No one would ever try to argue that Disney love stories are realistic portrayals of the ups and downs and trials and tribulations of relationships. Their fairy tale happy endings are what make them so endearing, but they definitely don’t set proper expectations for dating in the real world. A prince is probably not going to come wake you up from sleep with an enchanted kiss while woodland creatures serenade you. But, there are some relationship lessons I have recently realized Disney imparted on me — and they’re the least likely of all.
Let’s see what Disney characters can teach us about healthy multi-partner relationships…
Relationships aren’t one-size-fits-all
Grand Duke: The prince sire! Swears he’ll marry nobody but the girl who fits this slipper.
The King: He said that, did he? Ha ha. We’ve got him!
Grand Duke: But, Sire, this slipper may fit any number of girls.
The King: That’s his problem. He’s given his word, we’ll hold him to it.
The fact that the slipper may fit any number of girls doesn’t necessarily have to be a problem if the prince decides he’d rather be polyamorous. In Cinderella, the Prince’s plot revolves around the pressure he’s under to find a wife and have children. But just like the glass slipper doesn’t fit every eligible maid in the kingdom, monogamy doesn’t fit every person, either. Having an open or polyamorous relationship doesn’t mean that the Prince couldn’t also raise a family with one or more committed partners. Of course, given how jealous the stepsisters are, it’s important to acknowledge that…
Possessiveness is very uncool
“I am not a prize to be won.” -Jasmine, Aladdin
In polyamorous relationships, everyone is going to get hurt if there’s competition or possessiveness between partners. Jealousy is a symptom of needs not being addressed between partners, and shouldn’t be present in a non-monogamous relationship. Polyamorous relationships can have many iterations, and sometimes they can include a main or primary partner with other partners, too — but no one should enter a polyamorous relationship with the idea that they’ll eventually “win” a partner completely. That’s disrespectful to everyone involved. And after all…
Trust and respect are the most important aspects of every relationship
“You know how men are: they think ‘no’ means ‘yes’ and ‘get lost’ means ‘take me, I’m yours.” -Meg, Hercules
Meg from Hercules understands the importance of trust. She has a lot of difficulty opening herself up to Hercules, and it’s because her trust has been broken in the past. In a polyamorous relationship, trust and boundaries are the most important aspect. Respecting a partner’s “no” is paramount — as it is in any situation! Open and honest communication and setting clear boundaries are the only ways to make sure that everyone can get their needs and desires met in a respectful way.
What lessons about non-monogamy can you glean from Disney movies?