In a world with constant, real-time updates on all of the people we went to high school with, it’s impossible for the terminally single not to feel a sting when we see that yet another person on our friends list is either engaged, vacationing with their ridiculously attractive sweetheart or hosting their fairytale wedding. If you’re a together, well-adjusted, content, single chick like myself (LOL yeah right) then you might have made it this far on the notion that your prince charming can emerge out of guys that may not be interested right now, fixer-uppers or overall shitty relationships. I’m here to tell you- he won’t.
It’s not entirely your fault you feel like this. I get it. Trust me. I just wrapped up a solid four year stint pining after a guy who, despite all evidence to the contrary, I swore up and down would eventually come around. Classic Ross and Rachel, we were on again, off again best friends who always straddled the line that separates good buddies from soul mates. One of the main contributors to my twisted notion that we would work out someday is that the media has fed us so many relationship examples that teach even if it’s not working out right now, give it ten years and one day you’ll get your happy ending.
We have spent our formative years being exposed to so many stories that show the delayed commitment of the man which comes only after a woman has put up with far too much. On How I Met Your Mother, the forever ladies’ man Barney Stinson ended up with the girl who was there the whole time. Jersey Shore’s “The Situation” finally made it official with his booty call girl (at least for a little while.) The most notorious man on Sex and the City, Big, took YEARS to commit, and he and Carrie were perfect for one another, right? At least, that’s what the script says. Even He’s Just Not That Into You, a film inspired by a book whose purpose was to empower women to demand their respect, portrayed an array of men that came around… eventually. It’s hard to look at odds like this and expect that in spite of what we see in the media we may not, in fact, be someone’s exception. So we lower our expectations. We think, “If a tumultuous relationship can pan out in the movies, maybe I don’t need to be treated like a princess after all. Maybe I’m just too demanding.”
We’re almost programmed to believe that as a woman we should wait it out and be patient, because he can work through his issues. Or we should put up with the bullshit because who knows… He could be the one. This idea of letting ourselves go through anything to get the relationship is then wrapped up in a shiny bow and called “Hopeless Romanticism.”
What did that hopeless romanticism get me? Four years wasted and a shot self-esteem. Had I witnessed more examples of realistic relationships for my favorite characters, maybe I would have moved on a long time ago. But in the media, real endings don’t sell quite as well as happy endings do, and courtships aren’t as interesting without an intense amount of drama and suspense regarding the couples’ commitment to one another. Take The Break Up, for example. Released in 2006, the Jennifer Aniston flick about a couple’s harsh, yet at times hilarious, split from each other received mediocre reviews and was coined an “anti-romance comedy.” Personally, I think it’s one of the most spot-on and honest films when it comes to displaying relationships. Sometimes you’re with the wrong person, things don’t work out and more than that you shouldn’t want them to. We need to stop waiting by the phone, making excuses for some dude that isn’t right for us and claiming it’s because we’ll never give up on love. Let’s stop twisting the intended meaning of the title “hopeless romantic” to validate devaluing ourselves.
I feel like’s it’s time to make a change. And I don’t mean the usual single lady outlook where we give up on love and start posting Lady Gaga and Marilyn Monroe inspirational quotes. We’ve got to start realizing that there’s a middle ground between “I’ll wait around in a dead-end relationship in order to find love.” and “I hate men, I’m an Independent Woman.” Because after all, even Beyoncé eventually settled down.
Maybe it’s time we start actually believing in fairy tales. Focus on bettering ourselves as individuals and wait for the right one at the right time. Go for the guy who will chase you down at midnight, leaving his posh party just because you left something. The one who will fight the dragon in the dark forest, no questions asked. Rescue you from the tower. Be completely vulnerable to you in his beastly state. Kiss you, even when you look like death warmed over. It may take time and many lonely nights before you find the one worth waiting for, but owning your single girl status and trusting that he IS out there without losing sight of what you truly want and deserve- that’s true hopeless romanticism. When the right one comes along, the wait will be worth it. And if you think I’m wrong, take a look at the longest lasting stories we know and love about love. They don’t leave you wanting more, and neither should your relationship.