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Does Fairy Tale Love Exist Only in Children’s Books?

by eharmony Editorial Team - November 22, 2023

Fairy tale love, with its enchanting narratives of princes and princesses, magical transformations, and “happily ever after’s,”, has long held a special place in our hearts. For many, it’s the passion of fairytale romance that lends it allure. Yet, beneath the glittering surface lies a complex tapestry of emotions and expectations. Let’s look at both sides of it and why you may want to set your sights on true love instead of waiting for someone holding the right-sized crystal slipper.

What does fairytale love mean and its timeless beauty

Fairy tale love is love in all its cliched greatness. But what does fairy love mean? It’s about overcoming curses with love, making ill-advised bargains for love, and the intensity of love that allows heroes to slay dragons. Like Belle seeing through the Beast’s gruff exterior to love the inner him, it’s the notion that some love is indomitable and fated.

Interestingly, it was Disney that largely created this idea as older versions of most fairy tales had much more macabre narratives, often without happy endings1.

But here are some great things about this kind of love without selling your voice for a pair of legs like Ariel.

  • Fairy tale love is comfortable. It fits very neatly into the ideas many of us hold of an ideal relationship thanks to mass media. This places less friction on the relationship and makes for a more harmonious pairing early on.
  • It’s unconditional. This kind of love is based on the premise that you two belong together. That you’ve always belonged together. So we tend to give it so much emotional energy that it helps us get past those times in our relationship when it’s not a fairy tale.
  • In a fairytale relationship, there’s also a general focus on fulfilling the potential of your romance by going the extra mile. This means you can depend more steadily on your partner to be that Prince or Princess Charming who’s ready to climb a tower for you.
  • It’s not based on looks. Apart from the titular Sleeping Beauty, fable love focuses more on the idea that when these characters confront each other, it’s not beauty that carries the romance forward but rather a deep feeling of compatibility. The film Shrek satirizes this with sincerity wonderfully.
  • People living out a fairy tale love are often in awe of each other. They see their partners as one of the central aspects of their lives, and so these relationships are often about propping each other up, finding beauty in their imperfections, and generally being each other’s biggest fans, inspiring greater self-confidence.
  • It’s not meant to be perfect. A fairytale romance’s central themes are about overcoming obstacles and compromising for the sake of love, which is a truly healthy outlook on relationships. It ties to the notion that true love isn’t free.

But how do fairy tales fare against their more realistic version, real love? 

The difference between fairytale love and real love

The first problem we encounter when questioning does fairy tale love exist, is already in the first word of the name. In the real world, seven dwarf roommates don’t operate lucrative gem mining operations and eternal sleeps are just called comas. So fairy tale love runs along similar lines of being more fantastical than grounded in reality, unlike real love. 

There’s also the fact that reality can never live up to the idealized expectations of a fairytale relationship in your head. Putting your partner on a pedestal is just unfair to them and it just sets you up for disappointment. Fairy tales don’t contain arguments about doing the dishes or crossing each other’s boundaries while with true love, conflict confrontation and resolution models are a central aspect of health communication.


Older couple lie in each other arms and laugh as symbol what is love

Do you want to know what love is?

We have heard of people saying love is beautiful, sweet, pure, unpredictable, and painful all at the same time. So, what is love? The simplest definition of love is the connection and comfort you share with someone.

The Discrepancy Between Reality and Fairy Tale Ideals

Often, fairy tale love is about putting the journey before love, which is kind of a complete inversion of traditional dating. With real love, your relationship is meant to be the journey to love, while Cinderella’s and Prince Charming’s seem to be based on one dance together and her having incredibly specifically sized feet.  

There’s no avoiding the fact that it’s a mostly gendered concept with women expected to be graceful and feminine and men to fulfill certain toxic masculinity checklist boxes, not leaving much room for less traditional and LQBTQ+ fairy tales. A study published in the Psychology of Women Quarterly also found that women who put too much energy into finding the ideal fairy tale romance, often neglect other pursuits and experience lower self-esteem than women who have a variety of important pursuits2.

Reality vs. Fantasy: The Search for Genuine Love

At the end of the day you should be asking yourself, does fairy tale love exist even, and is it even something you’d actually want? Real love is building something meaningful together through patience and intimacy, whereas fairytale love seems to have an unrealistic notion of all the pieces being already present and they just need to link up.  

You don’t have to kiss frogs: Find a fairy tale love that’s grounded in reality

Here at eharmony, we’d never disparage the idea of a fairy tale love. And if you can find it, all the better for you. We just advise against making a fairy tale love the only kind you’re willing to accept. We’re saying be open to real love and all its beautiful and frustrating glory by finding someone truly compatible with you. So don’t try to live someone else’s fairy tale, write your own together.

At eharmony, we’re big fans of love stories. After all, we’ve had over 2 million of them take place on our platform. So find yours more easily at eharmony today with compatibility-based matching. Try us out today and start the first chapter.

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