The way that I see it, I have an inner bank account with a certain amount of emotional “cash” to give. The currency’s similar to emotional availability but not quite the same. It’s relevant whether I’m in a relationship or not, but I need to be at a certain level in order to be able to fully show up for dating.
Emotional currency is what dictates my state of being.
How I am in the world is driven by the emotional currency I have in the bank. If I’m happy-go-lucky and feeling energized, I generally have some metaphorical cash in the bank. If I’m feeling blah and without energy, my stash is likely running low.
Sometimes I have it, sometimes I don’t.
It’s funny to be online dating because my level of availability can oscillate wildly. I’ll have a few days where I’m totally psyched to be online dating—I’m answering and sending tons of messages and I’m all pumped to be talking to new people. Then other days, a super dreamy person could send me a message and I’m still like, “ugh, not today.” The currency in the bank is a day-to-day thing. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not.
There are varying levels of emotional currency.
I’ve talked about the two extremes, but there are also some levels in between. Sometimes I have just enough emotional currency that I’m pretty excited, but also chill. This may be the healthiest level to be at. I could also be a little low, but still have some currency, so this is when I’ll push myself to go on a date, even when I’m a bit tired. There are all sorts of levels.
Low emotional currency looks like…
Being exhausted around dating, not being excited about people I normally would be excited about, and either being completely blaisé when something doesn’t work out or freaking out—these are all signs of having little to no emotional currency in the bank.
High emotional currency looks like…
Having the energy to respond to online dating messages, being excited about first dates, and being somewhat even keel when something doesn’t work out—these are all signs of having emotional currency in the bank.
In order to date, I need to have currency to give.
I may be able to skate by in my life with a low reserve, but when it comes to dating, I really need to have the cash in the bank to use. Dating requires a level of energy that just cannot be manufactured. I either have the currency or I don’t. When I don’t have it, I delete my dating apps, cancel dates, and hibernate for a bit.
When my currency is low, dating feels impossible.
I’ve tried to force myself to date when I wasn’t ready. It’s a sh*t show and it’s an energy suck on the already low reserves I have. It also looks like talking to someone who’s totally awesome, but just not having the energy to go out on a date with them or to answer their constant messaging. Trying to do it anyways drives me bananas and leaves me totally wiped out.
All sorts of things affect my levels.
I’m talking all about this emotional currency—what to do with it and what not to do with it, but I haven’t talked about its origins yet. These reserves are a product of self-care, health/mental health, circumstance, timing, and other things. There are so many things that can affect my levels, but some major ones are how much dating I’ve been doing, sleep quality, what’s going on in my life at any given time, and my mental health status.
It may be deeply affected by my mental illness.
I definitely think that everyone has an emotional currency bank account. Though mine might be a little more sensitive (even volatile) due to having a mental illness. My diagnosis is bipolar, so swinging from one extreme to another is something that I’m quite used to. Though nonetheless, like I said, I think everyone definitely has levels to a degree.
There are ways I can nourish my emotional currency.
My level of cash in the bank isn’t just something that happens to me. It’s something that I can actively cultivate. Getting to bed on time, surrounding myself with good people, saying “no” to things that don’t feed my soul, and just generally keeping up on self-care are all biggies to nourish my emotional currency. I also sometimes have to take a break from dating because even the best of it in and of itself can be a suck on my energy.
Once I’m in a relationship, I have more leeway.
I have to say, I’ve been talking exclusively about dating so far. It’s definitely different when I’m in a relationship, though I suppose parts of it are the same. When in a relationship, the person has committed to being with me through the ups and the downs—the low and the high emotional currency. Still, if my reserves are low I might have to just hit the pause button on a fight, not go out for dinner with my partner’s friends, and even spend some time alone. After all, being aware of my emotional currency is about accepting what I need and rejecting what I don’t.