You won't feel desperate when it's true love.
I don't listen to pop music the way I used to, because I am 33 now and a grumpy old woman.
I used to be obsessed with the top 40. I inhaled music and the videos that went with them. Sundays doing laundry in my parents' basement I prayed at the altar of Casey Kasem.
While I'm still a major music fanatic, I don't tend to be as familiar with the huge pop songs unless they become so huge that they are virtually unavoidable.
A not-so-new song by pop star and actress Hailee Steinfeld had played in bodegas and coffee shops where I work often enough that it earned itself earworm status.
It's called "Starving", and it's sweet, and catchy, and pretty.
But it's deeply problematic in that way too many pop songs are. Just listen.
"I didn't know that I was starving till I tasted you
Don't need no butterflies when you give me the whole damn zoo
By the way, by the way, you do things to my body
I didn't know that I was starving till I tasted you"
Look. I know. It's just a song. And she's just a young person selling records. Girl power. Etc.
If I were even an ounce more of a laid back person I wouldn't give the song another thought. But I'm not, and more is the pity.
I don't hate the lyrics because they celebrate and romanticize the idea of being perpetually hungry, although that would make sense. The pop machine is designed to make girls feels too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, that's nothing new, and sadly I'm used to it.
The lyrics bother me because, in their saccharine-sweet way, they're giving girls guidelines for how real love feels that's just all wrong.
Maybe even dangerous.
You know which one of my boyfriends made me feel the way Hailee's song did? The same one who stalked and verbally abused me.
But I was desperate for love, "starving" for it, I needed this thing that I heard about in songs. So when Greg came along and made me feel like the girl in the chorus of this song, I jumped in without thinking twice.
I jumped in without looking at the warning signs. I jumped in because he filled that imaginary hungry place in my heart so completely. But when he was gone, I was just a shell of a person because I'd let him fill me up entirely with his ideas of who I should be.
I think falling in love should be special. I think it should make you feel wonderful. But it shouldn't complete you. It shouldn't be a pop song about how you were on the cusp of death until you met this person.
It should be something that reveals your best self, whether you're together for ever or just for a little while.
You should be left feeling stronger, and more whole.
Not depleted on the floor waiting for the next guy who generally fits the idea of what pop music tells us romantic love should be like.