The word ‘deserve’ is thrown around a lot these days. To the point where, for me at least, it has lost all meaning. You ‘deserve’ a better job, life, car, cat, home, kid, etc… It is everywhere, the propaganda that you deserve something better, whatever that might entail. But most often it’s used in reference to relationships in a manner which I have never understood. It’s an easy cycle to get caught up in, a tiny egotistical voice constantly conditioned to sing in the back of your mind ‘Oh! But you deserve so much better!’ You obviously were more qualified for that job, you worked harder! You obviously deserve a better-looking girl/guy because you’re such a great person! You obviously deserve a man or woman who dotes on you and supports your every dream and whim!
I’m just not convinced.
My question to you, and myself kind reader, is why? Why do you deserve better, or hell, anything at all? I rarely step into any situation and think ‘you know what, I deserve this person’s unwavering respect and devotion, and if I don’t get it… that’s obviously their problem.’ Granted, there are some evidently shitty people and behaviors in this world, but I’ve long since come to understand that those types of people, the one’s that lash out at unsuspecting bystanders, are the worst propagators of the ‘Deserve Movement’ (Recent mass-murders the extreme example). They deserve to voice their opinions; they deserve to behave however they see fit to whomever they feel inclined. Yada yada yada….
But what really concerns me about the idea of ‘deserving’ is how often people apply it to their love lives and relationships. I would like to argue that whatever relationship you are currently in right now… is the one you deserve. You chose it, you participate in it and it is what you make it. I was married once, it was awful, and I don’t look at it now and say ‘man, I sure deserved better,’ I’d like to think I deserved exactly what I got… because I chose it. Just like I chose to leave it. Deserving less or more really had nothing to do with it. When we throw around words denoting inherent worth based on our own desires, it becomes too easy to dismiss everyone around us, and our own easily misinterpreted emotions. Because let’s face it here, we’re all our own version of fucked up. There is no such thing as the mythical unicorn that is the ‘nice guy’ or the perfect magazine cover girl that is constantly thrown in all our faces; we are all just different wrapped versions of the same dysfunctional condition known as humanity. And humanity can be an ugly, ugly beast.
Rather than searching for the relationship you ‘deserve’ – that lofty unreality that is perfection—turn your powers of perception inward and decide what kind of relationship you want and need, and then understand that it’s an imperfect endeavor. Whatever that is, whatever those honest and realistic necessities that compose your existence are, is what you should strive for. With the understanding that you might seriously have no idea what you actually, want at all. And wanting something does not in any way mean you deserve it, so let’s stop acting like it does. You don’t deserve that guy that sits next to you in class just because you believe you are smart, pretty, nice and sweet. People and relationships are not prizes at the end of the game; they are not your trophy for your perception of a well-lived life. That is just not the way reality works, I’m afraid, and it truly becomes an issue when we are embittered toward those things and people that obviously don’t understand we ‘deserve’ them. See: The Nice Guy, or the I’m Not Like Other Girls. Let’s stop blaming all those men and women who apparently just couldn’t understand our inherent worth and instead turn inward and discover why we continually are unsatisfied and disappointed with our relationships.
Because we can’t change others, we can’t fix them or bend them to our own wants and needs, which means our only real responsibility is… ourselves. That may sound selfish, but think about it. There are only three things in this world you can control; what you say, what you do, and what you think. Everything outside of that is beyond you. If you accept your own inherent responsibility and consequential helplessness, you will truly understand the types of people you should connect with and share the most valuable thing we all possess –time. This rings true for our familial relationships, our friendships, our jobs, our hobbies, and most importantly, our romantic relationships.
So instead of going after the relationship you feel you deserve, go after the relationship you need. Accept the fact that those two ideals may not be cohesive, and that it probably won’t look anything like a fairytale.