I could also call it “the fairy tale list” but then, isn’t Cinderella one of the most popular fairytales ever? I think it will do.
When you fall in love, the first weeks, months, years if you’re lucky, are like a fairytale, and you endow the recipient of your love with all the qualities of the knight in shining armour who has lived in your dreams for so long: he’s loving, caring, sexy, loyal, faithful and true, intelligent, understanding, fun, handsome. A few extras like being smart and well dressed and a good dancer add to the charm. Last but not least, he is totally, deeply, madly in love with you.
Then time, and mostly daily life and its problems, get in the way and start sabotaging that fantasy universe of new lovers; little by little, day by day, month after month, those wonderful characteristics start falling down like scales from an old reptile skin. Loving and caring give way to indifference and contempt, suddenly his ideas do not seem so brilliant anymore, and you seriously wonder where all that sexiness has gone when he starts snoring on the sofa; and going out dancing and having fun are suddenly so deeply buried in the past that you can no longer remember the last time you two had a night out in the city (even before Covid, of course). In some cases you may even discover he was a cheater and a liar, of course, and worse, so much worse.
Inevitably one day you look at him and discover all those items on the list no longer check, or at least the most important ones, those you value the most and make you want to be in a relationship, and you break up.
After taking that major step, you feel relieved, proud that you were brave enough to end a relationship that no longer fulfilled you. To have that, better to have nothing; to be with someone and feel utterly lonely, it’s definitely preferable to be on your own.
And then, time goes by. And a strange phenomenon happens, insidiously creeping into your thoughts: you tend to forget the reasons why you broke up in the first place; or maybe you don’t forget them, but the previous list, the fairytale one, slowly comes to life again. You start looking back to the times when you were happy – so happy! All of a sudden, the Cinderella list is back on you mind and you no longer remember the flaws – only the qualities, and the good things that made you fall for him in the first place. Suddenly all those characteristics that drove you apart are no longer so relevant; ok, his indifference was there but it was because he was depressed; he was still intelligent and smart, just tired; as for his extra kilos, nothing that some exercise won’t take care of and, finally, his sexiness might emerge again if only he would take you to a romantic dinner… After all, he was always trustworthy, and so dependable, and you do miss him. Sometimes, this tragic reasoning will even make you want him back.
We are only human, after all, my friends, and we all want to have a great love in our lives. But I say – beware of the Cinderella list! It’s highly dangerous to let it invade your thoughts again. It is highly improbable that your prince charming will reappear to save you from your lonely nights; and if he does comes back, you may discover at your own expense that he is neither prince nor charming anymore, and the list that ultimately made you leave him will unfailingly come back to haunt you. Then, you will no longer be living a fairytale, but a horror story. One you’d rather be without.
So, I say this to you, and to me too, because I’ve also been prey to this nasty syndrome; let the past stay where it belongs – in the past. Do not try to hide reality under a mask that only you can see, just because you very much want to. Be happy that you had your fairytale moments, your real-life Cinderella list, for a time. Remember why it stopped being good, and all the items that would not check anymore. Never look backwards, look ahead. And even if you cannot fathom, in the mists of the future, a new knight in shining armour who will make you live another romantic story, don’t despair. Have you ever thought that your fairytale maybe be just inside you? That it may come in many different forms, different disguises? Different sorts of love? If you discover it, let me know. I’m looking for mine too.
Photo by Ryan Quintal on Unsplash