When I was fourteen, I had a fight with my mum and stormed out of the house to the park across the road. I can’t remember what we fought about; it was most likely something trivial that all teenage girls fight with their mothers about.
Once I was at the park, I cried while sitting on one of the swings before calming down enough to daydream about meeting someone who would rescue me. It was all very dramatic.
It wasn’t even that I wanted someone to physically take me away. I just wanted to meet a boy who would hold me as I cried and would always be there for me, no matter what. I imagined him seeing me at the park and approaching me before we eventually fell in love and lived happily ever after.
As time went on, I was always waiting for this perfect man. This knight in shining armour to come and whisk me away. Sometimes I thought I saw him in nice strangers. Sometimes, in close friends.
Eventually though, I realised that no one was coming to rescue me.
Fairy tales never show you what comes next
Have you ever wondered what life is like for your favourite prince and princess after the credits roll or the final page has been read? The narrator usually tells us that they lived happily ever after, but what does that even mean?
Whatever it is, it has spread like wildfire and young women around the world are inundated with this idea that a man is coming to save them. That he will accept all our flaws and love us despite them. That he will be perfect and never hurt us or upset us, and if we do fight it will quickly dissolve into lovemaking or laughter, or both.
The reality is, no one is perfect. Even Prince Charming and Cinderella would have had their ups and downs. I bet there were nights where he slept in a spare room in anger (not the couch, they were too rich for that nonsense). Or maybe she decided that her stepsisters weren’t that bad after all and the three of them spent the night bitching about how irritating he was.
I was guilty of wanting a man to save me once. I would have been younger than fourteen when I first imagined my knight in shining armour, and I didn’t stop imagining him until well into my early twenties. Every time something mildly upsetting occurred, I’d picture him finding me and making everything better.
It wasn’t until I was in a long-term adult relationship that I realised it doesn’t quite work like that. Instead, I accepted that if a relationship is going to work, both partners need to be committed to bettering themselves.
Wish for mutual love and respect
We need relationships to function — romantic, platonic or otherwise. While we don’t necessarily need to be in a monogamous relationship (and some of us choose not to be), we all need to feel accepted and appreciated.
But this goes both ways. No one should be tasked with the job of rescuing you from yourself. We all have flaws, and while our partners may still love us despite them, we should also be expected to work on them.
Instead of wishing for a fairy tale love, wish for mutual love and respect, and spend your life together working on your happily ever after.