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The Myth of “Happily Ever After”

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Summary: From young, the "happily ever after" fantasy is presented as the gold standard of love. Where did this belief come from? Discover the myth of fairy tales.

From the time we’re very young, the “happily ever after” fantasy is drilled into our minds as the gold standard of love. 

Whether it be fairytales, romantic novels, or rom-com, they all tend to end one way: a boy meets a girl, they fall madly in love, and the rest is history. We’re told that when the time is right the perfect person will fall into our lives and make our dreams come true… THE END.

But where did this belief even come from?

Old couple being happy

The Never-Ending Expectation of Eternity

The fantasy of happily ever after made its way into the common narrative about 400 years ago in Venice, Italy. And as romantic as that may sound, life at this time was no walk in the park. 

Poverty was rampant, most didn’t live beyond the age of 40, and social hierarchies dictated all aspects of life. As New York Times best-selling author Katherine Woodward Thomas puts it, “if you were born poor then you would most certainly die poor.

Italy’s monarchical system at the time didn’t allow anyone born outside of the royal family to rise out of poverty, and people desperately wanted a way out.

So the concept of “happily ever after” served as an escapist fantasy for those who were struggling to survive and dreamed of a higher quality of life.

Now, is that romantic or what?

*cues violin

What if Finding “The One” Isn’t for Everyone?

Though many of us would LOVE to find that special someone on the first try and never have to worry about dating, ghosting, or meeting the parents ever again… Sadly, it’s just not realistic.

As the old saying goes, you have to kiss a few frogs to find your prince. And while this may sound offensive to men (or frogs)… The message does in a way ring true.

The reality is, most of us will have at least two or three serious relationships in our lives, and that’s absolutely OKAY. There’s nothing wrong with having more than one relationship over your lifetime.

Sure, you may find love that lasts forever, but that doesn’t make any lost love less valuable.

Whether it’s having a child, making beautiful memories, discovering your inner strength, or just learning how to let go…. All relationships come into our lives at just the right moment to give us exactly what we need to grow.

So there’s no shame in starting over.

Man kissing his girlfriend on the forehead

Is Every Love Story Meant to Last?

When a relationship ends, you’re not only left to cope with the loss of love, but it can also feel like you failed somehow. 

You may question what you did wrong. Maybe you wonder what you said or didn’t say that led up to the breakup. Or you might beat yourself up for not fighting harder to “make it work.”

All these feelings rise to the surface after a breakup for one simple reason…

We have an innate belief that any love story that doesn’t end in death or eternal bliss was somehow a waste of time.

Because if your sole objective is to find your one and only, no matter how much you learned, grew, or gained, from any other relationship… It will feel like a loss in the end.

So what if we start holding our love life to a new standard?

Couple waking up together

Loving Without a Timeline

What if the expectation of forever wasn’t even in the equation? What if we allowed all connections in our life to grow, shift, and change exactly as they’re meant to? What if we could find as much peace in endings as new beginnings?

When we acknowledge that all love is either for a lesson or a lifetime, it becomes all too clear that we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. 

Because whether it lasts a month, a year, or a lifetime…

No breakup is a failure. No heartbreak lasts forever. And no connection between two souls is ever a loss. 

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