Isn’t it about time we got rid of the relationship fantasy? You know the one, where a woman’s life is miraculously ‘fixed’ the moment she becomes part of a relationship.
The one where women are seen as drifting aimlessly; looking lost, up until she finally finds an anchor to keep her grounded. Where a lighthouse of a man guides her back safely to shore, and now her world is complete. Huzzah! Gone are the days of this woman’s problematic life, which was going nowhere fast: until she embarked on her happy ever after with her Soulmate. Or Mr Right. Or, if you prefer: The One. (Cue goose bumps)
Together they have reached their happy ending.
But then what? Is marriage, or any other long-term commitment for that matter, a guarantee for happiness? Or is it as far removed from the truth, as the picture of a ready meal, in comparison to what it actually looks like, once on your plate.
It’s not until you hear the ping of the microwave that the spell of your fantasy meal is broken and you’re brought back to the reality of your dinner. If only there was an early ping of realisation when it comes to the reality of relationships too. Sadly, by the time we hear it, we often already feel as if we’ve failed. Because we aren’t happy all the time.
And if there’s one thing we’ve been told for sure; it’s that relationships guarantee happiness. So you must be doing it wrong. Cinderella got it right, as did Snow White andVivien in Pretty Woman, so why can’t you, eh?
Perhaps you’re not high maintenance enough? Maybe you’re not feminine enough?
What if your cankles are the only things standing in the way of you and your happy ever after? And so it goes. Women are far more likely to blame themselves when things don’t turn out as promised; instead of pointing a finger at the ridiculousness of what they’re being told. Never mind mis-sold PPI. We’ve been, and still are, mis-sold the notion that relationships guarantee happiness. For. Ever. After.
Because in 2014, we are still being sold ‘romantic love’. The kind that supposedly ‘sweeps you of your feet’ and fixes everything. Fragrant love, that’s never far from a spontaneous sing-along. Where Prince Charming picks you out of a crowd and proposes, within a matter of hours, and since “it feels so right” you immediately say yes.
Because, well, you know: “when you know, you know”.
Romantic love sets us up to fail in relationships. It puts our heads in the clouds and feeds us unrealistic expectations. Women, feeling they ought to be treated as princesses.
Men, feeling they ought to come to the rescue. When these fantasies inevitably fail, we feel deflated. The romantic love balloon has burst. “Why doesn’t he buy me flowers every day”? “Why doesn’t she laugh at all my jokes”?
Because we’re not part of the cast of some rom-com, that’s why. We have to commute into work; spending the day sitting next to someone with halitosis, only to have to commute back home, stopping of at Sainsbury’s to pick up some dinner, pick up children, cook dinner, feed children, bath children, put children to bed, do a bit of housework, finish of a report and then head to bed. If we get to exchange a few coherent sentences together with our partner, we’re lucky. Only to do the same thing all over again the next day. Romantic? Hardly. Genuine reflection of a relationship in real life? You bet. Because in our day-to-day existence, we are constantly, if exhaustedly, doing things out of love. Genuine love.
Slightly dog-eared ‘can’t guarantee it will last forever’ sort of love.
It’s not fixed. But it ain’t broken either.
Cross-posted with permission from Reporting from Planet Man who looks at the perception of women in society and in the media. She approach the subject of feminism/gender equality with a sense of humour; whilst still making a serious point. Quite often she rant about the ridiculous rules society seems to reserve for women. In particular when it comes to their looks and bodies. Other times she ponders the rise of the ‘vajazzle’ and whether it could double up as a ‘pubic noticeboard’? Random? Yes. Relevant? Hopefully… [@RFPM_]