In the early 1930′s, someone in Charlie Chaplin’s Hollywood entourage figured out the formula for getting women and men to come see the same story play out time and again… just with different actors. Disney decided to animate the formula and indoctrinate children into the myth a few decades later… Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Lady and the Tramp, Pocahontas, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella… need I go on? The “romantic comedy or dramedy.” In its purest form, it’s a simple formula. Boy+Girl/Meet-Lose-Get.
Despite knowing that movies are not reality, there are a LOT of daters out there who continue to count on the Hollywood version of Boy+Girl in their own lives. Perhaps it’s a cherished child-like wonder or a deep desire to have a fairy tale story to share with friends, family and future off-spring. Maybe it’s that many of us are closet romantics being bludgeoned by the reality of being an adult with adult responsibilities. I don’t know. But I do know the signs of magical thinking when I see them. Some of them may sound familiar…
Magical Thinking 101:
- Meeting the “right” person makes XYZ problem go away. Example “When I meet the right girl, I won’t be afraid of commitment.” “When I meet the right guy, it won’t matter that I’m unhealthy and overweight because he’ll love me anyway.” In other words, the right person will magically fix me.
- “You complete me.”
- I won’t need to tell the right person what I need, they’ll just know.
- I’ll meet my soul mate when [insert romantic story] happens.
- When we get married, he’ll stop [insert annoying habit or bad character trait.]
- This time I really met “THE One!”
- I’ll write 100 characteristics on a piece of pink paper, sleep with it under my pillow and the man who matches the list will appear in my life.
- Law of Attraction: If I think it, she will come.
- Love at first sight.
Magical thinkers find themselves zooming in and out of relationships at a break-neck pace. No one is immune from being cast as Prince Charming or Cinderella. The unfortunate consequences come when Mr. or Ms. Magic figures out that Prince Charming turns into a frog every other weekend or Cinderella drops her shoe for every guy she meets (unless she met him at a bar or online — because then that could NEVER be the man she’s meant for!) I’ll admit, I fell prey to the lure of magical thinking more in my 20′s because I could lose a night of sleep dreaming about the possibilities without slowing down too much. Now… not so much.
Sometimes it’s hard to let go of the myth for reality. I totally get that. But realizing that you meet your Mr. or Ms. “Right” when you are their Mr. or Ms. Right, gets you closer to your goal much more quickly than trying to magic them into your life. And yes, a good attitude helps matters immeasurably… but the Field of Dating Dreams usually only happens when you put some sweat equity into it.
Is all this to say magic doesn’t exist? Absolutely not. Elements of “magic” entwine our daily lives. Romance happens. But it’s not the driving force behind a healthy relationship. Chemistry, romance, butterflies… all elements of “magic.” The beautiful challenge is to enjoy the “magic” but fall in love with the person.
Many married couples happily love each other with no fairy tale story behind them. They met, matched, married and mated without talking mice, spaghetti slurping dogs or helpful birds to prod the romance along. It’s not the magic that makes them a match. They decide everyday to continue making their match magical.