I have always thought that
The song paints in one's mind, the desperate plea of someone who already knows that what they would get in a relationship is not what they would like, someone who has seen the signs, the red flags, but is refusing to let go, refusing to believe that what the signs are saying is true.
Beautiful as the song is; an earworm of a ballad crooned with the syrupy deliciousness that is Simi’s voice,‘Smile For Me’ has always been a curious one for me.
Of course I love Simi. I love ‘Smile For Me’. And I surely love the 2017 album in which the track is nestled between other reflective tunes such as ‘Angela’ and ‘Take Me Back.’
From my very first listen to ‘Smile For Me’ well over a year ago, the interest of the relationship writer in me had been piqued when the lines “be good to me, even if you bad o” transposed to “stay with me, even if you’ve got some place to be” and then to “…pray with me, even if you no believe.”
‘Unrealistic expectations’ was what my mind processed as those lines and similar ones followed each other in the song, further echoing the idea that the persona of the song, like many other people heading into relationships, is setting up herself for heartbreak and disappointment by refusing to align her hopes with the signs she can see.
It is actually not impossible that Simi’s message is something else entirely. I do not claim to know what was going through her mind at the time the song was being written and recorded.
With lines like “take a chance on me, don’t you believe I’m worth the risk,” and “I want to be the one who makes you do the things you thought you’d never do,” it could just be a song about the need for the persona’s partner to put in a little more effort into doing right by her.
That is actually a possibility, of course. But then again, lines such as “be good to me even if you bad o” and “lie to me, if the truth will break my heart” show more compelling suggestions that the woman in the song relentlessly, desperately wants her love interest to change for her, to become what she wants her partner to be like.
The possibility of ‘Smile For Me’ portraying this relationship concept it is too obvious to ignore and so the song must be instructive in this discourse about expectations in relationships, particularly as it relates to women.
There are two possible contexts to this expectation conversation. The first which is synonymous to relationship standards and partner specifications is not so important to this contemplation.
You know, the desires people project about the type of partner you would like to have, what he or she should have and not have. What they should drive and not drive, etc. While that is not particularly the cup of tea here, a lot has been said about it and you can get all of that here and here
In another context and very consequential to this conversation, is how women expect good loving from partners who obviously do not have it in them or do have it in them but are unwilling to give it.
There has always been, and there’ll always be women who get attracted to certain men who are not exactly what they want, but because such men meet few of their relationship ‘requirements’ in some way, say looks and maybe finances, they take on themselves the project of making the men good for them instead of just walking away from the situation especially when these men show over and over again that they are not interested in changing who they are so as to become right for such women.
What is painted in Simi’s “Smile For Me” is exactly what this unrealistic expectation looks like. It is the force that makes you think that someone you are attracted to is actually better than they are and that they are capable of doing better than the things you have seen them show you over and over again.
It is about time that more women began to realise that people are who they are, and to not try to remold them entirely so as to fit into the mental picture you have created of an ideal partner is nearly impossible.
Many times, when you fall for people you see only what you want to see. There are bits and pieces of them that justify the love, and it is unto these things that you latch, holding on dearly, even when it is obvious that in a grander context, this is neither the kind of partner you dreamt of, nor the type of relationship you wanted.
At the start, there is always something that attracts you, something that sucks you in – silver tongue, good grooming, fine appearance, etc.
But eventually, as you become familiar with them, their ways and the way their minds operate, you’ll discover something less than wholesome – lack of communication skills, refusal to listen, insensitivity, lack of efforts, etc. But instead of running from this, you stay, hoping to effect change, to get the best out of an irredeemable person, a project that you are ill-equipped to take on.
So you begin to push them so much to be what you want them to be when it is obvious that the version you see is all you’ll probably ever get.
“pray for me even if you no get belief…”
This is not in any way downplaying the ability of humans to change, even for those they love. But in many cases, when a man is to change, it is an internal force that propels him to do so. He’ll change for you if he wants to and if he loves you enough. Without that willingness, however, not much can be done.
And even if you could trigger him to change, it shouldn’t take ages to do so, really. If he’s serious about you, you won’t have to push too hard and too long before he budges.
In the end, the bottom line of all of this is that what you see is what you get. When someone shows you relentlessly what they are, do not expect to change them. He who wants to change will do so. Yes, you could be the architect and propellant but for how long do you have to teach someone how to make you happy before it becomes tiring?
You can only ever give what you have. And when it comes to relationships and choosing who to be with, you should only ever judge people on the bits of themselves that they show you, not what you think they have hidden inside.
Do not ask for people to smile for you, when all they have in them is a reservoir of sadness.