I really enjoy a good love ballad. Any good, sappy love song actually. Believe it or not James Brown has a beautiful ballad titled, “Try Me” that just gets me every time. Perhaps you’ve heard it. But there’s one group of love songs that trouble me every time I hear them. They usually have lyrics along these lines;
“Please release me… / let me go.. / ’cause you don’t love me.. anymore”;
“..unchain my heart”, you get the idea.
Now if these were just songs we enjoyed and it went no further, then fine. But unfortunately they either reflect or reinforce the idea that in order to break up with someone we need their cooperation, or even permission in some way. What troubles me about this is hearing women say how unhappy they are in a relationship yet, when I ask them, “Have you considered breaking up with him?” Their response is not always a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Instead it’s considered a rationale response to simply say, “He won’t hear of it.” or “He doesn’t want to talk about it.”
Now, just to clarify a bit, I don’t believe in just casually disappearing out of someone’s life either. The primary recourse in an unhappy relationship to be to discuss out the problems involved and work together to be more giving and considerate of each other. But when the very issue of communication, cooperation or consideration are lacking to begin with, trying to talk out the problem becomes a problem in itself.
But when a person has finally reached the end of their rope and things just don’t show any promise of getting better due to the unwillingness of the other partner I believe it’s then time to make one final, clear statement of things and, if there is still no genuine effort to make things better, simply inform the person there is no longer an exclusive status to the relationship. “It’s over, I hope we can stay friends. I’m informing you, not asking you.”
I say this because I’ve seen too many good-hearted men and women wait and stew for an agreement from their uncooperative, unloving mate that it’s time to break up. Unlike beginning a relationship, ending one does not require mutual effort. In the meanwhile time passes and the unhappy member learns to simply lower their expectations of what they originally wanted in a relationship.
Here is where I’d like to back-track a bit and look at part of what makes a relationship an attractive idea to begin with. It is in our nature to have two specific needs fulfilled. The need to give love and the need to receive love. Mother Teresa once said, “Leprosy is not the greatest plague of mankind.. it is instead to go through life unloved.” So when we meet someone with hopes of a healthy relationship, it is these two things; giving love and receiving love; that we hope to find available.
If, as time passes, it is discovered that this person we’ve met has the willingness to receive all the love we are willing to give, but is lackluster in their own enthusiasm to give any love back.. I believe it’s perfectly proper to stop and say, “I love you, but your behavior is unacceptable for this deep a relationship.” With acquaintances, friends, family it’s easier to give once in a while in a much less intimate way even if they do not reciprocate. We may not like it when they don’t, but the relationship is not as close as the exclusive one between one man and one woman. If stopping the show with our beloved and making our unhappiness clear to them isn’t enough to stir them from losing us, it’s quite possible thiers is only an endeared affection they have for us.. but not sacrificial love that seeks the pleasure of the beloved.
In love, it is our joy and responsibility to give in the way we relate to our beloved. But love is not -all- a matter of us giving. In seeking the best for our loved one we must take the initiative to let them know that they do this love an injustice by living with a selfish stance. And so it is that we must not only give love, but also accountably require it of the one that would stand so near to us and whisper, “I love you.” We must do it to keep love balanced, to maintain our self-respect and for the betterment of the one we love.
Henry Velez is a writer, traveler and vlogger currently living in the Philippines. He has written extensively on social issues, relationships and travel.