Afraid of Finding Prince Charming
Q: I'm a 40-year-old professional, own my own home, volunteer as a counselor, raised two kids alone, have been on both sides of the fence economically, culturally, socially, and physically. Sometimes I feel as if I'm too good to be true, but the fact is that I stand on my own and have prevailed in life while coming from a very poor family. A lot of people depend on me and that has kept me going in life. The problem? I sometimes feel very afraid! I want to be Cinderella and find my Prince Charming who will take me on a magic carpet ride, but I can't ever express that! I want butterflies and fireworks, I want the everlasting dream, but I can't let myself lose control. Why am I so afraid? -- Moana, 40
Dr. Susan: Butterflies and fireworks don't go all that well together, if you think about it, but I know what you mean. You're in charge, in control, all the time, and mostly that has worked to get you out of a hole and into a meaningful life. And yet you're missing something: love and intimacy. People who maintain their lives by being in control can get very frightened if the thought of giving up some control equals letting it all go. And no wonder you're terrified: Your dreams are so utterly romanticized and unrealistic that you're bound to be disappointed! Let me assure you: There are no Prince Charmings out there. Some of them might give a Prince Charming-like impression for a while, but then their magic carpets need spark plugs and maybe even a head gasket, and then they want you to get out and help them push the thing. In other words, you've got an either-or thing going. Either you're in control, or, if you meet the right guy, you'll be able to drop the entire burden and let someone else take over and surprise you with daily excitement and adoration, forevermore. Get real. Seriously, get real. Finding a good partner doesn't mean you stop being who you are. The right partner respects what you've achieved and works with you to carve out a viable life for the two of you. Certainly there will be thrills at first, and occasionally through the years, but you will have to drop the idea that a man is so much different from you are. They are vulnerable and scared too, though they can't admit their Cinderella side. If not, beware of them. So get out there and be your real best self, but let potential partners into your emotional world a bit and see what happens. You might like the feeling. Good luck!
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.