When their best friend is dating a loser, people often say that he/she “deserves better.” Parents frequently say this about their children. It’s something we tend to say about those we love. People repeatedly say to themselves: “I don’t deserve this shit! I deserve better!” No. No you don’t. And neither does anyone else (although the sentiment is heartwarming).
There’s no such thing as “deserve better.” People get exactly what they’re capable of. If someone shacks up with a deadbeat, it’s not random coincidence. That’s the best they could do. And I don’t mean that in a judgy way. I just mean they were never taught the skillset to do otherwise. Let’s take a look at some of the ways this can happen.
The Love Addict
If you were abandoned as a child (physically or emotionally), you will likely carry deep fear of abandonment as an adult. Having been abandoned, it’s also probable you have no prior experience with healthy intimacy. So you may desperately crave intimacy but also be terrified of not knowing how to do it. The safest bet then becomes wildly chasing after people who are emotionally unavailable or don’t know how to cultivate a healthy connection. That way you never need to have that awkward “I never learned how to be intimate” conversation as a grown ass adult.
Because of the train of unfortunate circumstances set in motion during childhood, someone like this may date an alcoholic, workaholic, narcissist, sex addict or any number of unhealthy, unavailable people (see Falling in Love with Falling in Love). Do they “deserve better?” No. They signed up for that shit. And they will continue to do so until they get help, work through their baggage and become an emotionally healthy, functioning adult.
The Love Avoidant
If you were enmeshed by a parent who used you to meet their emotional needs, you learned that closeness is manipulative, controlling, conditional, selfish, exhausting, overwhelming and unenjoyable in many ways. An enmeshing parent also abandons the child emotionally, so the child concludes that 1) others can’t be trusted to meet my needs, 2) intimacy is smothering and 3) I’ll take care of my damn self, thank you very much.
You ain’t gotta be a crystal ball reader to know how this story ends. These people live and die behind various walls of productiveness, aloofness, silence, anger, fear, even courteousness and cordial superficiality. Although they crave love like everyone else, they frequently tie themselves up in work or various other addictions so they never have to revisit the painful challenge of genuine human connection.
Love Avoidants are often quite intelligent, mature, likable and otherwise successful people who date Love Addicts or other unhealthy people they can easily manipulate to safely keep the upper hand. Do they also “deserve better?” Sure don’t. They picked someone just mentally unstable enough to tolerate their unavailability. On purpose.
If you were in some other way abused, victimized or neglected as a child (which happens more often than not and takes too many forms for me to list), I’m really sorry. That sucks, and I wish I could wave a magic wand and make everyone’s childhood less of a dumpster fire. But guess what? That was your childhood. It probably impacted every possible area of your physical, mental, emotional, interpersonal and spiritual wellbeing. And there’s a good chance that your romantic relationships are where your childhood issues play themselves out unconsciously (on repeat). No amount of “deserving better” is gonna fix it.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” ~Maya Angelou
The inverse proposition to Maya Angelou’s wisdom is “If you don’t know any better, you CAN’T do any better.” This statement is why I decided to become an educator, coach and mentor many years ago. I don’t believe people will do better or get better until they know better. And as far as “deserving better?” I don’t even know what that means. I just picture Varuca Salt stomping her feet, saying “I want a pony now, Daddy!”
So no, you don’t deserve better and you don’t get a pony. Get a coach. A therapist. Find a support group. Get the Fix Your Picker Downloadable Guidebook. Something! The harsh truth is that your relationships are not going to improve until you do something about it. I would love to help you with that. Take the free diagnostic quiz. Schedule a free consultation. Subscribe to my blog. Follow my Instagram/Facebook. Cancel the self-pity party and the I-Deserve-Betterpalooza. Shut down the excuse factory and put down the blame-thrower. Let’s do this healing work once and for good. #FixYourPicker