I was reading something about Valentine’s Day and the way that successful marketing campaigns have raised women’s expectations in terms of material possessions while lowering them when it comes to emotional attachment and the treatment they deserve. It was an interesting piece – certainly thought-provoking and it stuck in my mind. I’m not really sure how much marketing campaigns have really changed other than making us think we simply must have those roses, chocolates or mini-break – we all scoff and say it’s a load of rubbish invented by Clinton Cards (as an ex-Clinton’s worker I am the first to laugh at the mugs who buy £10 boxed cards) but let’s be honest, we all melt at the thought of our men sweeping us off our feet and treating us to a romantic night.
But this all started long before we had a clue about romance or roses, before we even considered the possibility that boys were not gross and smelly. From birth, my parents read to me constantly – fairy tales about princes who rescued princesses from dragons and from towers, who fought long and hard for their women, who would let nothing stand in their way. As I grew, I read to myself and to my parents, more stories about boys who would take you to Neverland, where you could soar above the clouds and be young and happy forever. Even the tales about animals told stories of love, kindness and happy couples like Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet. My expectations were raised throughout my childhood as I grew up thinking this was how all men behaved, to this day I still have those high expectations and even after seeing how some men actually behave, I still believe in true love, soul mates and fate.
What concerns me is that so many women out there are devaluing themselves by settling for less than the romance, the kindness, the thoughtfulness and the faithfulness that should come with a relationship. I know so many woman who have put up with terrible treatment, with boyfriends who have constantly let them down, been late, been selfish, said thoughtless things, even manipulated them and tried to control who they were friends with, many have been cheated on, some repeatedly. It is sad to see it happen, especially when you are the friend who keeps trying to save them from themselves, but only the woman can make the changes needed to find the man who will really treat her as she deserves.
It makes me wonder if we are lowering our expectations, or whether they were always around the same level – perhaps the marketing campaigns are just finding more ways to make us feel like we are missing out on something. At the end of the day, each relationship is very different and we all go into them with different expectations. Something that could play a big part in this is how much more independent women are now compared to in our parents’ and grandparents’ generations – we have our own money, our own homes, jobs, cars, friends and lives. So many barely have time for a boyfriend and often choose to be single now because they actually prefer to focus on themselves and their own careers. That’s true, but only for a while. I don’t know a single girl who deep down doesn’t just want someone she can cuddle up to on the sofa or go out on dates with. many girls may try to deny this, but at the end of the day, all of us just want to be loved. Does that make us any less independent?
I don’t think so, but there are two types of girls. There are those who have their own lives even when they are in a relationship – the ones who don’t crumble when it all falls apart and the ones who still have incredibly full lives when a relationship ends. And there are those who are left a ghost of the girl they used to be, who have forgotten all their friends in favour of a man who has now left them high and dry and who realise their whole life centred around their man. I like to think of myself as the first of these and I think it is important to be this girl. Just because you are a romantic who dreams of being whisked away on a magic carpet, doesn’t mean you have to give up who you are – in fact, a healthy relationship is one where you should never have to give this up. A healthy relationship should encourage you to follow your passions and indulge your hobbies with friends, family and colleagues as well as each other. It is easy to get caught up in the honeymoon stages of a relationship, but when things steady out it is important to remember to spend as much time with friends. Having that fairytale romance should never stop you from being an independent woman – if anything, being that independent woman is more likely to secure you the man of your dreams.
What do you think? Leave me a comment and share your thoughts on the subject..