It Was All A Dream: Coming to Terms With Relationship Realities

I used to read bridal magazines. From the time that I was old enough to understand what a wedding ...

I used to read bridal magazines. From the time that I was old enough to understand what a wedding was, I knew that I wanted to experience that for myself. I wanted it all. My wedding would be an extravagant event that everyone who attended would remember for the rest of their lives. I’d flip through the pages of various publications pointing out to my mom which dresses I loved as well as those that I thought were hideous.

I rehearsed how everything would work out over and over again with my Barbie and Ken dolls. It would be perfect. Like many women, I grew up dreaming of the day that like Barbie had done so many times in her tiny pink beach house, I’d walk blushingly toward the man that I would marry and spend the rest of my life with. I knew then that I was going to be a beautiful bride and an amazing wife. Even as a little girl, I felt as if I was bred to wed.

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Having never been exposed to a picture perfect married couple while growing up, I tried to teach myself what a married couple should be like. I decided that there were certain things that should and should not happen in relationships in general, even before they got to the point of nuptials. My mother became a widow when I was only a year old. She never remarried and hardly dated. No relationship exposure there. The other women in my family, even my grandmother, always appeared to be miserable in the relationships they were in. And as a child, after watching Barbie and Ken remain so happy, I convinced myself that there had to be some other type of love out there that made people stay together. There had to be something that made people love each other like the husbands and wives I saw on television. Couples couldn’t fight all the time. Physical, emotional and verbal abuse wouldn’t exist in my relationships. My husband would adore me.

My obsession with fairy tales as a young girl didn’t help much. Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty were a few of my favorites. Snow White even declared to herself in the beginning of her film that someday her prince would come. Was she being unrealistic? Was she asking for too much? Evidently not, because in all of those movies, the title character indeed ended up living happily ever after. If they could do it, why couldn’t I?

As I grew older and began dating, I still held on to the belief that one day my prince would come too. Whether women are willing to admit it or not, I looked at every guy I dated as if he could become my husband. Like most adolescents, I spent many days daydreaming in class scribbling his last name after my first on pieces of notebook paper, planning weddings with an ever-changing list of bridesmaids, and picking out baby names.

After all of the inherent wishing and hoping that someday the man of my dreams was going to come along and literally sweep me off of my feet, imagine my surprise when I began seriously dating in college and every guy I dated turned out to be a toad. It seems silly for a woman in her early twenties to say that guys her age just aren’t serious. Well, they aren’t. They’re men in their early twenties. Are we really expecting serious commitments or marriage proposals from men who’ve just begun to test the waters?

Related: If It Isn't Love: Don't Make Excuses for A Love That's Not Right For You

While some of them had potential, none were ever ready for what I thought I wanted.
Even after being in an exclusive relationship for four years, I still wasn’t totally satisfied and I convinced myself that it was because I wasn’t totally, completely and hopelessly in love. The fairy tale feeling wasn’t there. So I ended the relationship. I beat myself up for a long time because I felt really bad about hurting him and for allowing the relationship to go on for that long. Here was a guy who adored me, treated me well and supported me more than anyone else. What was wrong with me? Was I supposed to stay until I felt the way I thought I was supposed to feel? And if I stayed, would that mean that I was settling?

The other women in my life weren’t able to offer much assistance. My mother had adopted and adamantly stuck to the principle that everyone had a soul mate. She often professed that she’d found hers once and would never settle for a man who couldn’t treat her with the love and respect that my father had. My best friend was madly in love with her high school sweetheart and had probably had only one other boyfriend before him. In essence, two of the most important women in my life hadn’t had much relationship experience at all so they couldn’t really relate to what I was feeling.

My 6-year-old self would laugh hysterically if you were to tell her that as I find myself quickly approaching the door of my late twenties, I am not married or even in a serious relationship. She simply wouldn’t believe it. “Well that wasn’t the plan,” is what I’m sure she’d say. It wasn’t the plan but it is the reality. And as hard of a pill as it has been for me to swallow, I have accepted the fact that if I never get married, I’ll be ok with that. The dream isn’t over but it’s certainly not an obsession anymore.

Lately, I’ve had several conversations with colleagues who’ve found themselves experiencing similar situations. They’ve become involved, emotionally and physically, with men who don’t have the same views on relationships as they do. I am certainly guilty as well. When I woke up from the dream of hearing wedding bells, I realized that the man I was involved with was making me feel as if I were disposable. He could pick me up when I was a necessity and just as easily, walk away when I was no longer needed. I certainly don’t know all there is to know about love, but I know that’s not it.

While I haven’t turned to books like Steve Harvey’s Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man or Greg Behrendt’s He’s Just Not That Into You, for guidance or solutions as to why I’m still single, I will admit that I’ve often wondered why things haven’t worked out. I guess ultimately the answer to that is that I will never settle for a mediocre relationship or find myself stuck in something where true love and trust don’t coexist. If that means I’ll never take that slow stroll down the aisle, then so be it. I can live with that.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Alicia D. Dervin is a South Carolina native currently working and residing in Charlotte, North Carolina. She works as a broadcast specialist and a freelance writer. She is the author of Sex Isn't Enough , currently available on, and She is a lover of all things stylish, her family and friends, and her yorkie Lady. Follow her on Twitter @AliciaDDervin.

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