For most twenty-somethings, our first introductions to love were the Happily Ever After’s at the end of Disney Movies. We watched Belle and the Beast dance in a beautiful ballroom and fall madly in love. Besides a couple of fights and some potential bestiality, Belle, along with dozens of other Disney characters, found love and then BAM – the hard part was over.
But real life isn’t so simple.
Today there is an obsession with dating. There’s an obsession with finding the perfect person, having the perfect relationship, throwing the perfect wedding, and living happily ever after. The reason we’re so unhappy is because we’re chasing an unrealistic dream. All we ever saw at the end of a Disney movie was the happy couple kissing in front of a romantic backdrop. And then it was over.
Well, here’s the thing: life keeps going on after that kiss. Disney forgot to mention all the weird, embarrassing, and tough things that happen after you find love. Navigating through a relationship is difficult. It’s emotionally draining. It’s more confusing than rocket science or Fergie’s ethnicity. So if you’re going through any of these things in your relationship, don’t worry. You’re not the weird one, Disney’s the weird one for forgetting to mention this stuff. For your emotional benefit and romantic wellbeing, here are 5 real-life issues that Disney forgot to include in their romance stories.
1) A less-than-perfect physical appearance.
In every Disney movie, the female lead always appears utterly flawless. Her hair is perfect, her skin is glowing, and her eyes take up two-thirds of her entire face. Guess what, Disney? Real girls don’t look like that. You can bet that if I looked like Jasmine, I’d walk around in a green bikini top and MC Hammer pants too. But the truth is, most women do not weigh 105 pounds. Females know this for a fact because of all the times we’ve pretended to admire our friend’s driver’s license photo when in reality we were frantically scanning the ID to find their weight and compare it to our own.
Disney also forgot about the fact that we don’t look as perfect and beautiful as Sleeping Beauty when we sleep. I never wake up with flowing locks and little birds singing all around me. It’s pretty much the exact opposite – I wake up looking like one of Lindsay Lohan’s DUI mugshots.
The point is, it’s okay that we don’t look perfect all the time. It’s what makes us human. It’s what makes our stories real and the Disney ones fairytales. A genuine relationship isn’t about loving a person when they look perfect – it’s about loving them when they look like their truest self.
2) A conventional date night.
From Disney movies all the way up to reality TV shows, we’ve been taught that a date should be extravagant, glamorous, and over-the-top. Two people spending time together needs to include tuxedos, candlelight, and ballrooms. We used to watch it in Disney movies, and now we see it in shows like The Bachelor. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve spent many Mondays looking forward to curling up on the couch, watching The Bachelor, and splitting a bottle of wine between myself and my dignity. It can be fun and mind-numbing after a long day. But what you have to remember is that these kinds of dates aren’t real, and they’re probably the worst way you can get to know someone.
It’s easy to fall in love or have a good time with someone when there are fireworks, dancing, and a full orchestra. But when that’s the case, you’re focusing on your grandiose surroundings instead of talking to the person you’re with. When that’s all stripped down, you’re just left with the person in front of you, and you get a chance to experience the real substance they’re made of. On one of the first dates I ever went on with my boyfriend, it was really late and pretty much everything was closed, so we went through a Wendy’s drive through, ordered Dr. Pepper’s, and then sat in his car and talked and laughed for 2 hours. It’s probably the best date I’ve ever been on. Nothing big happened, but I really got to know him, and I ended the evening with a huge grin on my face. Don’t worry if the dates you go on aren’t fancy. Just concentrate on getting to know the person in front of you. If there’s a spark, you’ll find it with or without the fireworks.
3) Falling in love over more than just a passing glance.
It seems like every Disney movie has a moment where the characters lock eyes and then suddenly, they’re in “love.” It’s affected us more than we realize, to the point that if a girl is in her mid-twenties and a handsome man has not yet set his eyes on her and proclaimed his love, she thinks something is wrong with her.
We’ve been conditioned to validate ourselves based on how quickly we can catch someone’s attention. That’s bound to set us up for heartbreak and disappointment. You can’t fall in love with someone just by looking at them. Yes, attraction is real, and yes, you can set your eyes on someone and immediately want them, but that’s not the same as love. Love is when you know all the intricate details of a person’s character – how their brain works, what inspires them, what makes them laugh – and you fall for them because of it. You don’t care about their imperfections or their status or their bank account because you’ve seen the true goodness in them, and that’s what matters.
So if you’re walking down a cobblestoned street and you don’t run into the love of your life, relax. That means you’re going about it the right way. You don’t find the love of your life all at once, you find them piece by piece. First you watch them laugh during their favorite tv show, then you go grocery shopping together and actually have fun, then you fail at something and they tell you they’re proud of you anyway. And then one random day you realize you’re in love, because you know them and love them for what you know.
4) Arguments are not usually solved by singing a song.
Having arguments in your relationship is inevitable – even in Disney movies. The problem with Disney is that most of the time, these are solved by the characters singing a catchy tune. By the end of it, everybody is happy again. In real life, yelling occurs, insults are thrown, and somebody ends up “ugly crying” Kim Kardashian-style. You can’t fix everything by singing and dancing around the room together in perfectly choreographed fashion.
Disney has conditioned us to sweep things under the rug and act like everything is perfect. But if your relationship is going to survive, it should be the exact opposite. You need to talk about things in order to grow and to deepen your trust for each other. So if you sit down with your boyfriend to tell him he’s not respecting you, and his response is to ask if you want to build a snowman, get out of there fast because that relationship is going nowhere.
5) Staying in love through the ordinary moments, and seeing a relationship beyond the intense, initial honeymoon phase.
The beginning of a relationship is exciting – you’re still getting to know each other, you flirt a lot, and you’re in the “falling” stage. That’s what we’ve always seen in Disney movies: the characters falling for each other, and the excitement and giddiness they feel in their new romance. We never get a chance to see what happens when you hit the ground, when your relationship becomes less of a whirlwind and more of a steady, calm, everyday sort of experience. There’s nothing wrong when your relationship hits this point – it’s the way life works. It doesn’t mean you lose the excitement or passion you feel for the other person. That passion and excitement just becomes more anchored and stable.
The truth is, it’s not always going to be pretty when you start dating someone for the long haul. You’re wrapped up in each other’s lives, so you’re going to be involved in the not-so-glamorous parts of your significant other’s life. But the best part is that you don’t have to put forth some front of being adorable, perfect, and energetic all the time. You can let your partner see your true self. My significant other knows my hobbies include reading a lot of books, ordering takeout from P.F. Changs, and sitting. There’s nothing impressive about it, but I also don’t have to pretend to be some perfect girl who always has my shit together.
So if you’re obsessing over having a perfect relationship, or obsessing over the fact that you’re not in a relationship, stop. Stop comparing yourself to perfectly concocted stories about perfect people. Celebrate the fact that you’re real and everyone around you is real and that you get to experience their strengths and their flaws. Celebrate the fact that you’re not a Disney character, because you get to experience love in its truest, most honest form.