I sat there in awe of the most average couple I had ever seen. Superficially, neither of them were an oil painting, and listening to their combination of bland drivel talk and her telling him off like a naughty school boy, I wondered how they could be happy. On the surface, they made no sense to me. How can you love anyone who is so massively incompatible to yourself? I sipped my mocha and stared at my reflection in the café window: “How is this possible?” I thought to myself. In my 25 years of existence my encounters with love had been a blend of unsuccessful, fruitless and pointless. Guys approached me, but only the cocky ones who thought “no” was me setting a challenge for them. For a long time I couldn’t fathom it, until I watched this couple, and then it hit me.
Damsel in Distress: How often do you see this in movies? The poor, beautiful princess locked in a tower awaiting a knight in shining armour to free her from captivity? Well, that’s the fairy tale version of the contemporary equivalent “woman in need”. Allow me to explain. This enigma of a princess is hypnotic, dazzling and awe-inspiring, yet all we know about her is that she is beautiful (or so the story goes) and trapped. Truth is, it’s all hoo-ha, but the men in the story want to save her based on just that premise. She could be a right stroppy twat, but that doesn’t even enter their heads. She is just helpless and needs saving, and the man who is successful in doing so will surely win her heart.
How does this fit into the modern era? Well, how often can you say you’ve met a guy who is really nice, has loads in common with you and yet you have no sexual attraction to? You think “How can this be?” Well, I’ll tell you why, because you’re a self-sufficient woman and he doesn’t offer you anything you can’t already do yourself. That’s why you fell in love with that jerk of an ex, because although he was intolerable and messy, he was a publisher and as an aspiring writer yourself, you made an exquisite team. Thus, he gave you something you “needed” this other guy doesn’t. He saved you from a life of day dreaming about your books on the shelves, and made it a reality. He was your hero and you were his damsel in distress.
Steer clear of the takers: I know what you’re thinking “We don’t live in a bloody fairy tale. This is bollocks.” It’s not though, not really. We now live in an empowering era focused on women’s rights and independence. As a gender we have become stronger than ever, so the need for a “hero” sounds awfully like the antithesis of everything we’ve fought for in order to build this profile. The tables have turned and we ladies often wear the trousers. Hence why I guess the guy in the café seemed so resilient to his wife’s pedantic remarks. But, doesn’t that make it all the more difficult to find love? Or, does it make room for a different kind of love? Are our standards for ourselves so high now that we not only don’t need a hero, we want to play the heroin?
Be wary, strong woman. Don’t give up on finding someone to appreciate you for all that you’re worth by finding someone who merely puts you on a pedestal because you supply them with a spine. If you think that solving all their woes and sorrows you will make a solid love, then think again. As much as we all need support sometimes, if you are in a relationship where you’re doing all the groundwork and effort, then it’s not right. Yes, he’s grateful to you. Yes, he thinks you’re hot and likes to show you off. But, is this deep enough?
The White Stripes have a song called “A Martyr for My Love For you”, and my interpretation is that it’s about a guy who really likes this girl, but ultimately walks away from her because he knows he’ll never be enough in the long run. Fact of the matter is, if you are playing a martyr to your partner, they will appreciate you until you’ve helped them reach their goal. Once you have done that, and they realise they can’t return the favour, the relationship crumbles likes an old flower shaken by the weight of time. If you are a martyr, then be aware of the hourglass that holds the sands of longevity to your relationship.
My remnants of mocha sat oxidised in the base of the cup. The couple I’d been observing set off for the rest of their day’s journey outside of the small café. Hand in hand, they left smiling at each other and uttering things that only served to intermingle with other people’s chitter chatter in the room. I realised that they loved each other not because she was beautiful, not because he was funny, or that they had heaps in common. They loved each other because at some point in their romance, she needed him for something only he could give to her, and he felt like a superhero. And despite her berating of him, and his obvious dislike for it, she supported him for always just being him. His love for her was created because she gave him purpose, and her love for him was because he helped craft her dream, their mutual happiness worked as a reinforcing concept. He was her hero, and she loved him for all that he was and had done for her, and her love for him further reignited his for her, and so the cycle continues.
So, I guess it’s not all about being perfect looking, or smart, or kind. It’s about finding the person that completes your soul, someone who shares your vision and aims to make it a reality for you both to share. But you’ll only find that person once you know yourself.
Embrace your being, be confident in who you are and know your dreams.
You will find your hero.