The Going Rate

“You are terrifying and strange and beautiful, something not everyone knows how to love”- Warsan Shire

I was listening to music while driving to my internship the other morning, as one does, when it struck me how so many of the songs talked about love. More specifically, I was suddenly aware of how they talked about flawed and somewhat damaging perceptions of love and relationships. From Reba to Selena Gomez, no one was free of toxic love. It got me to thinking about a video I watched about “the price of admission” in relationships. (link to the article and video here)

I started thinking about what sorts of things we tell ourselves we want when we’re looking for someone to date. Some of us progress through stages of what we’re willing to accept in a partner. Maybe in the beginning we’re looking for someone who matches all of our special snowflake little tendencies, a prince or princess charming, or an idealized romcom fantasy human. Sometimes we’re just looking to fill a perceived deficit, to make something we see as broken into a whole again. A number of people probably label behaviors that are actually emotionally abusive as “costs of admission”, in order to accept actions that don’t feel like love. It’s curious what a person will tolerate to feel like someone cares, if even briefly. Movies and songs that glorify toxic relationships certainly aren’t helping the issue, either. If asking for an ideal match is too much- How do we actually learn what the going rate for love is? And how do we make sure that no one is paying too much?

At work one night we got into a conversation about relationships. As it usually happens in these conversations, someone brought up the sage wisdom that “you have to love yourself first in order to receive love.” I take issue with this wisdom because self-love is seriously FUCKING DIFFICULT. It’s nearly a full time job to try to do the thing, sometimes. It’s easy to say “oh, you should just love yourself.” Accept your flaws. Know your worth. All of that. But for me, and others like me, our brains are sending us an onslaught of messages to remind us that we’re unworthy or hard to love. Of course when I put all of this together, I started thinking- what if the problem is that we don’t want to pay the price of admission to love ourselves? If we can’t afford to love ourselves, can we really afford to love someone else? 

I do want to learn to love myself and all that, but maybe I just gotta keep counting my pennies until I can afford to do so.


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