Is Disney Going to Keep You Single?
That isn’t some Mickey Mouse click-bait question. It’s quite serious.
It’s serious because almost three fourths of adults age 25-34 are single today.
“Relax,” you could say! “Disney doesn’t have a bippity boppity to do with that! Most Disney movies are merely out to encourage children to dream, hope, and long for love.”
However, what if the Disney fantasy you fall in love with as a child proves difficult to grow out of? Even after you’ve graduated from high school musical? Even into your twenties and beyond?
This is just what I have observed in my studies and work with students and young adults since 2003. In fact, I have come across many who are oblivious to how much the Disney ideology has shaped their beliefs about their relationships, their purpose, and their identity.
It’s as if they’ve fallen under the spell of some wicked witch, who they mistook for a poor old lady selling apples.
Have you bit the apple?
Here are three questions to ask yourself:
Have you bought into Disney’s story line about relationships?
In most Disney flicks, the one relationship you were made for is romantic. And not just any romantic relationship, but the romantic relationship with “your one true love.”
With this as the goal, the romantic worldview of Disney presents emotion and instinct as supreme guides to finding that love, discouraging critical thinking on the part of the protagonist, who must reject the counsel of anyone who cannot understand the way they feel.
Sometimes, with a little Disney magic, this plan works without a hitch. However, even when “following your heart” leads to heartbreak, all the heartbreak in the Disney world is worth the prize of finally resting in the arms of your soul mate.
Have you bought into this story line?
Of course you know love stories don’t happen in the real world like they do in Andalasia, but how realistic are your expectations for dating and romance? And how would you know how realistic they are? Have you shared them with someone older and wiser than you; someone you look to for guidance in your dating life? Or are you trusting your heart to guide you?
If so, that could that keep you single! Because no woman can compare to the beauty and spunk of a Disney princess and no man can match the physique and charm of a Disney prince. But once you’ve fallen under the Disney spell, it’s hard to let it go (turn away and slam the door).
Meanwhile, as you follow your heart in the real world, you’ll tend to encounter more heartache than you imagined and that heartache will hurt more than you thought. And the more you’re hurt, the less you’ll be willing to risk.
And that will keep you single.
What can break the spell? Besides watching less Disney movies (and other romantic fare)?
Understanding this truth:
The one relationship you were made for is not romantic, but spiritual, and your one true love isn’t someone you’re going to find here on earth, but Someone who came down from heaven to find you.
And not just understanding this truth cognitively, but believing it with all your being. Remember: the Christian life is not a walk of “know.” It’s a walk of faith. It’s not enough to know all the Christian answers. You’ve got to believe them! Because only when you do, will you actually live by them!
Then, in that faith, instead of following your heart follow God’s heart by committing to know His word, committing to pursue the community of His body, and committing to seek His presence in prayer.
Have you bought into Disney’s story line about your purpose?
What is your purpose, according to Disney?
Follow your dreams!
What other purpose could there be?
This basically takes the “follow your heart” trope and applies it to everything in life, particularly your vocation. In other words, the Disney meta-narrative may be enchanting, but it possess the depth of 1970s animation.
So the purpose of the protagonist in any Disney film is something they have to find within themselves. Then, once they discover that purpose they find most of what they need to achieve their dreams inside themselves as well.
Have you bought into this story line?
Then this can keep you single by either turning you into a flighty, impulsive dreamer or an anxious, driven achiever.
The dreamers are difficult to depend on. So though they may be fun to casually date, they aren’t much fun to be in a serious relationship with.
For the achievers, education and career pursuits commonly deter them from dating pursuits. However, even when “true love” finds them, they often can’t find the time to prioritize “true love.”
So how do you avoid these two extremes? I address this question in depth in another Date Night Advice (DNA) series on dreams and fantasies. But in short, you need to begin by understanding this:
Your life is about more than even your wildest hopes, because you have a call on your life, of which your dreams are a mere shadow.
And that call doesn’t originate inside your heart, but inside the heart of your Creator who custom-made you to walk in His calling.
Further, you need to remember you will never discover God’s calling inside yourself, but in God’s word, in community with other believers who are busy chasing God’s call on their own lives, and in precious times of prayer pursuing God’s direction and courage to pursue your call.
Have you bought into Disney’s story line about your identity?
In regards to dating, nothing is more essential (and attractive) to find in a prospective mate than the undeniable confidence and kindness of someone firmly secure in who they are. That person will treat others appropriately, maintain boundaries fairly, and pursue goals gracefully.
In contrast, someone with a weak personal identity is not only less appealing to potential mates, they’re likely to look to the person they date to define them. We call this dating pattern identity theft.
But who (or what) has the authority to tell you who you are?
Well, unlike our previous topics the Disney message on identity varies dramatically from movie to movie.
The protagonist might find their identity by searching their own soul or by meeting their soul mate. They could find their identity by defying the expectations of their family or by meeting them. They might find their identity in the friends they know or the enemies they face. They could find their identity in career, conquest, or mere independence.
However, though there isn’t one all-prevailing Disney meta-narrative defining where or how you discover your identity, there is a consistent message of where you don’t find it. You don’t find your identity in God.
Perhaps this point seems unfair to you. Disney isn’t a Christian company. Why would we expect God to show up?
Fair or not, when we consider how many Disney movie plots fill our minds, it’s a reality we shouldn’t ignore. After all, so many of those stories are both incredibly relatable and persuasive. And yet all of them utterly devoid of God.
So, have you bought into this story line?
“No,” you might cry out! You don’t wish upon a star. You believe in God.
But what does that matter? Even the demons believe in God.
The question is, do you look to your God to tell you who you are? To define you?
Or did you just ask Him to forgive your sins, so you could be free to pursue your dreams without a bunch of baggage? In other words…
Practically speaking, does God hold about as much prominence in your life story as He does in a Disney tale?
If so, how can that keep you single?
Well, how can you expect to know who you are, apart from the God who created you; the One who knew you before you were born?
And if you don’t know who you are, how can you reasonably hope to identify the kind of person with whom you would be well-matched?
Certainly, you can (and should) look to your family, mentors, and close friends, who know you best to help you solidify your identity. Obviously, you should find clues in your strengths, your weaknesses, your hopes, and (yes, even) your dreams.
However, ultimately you have to go to your Creator.
Do you want a dating life with a future? Namely a future that includes a life-giving, life-long marriage?
Then you want to know that you know that you know you’re walking in God’s will in your dating life! And again, that requires investing time in God’s word, in His church, and in prayer.
Perhaps your next step could be praying this simple prayer: “Dear God, please do not let Disney keep me single.” Then your next step could be discussing this post with a friend who knows and loves God well and knows and loves you well.
DNA: It’s What’s For Dating
It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. And would like to learn how to better build healthy relationships in the meantime.
Check out all three study guides in our store. You can walk through them on your own, but it’s more fun with friends (that and it kinda makes sense to grow in relational success in actual relationships with others), so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study.
Even better? And ask a rock star married couple you respect to lead it!