Fairy tales, in their own way, are an example of hopefulness; they tell us love does exist.
They tell us that if you believe full-heartedly, love can and will happen for you in time.
Although, in most fairy tales, as in life, there are obstacles that must be dealt with before love is obtained. Whether you need time to figure out who you are and what you really want in a relationship, or to escape an evil witch that has you trapped in a tower…love, for many people, isn’t an easy trail to follow.
Seeing fairy tales as a child can also give you a warped belief that every damsel in distress has a Prince Charming waiting in the wings; at least that’s the impression they left on me. I believed that if I were pretty, with batting eyes and a voice that makes animals talk, my prince would be much closer than I thought. The level of distress in my situation would determine when I would eventually meet my prince, and whether my prince would actually be a frog in disguise. Figuring all this out would of course take a lot more time and men than I had planned.
Is kissing a lot of “frogs” the only solution to finding true love?
The difference between fairy tales and the present day is that, in the present day, kissing too many men becomes fornication, and finding a prince is just as difficult as searching for a needle in a haystack. I know it’s silly, but growing up, a small part of me subconsciously believed that, just like in fairy tales, there is that perfect someone for everyone. However, finding my perfect someone was a much harder task than I had imagined.
The older I got, the more the resources I needed to use to find my “prince” changed. Batting my big brown eyes became seductive flirting, and kissing changed to sex. My hope, like that of many damsels in distress, was that I would sleep with the “right” guy and he would realize that I was “the one.”
Unfortunately, this “bulletproof” plan usually backfired, leaving confusion, pain and regret; it was nothing like the fairy tales I watched. This fairy tale was shattering quickly and needed revision, fast.
There is a moment in the life of every damsel in distress when she has to have a serious talk with herself. Mine was short and to the point: “Stop sleeping with men before you are in a committed, monogamous relationship!”
Although there are never guarantees that once someone is committed to you the relationship won’t end, being in committed, monogamous relationships put fewer notches on my sexual belt. Waiting until I was committed not only helped me weed out the men that were only interested in sex, it also gave me time to determine if they were worth my time to commit to: would this guy end up being my fairy tale ending?
As I got older, not only did I realize that fairy tales don’t come easily, but that the happily-ever-after takes a lot of work to maintain (something that’s conveniently left out in Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, etc.).
Relationships go through many phases. You meet someone, fall head over heels and everything is perfect; this fairy tale is better than you had expected. As time passes the perfection becomes less, and the work that’s needed to sustain the relationship begins. Although this part of the fairy tale isn’t quite the way you remember it from childhood, the relationship you are in is important, so you’re willing to put in the effort.
Relationships fail and fairy tales shatter when one or both people don’t put in the effort it takes to keep the relationship surviving. I’ve had many unsuccessful relationships due to this very fact. When you think you’ve met your prince, his true test comes from the effort he is willing to make. Lack of effort in the beginning is a big sign that your potential prince is not that into you. If the effort drops tremendously after you have been dating for a while, he might not be in the relationship for the long haul. Either way, it’s time to move on.
Relationships that end up not working are basically mini fairy tales—fairy tales without the perfect ending. The hardest part about mini fairy tales is that once you’ve had a glimpse of love—that warm tingly feeling which fills your entire heart—when the relationship ends the search for the “ever after” becomes even more important.
Who wouldn’t want to find love that lasts forever? Why can’t The Notebook become your story (minus you having Alzheimer’s)?
The most important thing to remember about mini fairy tales is that when you go through them it doesn’t mean that you are less special or less deserving of love. All my mini fairy tales helped me to figure out what I really wanted in a relationship: how I wanted to be treated, what values were important to me and what I needed in order to have a successful relationship (honesty, great communication, etc.). I got to know myself better because of my mini fairy tales, and I also became emotionally stronger.
Fairy tales are never completely shattered; they just need to be tweaked.
Take what you learned as a child and add several doses of reality—no one is perfect, relationships do take work, your prince might not be the first guy you date and you may just have to kiss several “frogs” first.
If you are still searching, don’t get discouraged. Hold on to the belief that you deserve someone special, because you do. As I said before, I had to kiss many, many “frogs”; however, I did find my prince, and the pieces of my once shattered fairy tale became everything I had dreamed of.
Now I have my ultimate fairy tale, and one day you will too.
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Ed.: Jayleigh Lewis & Brianna Bemel