Tale as Old as Time: Beauty and the Beast Syndrome

By: Tylene Nichols
As an adolescent and young adult, I found myself naturally drawn to what may typically be described as “the bad boy.” It almost seemed like the natural kind of guy to pursue, one who was a rebel or living on the “wild side” (Don’t judge my cheesy old choice of words.) Most of these pursuits did not end up in the ideal way I imagined and I often found myself heartbroken or confused. Why had things not worked out?
            It came to me when reading an adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast.” In the notes from the author at the end of the book she mentions what she referred to as the “Beauty and the Beast Syndrome.” It is the phenomena of falling in love with the “bad guy,” and expecting him to fall so completely in love with you that his bad boy tendencies melt away as he turns into the model companion.
            The idea of this syndrome have been displayed in many other forms besides the traditional story. For example, the movie “A Walk to Remember.” The lead male falls in love with a girl, and changes so much of himself to better fit the kind of man that she has been looking for. Another but more modern adaptation example of this is the story of “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Christian Grey, the also the lead male, changes his abusive and disturbing lifestyles to accommodate his lovely lady.
            The issue with the Beauty and the Beast Syndrome is the unrealistic expectations and distorted reality of the situations. The expectation that a man or even a woman would change themselves so drastically to fit your personal view of perfection in a partner can be extremely dangerous to possess. The hard truth is that no one will ever change for you, and that is actually entirely healthy.
            Let’s think of it in a different way: Imagine you met someone who you feel is perfect for you. They are kind, generous, understanding, and so much more. However, you are not what they are wanting. The only way that they would love you is if you were completely different in almost every way. This is far from unconditional love, and these expectations are not fair coming from either side.
            So what does this mean? Whether or not you are still in the realm of dating, or already married, it is important to realize that you personally do not have the capacity to change anyone except yourself. If there are things about yourself that you would like to change for your own reasons, by all means go ahead! Life is a journey of learning and growing and finding who it is you want to be. However, changing for someone else or expecting someone to change for you would be an unrealistic hope and damaging to the overall relationship.
            I love fairy tale romances but they may be unrealistic at times even if there is truth to the stories. Unconditional love is the true magic in “Beauty and the Beast,” and now I am probably going to go watch it for the millionth time. Care to join me?
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