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Irritatingly, I have a headache again - it makes it hard to think.  I guess it's the weather, which cannot decide where on the temperature scale it wishes to stand.  Of course, all the local flowering trees are ignoring this prevarication and have decided to bud and bloom with alacrity - three days ago, bare trees, and today, ooh, pink!

I do love tree blossoms.  It's one thing DC does very well - a lot of neighbourhoods are filled with cherries, and people do take a lot of care with their gardens.  When my family lived in Bethesda, we used to get people stopping on the road to look at our 40-50 foot Japanese weeping cherry, which, for the week or so it flowered, was amazingly gorgeous.  I've never seen one as big - it had to be at least 70 years old.

When I was in high school, I used to walk the 3/4 mile or so to school through the cherry-lined back streets, and my favourite time of year was when the blossoms were just starting to fall and bury the streets in drifts of petals.  Being a complete fantasy geek, I used to pretend that I wasn't a dumpy unattractive teenager during those days, but the girl in Legend or some such movie/story, walking in a long flowing dress through drifts of romantically whirling petals, my long perfectly ringleted hair lifting gently in the breeze, to where unicorns and my True Love[tm] were waiting to take me to my happily ever after.

God, I do not miss those days one bit.

The absolute agony of feeling like every single facet of my life and appearance (so brutally important during one's teenage years) did not (and could never) measure up to the kind of girl who got to have the Prince in all those stories poisoned my entire existence.  Romantic fantasies are lethal, because real life can't compete with unicorns, ferchrissake.  Getting hooked on that kind of thing as a hormone-addled teenager practially guarantees misery.

Oh, God.  The yearning.  The muthafekkin' aching lonely yearning.  I'm surprised I made it out as mentally intact as I did.  Thank all the sweet Goddesses and saints watching over me that I did get over it - Many women don't, and still fervently buy into the idea that there's a Prince out there with their name on him (which is why so many terrible chick-flicks are made that have agonizingly stupid endings).

(He's Just Not That Into You is one such festering boil.  I read the synopsis on The Movie Spoiler, and I wanted to barf at the stupidity.  Please, avoid this movie.)  

This isn't a diatribe about "not needing a partner to be a whole and functioning human being", btw - I would be a total hypocrite if I did one of them, since I have not spent any time without a partner since I was 18, and I really, really prefer not to be alone - but being able to look at your man and know he's perfect for you without requiring him to be perfect is one of the key things in a successful partnership, and that's kind of what I'm rambling about.

(I think Bob is perfect.  I'm just sayin'.)

These fantasies that so many of us grew up on (and see perpetuated in movies) - they are so passive.  Waiting for the Prince.  Being saved by the Prince.  Being woken from a deep sleep (what's more passive than a coma?) by the Prince.  Being carried off by the Prince to his castle (maybe I like my castle - it's got all my stuff, and a bitchin' garden, to boot).  This is madness - who wants to be like that?  I want autonomy.  I want a man who listens to my opinion, who laughs at my jokes, who lets me know when there's one apple left, and gives me the option of eating it instead.  I need to be appreciated for what I am, not what someone wants me to be.

But the romantic fantasy interferes with all of that - it requires me to be a certain way, or else I end up the bad girl who dies (in the old-style movies) or the "quirky" best friend who remains alone (in the newer movies - a fate even worse than death, according to the romance fantasy).  Being unwilling to fit into Princess mode means NO MAN, and this causes otherwise sane women to panic and focus on unnecessary things like their weight and forget about important things like whether the guy has a sense of humour.  Or worse, they get silly and ignore clear warning signs, like the fact that he stares at other women the whole time you're on a date.

There is a song that's quite popular right now called "Love Story" - sung by a beautiful, dewy (and young) Taylor Swift, it is an update on the Cinderella story, with a bit of Romeo and Juliet-type "We're not supposed to be together" thrown in.  In the grand tradition of completely unrealistic romance fantasies, everything works out okay, and he tells her to pick out a white dress, because her daddy says it's okay to get married.

(The video is hilariously badly costumed, but I have to admit that guys do look yummy in early 1800s clothing.)

