At a young age little girls plan grand weddings for Barbie and Ken, play house with the neighborhood boys (assuming one of them will voluntarily play daddy), and watch Disney princesses fight their way towards that handsome prince.

Well, little girls grow up. We find someone who fits the bill and assign him Charming status. Eventually that blows up in our face because no man could ever live up to the expectations we set for that first time around. A couple of these pass through our lives and we lower our expectations a bit. We no longer care about things we were told Prince Charming had because we learn about the things we need as individuals. At some point we'd simply be happy for a human of the xy variety who can hold down a job and kiss well.

Then we meet him. That man who surpasses our low expectations and shows us that reality can hold so much more. We rush into it full force thinking this is the greatest thing ever and this is what movies like Casablanca are all about. We know this is the one. We give willingly of ourselves, knowing that we will die holding hands with this amazing man. Then one day, we realize what we thought we had was a mirage created by all those supressed fantasies we thought we'd long forgotten. We learn that he isn't really what we thought. Our hearts shatter into tiny pieces and we try desparately to round them all up before they wash away in the river of our tears. We are crushed. We are cynical. But we still want that fairy tale. We are determined to wait, cautious with our hopes and our happiness.

Some time later, we meet him. That one who might not blow us away at the beginning, but makes us want to believe. That one who, when we give him the chance, shows us that love really can be all that we ever dreamed...it just might not be exactly to our specifications. That one who loves us even when we're shitty or overemotional or dorky or drunk or cranky or just plain ourselves. We don't give into it right away...we've been hurt, we want to guard our hearts. The pieces may be back in place, but there are still a few missing. How do you give your heart away when it's no longer whole? So we bide our time. We enjoy quick kisses and uncertain smiles of happiness. The words "I love you" make us cringe and smile all at the same time. We never really let him be certain that we're in this for the long haul, because we aren't yet certain. We force him to keep pursuing, persuading, in hopes that one day he will convince us that he is our prince. We take it slowly, and let ourselves move along the road towards the possible.

One day, we can no longer wait. He has pursued long enough. We know this man is everything we want, everything we've ever wanted, and we open up that heart. It's fragile, but we offer it out to him anyway. Cracks and dents and all. We let him in. We let him see through the cracks and take a walk through that heart. We let him see how much we care about him. We stop forcing him to pursue us, and we show him that we long for him just the same. We are in love.

Then we get scared. Shit, we think, he's in there. The last one was in there and took so much of that heart with him. What if this one doesn't love me now that he knows I love him? Maybe he likes the chase...now that he has me he'll stop wanting me. Or maybe he likes a girl of mystery...now that he's seen it all he'll lose interest. This poor little heart can't take that. Our frantic thoughts take over recent thoughts of love and happiness, until we can no longer enjoy the good without tainting it with fear.

We tell him. He reassures us. He doesn't understand.

Yeah, so. The last one reassured us, too, the Fucker.

So now we're scared, insecure, and not ourselves. Now he starts to see the side of us we never wanted to show anyone. He gets frustrated with our fear. Now, we wonder, will he run?

Our first reaction is to gain control again. We're scared on this supposedly level (but to us, oh so unlevel) playing ground and we need to take a step back so that we can compose ourselves. So we have to take it all back. We can't go back in time, but we can pull away. So we pull from his arms. We wait for him to call us again. We watch the clock and make ourselves wait exactly 47 minutes to call him after we have the first impulse. We only tell him we love him when he says it first. We start a new hobby. We suddenly aren't available on Friday nights. We pull back so that he won't see what a mess we are inside. We pull back to regain that aura of mystery so he won't lose interest. We pull back so that he will, again, be forced to pursue us.

Sometimes, he doesn't pursue us. We say, fuck it, he wasn't good enough, he wasn't the one...and move on. Knowing all along that we killed it with our insecurity, but unable to let go of the fear. We hope that one day we'll find the one who keeps pursuing. The one who won't let us run. The one who will grab us and yell us to stop being so fucking crazy and realize how madly in love with us he is and that he will always be there no matter how neurotic we are and how much we try to pull away. He'll yell it at us until we're not sure if we should cry or laugh, and then he'll kiss us hard and tell us again and again that he wants us and that we have absolutely nothing to fear. And then he'll kiss us long and soft and slow. A seal for the promise of the depth of his love.

We hope we'll find that one. We want to believe in that one. We want to believe that THIS one IS THAT one. But while we hope, we expect the worst. He will fail us. He will run. Could anyone ever REALLY love this mess? Probably not. So we kill every chance at love with our insecurity, hoping that someday someone will be strong enough to show us that we have nothing to fear...that he will fight us for us. And that he will hold our hands while, together, we fight through to the other side, where we are not scared and all is bliss. We want to be with him in that land where fear succumbs to absolute unconditional true love.

We want the same thing we wanted when we were still those little girls and our biggest questions involved the clothing of Barbie's bridesmaids.

We want the fairy tale.

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