Poisonous Fairytales

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a man who told me of a conflict with a female in his family.  After months of estrangement, he negotiated a situation which forced the two of them to face each other in a restaurant.  Once there, he attempted to address their issue.

“I asked why she’d been so distant,” he told me.  “And she said it was because I ‘didn’t try hard enough’.”

“That makes sense to me,” I explained.  “She wanted you to pursue her in some way.  When your force didn’t match her standards, she concluded you didn’t care enough and you weren’t worth it.”

My friend looked bewildered.  “But I don’t play that way,” he said.  “When she said she didn’t want to talk to me, I let her have her space.”

“Yeah I get that,” I assured him.  “Unfortunately, she doesn’t.”

Since our conversation, I’ve given this issue a lot more thought.  And I think I blame Cinderella.

Little girls have been raised to believe that Prince Charming will tirelessly travel to every house for miles and miles until he finds his true love… this, after mice are magically transformed into horses.  We’re programmed to believe that those who love us (parents, siblings, lovers, fairy godmothers) will do whatever it takes… whatever that means.

When I look around, I can see this expectation/conclusion scenario everywhere.  Especially when it comes to divorce… except, in divorce it can be projected onto the children too (“he must not care about them because he didn’t ….”).

Let’s all be mindful of the impact innocent fairy tales can have on real life.  Men:  keep in mind, that is her logic.  Ladies:  remember, he can’t read our minds and he doesn’t always equate emotion with action.

So far, the only cure I can see for this affliction is raw, honest communication.  (Ouch!  Sometimes I’d rather be violated by a syringe full of medication)

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Posted in children of divorce, family, marriage and tagged , , .


  1. Wouldn’t life be so much easier if everyone lived happily ever after and we were all Cinderella and got to go to the ball? I have to agree, men can’t read minds, so you have to tell them what’s on yours. If they still don’t get it, then you need to take a second look at what you have!

  2. Excellent post DE!

    Everyone is challenged with this. Even the most open communication relationships will be impacted. I think so much of it has to do with expectations not being properly set and then when they aren’t met our internal programming is telling us there must be something wrong.

  3. Great post! Fairy tales have always unsettled me. I have a book of politically correct fairy tales. I don’t remember the exact title but I believe the author is James Finn Garner. It’s fun read.

  4. Enjoyed reading this analysis. There are a lot of expectations we can blame on fairy tales beginning with Prince Charming. He’s a bad notion for girls to grow up with and an impossible expectation for our boys to live up to.

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