Romeo and Juliet was a tragedy, but most people seem to have forgotten that, considering how often it is referenced in popular culture as the ultimate romance.  They don't end up together despite all objections, they end up dead.  Deservedly so - frankly, they're both idiots.  But the idea of young love and perfect endings is part of the romantic fantasy, and a veil is discreetly drawn over the happy ending, since marrying at 17 (or 14) is a less than good idea, and the next act is Juliet at home with three kids by the time she's 20, and Romeo working a crap job, drinking away his earnings just so he doesn't have to deal with the disappointment that things didn't turn out to be "happily ever after" at all.

The ultimate romantic fantasy is sterile - and futile.  Life continues past the end of the "happily", and the "ever after" needs to be considered.  Unfortunately, teenagers - riddled with longing, awash with hormones, and no idea who they really are - aren't very rational thinkers, and they have no idea that the initial stomach-dropping excitement of infatuation needs to mature into a steady calm love if the relationship has any chance of surviving.  The excitement can't last at that level - our bodies simply don't produce enough endorphins.  That rush is supposed to get you through the first weeks of knowing someone, allowing you to overlook their less attractive attributes just long enough to get pregnant and perpetuate the species.  If you get pregnant quickly, the man will stay around long enough for you to give birth, and maybe through the first year.

Then it all wears off, and if a girl is too wrapped up in the romantic fantasy of Twoo Wuv to notice that the guy she hitched her star to is not actually compatible at all, the sudden lack of anything in common comes as a bit of a shock.  The purported happy ending that was supposed to magically appear doesn't.  What happened?

She never bothered to actually look at her Twoo Wuv, is what happened. Participating in (and wholly buying into) the romantic fantasy is willingly putting on a blindfold.  Every man becomes potentially TEH ONE (omgz!), and the poor unfortunate man the girl has focused her fantasy on, even if he's a really awesome guy, doesn't stand a chance at being seen for the great guy he really is.  I hate this idea.  Most guys are absolutely awesome, but they're not some Disney fantasy meal ticket, and it's insulting and demeaning to expect them to conform to some girl's unrealistic fantasy. 

(Plus it allows those really icky predator guys to use you and ditch you, since they're master manipulators, and can play into all your fantasies.  Be suspicious of the guy who does everything too intensely, too fast.  He's an asshole.  Awesome guys are too nervous about being with an awesome girl to pull everything off perfectly.)

I hate the pain of the fantasy - it not only obscures your view of the person you're dating, it destroys your self-esteem.  No-one is willowy, perfect, delicate, and always gorgeous, with perfectly tousled hair and long eyelashes framing perfect almond shaped violet-blue eyes.  We're always too fat, too short, not graceful enough.  Our hips are too big, our laugh is too loud, we say "fuck!" at the wrong moment.  But we're real - and the awesome guy that wants to date us is real, too - as long as that dreadful romantic fantasy doesn't get in the way.

I'd put this over to the guys, too - that fantasy woman you're looking for?  Doesn't exist.  Even Angelina Jolie gets cranky, and eats the last cookie sometimes.  It's called life.  Life is full of compromises - ones that you will happily make in a healthy relationship, because the other person is compromising as much as you are.  No man is an island, and good thing, too.

Romantic movies and music (and the entire fashion industry) are predicated on you being unhappy.  They like the romantic fantasy, because it means they get to sell more stuff to people desperately trying to find their Prince or Princess.  Enjoy the movies and music, and have fun wearing great clothing by all means, but don't look at any of it as some kind of blueprint for happiness, or you'll drive yourself insane.

Even if, by some horrid happenstance, I ended up single again, I refuse to hit up that romantic fantasy again, no matter how seductive.  I am ideal for someone, and someone is ideal for me (hi, Bob!), and neither of us would fit into the Disney mould.  I never want to yearn like that again.  Worse, I might miss out on a great person because they didn't fit my romantic ideal.  How ironic!

Save it for the movies and the music videos - I prefer real life.

But I am looking forward to the cherry blossoms.  And I think that red hair goes quite well with tumbling pale pink petals and a gentle breeze - even if it does mean my hair goes funny and stands up in a goofy way.

Comments

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hsifeng
Mar. 11th, 2009 05:35 pm (UTC)
I often tell my hubby that he is perfect. He typically responds by reminding me that he is not "perfect", at which point I just remind him that "perfect for me" does not mean "perfect for everyone".

*chuckle*

These gooey-eyed moments are then frequently interrupted by me asking him to remember to pick up his own socks, or him asking me to run an errand for him, or either one of us forgetting some obvious opportunity to act like “de purfekt cuple”.

