6 Obstacles To Love

We all need love. Age doesn’t lessen that. Yet, sometimes it’s hard to trust love, for complicated reasons, even though you want it. John Madden’s The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel gives us a bird’s eye view into 6 serious obstacles to love. The reasons for putting love off are often not conscious, in my experience as a psychologist and psychoanalyst, That’s where help comes in handy. Especially if you keep coming up against the same problem again and again. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel illustrates some of these emotional roadblocks quite well. Here are 6:

Expecting not to be wanted 

Evelyn (Judi Dench) and Douglas (Bill Nighy) have both been deeply hurt. They beat around the bush when it comes to their very obvious mutual feelings, What are they scared of? Not being good enough. They’re both worried they don’t have enough to give. About being rejected if they open up. But, really, you risk missing opportunities that are right there for the having, when the line between what you want and what you fear is too heavily drawn in self-protection.

Mistaken priorities

What’s really important? Madge (Celia Imrie) mistakes a lavish, wealthy life (and man) for what she needs. Such a man might provide her with material things, but when it comes to love – don’t you want someone emotionally reliable? Whose heart reaches out to touch yours? Madge finally sees love in her quiet, patient, attentive taxi driver, Babul (Rajesh Tailang). Sorting out your emotional priorities is essential to finding a love that works.

Grass might be greener (or wanting it all)  

Norman (Ronald Pickup) finds Carol (Diana Hardcastle) in the first film. But he’s spent years feeling rejected right and left. So, when another woman is openly interested, he’s tempted but doesn’t act. Carol imagines he doesn’t care and won’t commit, scaring Norman. When they’re finally open with each other, they work things out. A successful chance at love takes honesty.

Lies, Pretences & Resentments

Jean (Penelope Wilton) carries a lot of resentments. Her haughty “I’m better than you” behavior is meant to cover up profound insecurities. And, she criticizes others to try to feel better than she really does. These emotional tactics never work. So, Jean deprives herself even more. Jealousy lies beneath her negative behaviors. And, this jealousy comes from believing others have what she does not.


As we see with Jean, jealousy often comes from a sense of inferiority. Sonny’s (Dev Patel) jealousy sends him into some pretty extreme outbursts when Kush (Shazad Latif) teaches his fiancé, Sunaina (Tena Desai) their wedding dance. Jealous misinterpretations can interfere with (even damage) love. Luckily, Sunaina loves him enough to understand and hang in. And, Sonny can apologize – also essential to making love thrive.

Feeling “less than” & undeserving

Many problems in love boil down to old deprivations – feeling unwanted or undeserving. Indeed, Muriel (Maggie Smith) manages these feelings by being sarcastic, acting like she wants nothing from anyone, feigning disinterest. We see that she’s always served others and had very little for herself. In the end, she slips away to spend the rest of her years doing only what she wants. Muriel has gained some self-respect.

What it takes …in Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

A central example of what it takes to find love again? That’s Guy Chambers (Richard Gere). That’s: Take the risk. Be persistent about what you want. Don’t let past hurts get in the way. If they do, get help. As Evelyn finally realizes: “In the end, all it takes is to look into someone’s eyes and say yes … and for them to say yes this is what I want too.” That’s true at any age. You just have to get your personal kind of obstacles out of the way first.

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Dr. Sandra E. Cohen

I’m Dr. Sandra Cohen, a psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice in Beverly Hills, CA. I work with creatives in therapy, story/character development, and entertainment consulting. If you are a writer, actor, or director and want help with a character – or a chance to do some of your own personal work - call at 310.273.4827 or email me at to schedule a confidential discussion to explore working together.