Why Prince Charming Often Isn’t So Charming

I was browsing other WordPress blogs that used the tag “sex” yesterday. An astonishing number of blogs with this tag were written by women who were bemoaning the state of their relationships with their primary partner. Almost all of them were unhappy with their relationships for one reason or another and yet, none of them were thinking about leaving the relationship.

In retrospect, this isn’t all that astonishing. The vast majority of women have internalized the idea that their entire life is one big race towards getting into a monogamous relationship. Once they have found someone, anyone, who is willing to date them, they jump headfirst into the relationship and hold onto it for dear life. We’ve been taught this starting at a very young age.

Look at the relationship dynamic for any and all fairy tales. Girl meets boy, boy does some dramatic gesture (killing a dragon, searching the entire kingdom for her after a dance, etc.), and they decide to get married. What is this relationship based on? In most of these stories, they have spent a cumulative 24 hours together before getting married.

How about those coming-of-age stories that are marketed towards teenagers? If the main character is male, then the movie is all about the quest for the “girl of their dreams”, he does some dramatic gesture, and he will usually end up with this popular and gorgeous girl. If the main character is female, the movie is about how dorky she is in the beginning, then with a makeover, suddenly she is desired by the popular guy that she has been lusting over.

Romantic comedies, romance novels, and almost all other types of media that is marketed for women are guilty of this too. A serious relationship is what we are taught to desire above all other things, and we’re taught that we should take whoever is interested in us as soon as they show interest, no matter what. We’re taught we’re only worth something, we’re only “whole” when we have won the race for that serious relationship.

And this is the relationship dynamic that women are supposed to aspire to? This is the relationship dynamic that is held up as desirable? When did we stop being choosy and start waiting to be chosen?

It’s no wonder that so many women get into destructive relationships. We aren’t taught how to choose a partner wisely, instead, we’re taught that romance is all that matters. It is so easy for someone to be romantic for the first few months of a relationship. Surprising you with flowers, buying dinner, opening doors… All of this is simple. All of this takes absolutely zero real effort, and yet the vast majority of women melt into a puddle for the first person who acts romantically.

This desperation for a relationship can be incredibly destructive. I know of so many women (myself included) who have dismissed or permitted abusive behavior simply because they feel it is better to have a relationship and be unhappy than to be single and (supposedly) unhappy. I know of so many women who won’t push for their sex partner to use a condom, because it will “ruin the moment” or because they want to be “swept off of their feet”, and then they are surprised when they contract an STI from that partner.

So how do we remedy this? For me, it was dating. I specifically chose to not get into a serious relationship with anyone for a year. With few exceptions, if someone asked me out, I accepted. I dated as many people as I possibly could, and I got to know my dates. I learned a lot about myself, and I learned even more about the type of person that I wanted for a long-term relationship.

I would love to see more women do this. Dating can be both exhausting and emotionally taxing, but refusing to commit to a monogamous relationship right off the bat will allow you to learn more about your partner and will educate you about their personality. Becoming sexually active with that partner on your own terms (whether it is after the first date, three months into the relationship, or whenever) will also give you a sense of empowerment over your sexuality and your relationship.

Lastly, you should never be afraid to leave the relationship. If you feel uncomfortable, or if your partner doesn’t make you happy, then you should end the relationship. Life is too short to be unhappy, no matter how much energy or time you have invested.

Posted on April 6, 2012, in Dating and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Fantastic post, Nice Girl. “We aren’t taught how to choose a partner wisely, instead, we’re taught that romance is all that matters” sums up a whole bunch of relationship ills in one sentence nicely.

    This is cross-gender advice, too. I know I was guilty of this for far too much of my love life. In my case, I only stumbled across one stinker (literally) in the lot, and no permanent emotional damage was done (although the short-term aftermath was horrid). I think the whole “Nice Guy” movement is based on guys who either fell in love with women they couldn’t win over and convinced themselves that she was the only prize worth winning, or forced themselves to deal with the first girl who’d reciprocate.

