Shouldn't Rumple be with someone who could be an equal to him in terms of power? Wouldn't that be better for everyone? He is being with Belle but they have nothing in common. I don't know put this without sounding anti Belle, because that's not my intention, but she is awfully vanilla next to him. You wrote that really great essay about the RBV trope. Belle is no match for Rumple magically or intellectually, she didn't suffer like he did so she doesn't have enough experience to understand him.
Therefore while he loves him, he doesn’t take her seriously. She can’t make him change, because the people he has respect for are Regina, Emma and other tougher, more powerful, experienced characters. I think they are both in love with a fantasy, Belle with the idea of taming the Beast, Rumple with the idea of a kind, pure person loving him. But their relationship is built on an illusion and never worked. Why would it work in the future? Why would it be good for any of them? (I don’t think writers meant us to see it that way, but have you noticed how bored Rumple looked during 6B when he was around Belle? Even at the dinner table in the end. Do you think that is a coincidence?) I’m sorry but I’m not sure I see why this relationship is good for either of them. But I’m interested in reading your thoughts.
Shipping is love, PsstIShipRumbelle!Anon, and I don’t think I can logic you into loving something. Especially since part of Why Rumbelle Works for Me is chemistry; if you think Rumple looks bored in the happy ending montage clearly that’s not coming through to you.
We should all be so bored, but your mileage may vary
What makes a relationship healthy is being partners– but there’s a difference between partnership and power. For instance, Milah and Rumple in FTL were equals in that they were equally poor and miserable, but that certainly doesn’t mean they were a healthy relationship. And Rumple and Cora were equals in terms of magical oomph and ambition, but their love only brought each other heartbreak and dead peasants. Just because you can both throw fireballs doesn’t mean you bring out the best in each other, you know?
Lizard Ambition, by Calvin Klein. Smell the Magic ™.
And I don’t think you can MAKE anyone change, you can only encourage them to “go back to the best version” of themselves, which is what Rumple says Belle does. If Belle wakes up one morning able to breathe fire or something I doubt it would suddenly change their relationship; nor should it. I think Rumple respects Cora, Emma, and Regina not because they’re magical but because they fight for what they want– and so does Belle, in her own way.
This is why Rumple’s taken with Belle in the beginning and his dying act in S2 is to call her “a hero who saved her people.” Magic isn’t the only barometer of power– courage counts, too, and being steadfast in your beliefs, and not taking shit– all qualities Belle has in spades. “Sassy and principled” isn’t necessarily worth less than “sassy and murderous.” Also I don’t think we can say Belle hasn’t suffered when she’s been locked up and shot and mind-wiped and cursed and had her pregnancy-sped-up and, worst of all, got benched for all of 6B. Not that suffering necessarily makes you empathetic– Hook’s suffered, but it’s taken him a while to care for people not his family, and Belle was empathetic and helpful towards random people (Mulan, Leroy, Archie, etc.) even before her biggest troubles began.
Bring this back someday, yeah?
At their best– or at least, what could be their best if they were ON-SCREEN TOGETHER A LITTLE LONGER (sorry, sorry, pulled a Hook, I’ll stop shouting), Rumple and Belle challenge each other in the best sort of way. She gets him to veer from IF PROBLEM THEN MURDER linear thinking, and he stimulates her . . . mind. You’re right that they both started out with illusions about instantly fixing him on her end and pure love as an excuse not to fly right on his end, but those illusions aren’t there by the S6 finale. I think they see each other for who they are AND who they could be, and that double sight helps encourage them to be their best selves.
Yin/Yang, motherfuckers, I ship it
But I ship them, so I’m obviously biased in this case. Hope this helps to provide another perspective, Anon! Thanks for trusting me not to blast you for the question :-). My Anons are the best Anons.