Let me preface the statement I want to make with a few caveats. 1) No one is perfect. 2) My boyfriend and I are only a few months into our relationship and I’m probably not over the googliness that takes over your mind during that time period. 3) We’re long-distance so I have a LOT of time on my hands to think about all the good things about him and rarely feel like bringing to mind the bad things. 4) I’m twenty-one and really naïve.
All that being said, here’s my statement: My boyfriend is pretty much perfect. He’s intelligent—like, frighteningly intelligent. He’s successful—like, I wonder whether he sleeps ever because he MUST has more time on his hands than anyone else. He’s attractive—like, we went to a formal dinner together and he looked like a movie star. (Not a specific one. Just like he should be one.) He’s musical; like, his voice gives me butterflies, and he plays over three musical instruments. He’s Christian—like, Jesus is just as much at the center of his life as He is at the center of mine. His family is well off and his chosen career is going to make him well off. He cooks and bakes as well as I do—maybe better. He does triathlons. The list goes on.
So last night I got off the phone with him, having learned some new fabulous/ridiculous thing about his family, and immediately started ranting to one of the girls I live with. “WHY IS HE DATING ME??” I wanted to know. I expected her to gush compliments, because that’s what she normally does (to the point of driving me crazy, there is such a thing as too many compliments), but her answer was unexpected, adorable, and really thought provoking. “You’re Cinderella, sweetie,” she told me, with just a smidge of the voice of someone who has heard the same thing (e.g. “Listen to how perfect my boyfriend is”) too many times.
I liked that. I’m Cinderella, I thought, and it fit. And it was beautiful for all of three seconds. And then it was terrible. Because what no one ever talks about is how Cinderella felt about the whole deal. Maybe she didn’t feel anything; maybe she really was just that dull and all she thought about the situation was “Wow, I get to live in this castle and be a princess and that’s really neat.” But I’m going to give her a little more credit as a woman and posit that there’s guilt in being Cinderella. There’s guilt in the knowledge that the only area in which you might be his equal is beauty, or worse, “character”. There’s guilt in the knowledge that you bring to the table financial instability, only moderately above average intelligence, and a couple of offhand talents. There’s guilt in seeing around you a number of women who could offer him more. There’s guilt in the suspicion that since you’re his first girlfriend he just doesn’t realize how good he doesn’t have it. And from that guilt comes fear: that one day he’ll wake up and look at you and realize it.
I googled “Cinderella guilt”, hoping that it was some kind of documented psychological phenomenon. All I got was some crap about the royal wedding and its implications for mothers with young daughters with Cinderella aspirations. Whatever. I realize this is something many (most? all?) women struggle with, and probably men too . . . liking someone else more than you like yourself. But…what if? What if, however wonderful of a person I am, my boyfriend is simply and truly and empirically more wonderful? What on earth am I supposed to do with that knowledge?
I have Cinderella guilt.
Do you think this exists? Do you have it? Do you think I’m nuts? Tell me in the comments.