Without you, I’m just the bones of who I want to be
And to lose you, would be like losing half of my heart beat
I really like this song whose lyrics completely contradict everything I think and feel about relationships. I love to sing it, but it makes me uncomfortable when I do. It’s so codependent! I don’t need a guy like I need oxygen. I have damn well enjoyed kisses before, but not that fucking much. It’s not even fucking possible! No matter how much I like a kiss or how poetic I’m being, I still wouldn’t have to think about it if I had a choice between kisses and oxygen. No amount of hyperbole is appropriate in this instance.
Songs like this, particularly those aimed at girls and young women, that are also sung by women, give an unrealistic impression of what male/female relationships should be and also set up expectations of how romance should occur, even when this is so far from the truth that if a relationship like this existed in real life, it would be considered unhealthy and possibly illegal. Edward, Bella, I’m looking at you.
Anyway, media informs a lot of our opinions about things, particularly when we’re young and have not had the experiences of romance ourselves. More of our perceptions than we want to admit are formed based on media that we consume. When our experience in the world has been limited to a few years and the end of our driveways, it’s part of being human to take on what we see in movies, hear in songs and read about in books and use that as a basis for experiences that we don’t yet have. So when we hear in songs, again and again and again, how we’re supposed to be so in love with someone that we literally have to think when it calls for making a decision between them and breathing, it starts to set up an expectation for future relationships.
Being in your first relationship is often nothing but one wakeup call after another. I know mine was. After being spoonfed popular media and benevolent sexism and entirely too many pop songs, the views I had formed on how adult relationships worked were woefully inadequate. Most of my arguments against problematic media doesn’t lie in the media itself, it lies in the fact that the media does not exist within a vacuum. The problem becomes that this media is just one thing adding to an incorrect assumption about other things.
If one song talks about feeling so deeply in love with someone that oxygen is an afterthought, it would be one thing. But this, as well as all of the other problematic songs, movies, TV shows, books, and other media out there, is all feeding into one perception and that perception is not accurate. At this point in my life, I realize that this song is fantasy.
Romantic relationships are never this important to someone’s life and, if they are, something is wrong. Anyone that cannot be themselves or find happiness without a romantic partner in their life is not living as a well-rounded, fully-realized human being. Someone that dependent on someone else couldn’t survive in the real world. Because romantic partners leave, people die, people change, things happen. Anyone that into someone would not be able to cope with reality when something happens to this partnership that they based their entire lives around.
And this is not something that should be encouraged. Popular media should not be feeding into the idea that women should be this dependent on their partners, that this behavior is normal or healthy, or that these intense feelings are sustainable or should be valued so highly. Popular media needs to back off of romantic relationships as it is saturating the world with completely unrealistic, unobtainable images of what male/female relationships should be like. And young girls don’t need the added pressure of thinking that if a romantic partner has to make them question their willingness to breathe.