I’ve seen this Marilyn Monroe quote ever so often under the “About” section of my Facebook friends’ pages. The people who love quoting this are usually women.
Now, I take issue with this (mis-)quote. On the one hand, it could mean, “Look at me, I’m flawed, but I deserve to be loved all the same”. I would argue, on the other hand, that it can also be exploited to excuse bad behaviour, if someone were to take it to mean, “I’m going to act like a bitch, and if you love me, you would just sit there and take it.”
Worse still is if someone were to adopt the second attitude and call it girl power!
I’m annoyed because Marilyn Monroe had used that quote in the context of her mental illness, which was depression. She was “hard to handle” and “out of control” because, due to her illness, she couldn’t be always held accountable for her thoughts, feelings and actions.
Barring any mental illness, however, no one should assume that this quote is a free pass for bad behaviour. That, after all, is in direct opposition to that other famous (more sensible) quote: “Do unto others what you’d want them to do to you.”
Unless your partner is a saint (but I’m assuming he has as much potential to be as selfish, impatient and insecure as you do), deliberately being wilful is only going to be breed a terribly unhealthy relationship. One that thrives not on love and mutual trust, but on suspicion, jealousy and paranoia.
Put simply, this quote – when taken to its logical extreme – can have very dangerous consequences. If this philosophy is something you abide by, does that mean you’re willing to put up with your partner’s bad behaviour as well? You may think that true love is about accepting each and every single one of your partner’s flaws and mistakes. But what if that extends to name-calling, emotional abuse … even domestic violence?
It’s one thing to say, “My partner recognises me for my flaws, and accepts me for them.” Congrats, you landed yourself a great guy. But that’s just one aspect of love. How well your relationship will thrive over the long term is also predicated on whether you’re self-aware enough to recognise YOUR OWN flaws, and work on improving on them.
Love is NOT about being unapologetic about selfish behaviour, or “testing” your partner by dishing out shit to him and seeing for how long he’ll take it for. And it’s DEFINITELY not about sticking it out no matter how emotionally or physically abusive your partner becomes.
A healthy long-term relationship is only possible when there’s mutual respect and understanding. It’s only possible when you both bring out the best in each other.
And, it’s only possible when you can find it yourself to say, “I’m sorry I was selfish/impatient/insecure.”
About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys boxing, running and the occasional yoga session. Lastly, she believes that everyone should make it a point to travel solo at least once in their lives.