Remember the story of the “Beauty and the Beast”? Most of you are probably familiar with this story ever since you were little. If you’re not, then here’s a quick summary: The Beast is mean, mad and controlling and He imprisoned Belle with no justifiable reason. As the story goes on, Belle learns to love him despite his obviously abusive treatment (also called Stockholm Syndrome). Belle manages to see the other side of the Beast. His gentle and more vulnerable side, and she thinks that’s worth saving. She melts his aggrieved heart. It’s her only objective. She has no identity or ideals outside of their relationship.
Belle manages to love Beast so much that he turns into a handsome prince. The message is, if you love someone enough, you can make them a better person. If they don’t become a better person, it means that you didn’t love them enough. Think you can love someone enough to make them a better person? If you do, you believe a fairy tale!
A Painful Myth
Many women painfully discover this myth after years of giving their whole heart to a partner who is aggressive, controlling and intimidating. But the dream of saving him from his brooding, dark troubles is a fantasy that somehow rationalizes subjecting themselves to poor treatment. What’s worse is that in the midst of all this, some women feel like their men haven’t changed for the better simply because they haven’t loved them enough.
Drawing the Goodness Out
It may be true that everyone has goodness inside them, yet if a woman takes it upon herself to draw that goodness out, she may end up feeling hurt and betrayed. She may be looking for the goodness, but the person she is attempting to draw it out from has no interest in accessing it or living from it unless he can use it to further manipulate his partner.
You can’t change people and it’s not your responsibility to do so. Sure, you can impact, inspire and support people, but you can’t change them. They have to want to change. If they don’t want to change, you’re simply pouring water into a bucket filled with holes, and that’s unacceptable. You’re better off just walking away.
Compromising Your Dignity and Self-Worth
When you chase that kind of love, you are compromising your identity, dignity and self-worth. A man can’t give you what he doesn’t have. We are all worthy of being treated with respect, love and kindness today (not in some distant future) and certainly not when it’s contingent on someone eventually sorting out their problems. If a man can’t respect you, it is not your responsibility to try and fix him so he will. It’s never your job to just love a man. Instead, be yourself, love yourself and expect that same love and respect from your partner, whatever relationship you’re in.
Setting the Bar too Low
Back to Belle and Beast. Beast doesn’t actually become good. He doesn’t do anything overtly loving and caring for her. He just isn’t as abusive, violent and hostile as he once was. It’s as if not being an opprobrious S.O.B is somehow a really big achievement. Belle sadly sets the bar really low.
You have the right to get back what you give. The kind of love that you share, should be shared with you in return. Kissing frogs, transforming beasts into princes and losing your voice for love are all narratives set up for the convenience of men. I have two daughters of my own and I hope that they will write their own love stories—narratives that begin and end on the premise that they are worthy of receiving love just by being themselves.