    The art of getting to know someone (and if they’re worth pursuing) before you commit has been lost.

    • I had a friend (who shall remain nameless) who was convinced that pining over his ex and doing various things to try and win her back was a romantic thing to do. It was a hard thing to convince him that no, it was honestly a kind of creepy thing to do. Obsession is never romantic, and will scare the hell out of any girl who has her head on straight.

  2. I took that to heart. I went the complete other way with this, and I pretty much had this set idea at a young age that all the myths and fairy tales were lies, and that there was NO such thing as Prince Charming. After reading Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty Trilogy and several other feminist essays, books, and papers, I felt Sleeping Beauty woke herself up from a dream, hugged herself REAL hard, and had to go it alone after taking up the swords of many fallen soldiers and princes that were laid to waste on their way to her bedside and really she wasn’t in need of rescue in the first place!

    I was sure that all men were good for was sex and making babies. I was the antithesis of a chauvinist pig. What do you call a woman that thinks men are only good for one thing anyway? Since I didn’t WANT babies, I’d have to settle for good sex. Good sex is HARD to find! I would commit to someone good in bed, but not necessarily good FOR me. After doing this for over a decade, I learned what I did and DIDN’T want in an ideal mate. Though deep down I wished for this person to exist, I was convinced that he didn’t because reality dictated otherwise to me.

    In the end, I found him, and now like my cousin foretold, I WANT babies with him. It’s a scary thought to me, motherhood. I’m so happy, and the times I’m unhappy are a result of communications issues, and it’s a constant work in progress. I’m glad I finally found a man that I would love to call my husband someday and look forward to a life together. He meets me half way and is a worthy mate. I love him more and more everyday because I had to fight through the trenches of the most unworthiest men to get to him, and he is the sky my star climbs within.

    All I can say is DON’T give up. Not ALL men or women are bad (depending on your persuasion), and if I can find a healthy love and happiness believe me EVERYONE can! There is a mated pair out there for everyone. It just takes perseverance!

    • I definitely had bought into the scary scary world of “go with the first guy who is interested”, and had some incredibly awful experiences.

      I still had some bad experiences while dating around (and you know some of those dirty details, Stella), but overall, it was an amazing experience. And, just like you, I’m in a healthy and stable relationship. Amazing how that works!

  3. I loved your blog today. I’ve been frustrated the last few days and your blog put things back into perspective. I’ve gone out on a few dates with this guy and I just wasn’t feeling right about it. He’s a nice guy, good job, attractive, – by all accounts there’s no reason I shouldn’t be attracted to him. But I’m just not feeling that buzz. I thought maybe it’s because I’m still attracted to someone else, but nope, when entirely separated out for all other possible things that could be effecting my attraction- I’m just not attracted him. And that’s okay. Thanks for reminding me that it’s okay to just date and casually explore attraction without feeling it needs to be anything more. You’re a rock star. A nice, sexy, rockstar.

    • Never settle for anything less than everything you want, Henrietta. Everyone deserves a relationship that makes them deliriously happy, and a big part of that is realizing if something just isn’t working that it is you prerogative to let it go. I’m happy that my post today made a difference for you.

  4. You all give me hope that I can remain true to myself, but that there may also be someone for me out there. After 3 years of dating and one relationship with someone who turned out to be a serial cheater, I gave myself a breather to consider what I’m really looking for. I’ve emerged stronger and less willing to compromise my own values for someone else’s. I find it much easier to “let it go” when a relationship isn’t working. Most of all I’ve realised that I need to be happy within myself, lead a good life, do the things that I want to do and not rely on another person to provide me with those things. If I find a person who makes me deliriously happy (and I’m sure I will) it will be the icing on the cake but not the be-all and end-all!

    • That is the healthiest way to approach dating, I think. If it happens, great! If it doesn’t, well, then it’s easy to move on to the next person.

      It never means that you are a “bad” person for being uninterested, or for dating more than one person, it just means that you have standards and that you answer to no one but yourself. Congratulations on your independence!

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