While Noah wrote Ally a letter every day for a year in The Notebook, and The Big Sick showed how sometimes it can take a full-blown coma for a relationship to prosper, the course of true love has shown to rarely run smoothly.
But no matter how far fiction may seem from reality, one guy has taken his commitment to the next level in Bristol, UK, by vowing to play the piano non-stop until his ex-girlfriend takes him back.
The heartbroken protagonist of the story – or antagonist depending on how you see it – is Luke Howard, and he's set up camp in College Green in the city center of Bristol. On the side of his piano reads: "My heart is broken, so I am playing to try and mend it."
The 34-year-old from Bath told the Bristol Post on that he would play "if it rains, if it snows, if I fall over, if I get arrested. I will be here as long as I have to be here."
Although his commitment may seem romantic, many have spoken out about the worrying nature of Howard's gesture. Not dissimilar to the infamous boombox serenade in Say Anything, a now iconic image, this instance excessive or desperate romance has been likened to invasive stalking - not exactly cause for celebration.
Howard explained to the Post that his four-month relationship didn't end badly, but that "life got in the way." He says that, "if it was anything bad why we split up then I wouldn’t be doing this, but it’s the only thing I can think of doing."
But the problem has been with this precisely, his focus on his own course of action without any obvious consideration for the other party's opinion or consent. Many are now condemning his lack of respect or thought for his ex, who may want nothing less than to hear or see a non-stop musical tribute following the end of a relationship.
Men, women are allowed to leave you. You are not entitled to a girlfriend.— sianushka (@sianushka) September 9, 2017
Media, stop romanticising controlling, stalker behaviour. https://t.co/qN3g0fa9DQ
Love bombing is not romantic
Both men and women have expressed their anger at the scale of Howard's commitment. Those against Luke Howard's endurance-testing music making are pointing out that what feels right for him actually deprives his lost love of any privacy or closure of her own - and are speculating that if it was the other way round, the term 'romance' might have been replaced with 'psycho.'
Spurring a heated debate across all social networks, on Facebook one user defends the still anonymous woman and explains why Piano Man may be wrong:
"I'd be more sympathetic to him if he weren't forcing her to live with it all the time. She never gets to be done with him. He is taking that choice away from her.
Additionally, she has to live with the embarrassment and pressure. She's being singled out and having her private life made public, to be discussed by thousands of strangers. And she has no choice in any of this. That's why it's fucked up."
As mentioned earlier this year, the warning signs of love bombing from Howard's piano playing is a worrying dating trend that uses overbearing romantic gestures to influence a person, be it for a positive or negative purpose.
Regardless of what went down during the relationship and in its aftermath, the subsequent debate seems to be voting in favor of closure and against Howard's excessive gesture.
Couldn't resolve it privately, so he had to resort to putting public pressure on her through social media spectacle, eh? Fuck that— John Wolfe (@JohnWolfeYT) September 9, 2017
She should picnic with another guy, RIGHT IN FRONT OF THIS ASS.— Hamdodger (@hamdodger) September 9, 2017
Less than 48 hours since the piano player's marathon began, we can reveal that Howard's Instagram and Facebook pages have been taken down – and he is no longer playing.
The piano is still on College Green but its keys are broken, and there is no sign of the heartbroken musician. Whether Luke learned his lesson or in fact did regain his love - it seems this stalker-flavored romance has reached its finale... for now at least.
A tactfully placed business card for anonymous emotional support was all that was left at the scene of the crime. Maybe a helping hand for Luke, or a tongue and cheek joke for the scale of the gesture, let's hope that both – him and his ex – are somehow at peace.