I was in a store the other day when a song came on that took me right back in time to my early single days of the late eighties.
It was my song, the song that made my heart flutter, the one that I just knew was being sung by the guy who was out there looking for me, waiting for me.
And of course I was love-struck by this song. It's a song that we all want to hear the man in our life sing to us, professing his love and his inability to do anything but commit to us utterly and completely. It's a song of romance, love, and commitment.
We want to believe that we mean everything to him, we want to know that he realizes he just can't bear to be without us. Yes, he's afraid (as all men are), but we make him feel so secure, and give him such clarity and direction in his life, that he knows there's no reason to be afraid - so the lyrics tell us.
So he does the only thing he possibly can do, given the strength of his feelings – he gives himself completely to us, to the relationship, bringing his ship into the shore and throwing away the oars forever.
The song I'm referring to is I Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore by REO Speedwagon, circa 1985. In case you don't know it, here it is complete with the enchanting lyrics:
The problem I had back then, a problem that so many of us have, is that I really believed it.
This time around, some twenty plus years later, I found myself listening to the words and realizing it was no wonder I had always attracted that kind of drama guy, the rollercoaster rider. The emotionally disconnected player who constantly went back and forth on what he wanted.
No wonder he took me for a roller coaster ride every time.
No wonder he was the only guy who would do!
No wonder I wasn't finding the guy who really wanted to settle down, the guy who was actually ready for a committed relationship. I was too busy looking for the guy who I thought I wanted - the one who would have been singing this song!
I realize now that the song is actually about the player, the ladies man, the bad boy who sings:
Even as I wander, I'm keeping you in sight
Wait. What? Hang on a second. So as long as he's keeping me in sight I'm supposed to put up with his wandering while I wait for him to stop fighting his feelings and finally realize he can't live without me?
I didn't sign up for this.
And I guess I'm supposed to be love struck when this guy suffering from commitment phobia tells me that because of his strong feelings for me:
I'm getting closer than I ever thought I might.
Well, I'm certainly glad you're getting closer.
I'll tell you what, Mr. Fighting His Feelings - while you figure out just how close you can get, I'm going to go ahead and find a guy who already knows he's ready for commitment.
What I didn't get back then that's so clear to me now, is that the types of men I was attracting were exactly the way these lyrics read, except they never did bring that ship into shore. They just kept on wandering (but, in their defense, they did keep me in their sight - at least when it was convenient).
It wasn't that I wasn't enough - it was that I couldn't change anyone. Nor was it, I now realize, my job to spend my time and energy trying to make anyone love me.
If he wasn't there, then he wasn't there; there was nothing to change, nothing to do except to walk away, say next and move on to someone who was ready for me! Or better yet, spot him ahead of time and not get involved in the first place.
It was that simple!
But no, I didn't get that. I made it so complicated.
I put myself through so much unnecessary pain and heartbreak that I could have saved myself from if only I had figured this out so many years earlier.
I wasted so much time feeling so worthy to be his candle in the window, to know that it was because of me that he was getting closer to letting down his guard and letting love in than he ever had been before.
I believed it all.
Now I know the truth.
This isn't a fantasy, this is real life; this isn't a song, this is your life.
This isn't a fairytale, this is your heart, your soul, your you… your beautiful you that we're talking about here. And it's time you realize that you were not brought into this world to try to make someone love you, to save someone from himself, to show him a different kind of love than he's ever known, to rescue him, to love away all his demons, to bring him into a new kind of relationship all because you believe in his potential!
You never, ever have to convince anyone of your worth.
You never have to prove to someone why they should choose you. You never have to win his love. If he doesn't see this for himself, then next!
And we all need to stop listening to songs like this – but with over 12 million views it looks like we're still falling into this trap.
You deserve so much more than this.