The Distorted Expectation of Prince Charming

Keepin’ it real: I have always had a thing for Prince Phillip.

Snow White’s prince? Psshh. I don’t even remember his name. Even after all these years, Prince Phillip is still the one who makes my heart flutter. Maybe it’s the way he jumps on his horse that defies the laws of physics. Maybe it’s depth in his gorgeous cartoon eyes. Maybe it’s his courage and his strength to fight for the girl he loves.

The thing is, though, the fairy tale did in some ways set me up for unrealistic expectations. You see, Sleeping Beauty met Prince Phillip when she was 16 years old. She knew immediately that he was perfect, and guess what? She was right. But I don’t have Sleeping Beauty’s awesome intuitive powers. So, at 16 years old, when I met a guy who seemed perfect… guess what? I was wrong.

At 18 years old, I was confident that I had figured out how this worked. I met another guy, so the first thing to do was acknowledge that  he wasn’t perfect. But, I reasoned with myself, if he did __ and ___ and ___, he would be. So I fell head over heels… not for him. For his potential. Of course I came to find that he wasn’t interested in doing ___ and ___ and ___. But by that point, I was so in love with who he could be that I was blind to who he was. Waking up to reality was a long and extremely painful process.

Fast forward a bit more, and I met another guy. My (poor, misguided) romantic ENFP heart was all too eager to lead the way with an ecstatic cry of OMG! It’s Prince Charming!  

So my heart began to dictate my expectations. Since he was obviously Prince Charming, that’s all my mind would let him be. But I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated when he did, or didn’t do, certain things that weren’t consistent with the Prince Charming image. There came a point where I had to ask myself why I was so frustrated, and the only answer I could come up with was, Because he’s my dream guy, and dream guys don’t act like this! As soon as I voiced that thought and realized its inconsistency, I was forced to realize that it was happening again… I was convincing myself that he met the impossible standard of perfection. I was falling for someone who didn’t exist.

So I had to face my options. Was I going to keep seeing him as a perfect Prince Charming and blind myself to reality? Or… did he deserve a chance to be appreciated for who he really was, unbound by my unfair expectations?

You see, our tendency as idealistic young women is to latch onto a dream and try to make it come true. We look at the world through a distorted lens, because we want so badly for that “perfect” guy to be perfect, that we pretend his flaws or annoying character traits aren’t there.

But if we’re honest with ourselves, don’t we want someone to love everything about us? How would it feel knowing that someone only loved you for who they wanted you to be, and not for who you are? By refusing to acknowledge others’ imperfections and even learn to embrace them, we are denying them the opportunity to be uniquely loved.

However — just because nobody is perfect, doesn’t mean someone can’t be perfect for you. The great paradox is this: someone may very well be your dream guy after all, but not until you stop seeing him that way and start appreciating/loving him for who he really is. The point is not to make yourself marry some psychopath murderer “because they deserve to be loved” but merely to take off the rose-colored glasses and don’t expect people to be someone they’re not. You may find that you can love them anyway, or you may find that they’re really just not for you. But either way, it’s much healthier to live without biased expectations: make choices based on what you see, not what you want.

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