When Did Dating Get So Expensive?
If you want to understand dating—if you want to understand people period—study fairy tales. Fairy tales—whether told by parents, read in books, or taken in through Disney movies or other cartoons—are the basic life scripts given to children, at their primary imprint vulnerability. They hardwire the wide-eyed kid’s expectations for what life is going to be like, for better or worse—often worse—and form a standard they’ll likely unconsciously measure themselves against throughout life. Nowhere is this more true than in matters of love, sex and dating.
Take Cinderella, the story of a female janitor who is, against all odds and common sense, swept off her feet by royalty and into the sunset. Two questions: First, how much do you think this archetype is deeply set into your unconscious and expectations? Second, how likely is this to happen? In real-world terms, when’s the last time you saw a dot-com billionaire falling head-over-heels in love in Aisle 4 at Wal-Mart and throwing his fortune and future at that Bee-yootiful Girl he saw buying half-off air freshener? Hey, I’m not saying it couldn’t happen. I’m just saying I wouldn’t go Vegas odds on it.
Or how about, for the men, Aladdin (the Disney version)—the story of a street criminal who wins the love of a princess by conjuring a spirit who lives in a bottle to help him with a home invasion on her palace, proceeding to somehow charm her with the power of song after breaking in? Look, no. Just no. You can’t show her the world, Aladdin. You can show her the corner bodega where your friends hang out shooting dice. She’s a princess. If she wants to see the world, she’ll take the weekend and put the first-class tickets and shopping on her dad’s credit card, not fly around on the back of your janky blue genie.
But I digress. My point is that from childhood we’re conditioned to think in terms of fairy tale endings, and that relationships work almost “by magic.” The reality is that they’re hard work, often annoying, require compromises you probably don’t want to make, and in most cases are driven by pure economics. And if our economic expectations don’t match reality, we’re probably going to get hurt.
“Life is full of changes, and a broken heart is an opportunity to grow.” – Lacy ext. 5494
I would argue that the two stories above, both deeply archetypal fairy tales, are more about money than love. They’re about poor people who are raised up into nobility by, presumably, being a good lay or something. That’s all fine for a story, but when we take these unconscious expectations into real life, we’re going to be sorely disappointed. You end up either as a gold-digger who expects some man to come along and magically rescue them with the power of their disposable income, or some vampire of a man who’s trying to seduce his way to some naïve girl’s bank account or leading her on to get more cash and favors. That stuff happens all the time, but I guarantee you there’s not going to be a fairy tale ending when it does.
Subtle and not-so-subtle economic transactions happen every second in relationships, from deciding how the bill is paid at dinner on the first date to who’s buying toilet paper when co-habitating to how Junior’s college fund is going to get prepped for. Sex is quite often used as a bargaining chip in these transactions. And if both parties aren’t 110% on-board with each other—and even then—it can get tricky.
So how can we disentangle sex from economics?
Frankly, I’m not sure we can. A more important question would be, how can we be honest with ourselves about how intertwined they are? And how can we deal with those levels of our relationships consciously, honestly, and right out on the table instead of keeping them in the arena of unconscious assumptions? Instead of one partner expecting the other to “save” them, whether on an economic level or in any other way, it’s time to realize that we all need to to self-sufficient first.
“To attain the love you want, be prepared to be, or work to become, the type of person you want to attract!” – Yemaya ext. 5143
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