Once we are grown, and out there in the world, and dating, and considering marriage, and all sort of other adult things like that, we’re told to stop believing in fairy tales.
Prince Charming — the swoon-worthy man of our childish daydreams — is supposed to melt away, replaced by Prince Good Enough. “Attention ladies,” writes Natalie Thomas of HuffPost, “Prince Charming doesn’t exist.” (Thank you Natalie, Crusher of Dreams and Bearer of Old and Clichéd News.) But I’m here to tell you that Natalie and everyone like her whoever told you Prince Charming was a myth is just plain wrong. Prince Charming is out there; he just looks a little different than you expected.
Prince Charming is a symbol, not an actual man. So, in the most literal sense, it’s true he doesn’t exist. But I’m pretty certain nobody thought the actual cartoon dude from Cinderella was going to walk into their lives and sweep them off their feet. (That would be weird. Also, he’s taken.) What people mean when they say that Prince Charming doesn’t exist is that the set of qualities he embodies — chivalry, charm, strength, attractiveness — aren’t a realistic list of qualities to look for in a man. But I disagree.
If you think you can’t find a man who embodies all those things, you’re looking at this all wrong. In fairy tales, Prince Charming represents the necessary qualities a good man must possess, by presenting them in a “perfect” package, so they’re easy to recognize. In real life, each person’s prince looks a little different. But he should still possess qualities that make him a good man — otherwise, why are you dating him?! You use Prince Charming’s key attributes to make sure your real-life man measures up. It works, trust me.
In fairy tales, Prince Charming represents the necessary qualities a good man must possess, by presenting them in a “perfect” package, so they’re easy to recognize.
Let me show you what I mean:
Prince Charming is chivalrous
So, it’s true, your man probably isn’t going to wake up each morning, don his suit of armor, leap onto his trusty steed, and ride off into battle to defend your honor. But, honestly, would you really want him to? (Where would you keep his horse??) But your man should be prepared to defend you from danger, stand up for you if you’ve been wronged, and care about your comfort and your needs. Maybe he walks on the street side of the sidewalk. Maybe he holds open the door. Maybe he tells a guy who’s ogling you to back off. He doesn’t have to wield a sword or ride a horse to be your chivalrous prince. If your man doesn’t defend you in your time of need or look to your comfort, then he’s probably not such a great guy. So, chivalry in real life? Check!
Prince Charming is charming
Hey, your guy might be totally clumsy or get super tongue-tied when he tries to compliment you or look like an orangutan on a string when he tries to dance, but that doesn’t mean he’s not charming. If he treats you with respect, speaks kindly to you, remembers the things that are important to you, is polite to you and others . . . well, then he’s charming. I mean, a guy who mistreats you, or belittles you, or doesn’t seem to care about the things you love is a loser whom you shouldn’t be dating in the first place. So, charm in real life? Check!
Prince Charming is strong
Okay look, your man can be the scrawniest shrimp in a great big barrel labeled “Scrawny Shrimp” and still be strong. How? Well, he can have strength in his convictions. He can stand unwaveringly behind the things he believes in, even when others try to tear him down. He can (and absolutely should) stand by you. He can resist the temptation to stray. He can resist the temptation to join in if his friends start teasing you or running you down. (Saying “we were just kidding around!” when something like that happens doesn’t show strength.) You’re looking for strength of character. A man who doesn’t have that probably isn’t the guy for you. So, strength in real life? Check!
He can stand unwaveringly behind the things he believes in, even when others try to tear him down.
Prince Charming is handsome
I really don’t care what your guy looks like. I only care that you find him attractive. He might be bookish or beefy, slick or scruffy, a nerd or a Norse god, none of that matters. There isn’t only one right way to be handsome. The point is simply that when you look at your man, you should feel a thrill of attraction. And if, at some point long ago you didn’t find him attractive, but now that you’ve gotten to know him, you do that’s okay too. That happens when you fall for someone, and it’s a wonderful thing. If the sight of your significant other repulses you, that’s not a good sign. So, a guy who’s handsome in real life? Check!
Prince Charming does exist. He just looks different for each of us. To totally disregard the concept as a harmful fantasy is to do yourself a disservice. Prince Charming is generic for a reason. He represents the basic human traits that we all need to find to feel loved, respected, and cared for. He’s a shopping list — the brands you buy are up to you.