My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies, was not mix’d equally;
If our two loves be one, or thou and I love so alike that none can slacken, none can die.
— The Romance of Tristan & Iseult
We all know what the perfect man looks like. He is courteous, romantic, handsome (duh), and above all, comes fully equipped with horse, lance, and high-shine chrome breastplate (typical job requirement for hazardous perils to be encountered, e.g., fighting off dragons, driving away evil stepsisters, squishing the occasional spider, etc.). Every girl, at some point in her life, dreams of her knight-in-shining-armor, or KISA as we like to call him, riding up to sweep her off her feet and bear her off into the sunset… for some lucky ladies, this knight-in-shining-armor turns out to be the genuine article and not a loser-in-aluminum-foil.
Nowadays, it’s rare that that knight-in-shining-armor comes charging on his gallant steed with his sights dead set on you and no other… instead, the roles are more often reversed, with the princess having to leave her castle on the noble quest if she wants to be found by (or find) this man. Dating in Chicago, successfully tracking down this elusive KISA is something of a hunt, especially once you realize that the only way you’ll know what you’re looking for is when you see it. There is no cookie-cutter prince. Everyone’s definition of handsome is different, what appeals to one woman is a turn-off in others – but every woman still has that image of her prince, that Ideal Man. What makes him usually isn’t even the physical features, or any character trait you could specifically name. It’s that IT factor.
More often than not, dating wind up being turned into a game of checking off what you don’t want, rather than what you do – and the name of the game is Process of Elimination. This can be exhausting, to the point of where we would rather forfeit than continue wading through disappointment. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with riding back to the castle and taking a much-needed time-out to rest and recuperate from Round 1. Sometimes, in fact, when you’re not looking for love is when it turns up in the most unexpected places – remember that frog squatting by the pond in your backyard? That hungry peddler’s son you kept running into on your way home? Your best friend’s cousin who you barely noticed because he looked like he’d swallowed his tongue every time you asked him a question? Yep. Princes in disguise.
Happiness is a risk. Whether that risk involves taking a break or diving right back into Round 2, time is the ultimate teller. Some knights just take longer to show up in the ring than others (“Got caught up rescuing a village from a marauding giant or I would have been here a year sooner, milady.”).