Fairytale Standards

Words by: Laeticia Keiko
Art by: Naiya Sornratanachai

To all my fellow hopeless romantics, love is full of expectations and disappointments. It can be a dream come true, but just remember that all fairytales come with constant ups and downs and plot twists. Are we really ready to experience realistic love? 

There is a long history of the world romanticising love. Who doesn’t love LOVE? We’ve been told it’s the solution in every story arc — a perfect ending after a long fight. As kids, we watched a prince battle a fire-breathing dragon to save sleeping beauty. A prince desperate to find the mysterious girl at the ball who ghosted him. We watched these suitors put their own lives at risk for the sake of romance. Sure, it’s toxic, but all I learnt was that we all have one true unconditional love — our soulmate. 

After years of disappointment, my expectations of love have steadily declined. At eight years old, I wanted a prince with a white horse to marry me and fix my life. At sixteen years old, after listening and consoling thousands of heartbreak experiences, my expectations fell down the rabbit hole. When I found someone I finally loved, he exceeded my checklist and more. And after a while, it reverted back to a series of overpromising and under-delivering. 

Summer was the fairytale I hoped for. I finally met someone who made me feel completely, ridiculously happy. He would say all the comforting words and give me the warmest gestures. And for every smile and all the tears, I fell for him harder and harder. We were always there for each other when we had no one else. We laughed over our stupid mistakes together, we cried together at our vulnerable times, we even planned to travel together before we eventually would settle into our white picket fence life. He was my person. I finally felt the unconditional love I grew up watching. It was the happiest happy ever after. 

I waited my whole life for that kind of romance — the kind that gets all the butterflies running from a single text message and gets us to wonder over a thousand different outfits for a measly coffee date. At that moment, my expectations were my reality. 

Alas, life isn’t a movie. When winter ended, the ‘dream come true’ changed. We couldn’t look after each other. Every day was a fight and every day it was the same mistakes. Our individual lives weren’t blending well with our shared life, as much as we tried. Most days, I just hoped it would go back to the way it was before; hoped the fairytale dream would come back, hoped we wouldn’t call it quits the next day. But of course, staying together was unrealistic. 

I was left grieving someone who had opted out of my life, and the end of my childhood version of love. It wasn’t at all like the books and movies. It’s not as simple as swapping tails for feet like The Little Mermaid would have you believe. Rom-com movies tend to cut off the situation and change after the “happy ending”. But I guess sometimes relationships get boring and the excitement wears off. Some people just aren’t right together. 

It’s a shame real romance is not as good as Hollywood might make it seem. There are really high highs when it feels like a fairytale, and then there are very low lows. Fairytales are fairytales after all. People are not characters made to fit a shared storyline. The characters in our lives are always changing, and ultimately some people are just meant to be temporary. 

If you spent your whole teenage life watching movies with a wedding ceremony ending, you’ll probably think one shot is all you got. Expecting the “one true love” to be the first person we love will just leave us hopeless. As much as we want to believe in the unconditional true love fantasy, modern dating can be a real hit or miss. But luckily for us, we get more than one chance at romance. There is someone out there who will be the right person for you, at the right time. Despite all the cruel reality of love, I hope you still have room for a little hope for romance.

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