Once upon a timeThings didn’t work out with your high school crush and frankly university was not the place for a serious relationship. Things were too uncertain in the time following to commit to someone else’s plans. But now you’re ready. You’ve pretty much fixed you and now you’re ready to share your life with another human being. Or maybe a few people, once you’ve had time to make some more.

Standing around looking wistful and alone hasn’t worked so far. Sleeping beautifully doesn’t attract people to you quite like it does to mythical princesses. Prince Charming hasn’t ridden up on his white stallion yet, so it’s about time to be proactive in your search for love.

You’ve had a drunken grope with most of the guys in the office, you’re on a handful of dating websites and, for when you’ve only got five minutes, also Tinder. You’re doing all the things you’re generally expected to do these days to attract the attention of your One True Love.

Because he will come. Of course he will. Somewhere, the most perfect man in the world is waiting for you to walk into his life and all of your – and his – problems will melt right away and you’ll live happily ever after. And he’ll look great, and smell great, and his family will love you, and he will have a great job and support you and cherish you for the rest of eternity and you’ll never have to worry about being even slightly irritated ever again.

Because that’s how relationships work in the real world.

You find The One and then everything is easy for the rest of your life.

And if things aren’t going right yet, it just means that you haven’t found The One.

So if you have any problems whatsoever, it’s definitely the fault of your current significant other. Frankly, they’re holding you back from finding The One, so they’re effectively stopping you moving onto the best, happiest part of your existence.

The happily ever after.

Because there is absolutely no way you could fix your problems yourself. It is entirely the fault of everyone else for not perfectly complimenting you.

Or maybe you could stop depending on a total fairytale to make you happy.

Fix your own problems and stop expecting some magical person to appear to do it for you. By holding all your potential partners up to that kind to judgement, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and you’re not being fair to the people who want to care for you.

Stop expecting one person to make all your problems go away. Stop expecting anyone to be perfect. Focus on the things that someone actually can do for you. Be realistic about what you want from other people, and be prepared to give as much back to them.

Don’t worry about finding someone rich and handsome and generous and charming and witty and perfect in every possible way.

Look for someone who cares about you. Someone who makes you happy. Someone who wants to spent time with you and who you want to be with. Someone who makes you smile when you’re sad. Someone who you trust and care about. Someone you can be honest with about all your awful secrets.

People aren’t perfect, no matter how much you want them to be.

Find a relationship that works for you and stop waiting for your ideal person to step out of your head and into reality. Appreciate the people who care about you and you’ll realise that all the fantasy stuff doesn’t matter.

You can spend ever after just as happily in the real world, with a real boy.

Kirstie Summers,

Daily Zen.