Another preview of an article still in the works (a year later). Apparently, I needed more proof or to do more research …or whatever the hell this somewhat grueling process has been.
But, the end is near. And hopefully “my affliction” ‘is coming to an end as well.
Note: I’ll have to delete this with the hope it will get picked up.
(You can find the previous excerpt here …which has probably been revised a hundred times since.)
I stumbled across this indie film archetype reading Uh, Honey, that’s not your line, Matthew Perry’s tumultuous tale of his attempted relationship with a real-life Manic Pixie Dream Girl- the quirky, enchanting, somewhat troubled girl who swoops in to save the boy in some state of crisis. (Think Natalie Portman in Garden State.)
Perry describes her character as follows:
Though often perky, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl will be troubled as well…She is perfectly imperfect. Messed up enough to need saving so that the protagonist can do something heroic to do just that…These weird (but beautiful) girls…teach them to enjoy life again through sex, love and various activities done in the rain.
I understood this was a fictional character created for a millennial audience. But as Perry went on to describe the qualities his “real” dream girl embodied, it became painfully clear- the reasons Jamie was initially attracted to me were the exact same reasons he left.
I was a fantasy- a fun, exciting reminder that he was still loveable and could still find love…just not now, and not with me.
My epiphany felt akin to being diagnosed with some mysterious ailment. I wasn’t thrilled about what I was hearing, but at least I had a tangible explanation as to why my relationships keep unraveling. The next step was to figure out the source of my affliction so I could try and reverse it. So I dug a little deeper.
I found various descriptions of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, both real and fictional, which were all pretty much the same:
The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is as endearing as she is enchanting. She is quirky and playful, fiery and bold. She is spontaneous and daring with a wild streak. She is also a romantic, empathetic, and thoughtful. She has wisdom and insight that allow her to see the beauty in things that most see as flawed. And she loves the same way she lives- passionately and wholeheartedly.
As far as her purpose, Nathan Rabin, who actually coined the term, explains:
[to] teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries…a catalyst for male transformation, in both her real and fictional manifestations, she sends the message that a bright and sensitive young man can only learn to embrace life by falling in love with a woman who sees the dazzling colors and rich complexities he can’t.
At first glance, this stereotype doesn’t sound terrible. Who doesn’t want to be the fun, charming girl who teaches the man she loves to enjoy life again?
But for the real-life version, that’s not usually the way the story unfolds…for a few reasons.
Hugo Schwzer reveals one of those reasons in The Real-World Consequences of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl Cliché.
I thought less about her and more about how it was she made me feel… As unstable as she may be, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl not only senses a young man’s potential in a way he can’t, she intuitively knows how to lead him to his destiny. She knows him better than he knows himself, or so he believes. That convenient assumption allows the young man both to adore the MPDG and to avoid any responsibility for reciprocity. How can he be expected to give anything back when she has this magical intuition about the world that so vastly exceeds his own.
So basically, I was the female version of his knight in shining armor. I reminded him what his strengths were, how to dream again, and what passion felt like…with maybe some activities done in the rain.
He was all in…with one foot out.
Reciprocity wasn’t factored in. That takes real work, after all. Remember, we are living in the realm of fantasy here.
Which leads to the second factor that doesn’t bode well for our Dream Girl.
It’s the imperfect part that becomes her tragic flaw. Because she is in fact, flawed. She can be unpredictable, fickle, and reckless. She is pensive, feels everything deeply, including her insecurities, and needs more than she wants to. And yes, her life tends to get a little messy, and her heart, very broken.
At the beginning of Jamie and I’s relationship, these traits were fine, even welcomed- the “endearing part” that made me approachable and just messy enough to need some heroic interventions. He could chip away at my problems instead of dealing with his own while simultaneously proving he could still save the day.
But I didn’t want to be saved, and my issues weren’t going to disappear because he fixed my car or helped me move furniture. Basically, when my needs become inconvenient or conflicted with his, they become problematic. Because really, who wants to play out a flawed fantasy?
And that’s not my role, anyway, to be “played out.” I was never meant to be his happily ever after.
Nutshell: the fantasy ended when shit got real. End of story.
Actually, it’s not. More to come…