For about a week now, I've been been bumpin' Stephanie Mills's "Something in the Way You Make Me Feel" pretty heavily. First of all, sis can sang and definitely could still school a few folks in the industry about why sometimes "sing" gets an "a" instead of an "i". Second, I remember that video being pretty dope, in a timeless kind of way. (And her body is killin' it in that black dress and white top and pants.) Third, if you're not even remotely familiar with the tune and you're at a place where you can't click on the hyperlink right now—here's the first verse:
I've been up and I've been down/Until you helped me put my feet on solid ground/I've been rich and I've been poor/Then you showed me that there's so much more/Than the rat race and the fast pace/Could ever offer me/When I look back, baby/You've always been there for me
From there, the hook says, "Something in the way you make me feel," a few times, and she ends the chorus with a word that is poignant for today's article. She doesn't say that her man makes her feel loved. No, what she declares is that her man makes her feel good---real good, in fact. The difference between the two is what makes some relationships healthy (ie. "The Right Relationship IMPROVES Not CHANGES You" and "If He's Right For You, He Will COMPLEMENT Your Life") or not-so-healthy---even needy, to tell you the truth. You ready?
The Subtle Unhealthiness of Wanting Someone to 'Make' You Feel Loved
Just the other day, I not-so-randomly ran into a young woman with some of her family members. We had never met before but ended up striking up a convo while I was sitting at a friend's mall kiosk. Anyway, as we got deeper and deeper into our convo, the young lady mentioned that she was in her early 20s and had been married for a couple of years. She and her husband had dated for several years before marrying, but they were still going through some major adjusting as a married couple. One thing that got on her nerves was that she is much clearer about her life's purpose than her husband. She also admitted that she is a control freak (but that's another article for another time.)
As she aired out some of her frustration and asked my opinion (I mentioned that I was a marriage life coach), I said, "That's why I'm not big on people getting married until a man knows what he was put on this planet to do." A college-aged male? While there are certainly exceptions, that is typically the time when they should be figuring all of that out with as little distractions as possible. (This is why I don't think women should put pressure on themselves to "find a husband" during that season of their lives either.) For me, the foundation of a lot of how I see things in life is the Bible. Genesis 2:18 defines women as being helpers--- warriors and lifesavers if you want to get real specific. How can we fully support a man, in the intimate and lasting way that a wife does, when he has no clue what he's doing—or wants to do—with his life?
I just recently saw one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. It's called Honey Boy. In it, actor Shia LaBeouf is playing his own real-life abusive father. (Shia is definitely an acting force to be reckoned with; his freestyle flow is pretty sick too).
A line from it that stayed with me is, "A seed must totally destroy itself in order to become a flower." A lot of us women try to "make a man a flower", rather than giving him the time and space to be a seed, totally alter himself, become a flower and then help him, as a "flower"—as the man he was designed to me—to thrive.
Believe you me, y'all, I have been the woman who has tried to nurture far too many "man seeds" that were both emotionally unavailable and immature. While those guys were "destroying themselves" in order to become better, oftentimes their own mental and even spiritual upheavals ended up harming me in the process. Yeah, I know that was a little on the poetic side of things, but I hope you still got where I was coming from. If you want to be in a healthy, stable and consistent relationship, date less "seeds" and be open to more "flowers". Not doing this is a huge mistake that I think a lot of us make in the pursuit of love.
Know what another one is? Thinking that it's a man's job to "make us" feel loved. Whew. I can't tell you how many times a woman has told me that a relationship has come to an end—usually a pretty bitter end, at that—and it's all because a man didn't make her feel loved. It's no secret that I strive to be pretty word-specific, so whenever I hear that, my immediate reaction is, "Is that a man's job? Should anyone MAKE you feel loved?" Whenever I ask someone that out loud, they tend to look at me like I'm crazy, mixed with a bit of patronization. The way they see it, of course, he should. Me? Not so much.
Personally, there are only two people who I think should make us feel loved and that's because they are our first introduction to a human form of love; that would be our parents. When they jack that up, that speaks volumes into why a lot of us spend the result of our lives looking for other people to do it. But by the time we start to entertain romantic relationships, there really should be such a self-love within us that we're not looking for them to make us feel like we're loved.