*grin*

That’s why I like us…
_medb_
Mar. 11th, 2009 05:38 pm (UTC)
And yet, it seems like so many guys out there seem to prefer a woman who needs to be saved, sigh. Maybe it's just my own experiences talking, but I've always gone out and done what I want to do, relationship or not, and time after time, it's the friends who are relationship-desperate or who are coming out of nasty breakups that always seem to find a date/relationship/spouse. I sometimes feel like I should bow to the pressure and be all flirty and damsel-in-distress-like, but I just can't bring myself to do it since it would go against my entire being to be that way.
I hold out some hope though- my brother married a woman who's very much her own person and he prefers it that way; heck, I swear she's the one who instigates all of the home improvement projects for their house (AND is the owner of the tools, not my brother) ;)
attack_laurel
Mar. 11th, 2009 06:09 pm (UTC)
You are clearly not meeting the right kind of guy - and dating a neanderthal who is only interested in passive women is the kind of hell you don't want to get yourself into - being single is far better.

The reason these friends of yours keep finding new guys is because they don't care what the actual guy is like, they just care that they have a guy. Any guy. It sounds like you're much too smart to fall for that line of thinking, which means you're not going to go through yet another ugly break-up (like they will) every few years.

And don't give in. If you want a guy, a guy will come along, but if you do your own thing and follow your star, you'll have a rich and fulfilling life - something that is MUCH more important than a man, despite what people try to tell us.

From experience, I can tell you that having a man for the sake of having a man starts to suck pretty quickly. And those guys that want a pretty passive princess have some very ugly ideas about equality.
(no subject) - _medb_ - Mar. 11th, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fiberferret - Mar. 11th, 2009 09:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
pinkleader
Mar. 11th, 2009 06:55 pm (UTC)
When dressed as Snow White this year for Halloween, there is a reason why I responded to the question "Who are you dressed as?" at one point with "a victim."
mistressrhi
Mar. 11th, 2009 07:14 pm (UTC)
You're just e-vil! ;-)

Must be why I like you...
(no subject) - fiberferret - Mar. 11th, 2009 09:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
spranglady
Mar. 11th, 2009 07:11 pm (UTC)
ya know, that's why I like the movie 'Swan Princess'... the prince and princess meet as children, don't like each other, meet again as adults and fall madly in love. He calls for the wedding, she stops everything with, "Why?" He looks flabbergasted, and finally stammers out, "Well, look at you! You're beautiful!" She says something to the effect of, "That's not enough. I won't marry you."

Things move on from there, and of course they end up falling in love later and getting married, but only after getting to know each other. The opening song, though, "This is not my idea of fun!" is hysterical. :P
bronx_baroness
Mar. 11th, 2009 07:33 pm (UTC)
After I got divorced from the first husband, I decided to never get married again. Marriage was something invented by men to literally enslave women and was thus, not for me. Ever.
I was going to remain single the rest of my life, provide for myself beautifully and have a series of meaningless but physically fulfilling sexual liasons. I met Ivan the following year and discovered that you can do all that and be in love with a perfectly wonderful man. Marriage takes work, good marriages more so, but neither should take away from each others life goals or individualism. It's been almost 20 years that we've been together, so I think it's working. :)

And yes, I was raised as a feminist before it became Feminism.
norayn
Mar. 11th, 2009 07:36 pm (UTC)
"He's Just Not That Into You" . . . . I remember the episode on Sex & The City . . .
fitchwitch
Mar. 11th, 2009 08:07 pm (UTC)
And another thing....
I actually HATE those bodice rippers--unless you're using them as soft porn. In almost EVERY ONE of them, the heroine is initially repulsed by the arrogance of the hero, and then "through her love" he is magically transformed into a great guy. Or she realizes that he's really great, but she just misunderstood him. Because of this, women put up with outrageous behavior thinking that maybe the asshole they're dating can be transformed by being loved, or maybe she just doesn't understand him.

Ya know what kiddo? Sometimes an ASSHOLE is just an ASSHOLE. And no matter how he tries to justify acting that way, he is just being an ASSHOLE, and no amount of love or understanding will change him.

Edited at 2009-03-11 08:08 pm (UTC)
sarahbellem
Mar. 11th, 2009 08:41 pm (UTC)
Re: And another thing....
Ya know what kiddo? Sometimes an ASSHOLE is just an ASSHOLE. And no matter how he tries to justify acting that way, he is just being an ASSHOLE, and no amount of love or understanding will change him.

