Everyone who has ever seen a Disney movie or read a fairytale knows what True Love is.
True love is a strong and lasting affection between spouses or lovers who are in a happy, passionate and fulfilling relationship.
Snow White and Prince Charming have it. Ariel and Eric found it in each other. And Belle and Adam were able to achieve it in Beauty and the Beast. Each relationship was loving and good. They were definitely each other's True Love.
When ABC created the show "Once Upon A Time," I was ecstatic. I have watched the show so many times I have lost count. They changed the stories that we know and love and made it so that the characters were more complex, they weren't one dimensional anymore. The audience was able to see what made the villains and they showed us that heroes make mistakes too. But the one change that I can't get behind is Rumpelstiltskin and Belle.
In the show, Rumpelstiltskin takes the role of many beloved characters. He plays his namesake who doubles as the Dark One, he plays the Crocodile from "Peter Pan," and he plays Beast/Adam from "Beauty and the Beast." Rumple is my absolute favorite character in the show, has been from episode one. When they introduced Belle into the show, one of my favorite princesses, I was so excited. But after her first episode, I was in shock. How could they do that to her characterization and call what they had True Love? I absolutely hated her character. And that was only the beginning.
When they introduce Belle she is with her father, who isn't an inventor but instead the ruler of an unnamed Kingdom, and Gaston (blech). The kingdom is fighting a war against the ogres and they have called upon Rumple for help. He shows up and makes a deal that he will save everyone if Belle goes with him. So far so good, she is imprisoned with him and made to be a servant/maid for his castle. Pretty accurate considering some of the other changes the producers made.
But here is where it takes a turn. Belle decides that because she is stuck there for the rest of her life they, Rumple and Belle, might as well get to know each other. So she starts asking him personal questions that obviously hurt him to think about, let alone answer. And she doesn't stop! She keeps digging until finally he vaguely answers some questions from his past. Fine, whatever, do what you do I guess. But then he promises to tell her anything she wants to know after she goes to town to get straw for him to spin into gold. He flat out tells her that he never expects to see her again. And this is where I started to get really mad.
She leaves, basket and everything, with no intention of going back. She even says so later on in the episode. But Regina, the Evil Queen, spies her and decides to manipulate her. She speaks about how True Love's kiss breaks any curse, and technically being the Dark One is a curse. So with that in mind, Belle hurries back to the castle where she kisses Rumple. When the curse starts to break because of the kiss, very gradually I might add, she gets so happy and tries to kiss him again saying that it was working. Rumple gets mad, as one would, and throws her into the dungeon and proceeds to shatter a whole bunch of stuff. Later he goes down to the dungeon and lets her go saying that his power meant more to him than she did.
Ok so background done. Now here is where I get into why this isn't True Love.
Reason one is that the curse started to break slowly. In every other instance of True Love's kiss being used to break a curse, it happens like a snap of your fingers. It doesn't happen slowly like what Rumple experienced. If what they had was True Love the curse would have been broken as soon as their lips touched. So HA, in your face Belle.
Reason two is that Belle wasn't even going to go back until she was manipulated by Regina. The only reason she went back was to break the curse. That is not love, especially not True Love. True Love is loving a person completely, not bits that you pick and choose. You don't try and force them to change with ultimatums, which Belle does repeatedly throughout the series.
Belle loved the idea of Rumpelstiltskin. She loved the human version of him that she built up in her mind. She wanted to be a hero and decided that to do that she had to save Rumple from himself, but that's not how it works. You can never really change someone and if you think you can you are lying to yourself.
What Rumpelstiltskin and Belle have isn't True Love, I don't even think it is love at all.
Rumple deserves better than some woman who does nothing but tries to change him into someone that isn't him and makes him miserable. And Belle needs to stop spouting that what they have is True Love because every time she says that or gives people advice on love is want to jump into the television and slap her.