I like to believe that people are inherently compassionate towards other souls. Furthermore, I think a step further and believe that, although we may deny a capability of actually possessing a means to, we would like to help others, in anyway that we can. Typically, this is regarded in a financial sense as most causes of stress or discomfort are in some way directly related to money. Dashing this mentality and broadening our perspective of help and assistance can drastically elevate an individual’s reach in who they can lift to higher ground.
I have never been financially well-off, nor do I see myself (in the near future) happening upon a mysteriously gracious deposit in my bank account. Because of this circumstance, I have found myself offering assistance in other ways: laughs, hugs, lending my ears, offering advice, or simply a clothed shoulder to wipe the tearful embrace of a friend.
This past weekend I said something aloud to a friend of mine that I have thought for quite a while, but had left it in mental purgatory, floating in my mind. My desire to connect with others, through listening and being readily available to them, compounded with my own necessary want to feel needed by others, and welded together by my (now recognized) bruised vision of love has evolved into what I now identify as my being PC.
I have a Prince Charming Complex.
I see someone that has certain needs, and I fulfill them the best I can.
My second ex-fiancee, and yes, I divulge “second” because I had been engaged twice before meeting my ex-wife, yelled something interesting things in our final blowout. She asked if I knew what my problem was, and proceeded to inform me that I’m not the perfect boyfriend like she and many of her family members thought I was. There was no argument here, I have not labeled myself as such, and in no way see myself fit to. She exclaimed that I made her think that I was, with all my openness and caring and honesty, but because I’m so adaptable and fluid (she probably didn’t use those words), I can fit into whatever mold I think whatever said girlfriend wants me to be.
Obviously, her words have stuck with me, and they’ve since still partially confused me. Again, I say that I’ve never claimed to be a perfect boyfriend (although, I will say that I can be a pretty damn good one), but adapting to a partner and compromising in a continuous manner should be a good thing. On the other hand, I also feel like she was saying she didn’t really know who I was, the type of person I am, or what drives me.
I remember only one other girl who dubbed me as the perfect boyfriend, and I remember quickly diffusing that trap by saying I’m not. Just because you’ve dated some shitty people in years past doesn’t make me the perfect boyfriend, it just makes me look better than what you’re used to.
Thinking about it more, shouldn’t entering a new relationship be about adapting and compromising and staying fluid to see what works best? Why is this a bad thing? If I acted exactly the same in every relationship, that would be horrendous. I would just be going through the motions like they were scripted. And don’t get me wrong, the theater-loving side of me loves scripts, but those are for stage, not for real life. In life we write our own scripts. There are no set rules, timelines, or criteria to check off. Or are there and is this where I’ve been missing the point?
Let’s make a list of milestones/achievements/events that many of us at some point at least considered, if not attempted it.
Middle School/Junior High
First sexual encounter (excluding intercourse)
High School (including diploma)
College (including degree)
School, sex, and bills. Pretty standard for growing up in America. If you’re reading this, then there’s almost no way you can claim being able to check off everything on this list. “Almost” only because there’s a possibility you died for a little bit, but modern medicine was able to revive you. If that’s the case, well played, friend.
Even so, with these fourteen items, who sets the timeline? Yes, elementary through high school is laid out for you clearly, but who says when you can or should start? And what if you drop out and get your GED? What about those like myself who enter into military service and have that on their scorecard? And who says you have to get married, have kids, or even work? If you’re a religious fanatic, go ahead, throw the fact at me that we’re supposed to be “fruitful” and “spread our seed” and blah blah blah, but let’s be real. YOU DON’T HAVE TO IF YOU DON’T WANT TO. Same goes for many things. Death and Taxes, right, Ben? (15 points.)
What I’m getting at is that there is no mold unless you give yourself one. There is no deadline for anything that truly matters. Except for maybe student loans. And credit cards. And rent. You get what I’m saying. So yeah, there is no mold. And I don’t intend on squeezing into one, especially when it comes to emotional relationships. But I’m starting to see that not everyone looks at it that way.
When my ex-wife and I were still in the dating stage we had a conversation that I had not had with any other girlfriend. Who vs. What. In hearing some of the things she was saying, I flat out asked her if it was who I was that she liked or what I was that she was attracted to, more specifically, a guy that found her beautiful and was paying attention to her. She assured me throughout our relationship that I was a Who and not a What and that what we were doing as our relationship developed was because she wanted to be with me, not just because she wanted to get married and have kids since she was finally able to check off the college degree from her life plan.
As it turns out, I was a What. Sadly, throughout our relationship, I heavily considered the possibility that I was just a What for her, but I trusted her and believed her when she said I was a Who. Even though time after time she would do things that would blatantly scream at me that I’m just a What, I trusted the words that she spoke and well, I’m writing a divorce blog, so yeah.
Yes, I knew there were things about her that I wanted to fix. There were things missing from her life that I knew I could provide for her. I could be her Prince Charming. But as I stopped focusing on that so much and started listening to myself more, I could not deny what was really happening. And I’ll be honest. I loved her deeply. When we met, I was so compelled to bring our lives together that I made several choices in a short period of time, including leaving my girlfriend that I was currently living with (who I wasn’t really in love with anyway). I could not explain why I was so drawn to her. I didn’t have a reason for why I needed to be around her. I just know that being with her felt like my soul was plugged into an MP3 player with every song that I loved. After all, she was the girl I met when I finally found myself able to love again in a way that I hadn’t been able to for years.
And as much as so many children have been raised on Disney films (which I’m not knocking, they’re great) having a Prince Charming complex has obviously not worked out for the fairytale ending. Digging a little deeper, going back to the damsel in distress concept, I can help people without getting in a relationship with them. And if I’m really smart, I won’t pursue someone just because I see an opportunity to be needed, I’ll be attracted to them because we’re more equals, honoring the general term of “partner” in a relationship. Yeah, that has got to be my next step, recognizing the difference between a PC pursuit versus a partner courtship. But to do that, I’ve got to get a better understanding of who I am first. I’m making some progress here.