The relationships we saw as children to model our hopes and dreams on were fundamentally flawed and Disney was at the heart of what I will be calling from here on in ‘The Great Deception’. In our treasured childhood films feelings of love didn’t grow from a deep and mutual understanding of who the other was. It was an encounter that sparked love at first sight, followed by some questionable courtship practices. It’s a sinister day in the magical kingdom when you realise Belle was a hostage with Stockholm syndrome; Ariel changed her species and gave up her voice in order to gain favour with the prince; and Sleeping Beauty was given a non-consensual kiss while unconscious.
We know all these are fairy stories, but the material we surround ourselves with has a tendency to stick, no matter how impervious we believe ourselves to be. Somewhere between Cinderella’s pre-midnight Waltz and Aladdin and Jasmine’s market stall encounter we fell for the idea that instant attraction is preferable to that which builds and develops more slowly over a longer period of time. The reality is that some of the best, most fulfilling relationships don’t kick off with irrepressible feelings of chemistry. In some cases, that chemistry wanes over time and in others it develops with greater engagement.
That said, those of us who are conscious that a pretty face or a banging body aren’t all they’re cracked up to be when contributing to a lifetime-length relationship, do forget that attraction is still important. The best depiction of a healthy attraction I’ve heard is Will van der Hart’s on The Dating Course. He compares a relationship to a church candle – one of those fat pillar ones. The attraction is the wick; you need it to get the thing going. But if you’re all wick, you’ll burn out quickly. The wax is the substance, the friendship, the deeper understanding of each other, the experiences you share. But if you’re all wax, you can’t get the flame going. However, if you have both, you’ve got a candle that will burn brightly and for a long time.
Another glug of Kool-Aid that Snow White had guzzled down was this idea of ‘the one’. Now this is key so listen up: there is no ‘the one’ and you do not have a ‘soulmate’. Neither of those things exist. Mr/Mrs Right is not out there. Get on with your life.