I Don’t Want to Be Treated Like a Princess, I Want to Be Treated Like an Equal

Over the holidays, I watched a lot of wedding shows. A lot of them. There was Say Yes to the Dress and My Fair Wedding with David Tutera and Bridezillas, and I loved every minute of it. But when you watch enough of those shows, certain themes start to emerge, and one in particular sat oddly with me: the repeated “I want to be treated like a princess/He’s the best husband in the world because he treats me like a princess” and so on. I know that most women have been fed tropes about being “princesses” since childhood (thanks a lot, Disney!), but the idea of a man treating me like a princess actually makes me want to marry him less.

Being up on a pedestal is fun, but not for long. I once dated a man who treated me like a princess – he bought me things, he told me I was pretty, and he never disagreed with anything I said. It was flattering, but at some point our relationship started to feel empty. A real adult relationship isn’t always roses and sunshine. Sometimes couples disagree about things, but if they’re honest with each other and respect each others’ feelings they can talk through issues in a reasonable way. I’m not saying that a true relationship involves people yelling at each other – I’m saying that if I wanted a “yes man” I’d hire one, not date one. I don’t want someone to worship me or follow me around all the time kissing my feet. There’s a lot more to me as a person, and I want to be with someone who respects all the other aspects of me: my brain, my heart, my smart-ass mouth. A great relationship can start out being physical or with one person having more affection for the other, but that’s not the way it’ll last. A lot of the women on these bridal reality shows who praise a man for treating her like princesses are actually praising these men for being pushovers – one Say Yes to the Dress episode featured a woman whose “treats her like a princess” fiance relented when she spent $10,000 over their agreed-upon budget on a wedding dress, even though the pair had kids together and clearly could have found better ways to use the money. Perhaps there are some princesses who get their rocks off on treating other people like dirt and forcing themselves into debt on account of a tulle-and-ruffle monstrosity, but I just can’t picture Kate Middleton or Crown Princess Victoria translating “treats me like a princess” as “allowing me to browbeat them.” I’m not a delicate flower who needs to be treated with utmost care. I’m a person with good and bad qualities, and I want to be with someone who loves all of me.

What a lot of the women on these bridal reality shows forget is that a wedding is great, but a marriage should be what’s really important. Being “a princess for a day” and wearing a big poufy dress is fun, but it’s an empty ceremony unless you’re truly joining your life with someone you care about and who cares about you. My best relationships have been one where the person I was with pushed me to be better, to work harder, and to try new things. Rather than treating me like a princess – accepting me as I already am and thinking I’m perfect simply for existing – I want someone who inspires me to be even better.

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    • Eileen

      I think that this is the feeling of most women who are actually adults. I also think that the reality show sample is not necessarily indicative of the greater – especially the greater, happily married – population.

    • natalia

      i half agree. sometimes i DO want to be treated like a princess. i deserve it sometimes. but i agree that the best relationships are the ones that push you to be the best possible version of yourself and push to you learn and grow as much as possible.

      • http://www.facebook.com/patrick.bonacoscia Patrick Bonacoscia

        Actually treating your partner as a princesses might be seen as sexist. I mean some men try to over protects their partners and that can be felt as being degrading by the partner, as she was considered not able to do anything. Men, forget what your mother told you… it’s just wrong. And forget about Walt Disney… he is even more wrong

    • teenie

      i think a healthy “i want to be treated like a princess” emotion would be better translated into “i want to be treated like i’m important and valuable” – which is something that is pretty awesome when both partners in a relationship make an effort to do, through thick and thin.

      but I agree – there’s a materialism to the ideal that many of these modern day “princesses” hold that is pretty revolting.

    • Sivan

      I agree with the first commenter. I want to be in a relationship with someone who pushes me to be better and who loves me – all of me – the way I am. But I also want romance and to be showered with love and affection and to be spoiled sometimes. Wanting those qualities IS a part of who I am as a whole.

