Disney’s Happily Never After

In this day and age, the notion that love begins with a struggle and ends with marriage is as omnipresent and omnipotent as the idea of eternal damnation was in the Middle Ages. From movies to literature to music to real life, love is what makes the world go round – but why blame Disney for our unfeasible view of love?

As psychologists have pointed out time and time again, the first three years of learning are the most critical, shaping our views of the world and those around us. The rest of our early years are spent building on our inherent ideas of what life is, and what did we and our children watch all the way throughout childhood? Disney, of course!

Ariel and Prince Eric, Aladdin and Jasmine, Aurora and Prince Phillip, Cinderella and Prince Charming, Belle and Prince Adam; Disney’s idea of love is ubiquitous in its films, and what it teaches us is that if you want a happy marriage, you need to fight tooth and nail for it. But this, in my opinion, is as realistic as the notion that unicorns existed before the great storm that made Noah and his arc household names.

We grow up believing that we need to fight for love, and that nothing that comes easy is worth it or lasting. This notion of love has even given rise to what has been dubbed ‘the dating game’, which – for those living under a rock – is the strife to find ‘the one’ through uncomfortable dates, trial and error, heartbreak, bucketloads of tears, falling for the wrong people, giving chances to those our brain just screams ‘NO, you stupid idiot! No, no, no, no. What are you doing? No… shtaaaap!’ to, and creating an army of exes that we try to avoid at all costs.

The truth is our idea of marriage is relatively modern. In the past marriage was about convenience, dowry (as in money and land mhux lożor u xugamani, oħt) and, of course, procreation – love was only a byproduct that was not expected but which was happily welcomed. I am by no means promoting this idea of marriage; arranged marriages are medieval, but our modern idea is as much of a fabulation as the stories that helped build the belief.

Many people have drawn upon this effect that us women have irrational expectations when it comes to love, with those women who want to find the one and who need their puzzle to be complete – no pun intended – are said to suffer from the ‘Cinderella complex’. But what does all this mean?

Well, it means that we have to wake up. I learnt my lesson the hard way, as I was fighting to get the man I loved, fighting to stay happy with him after I got him, and fighting him in court.

It’s not that it shouldn’t be hard to love someone, but if it’s a constant struggle then don’t expect a happy ending. Marriage should be about a union of equals not a frenzy of love because unfortunately love dies, like the flowers they give you, and the chocolates they present you with (and which we then stuff our faces with as we cry in the office bathroom because the damn idiot has hurt us again).

Wake up and realise that as amazing as those eternal love stories are, they are what hinder us from being happy in a relationship. We expect too much, we give too much, we fight too hard, and we lose ourselves. And what for? What we need to learn is to love someone who’s good to us and not make someone who’s bad for us, love us.

This is once-bitten-twice-shy Evelyn reporting for EVE, before making a lovely meal for her partner and child.

What do you think of this? We’d love to hear from you!