One of the earliest tales I heard as a child that instilled in me the notion of love as a savior was the one about Cinderella and how the prince saved her from her stepmother and sisters. It also reinforced my hopeless romantic belief that no matter what I will develop into a Cinderella who will lose her shoe somewhere and be discovered by her prince, after which we would live happily ever after.
My belief grew stronger as I got older thanks to the romance novels I read and the numerous movies I watched that centered on the idea of love as a person’s savior.
The majority of people in our society grow up in a similar manner. The fundamental reason for this is that in normal South Asian society, marriage is constantly prioritized, and previous generations have also linked little rights like having a haircut, travelling, etc. with marriage, particularly when it comes to women. Therefore, the majority of us romanticize it to the point where we dedicate our entire lives to finding love, which is ironic because sometimes even love can’t make us happy. Even after we have found it, kept it, felt it, and conserved it, it still doesn’t provide us the happily ever after we have searched for all of our lives. So, does it operate fairly?
Most individuals still don’t understand complexity when it comes to relationships. Because neither books nor movies depict the messy side of love—the side where two people are on the verge of giving up on each other, the side where people fall out of love, the side where one partner lacks the courage to stand up for the person they claim to love, the side where rotten standards of beauty, morals, and family values come between two people who genuinely love each other- we view love through the prism of what we have learned through movies, which is a façade. It is unfortunate that we are never taught to distinguish between fiction and reality; what we read on pages and see on screens differs greatly from what actually occurs.
We are raising a generation of people who have experienced pain in the name of love as a result of our obsession with finding “the one” and living happily ever after, who have endured horrendous acts of physical, mental, and emotional abuse as a result of being convinced that love necessitates giving up some rights and liberties. Look at the relationships that the majority of parents in our culture have with one another; they are all built on concessions, and what irritates me about it is that these people seem to be expecting us to go the same course. We are aware and can clearly see that these people would have accomplished a great deal more in life if they hadn’t been chasing happily ever after, yet they continue to act as though their relationships are going swimmingly.
The reality is that finding the one and living happily ever after aren’t the only paths to a happy ending. Someone’s happily ever after may involve working toward improved mental health, ending an abusive relationship, being able to afford food, or being able to move past a painful past. We must realize that a happily ever after is not always associated with roses, dates, and a box of chocolates. Sometimes, our happily ever after is only a matter of survival.
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