Do You Know The Dangers of Disney Dating?
What are the effects of “Disney Dating”, and how can we make more conscious choices in our dating lives?
Today you’ll find out how to use mindful practices to create the happy ever after that is healthy, romantic, and can stand the test of time.
Because so many of us grew up watching seemingly harmless Disney movies.
You know the kind, there’s a damsel in various distress, and she’s rescued by a handsome prince. Animals usually sing and are so much more helpful than your average lapdog.
It always ends in a happily ever after that you never actually see. There’s usually a wicked witch or evil warlock.
Well, studies show that children absorb more information by observing lessons rather than listening to them, and we now have an entire generation of adults raised while soaking up these dating messages.
By the time you’re finished reading this article, you’ll know all about how this may have affected you (or your significant other), and how to create a healthy and authentic relationship instead of a Disney one.
Make Your Own Shining Armour
One of the more damaging (and insidious) narratives in these movies is how there will be ‘One Special Person’ who will come sweep you off your feet, fix your life, and you can ride off with them into the sunset. Seems like a romantic and tidy solution to life’s problems, but here’s what it subconsciously implies:
1- You don’t know how to resolve your own issues
2- Someone else should define your direction
3- Romance is a solution to problems in your personal life.
Now here’s the thing. There is nothing wrong with having a loving supportive partner who supports you on the journey of life. However, there is an issue if you feel ill-equipped to handle life yourself. The metaphor of your life partner being your other half implies you’re not a whole person on your own. I promise you, you are. The first step is believing it.
When you claim and celebrate your sovereign and unique self, you actually become a much better partner too. Your partner should be one aspect of a holistic picture that makes up the beautiful and happy portrait of your life. They are there to support you, inspire you, love you, but not to make you feel whole. That’s an inside job through self-love and self-care.
This goes doubly for sex by the way. It’s so important to claim your sexual independence and learn about your personal relationship with pleasure. It also enriches coupled sex, as you have a beautiful map you can show them, instead of handing them a compass and an apprehensive “good luck”.
Codependency is Cool, Right?
Which brings me to the main issue this creates in relationships: codependency. Now bear with me here because this might feel a little confusing, but I promise it’s worth it.
First, we must acknowledge that relationships have an inherent level of ‘dependence’ involved in them. This dependence should be mutual and healthy. We call this “interdependence”.
In a codependent relationship, the individuals involved experience difficulty being themselves, and often express feeling smothered or stifled, or that they notice they only feel emotionally safe in a relationship if they are smothering or stifling their partner. Differences or individualities are perceived as emotional threats.
We can shake off this damaging narrative by embracing interdependence. This is where you acknowledge that all relationships have a level of mutual and healthy dependence, and still honor the uniqueness and individuality of each person.
Conflicts are not avoided, they are embraced as communication tools for learning and opportunities for deeper emotional intimacy. You will have needs. Your partner will have needs. Yet, you are each individuals and those needs won’t always line up. Which is okay. Nor will either person always be able to meet the needs of their partner, and that’s okay too.
Communication is such an important key to relationship success, whether in the bedroom or outside of it.
The Happy Ending
Ah, the happy ending. The mythical occasion where everything gets wrapped up into a neat tidy bow, and everyone lives happily ever after. Also, have you ever notices that they never actually show the “happily ever after” chapter?
The part where Cinderella has a toddler that’s weaning while her baby is breastfeeding and her Prince Charming is snoring and she feels like SCREAMING. Or where Snow White realizes she’s actually a lesbian and has to have a really awkward and heartbreaking, but brutally honest conversation with her Prince Charming. Then navigates dating as a queer woman over 30, before ultimately finding her Princess Charming.
My point is, they never actually depict what happily ever after actually looks like. There is no portrayal of the painful late-night conversations to make sure everyone is on the same page. Or the way you fight about chores until you figure out getting a housekeeper is worth the extra expense.
This creates a narrative where people think that any speedbump during dating is actually a dead-end. That relationships don’t take effort. That they don’t sometimes need support from a professional. Fighting isn’t bad, or a sign that you aren’t meant for each other, as long as you keep the fighting healthy, kind, communicative, and respectful.
Also, sometimes relationships just don’t work out, and we need to stop viewing that as a failure. If it’s no longer serving you, and you walk away from it, that’s a success too. The end of one book might come right before the beginning of the most epic “romance novel relationship” of your life.
In the end, you get to define your own “happily ever after”. It might not look like heterosexuality or monogamy, and that’s okay too. It’s up to you. Exploring your sexuality is key. You get to be the author of your own love story.
The Future of Disney (and dating)
I don’t write any of this to trash on Disney movies, honestly, I love them. Always have and will. What I do want to do, is acknowledge how the narratives in these movies that many of us watched at very impressionable ages can be quite damaging to the way we view dating now. Which is what I refer to with my clients as “Disney Dating”.
Being aware of how these unhelpful narratives may have shaped your view of relationships is half the battle. After you finish reading this, spend some time journaling about how your particular social and cultural influences have created narratives that no longer serve you.
The good news is that if you take control of your sex and love narratives you can write yourself the most epic love story every. One that will be perfect for your individual needs and desires.
The great news is the future of Disney is looking bright too! With fantastic new movies coming out every year, like Moana and Frozen, which center around strong female protagonists that take care of themselves and their families.
These will help shape an entire generation of badass folk who listen to the call of their hearts and don’t sell their voice for a chance to date a human dude *cough cough*.