As a little girl, I truly bought into the whole fairytale idea that I would meet my knight in shining armor and he would rescue me from the castle and we'd live happily ever after.
As a teenager, I thought all boys had cooties and I was little miss independent.
As a young woman in her twenties, I believed finding love would make me happy and confident and content. To be fair, this was after meeting a guy who convinced me I was only worth what he said... so finding a guy who thought I was worth a lot really did make me feel happy and confident and content. But only temporarily.
As a divorced woman in her thirties, I (secretly) believed (and feared) that maybe we only get one chance at real love and I had blown my shot. But I pressed on because I was also starting to believe that God wouldn't have put the desire in my heart if I wasn't meant to find love.
As a woman in her forties who has (I believe) found the guy, I have learned a few more things to believe.
Perfect is a myth. If you have a long list of requirements, you will never meet that guy. Which, is probably by design - what better way to avoid the responsibility or possibility of heartache than by convincing yourself no one is good enough?
Compromise is not the same as settling. Settling means you give up something that you really want
Communication is key. It may be easier to avoid that tough conversation, or not talk about what's bothering you - but that won't fix the problem. Sharing is part of a relationship. Everyone is happy when they're sharing the good stuff. When you find someone with whom you can share the bad stuff - that's when it's a relationship.
You don't have to agree on everything. I always thought agreeing on social or political issues was a deal-breaker. Turns out, it's not. Being respectful and open-minded, and being able to talk and laugh - those are the deal-breakers. If you have to agree on everything in order to avoid an argument, maybe it isn't working as well as you think.
I still have a lot to learn. I've even returned to counseling. I know that my baggage created a lot of walls and barriers for me, which I used to keep myself out of relationships, out of fear of being hurt. I decided it was more important to push through that fear rather than letting it rule me anymore. That is not always easy - but I believe it will be worth the work.
Turns out fairy tales are much more ordinary than I expected - and much happier than I imagined.