Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Fairy tales are dangerous... 

Unfortunately, no one tells us this when we're kids. They're pushed on us by family, by friends, by teachers, told that they're perfect for young minds to comprehend. So we read them, oblivious, not realizing that, though the words may be simple, easy, the points of the stories rarely are. Our brains absorb the messages, the endings, and refuse to let go of the belief in "happily ever after".

I broke up with my first boyfriend because, as a life-long lover of the tale of Cinderella, I believed in the truth of the fairy tale. I cared for him, of that I had no doubt. But, after many months of being with him, giving us time to develop as a couple, I realized that I didn't love him and would probably never love him in the way I thought I should. He was a good friend and nothing more. So I told him this in a gentle, diplomatic fashion. I was as honest as I could be with him. I told him I wanted the fairy tale. I ended up breaking his heart.

I've had a few boyfriends since that day in 1989 when I said good-bye. And once I came close to having a fairy tale life, though in the end he broke my heart as the others had before him, as I had done to my first boyfriend. As of yet, there's been no "happily ever after".

Am I looking for a rich handsome prince to come along, sweep me off my feet and take me away from my hum-drum life? Not really. I mean, of course I'd love to be in a position where I wouldn't have to spend countless hours working a job I wasn't exactly enamored of. I'm not an idiot. But it's not a requirement. My only financial requirement would be that he be capable of supporting himself. I've seen too many friends and family members support dead-beat boyfriends and husbands to ever think destitution due to extreme slackerism is romantic.

I am looking for "the one". Sometimes my pragmatic side will pop up, doubting the existence of "the one". And I have to say, it's got a point. I know there are a number of men out there that could fill the bill, if I could only find them. Who's to say that only one man would be perfect for me?

As for "happily ever after", I hold no delusions that obstacles cease to exist once the wooing ends and the relationship begins. The world is full of obstacles to overcome, which, while stressful, can make the "happily ever after" that much sweeter.

Right now I'm reading The Princess Bride. I'm loving it. I know the movie so I know how it ends. Though skewed, it's still a fairy tale with the requisite happy ending. The book, and the talk with CuteNerdBoy on Sunday, have got me thinking. Which, admittedly, is always a dangerous thing.

In fairy tales the hero and the heroine work to defeat the machinations of the evil-doers to unite with one another. Sometimes the obstacles are many, sometimes they're few. But there are always obstacles to overcome.

In real life the obstacles are rarely as tangible as Fire Swamps and sadistic Counts and ROUSs. That doesn't make them any less concrete, any less difficult to overcome. In point of fact, they may be more difficult, because you can't swipe a sword at them and make them go poof.

Part of me, the part that cares for CuteNerdBoy, tells me to be patient, that maybe he'll come around to my way of thinking, of feeling. That eventually the things that are currently holding him back from any kind of deeper relationship, with anyone, will fall away and those smiling, slightly sad, dark eyes of his will open up wide, seeing what could be a beautiful romance. I can easily see him as my prince. My sweet, funny, quirky prince.

But another part of me, the protective part that's always watching out for my heart, trying to keep it safe and sound and in one piece, reasons that I have no promises, no guarantees from CuteNerdBoy that, should he decide to pursue a relationship in the future, it'll necessarily be with me. He's been perfectly honest with me from the beginning. I know this. I completely understand why he's on the wary side. But there's nothing to say that, once his wariness fades away, I'll be the one he'll come to in the end. Because neither one of us knows how many weeks or months or maybe even years will pass before that wariness disappears.

And because I care for him and respect him as much as I do, I would never dream of dropping him completely from my life, of forcing him to make a decision he's not ready for. I can't change his mind or his heart. Only he can do that, when he's ready. I may not be his princess of choice when that time comes.

So maybe I should keep my eyes open for someone that possesses similar qualities to the ones I find so attractive in CuteNerdBoy, but that is willing to open his heart to me. Not a CuteNerdBoy clone, because I doubt there's another guy out there like him. He's pretty unique. But someone smart and funny and cute and compassionate, but hopefully less wary. I've already taken steps to do so, renewing my lapsed Match.com membership and revising my Friendster profile. It hurts a little to do so, but what choice do I have?

Wait for a "happily ever after" that may never happen or actively pursue a "happily ever after" that could be a wonderful possibility? There are the choices.

Regardless of the outcome, whether as friend or mate, I'll always be there for CuteNerdBoy. If that's what he wants.

And I'll still believe in the fairy tale.

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Carol/Female/36-40. Lives in United States/California/Los Angeles/San Fernando Valley, speaks English. Spends 40% of daytime online. Uses a Normal (56k) connection.
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