Hello, dear reader. How’s your day treating you so far? Did you remember to return that phone call?
Today I’d like to talk about what makes a modern fairytale. I used to refer to a friend of mine as having achieved the twenty-first century happy ending, because she went through something that a lot of us understand (but with unexpected results). When we were in our first year of university she had a very casual, mostly physical relationship with a guy whom she ended up having strong feelings for. When she told him that she wanted a proper relationship he freaked out and backed off, and they didn’t speak for several months. One day he woke up, realised that he did want to be in a relationship with her (and had been behaving like a cowardly eejit), dashed over to her student flat and begged her to let down her long, flowing locks. Or open the door or something; I can’t remember the details.
Let’s face facts: that story is a rare example of how a typically messy dating situation can be resolved atypically (that is, happily). Why doesn’t that happen more often? Well, gather round and I shall tell you: because we are too afraid to be honest.
What happened to my friend is quite simple: the guy spoke up as soon as he realised what he wanted. We like getting what we want, don’t we? That makes perfect sense. And yet we fool ourselves into believing that our beloveds would keep quiet on the subject – why? Why, if the person you adore consciously feels the same about you, haven’t they said so or done anything about it? Where’s the logic there? You are fabulous, and the right person for you will not risk letting you get away.
Let’s agree that when someone wants you, they will be honest enough to come and get you. There’s your happily ever after; next, please. The problem is the other side of the coin. Not everyone has the courage to say how they feel when the truth is actually “I’m sorry, but I don’t love you. Let’s be friends instead.”
That conversation can be hurtful, awkward and difficult. I know that. But the thing is that not having it demonstrates a lack of respect for the other person which is a thousand times worse than the fact that you don’t love them (which is, after all, not technically your fault – the heart wants what it wants). Love is irritatingly uncontrollable, but respect is a human right. If you don’t have the courage and courtesy to have that conversation you are a) holding up your own happy ending and b) holding up the other person’s. That’s just rude.
Modern dating is a jumbled up mess of we’re-not-dating-we’re-just-seeing-how-things-go, seeing-each-other-sort-of-officially-but-not-quite, oh-I-thought-we-were-allowed-to-see-other-people, and (if you are my flatmate) skipping-through-a-meadow-holding-hands. Things are unclear and confusing, so don’t make it worse for yourself and for others by dragging your heels unnecessarily. No fairytale ends with “and she lived uncertainly ever after, waiting for his phone call and not dating anyone else just in case.”
Have the best Tuesday of the year so far.