How R&B fucked up my love life for decades
I am not a feminist.
So please don’t come here with women power and men are shit and stuff like that. I am not writing this to curse men.
I am a 80’s baby. Old and proud. To me music stopped being good in 2009. When I talk about music, I talk about the one and only rythm that reaches my soul: R&B. I have to admit Soul and Neo-Soul have my heart too (D’Angelo and Erykah Badu’s voices coming together to lull my whole being is quite an experience!) but R&B has been forged by two kings: Marvin Gaye and R. Kelly. How do you want me to focus on anything else?
But that’s not the point here. So. R&B fucked up my love life, and the one of several other women born in the 80’s. I have no statistics, but…
As I told you guys in a previous post, lately I am very interested in observing couples, how they experience their love life and what influences their lives together. That activity leads me to thinking about my own love life and how I used to experience it. Yes, “used to”, past tense, because several things changed.
You guys know I never talk about love relationships here, especially mine.medium.com
I was around 11 when I discovered R&B music. I remember seeing Boyz II Men on TV going up the stairs to the podium to receive their Grammy with “End of the road” playing in the background. I asked myself “What is that beautiful song? I overheard it once or twice but I never realized how beautiful it was!!”
And that’s how it all started.
Jodeci, 112, TLC, Whitney Houston, Babyface, X-Scape, 702, Total, Brian McKnight, Toni Braxton, The Isley Brothers, SWV, Eternal (looking for their albums guys, because it’s just like these girls disappeared!), Luther Vandross, Mariah Carey, Keith Sweat, the King of Kings R. Kelly and all the likes of them became my whole life. It was a crime for me not to accurately know each and every word of the lyrics of each and every of their songs.
They were singing love, so love became their songs.
Let me explain. But for that I need a clear example to show you guys how deep the shit was, and still is for many. “On bended knees”, by Boyz II Men.
I loved this song to death and still do, but the lyrics and even the video are fucked up.
Let’s talk about the video.
Scenario 1: Wanya is in the car with his woman. She is arguing with him, complaining he keeps staring at other women. He denies. She goes mad, then she gets out of the car. She starts walking, she ends up sitting on a bench, sad as hell. Then Wanya comes and beg on his knees with a flower, telling her how sorry he is.
Scenario 2: Shawn meets a girl in the park. Then we don’t know what happens to them. Not my fault, ask the video producer.
Scenario 3: Michael is a painter. He is so in love with his woman he keeps on painting her. Then life or whatever catches up with him and he has to work, paint kind of seriously. So she becomes transparent to him though she is in the same house. She does everything she can for them to be the happy couple they used to be, but the guy is busy. So she packs out. And we see Michael talking to a portrait he did of the girl, telling it how sorry he is, reminiscing the good ol’ time. When she sees how devasted he is, she comes back. He really loves her.
Scenario 4: Nathan is into music. He used to spend quality time with his lady, then starts neglecting her for his passion/job. She does everything possible for things to “get back to normal” but the guy does not care. So she leaves. When he realized she is gone, he is devastated and starts looking for ways to have her back. Just as the previous fool (yes I said it), when she sees how devasted he is, she decides to come back. He proved himself to her with his tears and lamentations.
Now let’s talk about the lyrics. I will serve you the end only:
I’m gonna swallow my pride
Say I’m sorry
Stop pointing fingers
The blame is on me
I want a new life
And I want it with you
If you feel the same
Don’t ever let it go
You gotta believe in the spirit of love
It’ll heal all things
It won’t hurt any more
No, I don’t believe our love’s terminal
I’m down on my knees
Begging you please
Can we go back to the days our love was strong?
Can you tell me how a perfect love goes wrong?
Can somebody tell me how to get things back the way they used to be?
Oh, God, give me the reason
I’m down on bended — down on bended knee
Wanna build a new life
Just you and me
Gonna make you my wife
Raise a family
I’ll never walk again ’til you come back to me
I’m down on bended knees.
So that was what love has been to me for about 20 years.
I had to be heartbroken, most of the time because the guy had to have something to apologize for and beg for days for me to understand how much he loved me. No begging, no love, no true feelings. Full stop. I stayed for years with guys who did the unthinkable to me. They broke every part of my body and soul, crushed my self-esteem, humiliated me to the highest and lowest point. But the guys were professional beggers (different from beggars).
