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  • Matthew Frank
    Matthew Frank

    (Un)Deserving Love: 7 Truths About The Love We Think We Deserve

    Interpreting the Adage "We Accept the Love We Think We Deserve"

    The phrase "We accept the love we think we deserve" is a poignant statement that explores our subconscious and emotional boundaries. It was made popular by Stephen Chbosky in his book "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," and it quickly resonated with millions, prompting them to question the patterns in their relationships and their views on self-worth.

    The sentence is loaded with profound meanings. It suggests that our perception of what we think we deserve in love and relationships is deeply influenced by our self-worth and self-esteem. In other words, it speaks volumes about our subconscious choices in accepting or rejecting love based on our self-perceived value.

    But why would we ever accept less than we deserve in love? This puzzle lies at the intersection of psychology, sociology, and personal development, which provides a thought-provoking exploration into our understanding of love and self-worth.

    Unpacking the Psychology Behind The Phrase

    The phrase reflects a psychological phenomenon where individuals often pursue relationships that reinforce their self-concept, even when it is not beneficial for them. This propensity to seek out affirmations of our self-perceived worth is deeply rooted in our sense of self.

    Psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut's 'self psychology' theory helps explain this phenomenon. According to him, people are naturally inclined to seek out relationships that affirm their self-image. When someone has a negative self-concept, they may subconsciously find themselves in relationships where they are undervalued, simply because it fits with their perception of themselves. This kind of relationship can lead to a vicious cycle where low self-esteem feeds off unsatisfying relationships, further lowering self-esteem.

    From this perspective, the phrase "We accept the love we think we deserve" is a call to challenge our self-perception and strive for healthier, more nurturing relationships.

    Unveiling the Sociological Perspectives

    From a sociological standpoint, societal norms and expectations play a significant role in shaping our perception of what love we believe we deserve. The media often bombards us with specific images and stories about love and relationships, setting unrealistic expectations about what love should look like. Consequently, we may find ourselves accepting less than we deserve in love because we've internalized these societal narratives.

    Moreover, our family environment and past experiences also shape our understanding of what love is and what we deserve. If someone grows up witnessing unhealthy relationships, they may subconsciously accept a similar pattern in their relationships, thinking it's what they deserve.

    The phrase encourages us to break free from these societal constructs and past experiences, fostering a healthier understanding and expectation of love.

    Seven Truths About The Love We Think We Deserve

    The understanding of this adage can be summarized in seven profound truths about love and self-worth:

    1. Self-worth plays a pivotal role in the love we accept.

    2. Our perception of love is largely shaped by societal expectations and past experiences.

    3. We can often find ourselves in a cycle of accepting less than we deserve due to our self-perceived value.

    4. Challenging and improving our self-perception is crucial to accepting healthier, more nurturing love.

    5. Love isn't about finding a perfect person but about understanding and accepting someone's imperfections.

    6. We should strive to break free from societal narratives and unrealistic expectations about love.

    7. Understanding that we deserve love and kindness is the first step towards personal growth and healthier relationships.

    Setting the Groundwork for Positive Change

    Recognizing the weight of the phrase "We accept the love we think we deserve" is the first step toward positive change. It is crucial to understand that change is a process, and it starts with self-awareness. The second step involves cultivating self-love and enhancing self-esteem. By accepting and loving ourselves first, we create a healthy platform for a relationship where we don't have to seek validation from others.

    Part of this process involves letting go of negative self-perceptions and replacing them with positive affirmations. Engaging in self-care, pursuing passions, and surrounding oneself with positive influences can also contribute to this transformative journey.

    Developing Resilience and Emotional Intelligence

    Beyond self-love, resilience, and emotional intelligence also play crucial roles in accepting the love we truly deserve. Resilience helps us bounce back from heartbreaks and disappointments, enabling us to learn and grow from our experiences. Meanwhile, emotional intelligence allows us to navigate our feelings and empathize with others, fostering healthier communication and understanding in relationships.

    Developing these traits involves self-reflection, openness to feedback, emotional regulation, and empathy-building practices like mindfulness and meditation. By cultivating resilience and emotional intelligence, we set ourselves up for accepting the love that respects and values our worth.

    Realizing the Love We Deserve

    Realizing the love we deserve means breaking away from the cycle of accepting less than we deserve. It involves understanding that love isn't a measure of our worth, and we shouldn't settle for anything less than respect, kindness, and genuine affection.

    More importantly, it entails recognizing that we have the power to define what love means to us and what we deserve in love. After all, love is a deeply personal experience, and our worth is not dictated by someone else's inability to see it.

    The adage "We accept the love we think we deserve" is a profound statement on self-perception, self-worth, and relationships. Understanding and applying its wisdom requires introspection, personal growth, and a relentless pursuit of self-love. By doing so, we can challenge the status quo, redefine our perception of love, and embrace the love that we truly deserve.


    1. Chbosky, S. (1999). The Perks of Being a Wallflower. New York, NY: MTV Books/Pocket Books.
    2. Kohut, H. (1971). The Analysis of the Self: A Systematic Approach to the Psychoanalytic Treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorders. New York, NY: International Universities Press.
    3. Bradshaw, J. (2005). Healing the Shame that Binds You. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc.
    4. Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence. New York, NY: Bantam Books.

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