In Whitney Houston’s song ‘All the man that I need’ she sings in the opening verse that ‘I used to think love had to hurt to turn out right’. This to a great extent describes a lot of women’s attitudes to love. Perhaps because we’ve been so mistreated and hurt in the past that we’ve come to accept and believe that you’re supposed to get hurt by the person who claims to love you. That you’re supposed to endure poor behavior and disrespect for the relationship to be real.
Someone I know once said that we Nigerians believe that if you haven’t endured a lot of hardship and suffering because of a particular thing, you haven’t done it right. Even in the case of things you aren’t supposed to suffer for.
Case in point, earlier this month, a Twitter user complained about women leaving marriages due to being unhappy. He said that our mothers about and grandmothers endured worse treatment and didn’t leave, so what is our problem?
I like to imagine that it’s done as a means of emotional protection to not acknowledge the wrong being done and to simply pass it off as a part of the process. Relationships certainly take some amount of patience to survive, but they do not require suffering or constant endurance.
The problem is that this philosophy of ‘You will be mistreated by your significant other and you have to endure it because it’s a part of life’ is so endorsed and repeated to women from when they’re at their most impressionable and even into adulthood and they start to imbibe it as their truth and their reality. They learn to be content with scraps of love and convince themselves that this is how it’s supposed to be.
This leads to a generation of women who never received the treatment they deserved and who tell their own daughters to emotionally prepare themselves to be hurt and to accept it.
Love is a powerful thing and is inarguably what keeps us moving. Love is meant to heal and grow and care. Love isn’t meant to mistreat and lie and strip one of their dignity. Love isn’t meant to hurt.