They were devastated after I legitimately walked out, and did everything to make me see how crushed they were. Begging 101: make her entourage see how devastated you are for them to go and tell her. Story of my life. “He stopped eating.” “He is not even partying anymore.” He is so lost without you.” “You are his everything.” “He can’t make it without you.”
In her song Always be my baby, Mariah Carey clearly explains the logic behind all this.
You’ll always be a part of me
I’m part of you indefinitely
Boy don’t you know you can’t escape me
Ooh darling ’cause you’ll always be my baby
And we’ll linger on
Time can’t erase a feeling this strong
No way you’re never gonna shake me
Ooh darling ’cause you’ll always be my baby
I ain’t gonna cry no
And I won’t beg you to stay
If you’re determined to leave boy
I will not stand in your way
You’ll be back again
’Cause you know in your heart babe
Our love will never end
I went back to each of them. How wouldn’t I? In each case, him and I were experiencing exactly what all these love songs were saying. We met. We were in love. He crushed me. He artistically begged. I had to go back. As simple as that. And if one wanted to doubt love songs, Harlequin books were there to confirm that was the right path to follow. That shit (Harlequin) was created in 1949. Imagine how many young girls and women went thtough the same ordeals as me just because of THAT!!
I remember when I was in high school, I had this very good friend who was in love with her boyfriend. He used to beg. A lot. She had so many stuff to forgive and forget. Epitome of love. There was this other guy who was in love with her. He knew how to beg, telling her how better off she would be with him. He was very cute. Then someday she heard he was with another girl. She was so angry about it. He was not her boyfriend but she kind of “owned him”. Their relationship was offical: he offically wanted her and she was officially unreachable to him. That’s how things were and had to remain. But he went astray… and had to beg.
That’s the most interesting part of the story. He tried everything. Playing her role like a star, the girl did not want to listen to anything or even read any of the love letters he sent her (no IPhone or Galaxy Note 8 around at the time). The guy was devasted. One day we were all out, we were about two thousands or more in the school. I remember we were at the basket ball field, chatting. Then the guy came in front of her and got down on his knees.
I can’t tell you how jealous all the other girls were. That was IT. What we were all dreaming of. THAT. A guy on his knees, begging. She told him “My boyfriend never did that for me, now I know you truly love me.” We all agreed with her that that was THE guy for her. She had to dump her boyfriend. He was not worthy enough. That one went down on his knees!!!! I want to throw up just writing this.
According to R&B songs, for a relationship to be ok, the woman has to go through several ordeals. The guy has to cheat on her, ignore her because he has to be busy with more important stuff like his job or his friends or his passions. She has to cry, curse, lose some weight, then eat chocolates and ice cream, call the disappointed-girls/women squad for them to tell her how much they relate, then convince her to go back after he called each of them 4 to 5 times to ask them to talk to her on his behalf.
That’s how it can ruin people’s life.
Many of us do not realize it, but the more we feed our brain with something, the more it becomes “good” and “normal” to us. The more it becomes kind of a map to us to assess how right we are in the way we are living our lives.
It took me around 20 years to get out of that mess, to understand that love, humiliation, suffering and begging were not going together. It took me more than 20 years to get that I was not a woman, but a doormat to those I was with. I was not a good friend, but a toxic element around the women I cared for because I was advising them according to what I thought was true love.
Today I see my 5 years old niece watching Disney productions and I am so devastated. Just as R&B is about crush and beg, Disney productions is about validation when it comes to love. Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, Cinderella… Love stories in each of these productions are chaotics because one of the lover is not accepted, and it is usually the part of the woman to do her best for the relationship to go well. She has to cry and, just like in Beauty and the Beast, her tears have to revive what has been lost.
That baby is going to be crushed in her love life. I have to admit I don’t know what to do. I can’t forbid her to watch these stuff because they are everywhere around her. The other day she told me “When a woman gets married she has to stop working to take care of her man. That is how things are.” I almost cried.
Love is a complicated thing. Complicated to the point that one has to go through excruciating pain for years first to be able to decide some day, if they are lucky enough torealize what is happening to them and exposed to a reality different from the one they used to know, that their relationships should not be shaped by anything external to themselves. It is all about what we want and what we don’t. Not about what is considered good or bad by the majority.
Hello, my name is Befoune and I used to be a doormat because I believed in R&B’s lyrics. Clap if you enjoyed reading this text. And clap even if it is not the case. I need you to cheer me. For real.