually, many of us are damn strange. I don’t want someone who tries to iron over my weirdness and I don’t want to be with a person who is all straight edges. So what if the different foods can’t touch on your plate? I do daily vocal tests every morning in the shower. Roll with my weirdness and I will love you for yours. (We’ve all had our Sally moments in restaurants, right?)


I want someone to be silly with me.

Rose Franken once beautifully said, “Anyone can be passionate but it takes real lovers to be silly.” To be silly with someone is to be comfortable with someone and shared silliness is a wonderful thing. One day I will be able to do this accent just as well as Billy Crystal does it.


Real men have flaws (and so do I).

The goal in a relationship should never be to change your partner or to hope your partner will grow to be more like you. It is unfair to ask something of someone if you are unprepared to give it yourself. We are all deeply flawed. Maybe we snore or we have a quick temper. Maybe we come off a little too intense and project our feelings in an unhealthy way. A relationship is about having someone who understands our flaws and works to help us through them, all the while exposing their own flaws to us. Harry Burns is incredibly flawed, knows his flaws, and learns from them. We should all try to be more like Harry Burns.

I’m searching for a mate who is also my best friend.

This is a piece about a romantic comedy. You have to permit me this one cliché. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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