That's sort of the premise of the novel I've been noodling on for years now... Not based on personal experience or anything. Oh no. Not me. *whistles innocently*
Re: And another thing.... - virginiadear - Mar. 11th, 2009 09:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: And another thing.... - fiberferret - Mar. 11th, 2009 09:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
nobarking
Mar. 11th, 2009 08:13 pm (UTC)
TWOO WUV

From the other side of this, a girl who has decided that you are their TWOO WUV has got to be the most frustrating, annoying thing EVER. She expects you to ride in on a white horse, rescue her from all her problems and then make her life go perfectly. Some guys buy into this, but the whole thing honestly scares me -- I'd rather be with someone who isn't looking to me to make the world perfect for them and solve all their problems. It doesn't sound, to me, like a very healthy relationship.

(I like the T. Swift song only because it's catchy and plays on the radio a lot, but it makes me laugh that it's Romeo and Juliet being referenced -- I always figure the missing verse is about them dying horribly.)
virginiadear
Mar. 11th, 2009 08:57 pm (UTC)
This particular sword cuts both ways.
Speaking as one who has been on the receiving end of rescuing because some guy with white-knight ambitions, needing to see himself as hero, has insisted on rescuing me from things I not only didn't need rescuing *from,* but at which I was and am far more competent than they were.

And at least two of them decided before even introducing themselves that they'd "rescue" me from *their* bachelorhood by making me mommy-wife to them. I get why, from their standpoint, it seemed a good idea but they couldn't get that from mine, this wasn't such a bargain.
Sorry: this has to sound like man-bashing, but it's not men in general I'm gunning for here.
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Mar. 11th, 2009 09:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - virginiadear - Mar. 11th, 2009 10:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nobarking - Mar. 12th, 2009 03:37 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Mar. 11th, 2009 09:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nobarking - Mar. 12th, 2009 03:39 am (UTC) - Expand
karynbautista
Mar. 11th, 2009 08:48 pm (UTC)
On the Taylor Swift note.... She has another song, that was released to radio right after that super catchy Cinderella, which is almost like a part two, imo! Its called White Horse, and the chorus goes..

"I’m not a princess, this ain’t a fairytale
I’m not the one you’ll sweep off her feet
Lead her up the stairwell
This ain’t hollywood, this is a small town
I was a dreamer before you went and let me down
Now it’s too late for you and your white horse
To come around "

Just as cute and teenaged angst, but all about how he's NOT her prince. rofl, like she changed her mind after she got Romeo. At least, thats how I think of it.

And on the Twooo Wooovvee note... I've always been aggravated by the whole "Everyone has one perfect soul mate" idea. I mean, there's way too many people in the world for that to work out right. What if that "perfect" mate is 40 yrs older than you living in a remote pacific island? Not cool. I like to think that perhaps we've actually got a ton of just about right mates, and that we can make it work out. That its not just one perfect guy. My fave analogy, as I've thought about this alot, is that every glove does have a mate. But most any brown glove can go with another brown glove. It doesn't have to be perfect, just .. right.
virginiadear
Mar. 11th, 2009 08:51 pm (UTC)
If I've got the author and work right, then: Nathaniel Branden, in "The Psychology of Romantic Love: Romantic Love in an Anti-Romantic Age," states that our speaking of "falling in love" is quite telling. "Falling" in love implies helplessness, it tacitly pleads, "Catch me."
Catch me, save me---I'm falling.

And I think it may again be Branden, although it could be Fromm or May or Laing who further observes that "in love" is often merely intense relief from one's painful feeling of being alone.
(If it were glorious aloneness, it would be *solitude,* said a woman author. Obviously I'm not doing well at this today, or I'd have these writers sorted in my head.)
Interestingly, when in love, we often continue to *yearn,* usually for true connectedness and companionship, and mistake that *yearning* for loving our Other. Intensity of the yearning is how we grade our degree of attachment---ironically [says virginiadear.]
attack_laurel
Mar. 11th, 2009 09:18 pm (UTC)
Heh. The best high I ever got in my life wasn't from drugs, it was from the endorphin rush from having an excruciatingly painful potassium drip removed from my arm. I imagine the person terrified of being alone feels the same endorphin rush at suddenly having a partner. Trouble is, the rush doesn't last.

