What Disney didn’t tell me about the search for ‘The One’

02/08/2016
angela

In a new spot on CommonSpace, columnist Jenny Constable tackles the big questions around sex and relationships

AS a wee girl, I had my life mapped out in intricate detail by the time I’d left nursery. 

Fed a diet of fairy tales and a religious post-school ritual of sitting in front of the Disney Channel, like many of my peers I grew up with the fuzzy, rose-tinted, and wholly misguided expectation that I’d have found 'The One' in my teenage years, be married by my mid twenties, and be fully settled with a pet cat and one-bed flat by the time I reached 30. Or so I’d thought.

Fast-forward a decade or so, and the situation is very different. At the not-so-tender age of 21, I am about as close to finding 'The One', or indeed any kind of stability, as I was in those early, blissfully ignorant primary school days. To quote Coldplay, "nobody said it was easy, but no one ever said it’d be this hard".

In 21st century society, the quest to obtaining the coveted coupledome is becoming infinitely more treacherous and enduring, with newer, more insurmountable obstacles blocking the already tapering path at every turn. 

In 21st century society, the quest to obtaining the coveted coupledome is becoming infinitely more treacherous and enduring, with newer, more insurmountable obstacles blocking the already tapering path at every turn. 

From the entry and widespread use of self-proclaimed dating apps like Tinder, to the evolution of the infamous friends-with-benefits and 'fuck buddies', the do’s and don’ts of the elusive dating game are rapidly changing, with the lines of what makes a relationship being drawn and redrawn on a seemingly weekly basis. The Disney Channel didn’t explain any of this.

Before you even reach the dating label, you actually have to meet the person first, and that itself offers up a whole smorgasbord of challenges; how do you actually meet potential datees? We live in a society that literally doesn’t sleep; news is constant, our jobs are evermore demanding, and many of us would rather stay up until the early of the hours of morning to stream the American Game of Thrones because we’re too impatient to wait until the UK release the next day.

Our lives have become so fast paced that romance has been reduced to hopeful subscriptions to plentyoffish.com, and regularly replacing the batteries in our favoured vibrator, because the alternative of putting in the work to find a partner, while at the same time balancing all our other various commitments, is just too exhausting to think about.

When you’re half-heartedly swiping away on Tinder in bed at 2am, alone, on a Tuesday morning, in a darkened room lit only by the lurid glow of your phone and a suspiciously out-of-date looking facemask on, it’s easy for your future dating prospects to seem pretty bleak, or non-existent even, especially when you’ve considered your more recent dating experiences to have been resounding successes if the dude remembers to look north of the boob area every now and then, and doesn’t overuse the monkey emoji while texting (take note fellas: major turn off).

From the entry and widespread use of self-proclaimed dating apps like Tinder, to the evolution of the infamous friends-with-benefits and 'fuck buddies', the do’s and don’ts of the elusive dating game are rapidly changing.

And as the dating faux pas mount, the doubts start to creep in, and you start to blame yourself for being unable to get that all important 'click'. Maybe you’re being too picky? Maybe your standards are too high? Maybe the monkey emoji isn’t that bad? 

But if I’ve learnt anything in my dalliances with the dating game, it’s that it’s okay to be picky; to not settle for 'fine'; not resign yourself to a lukewarm love because the alternative of being alone isn’t as nice to contemplate. 

I know what it feels like to connect with someone, to feel that warmth and affection and the realness of something worth waiting for, and yes, it’s about as rare as a finding a Gyrados in Pokemon Go (still looking), but it’s out there, it exists, and my God it’s worth it.

So don’t be disheartened, dear readers, as that old saying goes; you have to kiss (or swipe) a few frogs before you find your very own prince or princess. It may not be as simple as Disney makes out to be, it may take a bit longer than anticipated, and it may not always work out, but it will be infinitely better.

Picture courtesy of Jenny Constable

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