IF YOU DON’T LOVE YOU, NO ONE ELSE WILL
WHITNEY Houston’s version of I Will Always Love You could be one of the most popular break-up songs of all time. But it’s Ariana Grande’s recently released Thank U, Next that I’m listening to on repeat.
Relationships are difficult, more so, when they play out for all the world to see. Early last month Grande’s ex-boyfriend, Mac Miller, died of a drug overdose. Some fans had the gall to link the rapper’s death to the couple’s recent split. Even more recently, Grande’s short lived engagement to Saturday Night Live comedian Pete Davidson came to an end.
So when I heard Thank You, Next is dedicated to some of Grande’s exes, I expected one of the dirtiest diss tracks of 2018. Though she names Miller, Davidson, Big Sean and Ricky Alvarez, she doesn’t shame any of them.
Instead she sings “I’ve loved and I’ve lost... I’m so f*ckin’ grateful for my ex”. She’s filled with gratitude because of what these unsuccessful relationships have taught her: “love”, “patience” and “pain”.
“Grateful” isn’t a word I’d use to describe myself straight after my last breakup. I was shrieking to the sounds of Kelly Clarkson’s Since U Been Gone for days on end. It’s cathartic. Healing with each shriek and tear.
Yes, relationships don’t always work out, but if you’re open to it, they’ll teach you something about life, yourself and the other person. Unsuccessful relationships allow one to take stock of what went wrong and allow you to think about what you’ll do differently at your next shot at love.
I have had a few significant relationships over the years. It would be so easy to talk about what they did wrong and what I wished we did differently.
My high school love and I share many firsts. I went to his matric ball and he went to mine. He was also the first person I trusted to shave my hair.
My second boyfriend is responsible for really high highs and my first heartbreak. I was devastated, but quickly learnt the importance of loving yourself more.
Then there was the Angolan who taught me to dance and the beauty of living in the moment. And the pescatarian who introduced me to the benefits of reducing my meat intake.
Grande has already moved on to her next courtship. This time she’s in it for the long haul: “Plus, I met someone else... I know they say I move on too fast, but this one gon’ last,” she sings. Yet this new relationship isn’t with a man. It’s with herself.
As much as we learn about ourselves and the world from our relationships with others, we also learn a great deal by spending quality time with ourselves. The benefits of introspection are endless. Grande’s relationship with herself and commitment to self-love has taught her “love”, “patience” and “handling pain”.
We are responsible for our own health, happiness and well-being. You can only truly love someone else when you’ve learnt to love yourself. You cannot give to others what you, yourself, don’t possess. In other words, self love precedes the love for others.
When I look at some of my past relationships I find that I sometimes “loved” so deeply, that I lost myself in the process. It’s inevitable that you’ll resent your partner at some point, if you continue to appease them, at the cost of what you need.
Life is too short for toxic relationships. You don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy. Yet, when these relationships end, you can still look back on them with gratitude.
What’s more, even if you’re happily committed to someone, you should never neglect loving commitment to yourself.