This post is packed with extra love, and dedicated to everyone out there who might be struggling with poverty and the non-dating that comes with it.
To everyone who fears they might be outside of love’s reach, I say: you are awesome, not because of what you have done, not because of what you own, but because you are a chunk of the Universe, and the Universe is awesome, and you cannot help but being part of the Universe and its awesomeness. So there. Lots of love to you.
This post is titled “Dating while poor”. Though it should be titled “not dating because poor”.
The other day I was chatting with my friend on the reality of “looking for love” while you are unemployed and/or poor.
Their view was that you can’t date someone until you have a stable job.
I have shared this view myself during the many years I “was” unemployed and poor. And since I am still quite poor, I do believe it from time to time.
Yet, I don’t like it. It doesn’t feel right.
And in my most lucid moments (ie: when I have the least “stuff”) I can see how this belief is not “healthy”.
“You can’t date someone until you have a stable job”
Ok. Let’s look at this.
First, we have the problem that stable jobs are becoming more and more scarce. (this is an economic problem, and there is no solution to this unless you tackle it on the social level)
But more importantly, since you can’t give yourself a job*, this means that someone else has power over your life.
I wanna talk about this, because it’s important.
*yes, both my friend and I have looked into being self-employed, we are smart cookies. But even that is harder than it seems.
Let’s start by looking at a major flaw in Western thinking
Some years ago, I was watching this BBC news programme (back when I used to watch the news… and care about the economy and politics).
It was the aftermath of the recession, and this BBC journalist traveled all the way to Japan to ask an employer how come he hadn’t fired any employees despite the recession. The Japanese employer answered very simply: “people are good workers, and it’s not their fault”.
It’s funny how Western culture works entirely backwards, isn’t it?
In the East, people focus on doing their best and leave it at that.
In the West, we are not satisfied until we reach the “top” of the “top”. And since there is always more “top”, we are never satisfied, ever.
Think about it: after the recession, here in the West, people got laid off because the recession. It didn’t matter whether you were a good worker or a bad worker. You got laid off because the recession.
And yet… and yet every single person who got laid off made it all about themselves. About how they are such “LOSERS”, about how they “suck”, about how they are “worthless and don’t measure up”; they were probably tormented day and night by internal voices that said “why can’t you be like NORMAL people, who don’t get laid off?“.
In the East, people focus not on being the “best”, but on doing their best.
And when times got tough, people were not laid off, because it would be unfair to lay off people who are doing their best.
Minor digression to talk about the welfare system in the UK
Here in the UK, the welfare system is purposefully designed to help people torment themselves with thoughts about how they are worthless losers for not having a job.
I am not mincing words here. This is what the system is designed to do.
It takes thousands of people, and isolates them, leading them by the hand to arrive at the conclusion that there must be something terribly wrong with them because they aren’t like “normal” people.
I could expand on how this is no different to the kind of oppression and brainwashing that takes place in those “other” regimes like the Soviet Union or China, where we westerners are good at spotting this kind of thing. Yet, when it happens here in the UK, it’s all perceived as normal.
Nevermind the fact that thousands of people are employed, that is, paid by the state with taxpayers’ money, to isolate the unemployed and trap them in the story of how there must be something wrong with them. Just think for a moment how much good all those people could do, if they were employed to do something actually productive like… teaching people to sing and dance.
But I’m talking about politics, which is something I don’t want to do anymore. (Keeps creeping up, doesn’t it?)
The important thing is this: even when we know that it’s not about “us”, that it’s the “recession”, we make it about us.
And now, let’s get to what I wanted to say in the first place.
Being in charge of your own life
There’s this concept I got from Havi, called “sovereignty”.
It’s hard to explain, but it basically means being in charge of your own life.
What happens when we put our life on hold because we are unemployed? We are basically saying “my life depends on someone else deciding to hire me“.
Not sovereign, and therefore not healthy.
Now, I would never suggest that if someone is not ready to date because they are unemployed, they should go ahead and do it. That wouldn’t be sovereign either.
So what do we do? We… “Bring it all back to you”.
(*cue in cheesy SClub7 song*)
Make it all about YOU
Making it all about us, because at the end of the day, it is.
Being super honest with ourselves and getting crystal clear on what is actually going on.
What is going on isn’t “I can’t date because I’m unemployed” or “I can’t date because no one will hire me” or “I can’t date because not having a job means I am unworthy of love“.
Those are just the stories we tell ourselves, it’s not a description of our felt experience.
What is going on is “in this moment, my identity and sense of self-worth is still attached to how the world sees me; I feel unworthy of love, and so I cannot bear the thought of someone loving me while I’m in this place“.
Here’s how this applies to me
I cannot bear the thought of someone loving me despite the fact that I make my living working at a cafe. That’s my stuff.
For reference, I have been working with this stuff for, oh, 3-4 years.
I want to find love. And I want to find a love that is independent of my ability to hold down a “good” job. What is more commonly known as “unconditional love”.
And of course, it all starts with me. I have to give myself unconditional love. Duh.
And boy, is it ever hard.
A little help from friends
Sometimes, talking to a friend can give you a sense of perspective that you can’t get on your own.
Notice that I said “sometimes”.
I don’t actually understand how this works (yet!) but for some reason, people who love us see us in a different light, and in that light something like “unemployment” or “poverty” doesn’t actually show up.
And anything superficial like “money” is just detail, not essence.
Being reminded of this can help. Notice that I said “help”, because you cannot take someone else’s perspective of you and make it your own.
That would not be sovereign.
No, We gotta get there on our own.
And though someone else’s perspective can help, it isn’t a shortcut. It’s just another sign pointing us in the right direction.
Here’s the Ultimate Truth
And here’s a big sign with the actual destination. (though, once again, knowing it isn’t a shortcut, you’re gonna have to get there on your own).
Love isn’t a place we arrive at. It’s a state we learn to live in.
It’s not “I will work really hard and make myself really awesome, and then I’ll be worthy of love”.
It’s “I discover that I am awesome already, and I am already Love“.
There. Now you know where you’re going.
I’m rooting for you.