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Image / Self / Relationships

‘I spent my life looking for the fairytale love story. It nearly destroyed my relationship’


By Amanda Cassidy
16th Jun 2024

Pexels

‘I spent my life looking for the fairytale love story. It nearly destroyed my relationship’

Amanda Cassidy speaks to those who refused to compromise when it came to finding The One. The results were mixed.

“Non-smoker, at least 6ft and he has to be a doctor… ” My cousin is single at 33 and more than ready to mingle. After a two-year relationship, she threw herself into dating apps with a passion as dedicated as when she was completing her thesis.

But after discovering what she did and didn’t want from a relationship, she was steadfast in her decision. She wanted what she wanted. And he happened to be a fit, six-foot medic. While I admired her single-mindedness, I was concerned she was setting herself up to fail.

Fireworks and cartwheels

Samira from West Cork understands only too well the temptation to hold out for the Happily Ever After. “I married young and was forever comparing my friends’ husbands with my own. I’d wonder why he didn’t pick me up from the airport like their partners did. I started to get paranoid that he wasn’t affectionate around other people. They say that comparison steals joy and that’s what happened to us.

I thought there was someone out there that would give me the Disney relationship I felt I deserved.

“The joy started leaking out. I was resentful towards him and he had no idea why. One night I broke down to my sister and said I thought there was someone out there who would give me the Disney relationship I felt I deserved. She pointed out that while my husband didn’t bring me flowers or write cute messages on the fridge, he made me an elaborate dinner each night when I worked late, he woke me with coffee in the mornings and she listed so many things that showed he loved me.”

She just hadn’t been looking in the right places. In other words, while searching the sky for fireworks, she overlooked the twinkle of the stars.

Fake news

Samira said it made her realise that she was letting social media and even TV cast a false perception of what relationships are really like.

Don’t underestimate how mundane the tiny acts of love are in a relationship

Louise is a nurse in Limerick. She says that among her friends who have been in couples for 20-plus years, the common theme is that romance is something that means different things for different people.

“When I was younger we wanted displays of love — handholding and surprise trips to a hotel for our birthday. And that’s lovely, but when you have a teething child and your partner tells you to go back to bed, he’s got this — that to me is the love I needed. Romantic gestures are welcome but I’d say to others, don’t underestimate how mundane the tiny acts of love are in a relationship.”

Another friend texts me about this article. “I remember being devastated when my boyfriend at the time didn’t want to walk around with his hand in the back pockets of my jeans while I did the same to him.” she shares. “I thought everyone who did that was passionately in love and we were destined to break up.”

They are now married with four children.

The One

My cousin returns with an update. She’s “finished” Hinge based on her requirements, she moans. I encourage her to widen her parameters further. She opens it up to smokers and all professions. One handsome man is all she gets. It also happens to be her brother.

“I don’t want to settle,” she tells me over wine one weekend. “Everyone tells me to wait for The One so that’s what I’m trying to do.” I tell her that compromising isn’t the same as settling. And it is different again to thinking you can change someone. The key to finding your person is having the good outweigh the bad, and the ‘bad’ be things that you can work on together.

Everyone is flawed, I tell her, but as long as you have your dealbreakers, it is worth ditching the search for the Disney endings and start looking at love and relationships in a more realistic way.

Love finds a way…

Honest, clean, hardworking and funny, we decide are things that are most important to her. We ban Hallmark movies and Instagram for a while. She goes on dates with men she’d never have swiped right on before. She opens herself up.

After awful dates and average dates and one false alarm, she’s now dating a funny, smart, paramedic from Laois. Not a doctor exactly, but pretty damn close. He’s only marginally taller than her, but he makes her laugh like no one else I’ve ever met.

Maybe the problem is that we’ve been conditioned to view Mr Right as Mr Perfect. But just like we can be moody and jealous sometimes ourselves, that’s what makes us human. Opening up the floor to relationships that are not Insta-perfect might be enriching. If anything, it might things a lot more interesting.

But what do I know? I wasn’t even around for Tinder. I met my amazing, crazy husband on the singles’ table at a wedding. He’s a whole lot of adjectives but so am I. And our particular combination seems to work for us. And if that isn’t the real-life version of happily ever after then I don’t know what is.

This article was originally published in March 2022.