Worthiness of Love
My friend invited me to an Al Anon meeting last week, and I strongly considered going, not because of my own problems (I’m in denial, just let me have that) but because I figured it would be nice for me to offer some emotional support. He’s in love with a recovering alcoholic, and I try not pass judgment about the situation because is that really my place? But I definitely pass judgment about it, despite my best efforts. Mostly I feel like my friend is an amazing, generous, kind hearted person who deserves better than that, but I think I’m starting to suspect that telling people they “deserve better” is a bit of a trap. Sure, it’s great that I’m trying to pump up my friend’s self esteem so that he doesn’t find himself caught in a situation that will ultimately unravel or demean him. I never want my friends to settle just because they’re lonely or bored. That’s not why it’s a trap. It’s also not a trap to always want more out of life – we should always want something better for ourselves; a better job, a better house, a better car. There’s something noble about striving to make your own life and ideally by extension the world better, but there’s something pathological about never being satisfied. And when it comes to people – well, the people you love can never be equated to buying a better car or asking for a raise or moving up in life. People are not commodities or trophies that we show off as a way to express our status in society. People are…well, they’re people, and they should be treated as such. Our personal relationships shouldn’t be treated like commodities – we can’t trade in old models just because they’re dinged up or a bit scratched. It’s just the crazy nature of love. Seeking out romantic partners or even friends shouldn’t be equivalent to hiring new employees. When did dating become like a job interview? How come people have to have certain qualifications in order to be worthy of love? If you love someone, then you love someone. So-called character flaws that are actually just circumstances of life such as struggling with addiction, financial insecurity, mental illness, and health issues shouldn’t automatically disqualify someone from being in your life. Attraction shouldn’t center around a check list of verified traits. Goodness, the ability to love, generosity, emotional availability – those things aren’t defined by your ability to conform to society’s expectations of what a normal, well adjusted adult should look like.
Personally, I like the people in my life to be flawed. I like them to be aware of it and open about it. I like them to be (on some level) at peace with it. Because that’s how I am. I’m a deeply flawed person. In so many ways that I’d rather not list on the Internet right now. But I’d rather be with people who accept themselves and others as they are, rather than expecting them to live up to the impossible Instagram vision of what we’re supposed to be. This idea that we should be growing linearly into some ideal human being is unrealistic and impractical. It’s suffocating. It’s crushing. It’s also not very fun.