Because, when we already love ourselves, other people tend to reflect back to us what we already feel. While it's nice to be loved by them, we don't really need it; we appreciate it, we enjoy it, it feels awesome…but if they left, we know we'd be alright. Love was there before they arrived, so we know that love will still exist should they ever go.
A good example of someone who I think has this concept down pretty well is YouTuber StarPuppy. She's wacky. She's quirky. She's hilarious. She also seems to have grown up with a family who taught her about love. (She actually says so in this video). Her ability to be unapologetically wacky, quirky, and hilarious is seamless, but just think what she would be like if she didn't love herself---if she looked for guys to make her feel loved. If the guy had enough influence over her, he could probably convince her that her personality wasn't appealing, that her humor was corny. and, quite possibly, that she should stop doing all of her fabulous natural hair and random-musing posts.
That's why I said in the article "What Loving Yourself Actually Looks Like" that people who love themselves move differently. When you, on your own, are all about things like self-care, enjoying alone time, embracing your strengths, not needing a relationship to fill any voids and celebrating yourself—you don't need any outside sources or forces to make you feel loved. Make means "to bring into existence". People who love themselves don't need anyone to bring into existence what already, well, exists. So yeah, if a relationship comes to an end, it should be because someone didn't "bring love into existence" for you. That is giving them way too much power. It should be because they didn't reflect what already exists and they didn't do enough of what Ms. Stephanie sang about.
A Man Making You Feel Good Is Much Different than a Man Making You Feel Loved
God is love (I John 4:8&16). If you believe in a higher power and that God created you, then you automatically come from love. Prayerfully, your parents echoed that sentiment and raised you in an environment of love but, even if they didn't, you still have the ability to learn how to love yourself—to self-nurture in such a way where you're not out here looking for someone to teach you about how to love yourself. Real talk, I think that's why a lot of us are single much longer than we'd like to be. It's because God, the source of love, knows that we need some time to learn how to love ourselves so that the "wrong teachers" won't come along and totally alter the way He wants us to see ourselves. He knows that if we allow Him to teach us about self-love, we'll recognize, rather quickly, when someone is coming into our lives to manipulate our own definition of love or when they're coming along to intensify the feelings of love that we already have for ourselves.
That's why I dig Stephanie Mills's song so much. If all of us were back in high school English class, we'd probably be taught that an interjection definition of the word "good" is "an exclamation of approval, agreement, pleasure, etc."
Stephanie wasn't exclaiming that her man makes her feel like she is loved—which usually actually translates into being worthy of love. Nope. She said her man exclaims that he approves of how she loves herself, that he's in agreement with how she loves herself, that he brings pleasure to the love that she has for herself. He makes her feel good not loved. See how powerful that is?
Back in the day, Bonnie Raitt's song "I Can't Make You Love Me" used to almost crush me. Don't get me wrong. It's still one of my favorite songs ever, but on this side of self-love and self-awareness, I hear it very differently. When she—or Tank because he did a cool cover of it, too—earnestly sings, "I can't make you love me if you don't. You can't make the heart feel something it won't," I used to hear that a man was choosing to deem me unlovable even though I so desperately wanted his love. I now hear, "I can't make you see in me what I see. And ninja, that's OK." And I mean that. There is so much love already here that I don't need him to hold me one more night. Actually, I'd rather have him out of the way so that the man who is excited about my self-love can come along.
Y'all, please get how profound that is—to want a man who is drawn to how you love yourself and then desires to celebrate that right along with you? That beats looking for a man to make you feel like you are worthy of love by a long shot. Use this very precious time to get to that point and place so that you can see a true "love cheerleader" rather than "love manipulator" a mile away.
So no, I don't think that a man should make a woman feel loved. That is God's and that woman's responsibility. If a man wants to come into said woman's life to embrace, esteem, and encourage the self-love along the way—by all means, brotha…do that.
I'm gonna hop off of here, play Stephanie's song once more and go on about my day. It feels good to know that I don't need a man to make me feel loved. Now that you see why I say that…how about you, sis?
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