From love at first sight to losing a shoe at midnight, true love is an amazing thing.

A prince coming to sweep you off your feet is every little girl’s dream. And don’t little boys long to be that prince? Children grow up believing that true love in real life should resemble these kinds of fairy-tale images. After watching so many movies about happily-ever-afters, didn’t we all?

But is sweeping a princess off her feet after meeting her for the first time really true love?

Happy endings occur almost every day, but never like in the movies. Love at first sight doesn’t exist—that’s called lust. There’s no such thing as a fire-breathing dragon, and women are hopefully never put in towers and forced to live in solitude until they are rescued. Unlike Cinderella, if you lose a shoe at midnight, you have most likely had too much to drink and it will not be returned to you followed by a marriage proposal. That’s not how reality works.

So then, what does true love look like in the real world?

True love is based on the simple things in life, like going out of your way to make that special someone happy. Something as simple as making them a cup of coffee in the morning so they can sleep in for a few extra minutes can make a world of difference. Finding compromise is also important, like when you let your partner pick out a movie that you have no interest in watching. Small details like this are the foundation for a healthy and lasting relationship.

Falling in love doesn’t happen in an hour, in a night, at first sight, or even after one conversation. It is built on actions, both small and large, over a prolonged period of time. The lengths you are willing to go for that person—that is true love.

Unlike a movie, relationships are not always easy. Rough spots will inevitably arise. True love is the will to always keep fighting, even if that means swallowing your pride and accepting that you were wrong in certain situations.

Despite what you are told in fairy tales, true love is something that needs work. It may take patience, kindness, compassion and trust, but it’s worth the effort in the end.