Prince Charming (n.): “Prince Charming is a wonderful man who typically engages in a quest to rescue the damsel in distress. He is handsome and romantic and makes all girls go swoon.”
As kids we read fairytales and watched movies where in the end the damsel in distress or the nerdy girl always seemed to win over the heart of the perfect guy. For years we imagined that our lives would be no different. We embraced our formative years wearing obnoxious colored braces, applied heavy amounts of acne cream, and wore our Hollister shirts proudly, believing that the cute, popular guy in our math class would see the beautiful young woman that we had the potential to become. We expected him to show up on a first date with flowers, hold open doors, pull out our chairs, pay for a meal, and kiss us goodnight in the pouring rain as our cheap Claire’s makeup ran down our face. We had these dreams and expectations set upon us by fictional stories and were never told that life, unlike a movie or book, isn’t always filled with the sensation of butterflies in our stomachs or take-your-breath-away moments. In fact, we’ve had to learn the hard way that those moments are often rare.
Now well into your 20s, it’s easy to imagine life would be much different at this point—after all, society pretty much tells us that you should be engaged by 25, married by 27, and having a baby by 30. So what does that lead you to think when you’re not following along with the “standard” timeline? You find yourself reflecting on all of the guys you dated, the almost relationships, and the ones that broke your heart and made you grow for the better. Through all of that reflecting, you may think, “Does a Prince Charming truly exist?”
Looking at how dating has changed over the past 5-10 years puts that question into perspective. Prince Charming used to be the guy who discovered you at your worst and made you your best. Today, he’s likely the guy that sees you at your best thanks to contouring and excessive filters that make your Tinder and Bumble pictures look like a 10/10. He’s the guy that charms you into thinking you’re the only girl in his life, while in the meantime he’s swiping left and right while you’re using the bathroom on a date. He’s the guy that you hope is looking for more than a hookup, rather than “just seeing what’s out there,” or better yet, “doesn’t know.” You cross your fingers, thinking maybe you’ll be one of the online dating success stories that defies all odds. That you two will get married, have kids and grow old together. Imagine your disappointment when you’ve gone out on three or more dates and you start telling your friends and loved ones that you’re seeing someone, only for them to then ghost you and leave you with a million questions while also crushing your self-confidence. That unfortunately is often what our dating world is like. Prince Charming is no longer a figurative person but a fantasy that we continue to hold onto as adults to keep us somewhat optimistic when we’re constantly let down.
If you’ve read this and at all thought, “Yep, been there, done that,” then you’re not alone. As you sit there watching all of your friends meet those life milestones while wearing a half-assed smile, continue to dream about your Prince Charming, because once you stop holding your expectations to a high standard, that’s when you’ll end up settling for the guy that’s not sure what he wants even after being together for years. So maybe the fairytales are right to an extent; maybe we have to continue to kiss a bunch of frogs and face some hardship before our dreams come true. But at the end of the day, wouldn’t it be nice if just like in the books and movies, we had a magic wand to make that man appear with a flick of the wrist?