The fallacy of fairytale forever
By: Natasha Archary
The Prince climbed the tower, rescued the fair maiden, declared his undying love for her and they lived happily ever after.
Ugh! The fallacy of fairytale forever is nauseating and such utter nonsense. We’re groomed into this notion of the perfect happily ever after from a young age, conditioned to believe that love lasts forever and conquers all. What’s more deceptive, is the illusion that fairytales paint about falling in love – that it just happens to us without any effort. It’s as simple as kissing a sleeping Princess awake, breaking the curse that bound her to a lifetime of solitude.
Firstly, the portrayal of women is major cause for contention. The notion that women are weak and need to be rescued by a knight in shining armour or be doomed forever is absurd! The damsel in distress plot device has to be the most exhausted angle in every fairytale, romance novel and romantic movie ever. Why do women need to be saved anyway? Last I checked, we were just as capable of climbing out of a tower than a man.
Secondly, if people could really just fall in love at first sight, the odds are that we would all be falling in and out of love at the slightest glimpse in someone’s direction. Yes, the attraction is there, no doubt, but surely it takes more than a glance to fall in love? Does mental apptitude not factor in? What about chemistry? You know the “spark” that keeps you intrigued by the person you fell in love with at first sight. Compatibility, ideals, personality, interests…surely there’s more to our heart’s desire than meets the eye?
But let’s assume that we do fall in love at first sight, what follows is a lifetime of perfect love right? Isn’t that what fairytales allude to? The guarantee that picture perfect romance is on the cards for the rest of your lives. This is where reality kicks in.
If love did in fact endure against all odds, how does one explain the divorce statistics in South Africa that increased by 4.9%? Over and above that 30% of women in the country were opting against marriage. The country’s divorce rate is currently at its highest, according to data released by Statistics SA, and in contrast the number of marriages have decreased. A bleak picture for all the hopeless romantics who still believe in forever. Does this mean that love doesn’t exist?
Of course love exists, and it is present in different aspects of your life. You love your children, your parents, your friends, your pets…and those relationships are all built on love are they not? It’s this idea of the perfect fairytale ending in romantic love that is misleading. The concept that if someone really loves you they will never let you go! That they will love you unconditionally until the end of time, flaws and all. That the circumstances that life presents can be overcome together. Who are we kidding?
If this were even remotely true, people would not be heading to splitsville at this rate. And if you think that sexual infidelity is the leading cause of divorce, think again. In a recent poll of over 100 respondents, communication problems were cited as the number one reason marriages end. So, yeah Disney you know what you can do with your picture perfect love!
And there’s merit in that. How can one possibly fall in love with someone without speaking? Without touching on the real issues? Finances, family, differences, similarities, dreams and aspirations…these have a real basis in everyday life, so how can we ignore this and base falling in love on such superficial ideals? With the advent of technology on our lives, why then are so many still not disclosing their relationship statuses on social media? It’s complicated takes on a whole new meaning in this day and age.
The fact that there are people who put these conditions on relationships today is sad. The expectations of a perfect love is a fallacy. This indoctrination of the definition of love is something we all subscribe to, after all have we not all dreamt of the day Prince Charming comes waltzing in to sweep you off your feet? Naturally, you’re filled with the belief that your lives – after that all important first glance – will mirror Hollywood versions of fairytale bliss and when in reality you get the raw and somewhat disappointing final cut, you want out.
This prescribed ideal that we should all just have ONE true love our entire lives is what is ultimately the final nail in the coffin of emotions for many. The truth is, that you are more likely to fall in love many times. This doesn’t mean that you’re flawed, it just means that you love yourself enough to know that settling isn’t the only option for you.
Many couples have succumbed to their tolerable marriages and relationships because it is convenient, regardless of how miserable you feel. You have assets together, kids together, a life that is intertwined and it would be a tragedy if you left because this was supposed to be your forever fantasy. When will we stop doing this to ourselves? Or is this cycle of fantasy how we are set to go through the rest of our days? Surely there’s more to life and love than fictional perfection?
Some of the common reasons for marriages ending in divorce include:
- Marrying for all the wrong reasons
Financial stability, an arranged marriage, you were dating for eons so it was the next logical step – all tickets to a quick divorce.
- Lack of individual identity
Co-depence is not healthy. Your own interests and views are quashed because it is not “in line” with your partners expectations. That’s just a polite way of saying you’re being controlled!
- Lost in the roles
Leaving your family, friends and single routine and replacing them with the chaotic car-pool runs, meetings, appointments, school calendars etc. most couples forget to invest in quality time together. As the children grow and need less attention, many then realize that they have grown apart and can’t remember why they ever got married in the first place.
- Unmet expectations
Encrypted into every womens’ genetic code, lies the belief that she can change the man she loves. Rid him of all the “bad” and make him whole. We think we can “fix” everything don’t we? That if he treats you poorly, you can convince him otherwise, that things will get better, it just takes time! When one or both people in a marriage are attempting to coerce each other to do things they are not interested in, it’s a recipe for disaster.
It’s not usually the lack of finances that causes conflicts in marriages but rather the lack of compatibility in the financial area. You have different priorities when it comes to spending/saving. You no longer feel the need to disclose your financial situation to your partner, you do as you please and feel entitled to your discretion. Over time, this conflict can reach such highs that divorce seems to be the only logical conclusion.
- Intimacy disappears
Sex aside, intimacy is more than just intercourse. You’ve lost that initial spark. You no longer touch, caress, kiss or hold your partner. You don’t want to be touched, caressed, kissed or held by your partner. If it goes unchecked and unnoticed long enough, it’s only a matter of time before one or both partners realizes that they are intimately estranged.
A staggering 48% of the women polled, cited emotional cheating as more deceptive than sexual infidelity. Hardly surprising as emotional cheating is essentially an affair of the heart. There is no resemblance to a platonic friendship because there is sexual chemistry present. Apart from the fantasies that play out in your mind, you also share the ugly truth about your relationship with this person and naturally don’t share the details of this with your significant other. This cuts deeper than sexual infidelity because there is a deeper connection in the act. Women who feel like their partner is withholding information often check out of the marriage or relationship before their partners reveal there is someone else. Sexual infidelity is of course still up there as a reason to head for divorce court.
Our fear of being alone trumps our longing to be happy again. We succumb to lacklustre romance and subpar relationships for the sake of. We believe Disney and Hollywood rom-coms and use this as a measure for the kind of love we aim for. The superficial and surface-level nonsense we’re spoon-fed as children. Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel & Beauty and the Beast, all have one thing in common…they’re fictional characters in a made up world with Princes who don’t exist and a love that is unattainable in the real world, in real life! It’s time to pop the fairytale bubble and give love a new level of real!