A Psychological Critique of Disney Romance

Princesses, hands-down, have to be some of the most iconic additions to the Disney franchise. We remember them for their long, luscious hair, their hourglass figures, and their gorgeous smiles. We also remember how these lovely women ended up with the men of their dreams and lived out their happily ever afters. This prompted us to believe that we have to emulate a Disney princess in order to find true love. Consequently, this “knight in shining armor” complex has clouded our judgement about how individuals should act in a relationship. It allows a slew of bad behavior to go unacknowledged. 

But, at the same time, there is no denying that Disney princesses can still offer hope and illustrate a solid foundation when it comes to building a romantic relationship.  Both the negative and the positive traits of a Disney relationship can be categorized in three different ways: intimacy, which refers to developing a close bond to a person; passion, which can be summarized as the physical attraction one has for the other person; and commitment, as in the decisions that are made that affect both parties in the relationship. These three aspects make up the Triangular Theory of Love created by psychologist Robert Sternberg.

When it comes to intimacy, Disney princesses are known to fall head-over-heels for their “knight in shining armor” rather quickly. In Sleeping Beauty Aurora fell in love with teh Prince after a two minute dance sequence.This is very unrealistic considering individuals have to get to know each other first in order to see if they’re a good match. Imagine finding a “love at first sight” only to later discover that you all have nothing in common. But on the bright side, Princess Aurora does teach individuals to give others a chance and break down walls that keep others from getting to know them. Princess Aurora and the Prince trusted that they wouldn’t hurt each other and were able to create an accepting environment for one another. 

For passion, Disney princesses are the definition of being sought after for beauty. When you look at Snow White, her whole gimmick was that she was the fairest in the land because of her silky dark hair, rosy lips, and snow-colored skin. Her looks made her a target for the Prince, not her brain or her ambitions. This sends a horrible message to impressionable young people because it is saying that the only thing that matters in life is your looks. Instead, Disney princesses should make everyone feel comfortable in their own skin and teach society that every skin and body type is perfect in its own way.

Disney princesses are pretty committed in that they usually give up their old lives to be with their prince. Ariel from the “Little Mermaid” decided that she would give up seeing her family to be with a man. Now this may sound romantic, but in hindsight it’s pretty toxic. She had to abandon everything to be with someone and has, therefore, become dependent on the prince.

Both parties should benefit from whatever decision is made. A relationship is about both individuals wanting to help each other to reach each other’s full potential. But, then again, commitment is also about sacrificing to be with that person. You are dedicating your time, energy, and money to a person for whom you care deeply about. To be fair to the Prince, he was ready to sacrifice his life to save Ariel from Ursula.

 Disney makes us tolerant of toxic relationships. But as long as we’re aware of solutions, we can take the healthy parts and use them in our own relationships.