At different stages in our lives, I believe, that we have all have fallen for the fairy tale. We watched “The Notebook” and fantasized about a boy falling so head over heels in love with us that he would hang from a Ferris Wheel to score a date with us, write us 365 letters, build us a house, give us the kiss of our lives in the pouring rain, and then retell our love story when the Alzheimer’s got too bad for us to remember it on our own. I mean, come on, who wouldn’t want that? Sounds perfect, right? Well, unfortunately it’s also, perfectly unrealistic. I’m not discrediting people’s love stories that may have turned out just like that, but in the scheme of things it is all a little too good to be true and that’s why we feel the need to watch these movies over and over so that we can, for that moment, feel like we are playing out the great love story of our lives, sappy soundtrack and all.
Growing up watching these magical love stories unfold before us, it’s no wonder that we don’t like to accept anything less then the – nobody puts baby in the corner – boom box over his head – giving the only available floating object in the North Atlantic to her – declarations of love. Then, unfortunately, we turned sixteen and realized our fairy tale would most likely not play out like our favorite romantic movie scenes. That being the shy, awkward girl doesn’t necessarily mean that you will land the bad-boy dancer while on a vacation at a resort with your parents. And while we have these vivid scenes stuck in our heads of how our first kiss, first time falling in love and eventually finding our happily ever after will play out, the reality is unfortunately a let down because it was well…reality. Not that those moments weren’t wonderful and magical in their own way but the bar has been set so incredibly high since we were little girls there is no way reality could compare.
I confess to you that I am guilty of projecting the “fairy tale standards” onto my poor, unsuspecting boyfriend. I also once read an article that a girl broke up with her boyfriend because he didn’t plan on building her a house like Noah, from the Notebook, did. So, I know I’m not alone in the crazy. The scary thing is that I do so unconsciously, it’s been so ingrained in my brain that this is how it should play out, that I don’t let it play out naturally which could allow for what could be an equally romantic moment. Instead of enjoying the nice things he does for me on a daily basis, my mind is off in the clouds fantasizing about over the top declarations of his love for me and envisioning an elaborate proposal in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland. See! This is a problem, because instead of enjoying the day to day with him, I am building these extravagant fantasies in my head that a) he doesn’t even know about and b) are impossible for him to live up to. While I enjoy “floating through life on this cloud of fantasies” (as he puts it) I also know that this causes more trouble then it does good. Have these romantic standards set for us by the great romantic movies ruined us for all future boyfriends?
Just look at all the Disney Princesses we started watching before we could even talk, most of which didn’t get their “happily ever after” until they snagged the Prince, why would we expect any different. Now, I will hold off on the feminist rant of making ourselves happy on our own first before filling the voids with a man, but what I will offer you is a look at these men who stole our hearts before we even knew what love really meant and see if in the light of day they are really worth the pedestal we put them on.
The “bad” boys:
Johnny Castle (Dirty Dancing)
Why we fell for him:
- He is a leather jacket donning, bad boy with a heart
- Hard worker who was just dealt a crappy hand in life
- Doesn’t want to be used by women for his sexy body and dance moves
- He’s wiiiiilld
- When he dances you can’t help but imagine making cute, dancer babies with him
- He takes care of his promiscuous dance partner
Why this is too good to be true:
- A bad boy usually means that you are falling for the mystery of him but you will pay the price for what comes with that – a non-committing, unfaithful, lost cause.
- His tendency to live an adventurous lifestyle (although in this case it did bring him to a yuppie resort) usually translates to spontaneous, rash decisions that will ultimately end badly.
- He gets around. More accurately, he’s a male prostitute that allows these women’s husbands to pay for dance lessons and in exchange he sleeps with the wives. Is this really the guy you want to introduce to your parents?
- It’s usually the good girl who falls for this type of bad boy and falls for the challenge of being the one to “change” him. Then they are left so utterly broken by not being able to, it ruins them for all future men.
Edward Cullen (Twilight Saga)
(I use bad boy lightly when addressing Edward but he is by nature a murderer)
Why we fell for him:
- He is described as impossibly beautiful
- A mix of Austen/Bronte’s most romantic male characters
- He is a brooding, yet restrained “monster”
- He sparkles in sunlight
- Craves the taste of his lover’s blood, but goes against his nature to suppress this urge
- His life a “moonless night” before he met Bella, ready to give up his life for her if need be and wants nothing more then to be with her forever
Why this is too good to be true:
- While in movies brooding men come off mysterious, sexy and intense. The actual definition of brooding is to be “preoccupied with depressing, morbid, or painful memories or thoughts” and that sort of sucks all the sexy out of it doesn’t it?
- I am believer that the reason Edward sparkles is because his personality doesn’t. Yes, he’s lived multiple lifetimes but in all that time he hasn’t picked up much of a sense of humor.
- He’s what you would call a “stage 5 clinger”. He hates that Bella is friends with Jacob, he watches her while she sleeps, and eavesdrops on her conversations. It sure is a good thing that he can’t read her thoughts because that is the only boundary he hasn’t crossed.
- He is completely overprotective, comes with lifetimes of baggage, and has a hard time controlling his temper.
I apologize if I completely crushed any fantasies you had about these men, but what I am hoping to do is allow you the opportunity to give up the fairy tale. Stop setting unrealistic expectations for men, the only person you are hurting is yourself. You could be letting really great guys pass you by that could hold the key to your very own real happily ever after.