Are You Obsessed with the Idea of a Fairy Tale Relationship?

KnightMany little girls grow up dreaming of being in a fairy tale relationship, being swept off their feet by the perfect gentleman and living happily ever after. As boys get older, they, too, can develop idealistic thoughts about becoming someone’s knight in shining armor. Although Cinderella and Prince Charming’s enduring love story may be the stuff of fantasy, trying to create perfection in a real-life relationship can backfire.

When we fall in love, we want to be on our best behavior, look our best, and show our partner how much they mean to us. This is perfectly normal. As love develops and grows, it is also normal to expect love to change and evolve into a maturity and grace that allows for some imperfections to begin to show through.

Over time, all relationships weather ups and downs and highs and lows. Nobody’s perfect, and no partners are perfect together all the time. But in the quest for the “perfect” relationship, sometimes we expect more from our partner than is reasonable. This can mean nobody’s happy.

Perspective is important in relationships. In that spirit, you might want to check your expectations if you expect your partner to:

  • Read your mind—because if they love you, they should “just know,” right? Wrong.
  • Hang out and get along with all of your friends.
  • Meet your every emotional need, desire, and want.
  • Never slip up, say the wrong thing, or make the wrong move.
  • Never get angry or upset.
  • Love you as intensely as you love them.
  • Look a certain way 100% of the time.

When we allow for the idea that relationships are perfectly imperfect, we leave room for ourselves and our partners to be authentic and real.

When we are obsessed with the idea of a perfect relationship, we tend to work very hard to maintain what we think is “right” and “correct” without objective balance. We want to present to the world how solid and strong our love is by metaphorically riding off into the sunset. However, the idea of never having challenges and struggles is unrealistic and disingenuous. If the pattern of portraying perfection in your relationship becomes obsessive and intrusive, it may be time to seek help from a therapist.

Obsessive thoughts may be grounded in our own fear. We all fear abandonment and hurt, but some of us have a stronger inclination to create a sense of security. To begin loosening the grip on the compulsion to be “perfect” in relationships, try the following strategies:

  1. Acknowledge that the quest to be perfect is exhausting.
  2. Be mindful about when the obsession for perfection comes up in your relationship.
  3. Ask yourself: What’s the worst that can happen if it isn’t perfect?
  4. Ask yourself: What kind of love do I want?
  5. Examine why perfection in a relationship appeals to you. Learn from your findings.
  6. Allow your partner space to make mistakes. Acknowledge that they are normal.
  7. Understand that the things you want most are almost always rendered less achievable by your perfectionistic tendencies.

The obsessional quality of perfection is that it is relentless! There is not much room in a fairy tale-like relationship for arguments, hurt feelings, forgotten promises, and repair—the trials all meaningful relationships go through (and typically emerge stronger for) at one point or another. When we allow for the idea that relationships are perfectly imperfect, we leave room for ourselves and our partners to be authentic and real. There may not be a perfect relationship, but a healthy one, in which two people can love, learn, and grow together, might be as good as it gets.

© Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Angela Avery, MA, LLPC, NCC, Obsessions and Compulsions / OCD Topic Expert Contributor

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Thom

    July 3rd, 2015 at 6:57 AM

    only those who have never been in a REAL relationship are the ones still dreaming of a fairy tale

  • michelle

    July 4th, 2015 at 8:19 AM

    True. So true.

  • Keela

    July 4th, 2015 at 7:24 AM

    There are always going to be those times in any relationship when you feel as if you just want to give up and let it all go. You have to decide pretty early on whether this is a relationship that you want to fight for or if you need to part ways. With that being said, fairy tales do not exist the way that they do in the movies or in books. You may have your own version of a happy relationship, your own fairy tale, but you can’t compare that to what some piece of fiction is because if you do then you will never be happy with all that you truly have.

  • Grace

    July 6th, 2015 at 6:42 AM

    Fairy tales do not exist, but good relationships do. You must work on them and grow past that notion that this is going to be easy.
    Sure falling in love with someone can be very easy, but it is the work involved in keeping yourself in love that can be so hard.
    But if you truly love this person, then maybe it won’t feel so much like work, just maintenance that we all have to understand comes with being a part of an adult and loving relationship.

  • Gia

    July 7th, 2015 at 11:29 AM

    Well I am sort of obsessed with the fairy tale and don’t think that I should have to settle for less than what I deserve. And I feel like I deserve the fairy tale.

  • ravi

    July 8th, 2015 at 2:00 PM

    We all get hit at some point in our lives that perfection is not reality, that there is no such thing as a perfect person, that there may be someone out there who is perfect for you, but perfect they are not. I am pretty sure that there are a whole lot of people all over the world who have been fed this load of crap that the person we end up with should be our soul mate, and while I do kinda believe in that aspect, being my soul mate doesn’t mean that we won’t both trip up and make mistakes along the way. And failing at something doesn’t mean that you give up on it, you just work a little harder and try to do better the next time.

  • Bill

    July 10th, 2015 at 7:14 AM

    Well I sort of agree with Gia. Why is it so bad to think that I want to find the perfect woman and have that fairy tale? This might be a little more unusual for men than for women, but I do, I want that prefect ending and think that I have worked hard in my life so why can’t I have that? I honestly don’t think that that is so unrealistic. I also think that you have to set your expectations where you want them to be- aim high, or you will get nothing but low.

  • Andre

    August 18th, 2018 at 8:48 PM

    I agree with both Bill and Gia. I want the fairy-tale ’cause otherwise, I feel like I have settled in the past. I’ve worked really hard on myself and think that I’ve earned the right to want that fairy-tale, so I’m going for it!!!

  • Daisy

    June 5th, 2018 at 12:49 PM

    i do not know what you are talking about for i have never been in love. But i have 3 crushes

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