As little girls most of us grew up watching movies showcasing a women in some sort of predicament in which she needed to be rescued by her very own Prince Charming, at which time the happy couple, usually knowing each other for a full 15 minutes, would consequently ride off into the sunset creating the perfect happily ever after storybook ending.
This became the standard to which we measured all of our relationships. Somewhere in the recesses of our brained it became engrained that the steps to a successful relationship were as follows:
Step 1: Be lonely and miserable while somehow remaining cheery and optimistic.
Step 2: Sing a song to (or with) animals or inanimate objects as they help you clean or get dressed
Step 3: See Prince Charming and immediately know it is true love.
Step 4: Wait for him to save you from your miserable life
Step 5: Live happily ever after.
Easy-peasy. End of story
OK, in retrospect maybe the whole bursting into song and singing to animals about our love lives should have been the first clue that Disney was full of crap, but we were kids. Then, as we got older, it seemed that many movies glorified the damsel in distress relationship scenario. Clearly Hollywood knew something we didn’t. So all we had to do was happen upon this beautiful man and wait for him to come and rescue us from our humdrum lives, right?
Unfortunately what Disney (and for years, Hollywood) failed to show us was what happened after the happy couple road off into the sunset together. We weren’t privy to the fights Cinderella and Prince Charming had about him getting falling down drunk and hitting on every maiden at the ball each night; or that Prince Philip was crazy jealous and demanded Snow White stop socializing with the Seven Dwarfs. We didn’t feel Ariel’s pain realizing that she didn’t really need her voice back because Prince Eric never listens to her anyway.
No instead we succumb to the fantasy that we would meet the love of our life and then everything that would be perfect and easy. And while many women went on to realize that fairytales aren’t real, some of you are still holding out for that Prince Charming – the man that knows you perfectly without knowing you at all.
The hope of this imaginary perfect man may lead to the dismissal of men that you meet but may not have that instant animalistic attraction. And if you do find someone that you feel that visceral connection to, you may mistake that attraction for love at first sight. Often times, this causes a relationship built mainly on sex. The attraction is so strong that you tend to overlook other deal breaking flaws. It is important to understand the difference between infatuation and love and never confuse the two. ( See previous blog titled: Mr. Kryptonite).
Another reason Prince Charming poses a threat to your romantic life is the tendency to see him as the key to your happiness. Sometimes when we get so wrapped up in the idea of love that we fool ourselves into thinking that the only way we can ever be happy and complete is to find the One. I'm going to let you in on a huge relationship secret that so many people don’t know: If you aren’t happy with yourself when you are alone, you won’t be happy with someone in a relationship. In order to achieve happiness you have to reach a level of self-acceptance and happiness with the person you are. If not, you will continue to look to someone else to fulfill that empty place inside and be disappointed when they don’t come through. After all, if you don’t know what makes you happy, how can they?
Once you reach a place where you are happy with yourself, you will be a better partner and companion. But even then relationships take work which leads us to the biggest of the Prince Charming Pitfalls - disappointment. Prince Charming has no flaws. He always does the right thing and never behaves contrary to what you expect. He is a classy, charismatic, chivalrous gentleman that is great with kids, has an amazing job, gets along with your family, and has the same morals and ideals as you do. He is always understanding, never cross or grumpy, and exists to make you happy. Prince Charming is placed on a pedestal and becomes this impossible ideal to which every man is measured. If a guy fails to stack up, it seems the only option is to end the relationship because, obviously, if the guy were the right guy, he would be automatically in sync with your wants and needs.
Real relationships are not so simple. People have conflicting opinions and different backgrounds. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your relationship is destined for failure. It is important to communicate your feelings and expectations from the beginning and give someone time to understand them. Listen, none of us come with a manual. The only way to learn is over time through trial and error, so you have to give someone a chance. True that handsome guy on the bus may not embody everything you’ve ever imagined you’d end up with but have you ever stopped to think maybe you don’t possess all of the qualities his ideal woman does either. Maybe he thought he’d marry a bike riding, guitar wielding, 5’9” brunette covered in tattoos or a prim and proper southern bell that never uttered a curse word in her life. That doesn’t mean he can’t fall in love with a 5’4 red-head with a sailor’s mouth that has never ridden a bike in her life.
Fairytales are fine as long as you take them for what they are – unrealistic fantasies. Real people have flaws. Nobody is perfect. No one can read your mind. That doesn’t mean you should close the door on the possibility of a relationship just because upon meeting, a man doesn’t know the inner workings of your soul. Don't let a good guy with morals, that strives to be a better person, and tries to make you happy get away while you hold out for an imaginary Prince Charming that only exists in your dreams. Real trumps imaginary every time.
**Don’t forget to check out my book Why Am I Still Single? A Tough Love Guide For Single Women available on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com