It’s Friday night, and here you are again – sitting on the couch, tucking into a tub of ice-cream, pondering the fact that, once again, you are facing another weekend alone. Devoid of dates, devoid of intimacy – while it seems all your friends are out spending quality time with their significant others, bragging on their Instagram of how “he spoils me (heart emoji) #bae”. You moodily put on your go-to playlist when feeling emotionally vulnerable; a compilation of your favourite RnB hits. A mixture of old-school Ginuwine and 112, some eye-candy crooners Chris Brown and Trey Songz – the perfect substitutes for your non-existent partner. At least Chris says that he’d rather be “with you”. At least Trey will tell you that he “can’t help but wait”. In essence, they are the perfect #baes. They’ll be there to whisper those sweet nothings and tell you exactly what you want to hear, as well as providing a beautiful visual of sensual dance moves and rippling, tattooed abs – all without the emotional bulls**t that comes with an actual relationship.
However, allowing yourself to live vicariously through RnB music (and don’t lie, ladies, I’m sure more than one of you has mentally replaced the vixen in Chris Brown’s ‘Sweet Love’ music video with yourself) does have its drawbacks. Much like how the Princes in Disney movies set an unrealistic standard for chivalry and sensitivity for us as young girls, RnB music is a grown woman’s point of reference for unrealistic “relationship goals”. With every deep, breathy line about how they promise to take care of you, every falsetto note about how they’ll take you shopping with their bottomless bank account, our standards are being set unattainably high – so high, in fact, that no ordinary Joe really has a chance of making the cut. Here’s a list of four reasons why RnB is setting our love lives up for failure.
Unrealistic Standard Number One: You will find love at the club.
Let’s face it, ladies: when you head to your local bar or club with your girlfriends on a Saturday night, armed with your favourite heels and false eyelashes, you know you look good and know that the booze-filled, tightly-packed environment makes for a good chance of meeting someone. You know from Usher’s “Love in this Club”, which you blasted at pre-drinks, that this may be the night you meet your significant other, who will fulfill you “sexually, mentally, physically, emotionally”. Like R. Kelly’s “Ignition”, there’s the slight hope of a glamorous night of crystal popping, after-parties, and men with 24-inch rims on their luxury vehicles. You’re prepared for handsome men, smooth moves, free drinks and number-exchanging with the promise of up-coming dates. This will be the start of something, you’re sure of it, but when you get there it’s the usual horde of beer-sculling lads whose idea of sophistication is getting you McDonald’s after Saturday’s bender, before putting the moves on you in the taxi. Nine times out of ten, Usher is not going to be waiting for you at the local bar – head there for a martini, not lifelong love.
Unrealistic Standard Number Two: Men will always make the first move, pursuing you in an irresistible display of persistence.
When you’re feeling some throwbacks, you love Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel”. You swoon over young Chris Brown’s “Yo (Excuse Me Miss)”. You can’t help but hit replay on Bobby Valentino’s 2005 classic “Slow Down”. And when you’re on a major RnB music-video binge, Usher’s “U Remind Me” is always top of the list for that sunset dance clip. The thing all these videos have in common? A highly-interested male following you with adorable persistence, while you coyly play hard to get before eventually giving in. There’s something attractive about guys taking the initiative to be forthcoming with their interest, rather than playing games. The side-effect? Binge-watching these RnB videos can lead to the expectation that every time you pass a cutie on the street, it will result in some sort of “love at first sight” scenario where he catches one glimpse of you, before following you incessantly asking for dates. This, of course, is seen as hopelessly romantic, rather than creepy and stalker-ish. The verdict? If a man starts continuously following you, calling out “Yo!” or “Slow down!” – err on the side of caution, and call the police.
Unrealistic Standard Number Three: Dancing…is everything.
Omarion’s “Touch”, Justin Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body”, Chris Brown’s “Run It”, B2K’s “Bump, Bump, Bump”, Usher’s “Yeah”, Beyonce’s “Naughty Girl”…and countless others. The point? RnB loves to promote that dancing is a way to a man’s heart. The more you shake that booty? The more you challenge your man on the dance-floor? The more chance you’ve got, girl. If your potential partner doesn’t display his affection by performing some kind of dance for you, is he really interested? If you two don’t engage in a spontaneous dance battle in a bizarre modern mating ritual, then forget about it. RnB truly has solidified dance as the language of love, while also encouraging females to flaunt what they’ve got. What’s the worst that can happen? You break an ankle trying to do a Beyonce booty drop in your stilettos. You sweat so much that when you come face-to-face with your beau, you can’t tell which is mascara and which is lipstick in a BO frenzy. Or perhaps you simply just can’t dance, and pop a hip. Either way, maybe get to know each other over dinner before letting your body go “bump, bump, bump”.
Unrealistic Standard Number Four: Thug = ‘Knight in Shining Armour’.
Every woman needs their Knight in Shining Armour…and according to RnB, being a ‘thug’ is synonymous with being a ‘protector’ and ‘provider’. Female artists, you’ve got to take some responsibility too! After listening to “Thug Style” by Ciara, you are convinced that the man you need in your life is someone from the street. “Soldier” by Destiny’s Child reinforces that if “his status ain’t hood”, then he’s not strong or ‘man’ enough for you. Pleasure P’s “Thug Love” again reinforces the need for that throwback feeling of being a naughty teenager, dating the school rebel and instantly getting that ‘cool factor’. 50 Cent’s “21 Questions,” says it all: he’s tough enough to be “locked up and sentenced to a quarter century”, but sensitive enough to tell you “I provide everything you need and I like your smile and I don’t wanna see you cry”. You are determined to find your knight who is the ultimate mixture of thug and protector, while also demonstrating enough sensitivity that you could take him home to mum. But let’s get real: a rebel-without-a-cause is not going to make an ideal partner unless you are prepared to wait twenty-five years for your bad boy to come back to you. The whole “ride-or-die”, “Bonnie and Clyde” image (unless you do happen to be Beyonce and Jay-Z) is attractive in essence, but try to find a legitimate partner-in-crime who you can build an empire with – not run the streets with.
So there are four reasons why RnB music is setting unrealistic standards for us singletons, contributing to the failure of our love lives. After all, you could easily call Trey and Chris the leaders of the whole “f*ckboy” epidemic – they’re crooning those sweet nothings to millions of girls around the world, the traitors! So while the dream of marrying Trey Songz seems perfectly reasonable in your imagination, maybe keep him at arm’s length – a poster on the wall.