Why I’ve Given Up On the Fairytale

My sophomore year of college, I walked into the newspaper office where I served as an editor, and my phone lit up with a call. Those were the days when we made our ringtones songs, and in the 19-year-old naivety that thought frat boys could turn into gentlemen, I selected ‘Someday My Prince Will Come’ as my tune.

Disgusted (rightfully), the editor-in-chief of the paper scolded me for selecting such a ridiculous song to play in public and teasingly, encouraged me to pick something a little less sexist. At the time, I was thoroughly embarrassed in front of our staff (and okay – my feelings were a little hurt, too) – but I shook it off and kept typing away at my computer.

I never forgot it though.

Seven years – many of them single – and what feels like a lifetime of dates later, you could say that I’m still on the lookout for that so-called prince. I don’t know if it’s the astonishingly terrible dating pool that I’m swimming around in or the fact that with age comes maturity, but as much as I’m a hopeful romantic, I’m not a believer in once-upon-a-time.

The truth is I’ve given up on the fairy tale…because I want my own story.

I didn’t know it then, but I’ve never needed someone to come along and take me away from my current life. I’ve always needed a partner who can challenge and fascinate me with both his intellect and his humor, his compassion, and his sexuality. Someone who can be part of my life, without being all of it.

I’ve never looked for a happy ending because I’ve never gone into a relationship considering how the last page of our story would read, but instead, I’ve always wondered how our love tale would begin. When would our happy beginning, finally, after all those dates and all of that disappointment, start? When would we get to build our life together instead of celebrating one single day?

I’ve never needed someone to take care of me or whisk me away to some magical place where dreams come true and I have no responsibility, rationale, respect or freedom. Instead I’ve always fantasized about how the life I’ve built for myself would feel when I was able to share it with someone I love. Someone who would contribute to my life and to his own, to the world he can’t see and the world he creates with his actions and his choices.

I’ve thought I needed the romance and the thrills, the riches and the allure of passion, but what I want is something much simpler and unique. I want a man who can remember the little things – like how I take my coffee – and can be just as comfortable with me on the couch as we are when we’re sipping red wine to pass the time on the town.

I always hated men who try to steal my independence or can’t understand it, ones who can’t handle a woman who stands up for herself without needing a man to support her, so why would I want a prince to come and claim me? Instead, I want a guy who is strong enough to stand by my side, no matter the storm or the shine.

As a single woman, especially one who is quite perpetual about it, I’ve been called picky. And I’ve been rationalized as someone who is waiting for some soulmate or Prince Charming, who has these lovely illustrations of what love looks like, instead of what it really feels like. I’ve been accused of holding out for something that doesn’t exist and pushing away good-enough men because my eye is on some ridiculous, unreasonable prize.

But what I’m actually doing as a woman (single, taken, or otherwise) is working on my own story. It’s about a flourishing writing career, lots of impactful travel, walks in the park with my pup, attempting to master a yoga handstand, pretending to be a pro-boxer, NYC brunches, beautiful friendships, struggle, achievement, victories, sadness, red wine, Gchat conversations, Instagram filters and yes, one day, love.

But it’s not going to be a fairytale when it happens – it’s going to be part of my story.

A story where I don’t need to be rescued. Where I don’t have to settle with someone to be secure, but choose a partner who thinks my independent strength is sexy. One where marriage isn’t summed up three words of happily ever after, but is a lifetime of rises and falls, plot twists and tough love. One where we choose each other, not because ‘I Do’ means the end of all worries and trouble, but instead it’s the start of working together toward happiness.

It might have taken me a few decades to see fairy tales for what they are – magical feel-good stories that remind us that love is possible; not quite an accurate description of what a relationship really is. But, I don’t think I’m cynical because I don’t believe in them anymore. Perhaps it makes me more hopeful because what I wish for doesn’t require glass slippers or magic carpet rides, a beastly man or a locket with my voice in it.

Instead I just wish for happiness in life. And in love.

I’m not waiting for my prince to come (I really never was, sorry 19-year-old self). Instead, I’m doing what I hope my future husband is doing, too: living his own story. The plot lines will meet someday, but until then, I hope we are happily apart until well, we’re not.

