Where's My Fairy Tale? Why It's A Bad Idea To Wait For Prince Charming

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have agreed to tie the knot, sparking reams of copy about fairy tales. But if you’re holding out for your Prince or Princess Charming, you could be in for a long wait.

I’m speaking from experience.

For years, I searched for ‘The One’. I waited for that moment when I would just know that I’d met the man I would spend the rest of my life with. I held out for the guy who would tick all or most of my boxes. I dated a lot but nobody matched up.

I longed for my perfect ending - the one I’d imagined for myself as a child. I would meet a high-achieving and ambitious man - a lawyer, doctor or a globetrotting journalist like me - marry him and have gorgeous children.

It didn’t quite work out like that. But the ending is just as beautiful.

Waiting for Prince Charming
Waiting for Prince Charming

I was 43 by the time I fell in love with a man to whom I could commit and who would commit to me. We got engaged when I was 46. My fiancé is nothing like the prince I’d pictured in my fairy tale but he is exactly the partner I need.

When we first met, my head tried to convince me that he was wrong for me. Despite a strong attraction that wouldn’t go away, he didn’t fit the mould of my imagined Mr Right. I decided he wasn’t ambitious or driven enough. He wasn’t educated enough. He hadn’t had an international career like me. He wasn’t a high flyer. How would he get on with the friends I’d met at Oxford University or my former colleagues at Reuters?

Fortunately, I matured. Thanks to therapy and personal development work, I finally understood that I would find fault with every man I met and I’d continue to hold out for a Mr Perfect who didn’t exist because I was scared of love and terrified of getting hurt. The little girl inside me equated love with loss because the first man I loved - my dad - broke my heart when he moved out.

Naturally, then, I put obstacles in the way of love, avoiding committed relationships as much as possible, primarily by dating unavailable types. Even when I was in a relationship, I was looking over my shoulder for a different Knight in Shining Armour. I judged every man as not good enough. There had to be someone else.

Eventually, I came to terms with my own fear of commitment and found the courage to walk through that fear. I learned to accept and love myself so I could accept and love another. And I understood that the man I thought I wanted wasn’t the man I needed. I didn’t need a male version of myself. I needed someone stable, steady, gentle and kind. I needed an oak.

I also realised that my concerns about his compatibility with certain friends (unfounded, of course) didn’t matter. Ultimately, what mattered was what was in my heart - how I felt when I was in his presence.

I felt good.

As a relationships coach, I come across women and men like my younger self all the time - busy, high-achieving professionals with a fixed idea of the person they want to end up with. He or she has to be a certain type. But by clinging on to our fairy tale ending and waiting for a Prince or Princess Charming who doesn’t exist, we lose out on other opportunities and potential dates.

This might be a convenient ruse. If we keep waiting and searching for someone else, we never have to risk our hearts. We never have to expose ourselves to potential hurt.

I’m delighted I took the time to explore what was standing in the way of love and to challenge my own fear of commitment. I’m delighted I let go of my fixed ideas about the man I should end up with. And I’m delighted that I learned to open my heart.

My wedding will be a much simpler affair than the royal one, but I have found my match, just as Harry has found his.


You can read more about my approach to love in my book, How to Fall in Love - A 10-Step Journey to the Heart