Contributed by Pamela Turley, author of The Thinking Woman's Guide to Men
I was taking a break from work, flipping through the channels, when I came upon the series finale of 'Sex and the City'. You know, the one where Carrie goes to Paris with Petrovsky, only to discover that he is an incorrigible narcissist with an inferiority complex, who either ignores her for his "work" or demands her undivided attention when his needs require it.
Carrie tries to oblige, being the obliging sort, but you painfully watch her slip from disillusionment to despair as the realization of who this man really is dawns on her. She gave up everything she knew to be with him. Now she is left wandering around a strange, foreign place, lonely and alone, a mere appendage and companion to an "important" man. This is not what she signed up for.
Elation, dreams of romance in the City of Lights, hope for a future - all collapse around her during the final fight of the relationship. When she protests his treatment of her, he calmly states: "I thought I made it clear who I was." She replies, "Well, maybe it's time I made it clear who I am. I am a person who wants love - deep, all-encompassing, can't-be-without-each-other love."
But, of course, it's too late now. The problem began in the beginning. From the start, Carrie got lost in her romance-novel fantasies and projected them on the situation. Who can blame her, really? Here was a world-famous artist, rich, sophisticated and worldly, and he seemed captivated by her. It's natural to want it more than anything you've wanted before. It’s natural to believe you just won the romantic lottery.
But the red flags were there. Remember the disastrous dinner party Petrovsky hosted for her friends while he sat silent and judgmental? Remember when she spontaneously brought the girls by to meet him one evening and he turned them away, only to justify himself by wallowing in artist angst? She compromised and excused little by little until there was nothing left to compromise but her soul.
Say what you want about 'Sex and the City'. In the midst of the ditsy-ness and glamour, there are lessons to be learned here. In the beginning of your relationship, no matter how rich or powerful the man, create your own boundaries. Never give up your life. And always remember: If it's too good to be true, it probably isn't. An ounce of reality is worth a thousand pounds of broken romantic dreams.
Luckily for Carrie, she had the guts to leave her unrealistic fantasies of Petrovsky behind. She left him standing in the expensive hotel suite. She is at the front desk, negotiating a new room when in walks none other than Mr. Big, who has come to Paris to search for her. She is saved!
Cheesy, right? A complete fairy-tale with every bad cliché from every bad chic flick. Well, I'll tell you a secret. I cried. Me, the big testosterone tough-girl cried. Why? Because in our little girl hearts that's what we all want, isn't it, whether it's realistic or not. We want Mr. Big - the hard one, the commitment-phobe, the one who seems to have everything but us - to discover that it is exactly us that is missing from his life. We want him to be the good guy. We want him to say, with tears in his eyes, "It took me a long time to get here. But you are the One." And then we want him to take us home.
It's so easy in the movies. Things can work out like that. And because it seems so right to us, and appeals to our little girl longings, somewhere inside us, we believe it. And then we try - we bloody our fingers trying, against all odds - to re-create the fairy tale. And that, my sisters, is where the heartbreak begins.