This post was originally published on eHarmony.

8 thoughts on “Why I’ve Given Up On the Fairytale

  1. Really insightful and relatable. Thank you so much for sharing. I especially loved the end about him hopefully off doing as you are, and that one day the plot lines will connect and neither overrides the other but they compliment instead.

  2. It’s like you took the words right out of my mouth! I, too, want someone to share my life with; I don’t want someone to rescue me. I want a partnership, not a dictatorship. This was a great post! Right on!

  3. I get so frustrated when I read stories like these. You are way over-thinking things and taking things way too literally. Being someone’s Prince doesn’t equate to saving them it equates to forming an equal partnership that leads to a fulfilling relationship. From my point of view as a guy, it equates to being “the one” for someone. It is a generic term that represents being perfect for someone. Not that I am literally perfect but that I am perfect for someone else and that she is perfect for me. Just like treating a woman like a princess doesn’t literally mean that it just means treating her incredibly well.

    I don’t expect to sweep a girl off her feet or save her with true loves first kiss bc my life isn’t a literal fairytale. However, that doesn’t mean things can’t end up happily ever after. It’s not about taking someone away from their current life it’s about establishing a new life together as a couple. This isn’t the 1700’s and your life isn’t a Grimm’s brothers tale. A movie needs an ending point. Happily ever after is assuming things went great over the course of time and the couple grew old together. Of course, there will be ups and downs as there are in even the most successful of relationships.That’s the boring stuff that can’t be shown because of time constraints. Seeing a couple get married in a movie or a guy chasing after a girl who finally wins her over/back (or Cameron Diaz winning over Thomas Jane in whatever movie that was) is the exciting part. That’s why movies always end at those points.

    When you find the one, they are all of your life. It’s not about stealing your independence. It’s about realizing that another person is depending on you to be there for them just like how every relationship works. If you are worried about how much independence you have in a relationship then clearly you aren’t ready for a relationship. Being in a relationship means you are willing to give up your independence because it’s not about one person anymore, it’s about both of you. And it goes both ways. Each person sacrifices some of their independence for the good of the relationship.

    The fairytale IS your own story, it’s YOUR fairytale. Nobody is expecting you to relive Snow White bc it is a story, a cartoon, and above all else…HER fairytale. You having things work out with someone is your fairytale and your story all wrapped into one.

    Perhaps a guy who wants to support you during the storm is just showing he cares and is there for you even though he knows that you can survive without that care or support. But because he is kind and a good dude he wants to show you that he will be there for you whenever and if you should ever need him. The world is full of cruel people that don’t give a shit about your well-being. Someone that genuinely cares for you and wants to support you through the storm shouldn’t be taken for granted. Go listen to “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers and actually pay attention to the lyrics, sums it up pretty well.

    You say you have given up on the fairytale and yet you clearly want a guy that is straight from a fairytale…makes no sense. I only wish we were all so lucky as to be deemed “good-enough” for this author. It sounds like you are not emotionally available. These good-enoughs could have developed into great lifelong partners. I don’t doubt that these guys were kind, caring, and probably would have treated you amazingly well. But you probably felt like something undefinable was missing or they didn’t conform to some crazy image you had in your head.

    Working on your story is great and admirable but love and a relationship isn’t just about you. You have to concede some things. Your story becomes our story when in a relationship or when you find the one. If you both are living your story 24/7 there will never be an our story. For a relationship to work you have to take risks, be vulnerable, and you lose some of your independence. Because it’s a couple and no longer a single. You have to truly be open to love and you both have to be willing to sacrifice things for the good of the couple.

    Someday My Prince Will Come is only sexist if you have half a brain or can’t think for yourself. It’s from a movie from the 30’s that was based off of a story that took place in medieval Europe and on top of everything else it’s from a Disney cartoon. It wasn’t exactly written to be the mantra of a modern woman.

  4. Wow, exactly what I needed to read today. I feel 100% the same way. It is frustrating sometimes being almost 28 and seeing all of my friends settling down, but I know that I am making the right choices for myself (with some hiccups in the road, of course). So nice to know I’m not the only one who feels this way!

  5. Pingback: You Are Worthy of Love |

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