“Every leap into light starts as a leap in the dark” – Martha Beck.
I was driving along a few days ago and heard Lady Gaga’s song Million Reasons on the radio. I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since, and it’s not because of the pretty sounding instrumentals or the stripped-down vocals.
While the song artfully tugs at every romantic, hot button in our love-starved souls, it unwittingly endorses the old misguided message that true love settles, accepts the unacceptable, and selflessly tolerates every possible version of intolerable…
“I’ve got a hundred millions reasons to walk away,
but baby, I just need one good one to stay.”
The crazy notion we’ve all bought into is that romance and passion, all too often, means we endure suffering and hardship for the sake of the relationship.
We settle for crumbs. We hang in regardless of how we’re treated, despite how miserable we might feel. And even, as the song so eloquently states, if we have ‘a hundred million reasons to walk away’, somehow we think that staying at all costs is the stuff that true love is made of.
Believing that we just need one good reason to stay is exactly what keeps us tolerating the intolerable and accepting the unacceptable.
But it’s not the truth. It’s never been the truth. And yet, we’ve all bought into it, one fairytale after another, and another, and another.
The truth is that all of those million reasons to walk away she sings about are the very reasons we need to walk away – and fast – monopoly fast! Don’t pass go – don’t collect $200. Just walk away.
You only ever need one good reason to leave. And for the record, wanting to go – regardless of the reason why – is reason enough!
We convince ourselves that being unhappy isn’t a good enough reason to leave – but it is. It is the only reason you ever need.
The rationale for actually staying in a relationship requires having many more ‘good reasons’ to be there than there are reasons to leave. And if the scale isn’t tipped in favour of ‘good reasons’ to stay, then our decision isn’t based on reason at all – it is based on fear.
We’ve romanticized the emotionally unavailable, broken man. We disguise him as the strong, silent, and dangerously charming type.
He can be a little aloof, unaffectionate, and melancholy. He tends to be a bit on the wild or unpredictable side and at times irresponsible. He might be unable to make a commitment or be faithful, and often claims he isn’t able to love anyone.
And all of that mixes the perfect cocktail for the man we need to fix.
We convince ourselves that with just a little help, compassion, and love – specifically our love, as a matter of fact – we can fix him and change his life for the better.
And so we willingly accept the unacceptable in hopes that we can be the one who can win his unrequited love
And it’s exactly this belief that winning unrequited love is the ultimate pot of gold that keeps us stuck. In spite of having a million good reasons to leave, we desperately hang onto any old reason we can find to stay.
Secretly, we settle because we think maybe this is as good as it gets. Secretly, we hold on tight because we think this might be the only chance at love we have again.
Secretly, we believe that if we can win this unrequited love, we must surely be worthy and deserving of love. And what’s at the core of it all? Our deep fear and belief that we are unlovable.
If we fix him, and he returns our love, it’s the validation we desperately want and need that finally says that we are enough.
Somewhere along the line the message has been that winning unrequited love equals true love.
And that’s the problem right there. Because that has nothing to do with true love.
We need to put an end to the fairytale idea that there is anything romantic about staying with a man who has given us a million reasons to walk away.
We need rewrite that song and begin to sing a new anthem – one that says we no longer associate true love with being the girl waiting by the phone, settling for any crumbs thrown our way, accepting the unacceptable, and tolerating the intolerable.
We need to begin to recognize that a loving relationship means our partner shows up fully in the relationship, treats us with respect and loving kindness, values who we are and honors what we need.
And once our sense of worth and value begins to run deeply through our veins, we will refuse to choose any partner other than one who gives us a hundred million reasons to stay.