Looking to meet a Prince Charming sets unreal standards for men, and can leave women unhappy, says Deirdre Reynolds.
AN online video has mocked Disney’s most famous and charming princes. BuzzFeed’s viral hit, ‘If Disney Princes Were Real’, depicts them as over-possessive, dim and downright. It shows how everyone from Prince Florian (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves) to Beauty and the Beast’s eponymous hero would make terrible boyfriends in real life.
As the star of the Olympia Theatre’s upcoming Christmas panto, Aladdin, David Doyle knows all about letting the genie out of the bottle. So we asked him to channel Prince Charming and to take to the streets of the capital to find out if the fairytale is really over for single ladies.
“Most of the ladies were very skeptical at first,” says singleton David (25), from Carlow, who put Buzzfeed’s theory to the test with red roses and declarations of love. “They were sort of looking at me as if I was a weirdo. To be honest, I don’t think Irish women are used to such chivalrous behaviour.”
One woman who was enchanted by David’s romantic overtures was student Laura Wogan [pictured], from Bristol: “It’s just really sweet.
“It’s probably silly, but I do believe in Prince Charming,” says the 21-year-old, who is studying French and Italian in Dublin. “I haven’t been out with an Irish guy yet, but the other day a guy approached me and asked me on a date. He just came up to me and said he thought I was really beautiful, and would I like to go for dinner with him, so that’s nice.”
Just one in 25 women say they would be embarrassed if a man offered to carry their shopping or pulled out their chair, according to one recent survey, by AXA insurance.
With fewer than one in five men demonstrating such old-fashioned manners, though, according to the survey, there’s little fear of being left red-faced.
“Generally, the women who come to us are very well-educated and have their own money,” says Rena Maycock, of INTRO Matchmaking Agency in Dublin. “They don’t want a man to look after them.
“At the same time, if they go out for dinner, and the man doesn’t at least offer to pay, there’s a furore.
“Women don’t like to be perceived as helpless, or like the stereotypical fairytale princess who needs to be rescued from a tower.
“Our female clients certainly don’t want to be saved, or give off the impression of wanting to be saved — but they do expect a bit of charm.
“Nowadays, lots of women won’t admit that they want a man who opens the door for them,” she says. “They want someone who is equal to them, in terms of education, profession and personality — and vice versa.
“Occasionally, you get an extremely liberal woman, who would be mortally offended if a man opened a door for her.
“No matter how worldly or wealthy a woman is, though, I think she always appreciates a man who is chivalrous, and I would say that 95% of our female clients are looking for a gentleman.”
Growing up, model Aoife Walsh says she was always looking for a ‘happily ever after’ ending — and still is.
“When I was younger, I loved watching Disney movies like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, and couldn’t wait for my very own Prince Charming to come along,” the former Miss Ireland says. “I definitely still think that he’s out there.
“For a guy to be my Prince Charming, he would have to be polite, down-to-earth and funny,” she says, “but I like to give a guy a fair chance.
“Once someone loves you for who you are, then he is your true Prince Charming.”
Radio presenter Paula MacSweeney says she’s not looking for someone to sweep her off her feet — just to make her a cup of tea.
“I think Prince Charming is someone who makes you a nice cup of tea and tells you you look pretty when you’re just in the door after a long day’s work, and got caught in the rain,” says Paula, (28), who presents Saturday Hits, from 6-10pm on Today FM.
“Although I read all the usual fairytales as a child, I’ve never expected Prince Charming to come along on a white horse and sweep me off my feet.
“I’m not exactly wearing a meringue dress and tiara myself, so it would be double standards, really!
“For me, honesty, loyalty and kindness are the most important qualities in a partner,” she says, “while bad manners are a complete deal breaker.
“I recently went on a date with a guy who kept answering his mobile phone, and shouting down the phone about how busy and important he was — it was so embarrassing.”
After a decade starring in some of the world’s most romantic fairytales, panto king David admits all the ardour has rubbed off a bit.
“I suppose I can be quite romantic in real life,” he says. “You do want to make whoever you’re with feel special.
“Little gestures, like holding the door open or telling them they’re pretty, are important to keep the romance alive.
“As guys, it’s not just that it’s expected of us, it’s that we should expect it of ourselves.”
But when searching for a knight in shining armour, the reality rarely lives up to the fairytale. Unlike BuzzFeed’s video however, there’s often nothing funny about it.
“Both men and women are always looking for their Prince or Princess Charming,” says relationship counsellor, Tony Moore, of Relationships Ireland. “Unfortunately, it very rarely works out.
“Our expectations are always far, far too high.
“People buy into the idea that their Prince or Princess Charming is out there, and when the person they’re dating doesn’t live up to their expectations, they’re immediately dumped.
“For men, in particular, the pressure is horrendous,” he says. “More and more women feel they have the right to criticise and dehumanise their boyfriend [by] telling them they’re not good enough.That constant criticism, and the idea that men are [less than]human, is reinforced in advertising.
“As counsellors, we’ve seen a shocking increase in the level of verbal and emotional abuse handed out to men who do not live up to expectations.
“Men come in to me crying, because of extreme low self-esteem.”
The moral of the story is to forget about Prince Charming, and give Mr Average a chance instead, says Moore: “We’re always trying to say ‘lower your expectations’, because nobody is perfect.
“Please do not expect your man to be the perfect lover, the perfect listener, the perfect provider, everything — because it’s not going to happen.
“Forget finding Prince Charming, and concentrate on Prince Reasonable,” he says, “and start behaving like Princess Reasonable yourself.”
Aladdin, starring Linda Martin, Simon Delaney and David Doyle runs from December 17, 2014 to January 4, at The Olympia Theatre in Dublin. See www.olympia.ie for more.
Hollywood's Prince Charmings
Women around the world were left in mourning last month, as silver fox George Clooney tied the knot with British human rights lawyer, Amal Alamuddin, in Venice. After two decades of vowing never to remarry, the 53-year-old conceded that finally finding ‘the One’ felt “pretty damn great”.
He’s been romantically linked to stars including Naomi Campbell and Zoe Kravitz, but it seems Kerryman Michael Fassbender (37) has been charming the ladies from an early age, tells former school teacher, Linda O’Donoghue: “Many’s the time if he got into trouble, his roguish smile would get him out of it.”
Dubbed the nicest guy in Hollywood, Wolverine star Hugh Jackman (45) — who’s been married to Australian actress, Deborra Lee-Furness, since 1996 admits he knows how to dial up the charm on the red carpet: “I love what I do ... so that makes it a lot easier to charm people.”
Dashing to Meryl Streep’s aid when she lost a shoe on stage at the 2012 BAFTAs, actor Colin Firth (54) only confirmed his real-life Prince Charming credentials, with the actress later joking about her Cinderella moment: “[Firth’s wife] Livia better not stand at the top of the stairs when I’m there.”
It’s no secret that the fairer sex is extremely Taken with Northern Irish actor, Liam Neeson, and it seems the 62-year-old Ballymena hunk is only getting better with age, after beating Michael Fassbender and Colin Farrell to be crowned Ireland’s sexiest man in a survey by Ladbrokes.
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