I guess that I’m kind of a hopeless romantic, and I suppose that this is one of the biggest reasons why I find dating so difficult. In my mind I imagine the full Disney experience, that moment when the Disney Princess first encounters her Prince Charming — the instant spark, the fireworks and the immediate certainty of an epic love story. In reality, this is absolutely never the case.
We place too much pressure on life in general. We expect a life fit for the movies, and when it comes to romance, we expect the same. Well, at least I do. What I have realized is that I am not so willing to settle for anything less than the magical fairytale that I surely deserve. So I go on dates and I meet a few people to ultimately write them off because I don’t feel that instantaneous, magical connection with fireworks or the fluttering of butterflies in my heart.
I’ve gone back and forth on this a million times—have I been completely disillusioned by the movies and fairytales? Am I literally living in fantasy land in great anticipation for something that doesn’t exist, or am I doing the right thing holding off for the right person that will come when the time is right so that we can ride off into the sunset together on our white unicorns? Who knows. But what I do know is that it seems like one sure-fire way to end up riding off into the sunset alone on a brown donkey.
But I had to question: As magical as all of the fireworks seem, is that truly a sound basis for a relationship, or am I writing off perfectly good dudes because the moment hasn’t lived up to my expectation of the fairytale I have playing on a constant loop in my head? Nine out of ten times, my story after a date is always the same: “He was nice, conversation was really natural and easy, he’s cute, but I just didn’t feel that spark.” The countless times I’ve told the same story must be beyond old for my friends at this point, but the advice that always comes back from them boils down to the age-old saying, “The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long.”
I suppose a fairytale always depicts the same story—two people meet and fall deeply in love, then ride off into the sunset together. But what happens after the magic and intensity of the beginning of something new fades? Do the Disney Princess and Prince Charming make it a lifetime together, or do they fall to pieces once the reality of life kicks in? Let’s face it, life isn’t sunshine and rainbows; life is fucking hard. And anyone who’s been in a relationship can attest to the fact that the honeymoon phase doesn’t last forever. So when it fades, what does the foundation of the relationship need to be built on to be everlasting? Surely not fireworks and butterflies.
So it got me thinking. And to be dead honest, I still don’t know where I stand on this topic. One part of me will never give up the idea of this magical love story. I guess it comes down to being afraid of settling for something that doesn’t light up my life but is easy, comfortable, and dependable. I don’t want to give up my hope for a fairytale romance, but maybe it’s about being open and giving things a chance. Maybe it doesn’t happen like it does in a movie; maybe real relationships have to grow from the sprinkling of the seeds and must be nurtured as it slowly grows and blossoms into the everlasting magical love story that I dream about.
I suppose it’s about reframing the love story that I’m searching for, with understanding that good things often have to grow over time and that sometimes sparks aren’t instantaneous but come from getting deeper into knowing who that person truly is. Maybe it’s about focusing on more important characteristics, like having the same values and morals or having similar interests or views. Or maybe it’s more about someone who will respect me, someone who will bring out the best in me, and someone who will make me a priority rather than searching for an intensity that will surely burn out as quickly as it lit up.
What I’m saying is that we don’t have to ever settle, and we shouldn’t ever settle, but we do need to be open to exploring deeper than the surface to find the spark that will last a lifetime. We are lucky to live in a time where opportunities and options are plenty, but with that comes the fickle behavior that our generation is so prone to—we want to keep our options open, always waiting for the next best thing to come around the corner, but the danger with that is the disillusionment that results in us never making a choice because we’re spending our time waiting for an instant fairytale rather than putting in the work and commitment that real relationships take.
So here’s to turning the page and to the start of a fresh chapter with a new perspective. May we all live happily ever after.