The more I learn about love and the more I experience the disappointment that comes along with high expectations, the more I feel a sense of loss around the romantic ideals I grew up with.
Modern experts, including my own teachers, would have us throw out all of the old narratives of fairytale love (for good reason).
But I want to interrogate that thought.
Yes, we should not expect relationships to be easy, to simply fall in place. We should NOT wait for THE ONE while missing out on dozens of potential others.
But what about hope and getting swept up in the magic of a great story?
Here's why this is so personal to me: I'm all at once an optimist and a realist and to me that means that I am very accepting of struggle in a relationship. Perhaps to an unhealthy degree. Once I commit, I COMMIT.
And, you know, the only thing that has ever snapped me back to reality and pulled me out of relationships that lived well beyond their expiration dates?
It wasn't the pain or my logical brain or the wise words of my friends (bless them). It was art.
It was a rom-com, or—I shit you not—a Rod Stewart song, that hit me at the exact right moment and showed me I was settling. Not because I wanted to copy (the likely unhinged) narrative of a movie or a song, but because those stories get told for a reason.
They have the power to connect us to our own unguarded longing.
We need to believe that to some degree magic is possible. Because otherwise what is the point of getting into a relationship?
So I'm here with an invitation. If you feel a little let down to learn that fairytale love is unrealistic...what can you take as inspiration and what can you shed as unhelpful rather than throw out the whole idea?
Really this applies to any notion about connection. You get to decide what is right for you.
There will always be tons of arguments for one perspective or another.
Rather than feel shame about your desire, mourn the parts that don’t work and then make your own philosophy.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable and see what kind of magic fills up the space you make for it.