Hey Kids, Please Remember Not All True Love Stories Are Fairytales

by Tova Leigh
Originally Published: 
Tova Leigh

You asked me how I met your father and if it was like a fairytale when the prince meets his princess and they live happily ever after.

I wish I could tell you that it was.

That he swept me off my feet, we traveled the world sipping champagne and having adventures in exotic countries. That he proposed in Paris after a stroll down St Germain at sunset. That I cried, and that we held each other for two hours, then went back to our boutique hotel and made love all night long (I will explain what that means when you are older).

But the truth is, we met online and he proposed while watching The Simpsons.

It was a year after I had moved to London. I was about to finish my studies, and I had no idea what I was going to do. Having left my previous marriage behind, being divorced and kind of lonely in a new city, I decided to try online dating for the first time ever at the age of 31.

It was a strange experience, to say the least, one that started out as “funny” and awkward (chatting to people you have nothing in common with can be super odd), and ended up being annoying, which is why it only lasted one month and then I canceled my membership putting it all behind me.

In that month, there were four guys.

There was the guy who looked really good in his picture, and I thought, well, I never really dated a “hunk” so let’s give this a go, but then I met him in person and discovered that the picture he used was taken at least 10 years earlier, and the past 10 years had not treated him so well.

There was the guy who seemed super-sensitive because he mentioned his mom in his profile description and I thought to myself, wow, that’s so nice. I hope my children hold me in such high regard when I am older. Needless to say, I was less than impressed when he kept going on and on about his mother during our date, the highlight being “my mom’s cooking is better than this.” Okay, then.

Then there was the funny guy who was sarcastic and had great comebacks on paper, but when we met barely said two words, making me wonder if it had actually been him who replied to my messages online. We sat in silence for nearly an hour eating sushi and taking big sips of wine which, frankly, did not really change how awful the date was going.

And then there was Mike, your dad.

A funny looking guy who I didn’t even like on paper.

He messaged me as I was about to finish my month’s membership, and for some strange reason (or call it fate), I decided to add him as a friend on Facebook (something I never do). We didn’t go on a date because I wasn’t too keen, but we stayed in touch (when I say “stayed in touch,” what I mean is that I forgot all about him and carried on with my single life wondering if I would I ever find love again.

Then a few months later he messaged me on Facebook and asked what I was up to.

I was getting ready for my showcase performance having just finished my acting course and told him briefly about it. He responded by asking if he could come and watch it. Of course, at this point, I thought to myself, this guy is an idiot, since showcases are not open to the general public but rather just to talent agents and casting people.

But the joke was on me as he revealed that he was, in fact, a talent agent who represents desperate actors like me.

I assume it’s pretty clear what happened next, right?

After I googled him, the tables had totally turned, and it was now me who was trying to set up a time to meet, thinking that he might actually agree to represent me.

We planned to meet at a well-known comedy club. I was waiting for him to show up, all nervous and keen to make a good impression. I had my acting CV and headshots in my bag (so lame, I know), I wore a professional looking dress (feminine but not too sexy because I wanted to be taken seriously — another thing I will explain when you are older), and I had even rehearsed a short dramatic monologue just in case he put me on the spot and asked me to perform something for him (okay, I never said I was cool).

And then I saw him.

He was walking down the street toward me wearing a long overcoat and a suit and I was like, damn, he’s cute! Okay, Tova, calm down; remember, be professional!

I was a bit more at ease when he knocked over a whole bottle of wine with that overcoat, and I thought to myself, okay, this guy is a bit clumsy. I like that.

The meeting went well. I was super professional and as charming as I could possibly be (thank god, he never asked me to perform that monologue), we said our goodbyes, and as I went to bed that night I thought to myself, shame he’s an agent — he was nice actually.

The next day he called and said this: “I really like you. I don’t want to represent you because I don’t date my clients, and I would very much like to date you. How about we go out on a real date, and you give me a chance?”

I said “yes.”

And the rest is, as they say, history.

But it was not a whirlwind romance. It was suburban boring bliss at best. It was staying in and watching TV, eating ice cream out of a tub in bed, laughing loads, going on package holidays on a budget, and fighting over the dishes and who didn’t change the toilet roll.

Then a year later, he popped the question while sitting on the sofa in his flat on a Sunday evening watching The Simpsons.

It was perfect.

Nearly eight years down the line and a whole lot of water under the bridge, with having three kids in the space of two years and every little wonderful and shitty thing that comes with that, I know that although our marriage is not without its flaws, although there are times we drift apart and the love that we share seems to get buried under the day to day struggles, there is something that is stronger than any “happily ever after” that brings us back to each other.

And nothing can change that.

Not even how annoying he is when he snores, or how he takes 30 minutes to take a dump, or never puts his stuff away, or how much noise he makes when he eats or… Okay, you get the idea — your father can be a pain in the ass.

But he’s my pain in the ass.

This man, this unexpected man, turned out to be not only the love of my life, the father of my children, my best friend, but also the best thing that has ever happened to me.

I have asked myself on many occasions what I did to deserve him, with his kindness, honesty, and humility. Having dated the “wrong” type of guy my whole life, wanting to have a fairytale romance, like the ones you see in the movies and read about in books, it felt so right when I met him, like I had finally come home.

So to answer your question, no, it was not like a fairytale. It was real, not glamorous or perfect, just real with ups and downs and everything in between, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

And that is how I met your father.

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