Once upon a time, in a kingdom far far away, there was a beautiful princess who lived in a big castle. Doesn’t every fairytale start in a similar fashion? As most stories go, the princess was in grave danger, but she was thankfully rescued by a prince – after he killed the evil witch stepmother and tamed a dragon, or the other way around. And then they lived happily ever after.
Fairytales have a lot to answer for when it comes to social expectations. They’ve established a culture in which beauty, honesty, and kindness are interchangeable synonyms. As a result, in real life, people who happen not to look like a model on a catwalk show need to work a lot harder to convince their community of their trustworthiness. Additionally, the princess and the prince has set a precedent for modern stories, in which love is only possible between a man and a woman and after the man has proven himself. In real life, this has lead to the generations of housewives, and the cliché that no woman should propose to her partner. But the bell of social expectations is ringing a new era. It’s time for a change.
- The old cliché is hard to kill. Even though more and more men consider staying at home to look after their children, family leave policies in the U.S. continue to support the scenario in which the woman becomes a housewife. Millennial men are finding it difficult to support their wives’ careers when the governmental support goes against their freedom of choice. Family-friendly workplace policies and expensive childcare make it tricky for young families to go against the stay-at-home mum cliché.
- But we’ve changed the path to love. However, with time and dedication modern societies have managed to overturn some of their oldest established tradition, such as the arranged and agreed marriage. It’s now not only commonly accepted, but also expected, that both genders have a say in their relationships. People do not meet anymore through their parents, but they interact with their future partner at a personal level, through online dating tools such as Grindr for pc or in unsupervised dates. What does this matter so much? Because until not so long ago, the groom was still expected to ask his father-in-law for the hand of the bride, ergo giving parents a considerable say in the relationship.
- Society is accepting love equality. In June 2015, the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to ban same-sex marriages in the U.S. Ultimately, this means that you can get married in the 50 states, regardless of whether you’re in a heterosexual or homosexual relationship. It’s taken a long time to get there, but finally, the constitution recognizes that love knows no gender. As a result, the act of marriage has gained in importance. It’s not only an act between a man and a woman, it’s truly a celebration of love for everyone. Even Pope Francis suggested that the church could be open to same-sex civil unions, and insisted that God doesn’t condemn LGBT. His words helped to drive support for same-sex unions.
- But the progress is slow. Admittedly, even though the perception of love is slowly changing into something bigger and more open-minded, it’s fair to say that society is not quite as liberal as you’d wish it to be. Same-sex marriages and couples still face serious abuse on their journey to love. Interracial couples, whether LGBT or not, are also subject to hostility from strangers, as if love could be defined through your gender and your color. In the 1960S, the police arrested the Lovings, an interracial married couple for being married. More than 50 years after the decision was overturned by the Supreme Court, biracial couples continue to face discrimination. We can only hope that the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will speed up the change of mentalities.
- Love isn’t eternal and that’s fine. Finally, an interesting finding from modern society is that the divorce rates among young couples are very high. However, people who go through this experience learn a lot about themselves and their expectations in life. Of course, there is the risk of growing apart when you marry at a young age. But it’s important to remember something about love. There is always another chance, with a new partner, or by patching things up with your ex. Ultimately, does it matter if you don’t love the same person until the end of your life, as long as you love?
The social rules of love are evolving as we speak. From how you get to meet your partner to the way tasks are distributed at home, our love stories have changed. It’s time to rewrite a fairy tale where the princess meets another princess, and they both live happily until they move on to the next relationship.