I am hyper-aware that we engage in some pretty unhealthy behaviors and call it romance. Stalking seems to be equated with love and we insist that an inability to take no for an answer, is rooted in true devotion.
Aretha famously sang, “though you don’t call anymore, I sit and wait, in vain. I’m gonna knock on your door, tap on your window pain.” Blondie knows, “One way or another, I’m gonna find you, I’m gonna get you, get you, get you, get you.”
“You can slap me in the face
And you can scream profanity
Leave me here to die alone, but
I’ll still follow you home”
and Sting persists:
You belong to me
My poor heart aches
With every step you take
We call this unhealthy obsession romance. We advise never give up on “love,” and relentless pursuit is painted as noble. The one thing that makes our lives valuable is romantic love and we should seek to have it at all costs and once we find it, we must keep it at any cost!
Romance, especially in the context of heterosexual love, is revered as normal, it is the holy grail, heaven on Earth. If we are lucky, we get at least one “great love” in our lives. Nothing else exists and when we fall in love, no matter what’s at stake, we better dig in our heels. We better hold on tight and never let it go… See every Adele song ever.
THIS INORDINATE VALUE PLACED ON ROMANCE AND MARRIAGE IS CONSISTENTLY USED TO DEVALUE SINGLE AND UNMARRIED WOMEN, PAINTING US AS INHERENTLY UNWORTHY AND PATHETIC, TOO DIFFICULT AND TOO PICKY. Sherronda J Brown, Wear Your Voice
However, this is the year of healing, Brown Girls, and I want to tell you, we deserve better. I refuse to allow the continued devaluation of love in every other manifestation and I refuse to allow us to perpetuate the lie that romance is the end all, be all.
IT IS NOT!
When Tina Turner sang, “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”, she was talking about the challenge that comes with opening up and becoming vulnerable…
“I’ve been taking on a new direction, I have to say, I been thinking about my own protection… it scares me to feel this way, what’s love got to do with it?”
When it comes to trust and the fundamentals therein, love is a side effect. Your trustworthiness keeps me safe, my trustworthiness keeps you safe and only then can love, of any type, bloom in a space.
Love is not supposed to hurt nor is it supposed to be hard won. Love is the sanctuary from all that leaves a scar. My friend’s have saved and soothed me more times than I can count, for countless years, in countless ways, over pain I don’t have the language to name. That’s love. That’s love and it is glorious. It is no less valuable than the sexual intimacy I share with my chosen life partner.
On top of this truth, I have seen partnerships strive and thrive outside of the context of heteromantic love. Beautiful and healthful asexual, pansexual, polysexual, demisexual etc and so on relationships exists.
Heteromantic love is consistently portrayed as an exclusive, unhealthy, struggle. If I am to heal myself, if we are to heal each other, it’s time to face that reality. We should admit that we are following toxic tropes and we should talk about and value all types of love, instead.
This Valentine’s Day let’s celebrate all the relationships that make us feel love and loved, openly and with pride! Your friendships matter. You matter. How you manifest love matters. Be healthy brown girls and keep healing.