      I do take some issue with this notion though: “A great relationship can start out … with one person having more affection for the other, but that’s not the way it’ll last.” Though it’s sad to say, I think relationships often have a greater chance of success if the man puts the woman on a bit of a pedestal. Not a huge one, just a slight inequity. A woman who loves her man will stay and work on things and give him her all regardless. A man who thinks his woman is slightly out of his league and who feels like he’ll never do better than her is more likely to work hard in the ways a long term relationship requires. But that’s just my two cents.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Todd-Parker/100002132626904 Todd Parker

        Yep, because men are naturally lazy and selfish and require that extra boost to make the best of themselves. True story.

    • Lindsay Cross

      When we first started dating, my husband told me that one of my best qualities was my independence. He wanted to be able to pamper me and do things for me, but only because he knew that I could do them for myself first. And honestly, I love the fact that he doesn’t ever feel the need to take care of me.

      Sure, we both do nice things for each other. We can be romantic and lovey and all that fun stuff. But there’s a difference, I think. I love Disney princesses, I can’t lie about that. But I’m happy that my husband respects me as an adult who can take care of herself.

    • Jessica Pauline Ogilvie

      “if I wanted a “yes man” I’d hire one, not date one.”

      Snap.

    • Renae

      Anais Nin put it quite nicely:

      I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naive or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.

      • http://www.facebook.com/patrick.bonacoscia Patrick Bonacoscia

        it’s hard to remove all the stereotypes we learned… not mentioning “Walt Disney princesses”. For some the passage to adulthood is though.

    • Kate

      I think a lot of women think they are being independent by doing things like never letting the guy pay when in reality they are really just selling themselves short. Why should I have to cook, clean the house, spend all the time and money I do on clothes and makeup to look pretty, mess up my body having children, care for the children, work on my career and pay half, when all the guy has to do is throw on some pants and a shirt and focus on his own career. Who’s getting the raw end of the deal then? True gender equality should allow for women to have the choice of taking on a more traditional role while expecting support from their spouse should they chose to do so. Obviously, there are many men who might prefer a more domestic role as well as women who are more career-oriented, and the option to have such a life should be available to men and women alike. It’s all about finding a partner with compatible goals who is willing to work with you to make the life you want together. As a mature, independent adult, I deserve the kind of guy who will stick by my side, who will love me no matter what and will stop at nothing to make me happy even if it means making a concession. I will do the same for him. That doesn’t mean he won’t challenge me or encourage me to be my best. It just means that he will treat me the way I deserve to be treated. The majority of women want to and deserve to be treated like a princess, and sadly, not enough of them are. Maybe that isn’t the life for you, but it could also be possible that you just haven’t been able to find someone who treats you properly.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Todd-Parker/100002132626904 Todd Parker

        Unless you marry a very, very rich man (and there are only a limited number of those), good luck getting ‘support’ for a more traditional role – by which I assume you mean ‘homemaker’. I mean, more power to you if you think that it’s a dignified choice of life, but it’s simply not economically feasible for the vast, overwhelming majority of people, not only today but throughout human history. The homemaker was a very brief and highly specialized historical phenomenon and is not representative of the normal condition of humanity.

    • Emily

      It’s about fantasy vs. reality. Think about the last three generations of princesses: Diana, Anne, and Margaret. All married men who cheated on them and generally ignored them. Being a princess sucks.

      What those women actually want is to be treated like a cartoon character in a colourful, musical fantasy. People like that are beyond help.

    • teenie

      the concept of “affection inequity” being a good thing that I’m reading in some of the comments completely flabbergasts me. I told my boyfriend about that, and we were mutually gobsmacked for some time over it.

    • kendra

      i totally agree with everything in this post .i dont ever want to be treated like a princess as a kid i did but ive grown up and learned that thats not true love or life

      • http://www.facebook.com/patrick.bonacoscia Patrick Bonacoscia

        A bit late to answer but you are perfectly right. A partner treating you like a princess or a prince is boring to death. I prefer a partner that tells me she does not agree ! Not agreeing does not mean there is not love, it’s often the opposite and shows your partner cares about the relation. It’s all about being emotionally adults, but sadly actual society does not help at all.