The Perks of Being a Wallflower was originally published in 1999. Stephen Chbosky wrote it by pulling excerpts from his own experiences and developed the supporting characters by taking stories from people he met in real life. The book focuses on the struggles of the people around him, but also what they were passionate about. In 2011, it was made into a film.
One remarkable line stood out to me. We accept the love we think we deserve. In the book, it was expressed by Bill, a teacher of the protagonist named, Charlie. Charlie asked Bill about his sister, who was physically abused by her boyfriend. That was Bill’s answer. In the movie, it was stated by Sam, a girl Charlie had a crush on. She was played by Hermione Gran – er, I mean Emma Watson.
We accept the love we think we deserve – What does it that even mean?
The gist of it is this: Accepting the love you think you deserve means you are susceptible to either letting someone treat you badly or not settling for anyone treating you less than you deserve. In my opinion, it is a double-edged sword. You either allow yourself to be continuously hurt, or you end up hurting other people by never letting them be good enough for you.
Of course, in real life, it is more damaging when you accept the worst form of treatment. It also bodes ill for people only willing to accept one form of treatment. Many readers and movie-watchers were inclined to relate the line to passionate relationships. The truth is there is more to it than that.
Accepting the love we think we deserve is not limited to our lovers. It encompasses all forms of relationships in any capacity. We accept love from our friends, our family, our community, and even strangers.
When does it happen in real life?
There are many examples of people who are challenged by their willingness to accept love and their reluctance to give love. That is why the line resonated with so many people. Many of the book’s fans experience different types of difficulties in their relationships. Some may not even be aware of it, even if the line struck a reverberating chord.
#1 Abusive relationships. By now, everyone is aware that abuse is not limited to physical attacks. Emotional abuse plays an important role as well. Even if it does not lead to a physical altercation, emotional abuse takes its toll on a person’s long-term outlook in life.
When it comes to acceptance of love, abuse paves the way for long-term, low self-esteem. A person could also be at the stage where they have accepted their fate, thinking that this is all they deserve.
#2 Codependency. Codependency occurs when two people can’t function without the other. One person lives on the other’s attention, while the other lives on the other’s neediness.
For example, when a person addicted to drugs continues to abuse drugs, while their partner continues to take care of them, so they continue to use drugs. The addicted person is dependent on their partner’s love, while the other one lives on their partner’s neediness. Rather than a healthy relationship, both physically and emotionally, these people stay together because it is the type of love they think keeps them happy, or at least, sane.
Other examples include family members who allow their own relatives to take their money and resources, people who constantly do favors for friends who take advantage of them, and so on and so forth. Basically, being codependent means asking for something detrimental to personal development, while giving something that will not benefit the receiver, and may even harm them.
#3 Indifference. Some people continue to look for love from people who don’t reciprocate those feelings. It could be that way for someone who has an unrequited crush or someone whose parent abandoned them. When someone is not receiving love, even though they continue to express love, it is possible they feel that they are not worthy of love at all.
This is common in people who have experienced abandonment issues. When someone leaves traumatically, it leads to the development of coping mechanisms, such as a subconscious need for unavailable partners, friends, or family members.
#4 Controlling relationships. The difference between being dependent and vying for control is that the former is done willingly. People choose to be dependent. People, however, do not want to be controlled. If they allow it, they essentially allow their partner or loved one to control their happiness. By letting someone control you, you essentially say this person loves me the best way they can.
Unfortunately, that means you are not loving yourself in the best way. Sometimes being controlled works out well, if it’s beneficial and willingly accepted. If a person never wanted to be controlled but allowed it anyway? That’s just them asking to be accepted by their partner; ergo, the love they think they deserve.
#5 Cheating. Now this is complicated. Obviously, cheating is the worst thing you can do in a relationship, barring abuse and crime. It’s surprising to note many people stay in relationships long after they caught their partner cheating. What is worse is that these cheating partners still do it. Why do people stay? It’s about what they think they deserve.
Someone who accepts someone who cheats may be relating the situation to their own shortcomings. The first thing people usually ask when they catch their partner cheating is, “Why did you cheat?” And the answer is usually because of a lack of something from the other partner. But that is often wrong.
People cheat for different reasons, but the people who stay with cheaters are still there because they think they deserved to be cheated on. Some expect to redeem themselves with a second chance, while other times they are afraid they will go out into the world and get cheated on again. At worst, they may think no one will accept them, especially if the person they loved couldn’t do it at that very moment.
#6 Never settling for someone less than what you think you deserve. It’s not just the partner to blame. Sometimes, the fault lies on the person who is supposed to accept love. Of course, you are supposed to increase your standards when it comes to friends and partners. You can even increase your standards when it comes to your family’s goals and work.
The only downside, you cannot change these people. They have to change themselves. You set all the standards you want and ask for the love you think you deserve, but there is also a limit to what you can ask for.
Sam may have set an unreasonable set of standards in her mind. Standards that Charlie cannot reach, but at the same time, those are the standards she cannot impose on her bad-boy boyfriend. Basically, Sam accepts love not befitting of her. While at the same time, she rejects the love someone like Charlie gives—love that will not end up hurting her.
How can you start to accept love that is better?
The first step begins by acknowledging you are accepting the wrong kind of love. The next step, learn more about yourself so that you can find out what it is you really deserve. How?
#1 By looking at your past. A therapist helps you find out why you’re experiencing difficulties in your relationships. The first thing they do is look at your family background. After that, they look at your social and cultural background. Once they see where all of this is coming from, it will be that much easier to give you the help you need.
#2 Making a list of what makes you happy in a relationship. Rather than write down what you think you deserve, how about writing down the things that actually made you happy in your past relationships.
You also look at your relationship with your family and friends. Whatever made you happy with them is the same thing that makes you happy with your partner.
#3 Work on your physical self. Healthy people are known to be happier in their relationships. Take note, however, health is not just about fitness and dieting. It’s also about living in a healthy and clean environment, even if it’s just inside your house. And getting enough sleep. Once you cover that, you become more open and ready to tackle your emotional health, as well as your relationships.