Article 2329: Do We Date to Increase Our Own Worth? (imageid1)

"Because I know who I am."

No one defines a real friend as someone who stands by you only if you’re able to buy them expensive gifts. We’d laugh at someone who thought that money was the basis of a “friend’s” interest.

There are those who do it, though. They want to be among the “A-listed.” It proves they’re worth something if their friends have money and display the ornaments of success defined for us by a consumer economy that teaches that buying things is the solution to lovelessness.

It’s not just the school kids who want to be “in” with that popular crowd on campus that keeps up with the latest fashions. That’s the stuff of those movies about cliquish high school life.

It’s anyone whose self-image still needs the attention and embrace of an elite to feel acceptable and worthwhile. But, even then, few still would admit to defining friendship in those terms.

Yet, somehow it is acceptable when we’re talking about love, romance, and partnering. Financial worth is an inseparable part of mainstream definitions of romance.

As young people, our parents wouldn’t have approved of us loving someone “beneath us” in the American class system we’re not supposed to talk about. They had financial expectations of the guy or gal we’d bring home – someone like us or better.

How often was the young woman told her value is based upon the earnings of the man she could get – a professional with a lucrative career ahead? This fit with telling women that they needed a man to “love and protect” them.

But pleasing our parents is over. Now it’s our decision about how we value those we meet, and how that relates to how we think about ourselves.

It’s one thing to want a relationship with someone financially stable. We don’t want to be someone’s sugar daddy or mommy.

But to whom are we open when we’re out on a date? How much of our attitude toward financial status is really about how we appear to others? How much is about our need to define our own worth in terms of the financial worth of the ones we date?

How much do we define how loved we are by the expense of the gifts we are, or will be, given? How much do we limit our possibilities because a date needs to be more like an ornament that shows to others how much we’re worth?

The financial messages we’ve received from childhood on are hard to ignore. They represent our insecurities.

They’ve been reinforced by advertisements boasting the size of engagement rings, holiday gifts, anniversary mementos, and parties. They’ve been enforced by the ads that tell us the more expensive the chocolates, wine, restaurant, or concert, the more it means we’re loved.

We have to make decisions about these issues if we date again. And how we make them depends upon what we think of ourselves.

We have to be as clear as Rose Castorini was in the classic film “Moonstruck.” Played by Olympia Dukakis, she went to a neighborhood restaurant for dinner with a lonely college professor who had just been shot down by his regular date. In spite of growing difficulties in her own marriage and her desire for the warmth of companionship, she turned down his offer for a tryst, with the explanation: “because I know who I am.”

When we’re self-assured, we don’t date to make ourselves feel better about our self-concept or to even impress our friends. If we need to impress our friends, then we have our own issues with friendship.

When we know who we are, our possibilities for love are greater because we value those around us for something other than the thickness of their pocketbooks.

Contributed by

Bob Minor

University of Kansas
Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies
A national resource for information on gender issues and gay/straight relationships for organizations, businesses, educational institutions, and media outlets such as NBC and USA Today, Bob Minor, Ph.D. …

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