Maybe Everyone DOES Deserve Love

There was an interesting Dear Wendy advice column on TheFrisky a few days ago. A young woman wrote in saying thatshe was pretty, and she was depressed that she still couldn’t get a boyfriend – so depressed that she’d started drinking and making what she considered bad life choices (Roger Sterling would consider them double-plus-good life choices, but that’s beside the point). Wendy responded that she wasn’t doing anything to show that she was deserving of love. Today Wendy followed up, remarking:

The other day, I posted a letter in my “Dear Wendy” column from a young woman who said she couldn’t understand why she didn’t have a boyfriend despite being very pretty. She went on to admit that she has very little to say in social settings, has begun resenting her friends in relationships because of her “seething jealousy,” regularly self-medicates by over-drinking and sleeping with random hook-ups, and even believes guys who might be interested in her for more than sex are nothing but scum deep down. “I hate this person I’ve become but know I deserve someone great,” she wrote. Well, I’ve been getting a lot of flack for my response to her, but I stand by it. Why does she deserve someone great? Does everyone deserve love and happiness simply for breathing? Personally, I don’t buy that for one second.

Now, look, I really don’t want to perpetuate a hearts-and-flowers vision of the universe. I won’t say that everyone is in a place where they’re ready to engage in a relationship and all the sacrifices a relationship can entail. BUT I will say that I think that Wendy’s response illustrates what always strikes me as one of the main differences between sites targeted at men and those targeted at women. Namely, sites targeted at men assume their readers are awesome.

Think about it. Every time I go to a men’s site – or men’s magazine – I find advice on topics like “10 Signs She’s Not Good Enough For You.” As a woman, I hate articles like that, but I think I’d probably enjoy them if I were male. I remember very distinctly a time when I looked at the cover of a men’s magazine and then the cover of Cosmopolitan. The cover of Cosmo contained an article on “30 Ways to Make Him Stay.” The men’s magazine boasted an article on “10 Ways To Dump Your Girlfriend.” Women’s sites always seem to be about ways you can be worthy of love, whereas men’s sites just say you’re absolutely worthy of love, the only question is whether someone else is good enough for you. They don’t care whether or not you drink a lot and hook up with people. It doesn’t matter, because their reader, like Mel Gibson, fucking deserves it.

Maybe that’s why, whenever I talk to female friends going through a break-up, a frequent refrain seems to be “I don’t know what I did wrong.” When I talk to male friends, a more common response seems to be “I cannot believe she did that to me.”

I genuinely don’t know which perspective is better – one could turn you into a raging, entitled asshole, the other into a pathetic doormat. Or maybe I’m just being too hard on Wendy for doling out some tough-love. Do you think everyone is deserving of love? Or do we have to earn it?

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    • Jillian Engel

      Perhaps she’s not deserving of love right. Now. Perhaps that was Wendy’s way of saying, “Clean yourself up and then maybe we can work on your dating skills.”

    • Lindsay Hartman

      Hmmm… There are a lot of ways this could go. But I think this woman sounds more insecure than anything. And insecurity makes it extremely difficult to find and keep a good relationship. And I agree with you, lots of women’s media tends to make women more insecure, while men’s media does the opposite. I’m not sure if all that made sense, but basically, I don’t think Wendy did her reader any good. This woman needs to learn to find value in herself before she can have a relationship. But telling her, “You don’t deserve love right now” probably wasn’t a good way to help her on that journey.

    • porkchop

      Everyone deserves love–all the time. However, no one deserves the pain of throwing their heart away on someone who’s too crazy/depressed to build something with them–ever. This is a paradox, and one of the many reasons that each of us, including Pretty Girl, deserve a huge congratulations for just dealing with being a person and not going on a killing spree every day.

    • D Squared

      Yes, every human deserves love. Does that mean you get to have exactly the kind you want from exactly who you want it from? No. You get what you give. I’m amazed at how many people are projecting bitterness and resentment out into the world and expect to attract warmth and compassion.

      Also, the disparity between men’s and women’s self-esteem issues never ceases to blow my mind. It’s changing, imho, but it’s a shame that we as people tend to swing like a pendulum instead of finding a nice, healthy middle ground.

    • D Squared

      Maybe we should try swapping magazines with the guys for awhile.

    • CurlySarah29

      I think that yes, everyone deserves love. But you have to be ready to accept love. That’s the first step – if this girl isn’t even giving guys who “may be interested in her” a second glance, she has to do some deep soul-searching and make some life changes. Maybe she should try getting a pet, like a dog. Dogs love unconditionally, right? It could be a good first step!

    • Kate

      I think most relationships (even the one you have with yourself) will go south once you start putting things in terms of whether you deserve or do not deserve something. When people start talking about what they deserve, they’re normally not thinking about others’ needs. Do I deserve my parents’ love? Am I really worthy of how deeply they care about me? My mom would probably die for me; do I deserve that? I mean, I’m an okay person, but probably not. I could sit around all day going back and forth between pitying myself and declaring what I deserve, but in the mean time there are others who need ME to love THEM.

      That said, I do think that there are things you should earn in a relationship, like respect and trust. But I think another person chooses to love you (even though they may not have a lot of control over the lovey dovey feelings of attraction) based on who you are and how they get along with you. I think that Pretty Girl thinks it ought to be easy for her to get a boyfriend because she’s pretty and she thinks she deserves someone. Mr. Potential Boyfriend Material out there doesn’t care what she deserves or doesn’t. He’s going to be attracted to someone with good looks AND good qualities, so maybe she should end the pity party now and focus on being a good person. Nobody’s going to love her just because she “deserves” it.

    • SFish

      I kind of agreed with Wendy, actually. I think everyone is deserving of love, but you’re not entitled to a boyfriend no matter what you act like. Your point about magazines is correct, certainly, but even if men believe that text, it doesn’t guarantee them a girlfriend, anymore than mastering all 100 blowjob tips means your boyfriend won’t leave. In this girl’s case, though, honestly–she sounds like she sucks to be around. Just because you’re a good person at heart, love your parents, brake for animals, etc., doesn’t mean that you can get away with being drunk, boring, nasty, bitter, jealous, and judgmental (I’m not even touching “slutty,” because there’s a double standard there) and still have Prince Charming fall for you. I think you earn love by loving yourself, and if your priority is having a good partner, you have to start by making yourself a good partner.

    • Leah

      I’m with Wendy. It might be a bit harsh, but she’s basically right. Clean up your act and maybe someone will want to hang out with you. Also – no comment on how this girl thinks she deserves a boyfriend based ENTIRELY on the fact that she’s pretty? Tough life. We all know that basic attraction is the first step but jeez, you’ve got to have something else going on if you want something other than random cock.

      And as far as “deserving love” – what an ambiguous term! It sounds like rhetoric to me and means nothing. Do I deserve love? I don’t know or really care. It sounds like something people think about when they’re bored or depressed.

      • Kate

        i agree. “deserving love” seems like an idea for people who are depressed or have low self-esteem, which is fine if it helps. but another great way to improve your self-esteem is to turn your focus from yourself to others.