And the romance junkie goes looking for another victim...
(no subject) - virginiadear - Mar. 11th, 2009 09:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - soldiergrrrl - Mar. 12th, 2009 04:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
situveuxmoi
Mar. 11th, 2009 11:12 pm (UTC)
Growing up Disney...
I fondly admit that a good deal of my childhood summers were spent pretending to be a Disney princess and memorizing the songs from the films. My Nana encouraged us to use our imaginations and she had all sorts of fairytale books for us to read and many an 80's prom dress at our disposal to play dress-up.

I was 4 when "Beauty and the Beast" came out on film, and instantly it became my favorite. Belle is one of the few characters who doesn't want to be saved. She wants adventure! The other Disney Princesses...well...were just lame. They just waited around for things to happen instead of going out there and doing what they wanted.

Fortunately for me, the vapid notions of "waiting for my prince" went out the window fairly fast. My sister is letting my niece watch the Princess movies and has been calling her "My little Princess" and whatnot. It's a bit revolting, so I try to counteract it by letting her watch "Wall-E" and "Cars" and reading some of my strong-heroine books to her. :)
dream_wind
Mar. 12th, 2009 02:01 am (UTC)
Re: Growing up Disney...
My sister in law is doing the same thing with my niece - encouraging the "Little Girly Girl" behaviour. She watches all the Princess movies, and - even worse - BARBIE movies. Ugh. At 4, the girl has what I consider a very unhealthy interest in marraige and husbands.

Unfortunately, I'm not around enough to counteract to any great extent, as they live 800km away. And when we stay there, I'm not allowed to watch alternative kids shows like Class of the Titans, Storm Hawks or Transformers, that might Give the Wrong Idea. I'm hoping I can be a more subtle influence when my niece gets older.
Re: Growing up Disney... - attack_laurel - Mar. 12th, 2009 09:59 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Growing up Disney... - dream_wind - Mar. 13th, 2009 01:40 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Growing up Disney... - attack_laurel - Mar. 12th, 2009 09:57 am (UTC) - Expand
elasait
Mar. 11th, 2009 11:56 pm (UTC)
I am weird, because I was the girl, in college, who on those rare occasions when a guy actually asked me out, would consider whether I thought a date with him would be more interesting than staying home and reading a good book...

Through a fluke of fate that I cannot explain, I met the perfect (for me) guy shortly after I joined the SCA, and we've been married 23 years now.
dream_wind
Mar. 12th, 2009 02:03 am (UTC)
Thank all the sweet Goddesses and saints watching over me that I did get over it - Many women don't, and still fervently buy into the idea that there's a Prince out there with their name on him.

I think this explains the popularity of Twilight - doesn't matter Edward is a stalker with violent tendences, he wuvs Bella, and he's only acting that way because he wuvs her so much. Urgh.
attack_laurel
Mar. 12th, 2009 10:02 am (UTC)
I agree. It's deeply unhealthy - but the author seems to be a bit stuck in her own sexual fantasy, as she's actually said in interviews that if she had an Edward Cullen, she'd dump her husband in a heartbeat.

Poor man.
(no subject) - dream_wind - Mar. 13th, 2009 01:36 am (UTC) - Expand
dekarch
Mar. 12th, 2009 10:09 pm (UTC)
Looks like you haven't got many guys weighing in, but my Beloved referenced in her journal, so here goes.

I am a Soldier. I deploy to distant lands that smell funny and have crazed inhabitants who desire earnestly to kill me. I need a wife who will manage the money and the house and the cars and her own mental health and still be supportive and loving and keep me from going too crazy.

I am terribly strong-willed, and a bit of an arrogant bastard in argument. I am incapable of respecting anyone who can't shut me down or who lets me run over her.

I am too old to find helplessness romantic, and I find competence a positive turn-on.

In short, the fairy-tale princess would have bored me to tears by the second date and that would have been about it. Fortunately, my Lady and I both decided to treat each other as actual living breathing adults rather than fantasy objects from the beginning so we don't have that problem.
fitchwitch
Mar. 13th, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC)
Huzzah!
"I find competence a positive turn-on."

BLESS YOU!

I would be driven crazy by a man who "wanted to take care of me." I would probably kill him within a week or two.

And yes, there are men like dekarch out there--I've been happily married to one for the last 34 years.
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