Hi, Tiffany here. If you’re like me, when you were a little girl, you loved fairy tales like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. You dreamed of finding real love – you dreamed of the day your prince would sweep you off your feet. You believed you would live happily ever after (preferably in a castle with a closet full of beautiful ball gowns). As you got older, romance novels replaced picture books, and you held on to the fantasy of a handsome man swooping in to make all your dreams come true. The true story is real life is not like a fairy tale or romance novel, and these fantasies do not provide sound relationship advice for women. Finding real love does not magically happen. Successful relationships take work. The perfect Prince Charming does not exist. Nobody is perfect, not even you, and you should never rely on a man to make you happy, although “happily ever after” can happen. You just need to be realistic and adjust your outlook. Have you found yourself turning down dates because you are waiting for your prince? You never gave that nice “normal” guy a chance because he did not fit this ideal you have in your head of the perfect man — tall, dark, handsome and rich (with a full head of flowing “Fabio” hair) for example? If so, you may be missing out on a great relationship with someone wonderful. You are closing yourself off to love and possibilities. You’re acting like your very own wicked stepmother! So how do you get past this fantasy existence and start living and experiencing love for real? I have a friend (let’s call her Liz) who was OBSESSED with all things regency. Mr. Darcy, the hero of Jane Austen’s uber-popular classic, Pride and Prejudice, was her perfect man. More specifically, the image of Colin Firth emerging from a lake in a soaking wet shirt in the BBC movie was her perfect man. She fancied herself a modern day Elizabeth Bennet — and she’s not the only one! Do a search online for the dashing hero and you’ll find a bunch of articles on “How To Find a Modern Day Mr. Darcy” (complete with step by step instructions), Marrying Mr. Darcy board games, “I Love Mr. Darcy” T-shirts, and books and blockbuster films with contemporary Mr. Darcys as the male lead (Bridget Jones’s Diary and Austenland) to name a few. And yes, my friend is still single. How will she ever be happy when no real man can compare to this fictional character burned in her brain. Romantic novels are fun, but the fantasy men in books can’t exist in the real world. We need real men, flesh and blood, and heart and soul. Not words on a page which another woman dreamed up for us. Real men are kind. They are reliable. They are trustworthy, thoughtful, generous, affectionate, strong…. They’re not always the most handsome men in the room. They may not have an impressive job title or the most money. They may not wear the sharpest clothes, or be up to date on what’s trendy. They may not emerge from a lake shirtless in all their masculine glory. But they WILL treat us like princesses and love us for who WE are, warts and all. Real life is not a fairy tale or a romance novel. If you stop looking for that elusive fantasy man, you may just find a real man standing right before your eyes, waiting to sweep you off your feet. That’s right, regular guys CAN do that, not just princes. If you keep your heart, your eyes and your mind open, and believe in TRUE LOVE, he will come…. Someday.

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