It should come as no surprise that nice people do not always end up in relationships with other nice people. We all know some very kind people who are in relationships with, or even married to, individuals who are well, not very nice. In some cases, nice people may even find themselves in relationships with people who are downright cruel or even abusive.
To understand why this is so we need only examine the quote by writer and filmmaker Stephen Chbosky, “We accept the love we think we deserve.” the key word of course being “deserve”. As hard as it may be to understand there are plenty of people who simply cannot handle the type of love we genuinely consider to be true love. For some love must come with a certain amount of inconsistency, uncertainty, and quiet disrespect. The reason for this is that deep down inside many people simply do not feel worthy or deserving of a certain type of consistent, genuine, pure love.
This concept is certainly not something that is exclusive to women; it applies to men as well. Women will sometimes use euphemisms to make this concept more acceptable; women will say things like, “I am only attracted to bad boys”, or “that guy is just too nice for me”. However, is the guy really too nice, or is it that the woman does not feel deserving of being treated in a nice manner? After-all would any emotionally healthy woman want to be mistreated?
We all define love in our own way. For some love can only be kind, respectful, gentle, and giving. For others love includes disrespect, insensitivity, and selfishness. And for others still love includes emotional and/or physical pain.
The love we deserve has a lot to do with that all-important human resource, self-esteem. Where self-esteem is low, one’s feelings of deserve will also be low. The reverse is also true. Therefore there exists a positive correlation between self-esteem and deserve. As one goes up so does the other and as one wanes the other does as well.
"Deep in her heart, she wasn't sure she deserved to be happy, nor did she believe that she was worthy of someone who seemed...normal." Nicholas Sparks
This concept goes a long way in understanding the issue of spousal abuse, although there are generally other factors at play when it comes to emotional and/or physical abuse in marriages. In addition to self-esteem, there are often issues such of financial security, children, control, and a concept known as “learned helplessness”.
The simple fact is that at this very moment the relationship that each of us has is the one that deep down we believe that we deserve; good or bad. We may claim to want more but relationships are just as much about feelings of deserve as they are about feelings of want.
If we want something better than the relationship that we have, it can be difficult but not impossible. However, it requires that we get busy working on our feelings of self worth and raising our self-esteem.
Source material: Jonathan Franzen, Stephen Chbosky