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How Music Has Given Us Toxic Relationship Fantasies

This summer, I was driving home with an old friend from high school and we were talking about my lack of relationships when I moved to New York City. When he asked why I didn’t have any serious prospects, I told him no one really caught my eye and since I tend to get bored in relationships, I needed to find someone who I felt was worth my time.

He then asked me, “Why isn’t an easy, good relationship enough for you though? Why do you need the drama?”

The question has racked my own brain MANY times before. “Fifteen” by Taylor Swift was playing in the background, and it hit me.

I gave him my phone and told him to play “The Way I Loved You” by Taylor Swift. He said he’d never heard this song before, and I told him I think it would explain my longing for a drama-filled relationship.

After the song finished — and I screamed every lyric — he was stunned. I told him this was one of my favorite songs when I was in middle and high school because it depicts a love so deep that it was worth all the turmoil that came with it.

“But isn’t fighting and driving each other crazy and constantly wondering if you should be together kind of unhealthy?” he asked.

There is a certain idea of a “good” relationship that includes pushing each other’s buttons and a consistent question of “are we good for each other?” that many of us are trying to find. So, where did we get this idea?

The influence of music on our relationship ideals

Music influences a lot of things in our lives, including our dreams and certain ideals. We listen to it all the time: at parties, social gatherings, when we’re out walking, working out, in the car, etc. It is in the background of our daily lives whether you realize it or not.

I put together a playlist of the songs that depict toxic relationship ideals and a lot of them are in my regular rotation of music.

The drama-filled experiences, of course, make good music, but when you memorize a song or listen to it so much that it’s stuck in your head for an entire day, you’re implanting their stories into your brain.

The songs I put together all depict a relationship that requires an intense amount of work and emotional stress. “True Love” by Pink and Lily Allen is about a person who is so in love with their partner that they push away the fact that they’re a total asshole and don’t really give them the “romance” they want. “Ruin My Life” by Zara Larsson is about someone who misses their toxic ex despite the fact that they made their life a living hell. “Perfectly Wrong” by Shawn Mendes is about a relationship that was “made to break,” but there’s something about how wrong they are for each other that draws them both in.

We can easily recognize that these all sound pretty toxic when they’re written out like that, so why do we dream of relationships like these?

We strive for these situations because the emotions described are so deep, intense, and passionate that we mistake it for a real, true love. We are so desperate to love and be loved, so if the relationship is hard, we’re willing to let it break us if it means we have the chance for love.

But, what if a strong relationship is actually meant to be… easy?

I remember in elementary school, people always told me that when a boy picked on me or was mean to me, that meant he liked me.

Let me tell you right now, that is not the case.

Maybe it was the case when we were kids, but now as an adult, I will tell you with absolute certainty that if a guy is not good to you or makes you question his feelings for you, dump him. It’s not worth it.

I truly believe that if you really are in a loving, healthy relationship, you shouldn’t be constantly fighting to stay in it. You shouldn’t be constantly asking yourself, “do they love me as much as I love them?” You shouldn’t let sex be the way you make up after a fight. You shouldn’t have to make up excuses for why they don’t give you the same amount of attention or time you give them.

That’s not a healthy or strong relationship. That’s a waste of your time and an unnecessary amount of stress for you.

If you and your partner really love each other, it should and will be easy. Of course you’ll fight here and there, that’s normal. But, how you both handle any problems that may come your way is really the key. Your problems should be things out of your control or things that you can communicate to get through. 

Your relationship should not be your problem. It should be the good part of your life that helps you get through the emotional stressors in your life; it shouldn’t be the biggest stressor!

At the end of the day, you always have to put yourself first. I know some of you might think that’s selfish, but it’s true! 

So, enjoy the music from my playlist, but remember that those relationships are their stories. They are not your fantasies.

Maya Gengozian is a sophomore at New York University double-majoring in Vocal Performance: Music Theatre and Journalism. She is a lover of astrology, boba tea, theatre, Taylor Swift, and all things music, as well as a big advocate for women's and LGBTQ+ rights. Maya is so happy to be a part of the team at Her Campus! To learn more, visit her website at mayagengozian.com.
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