Why We Accept The Love We Think We Deserve

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There are 7.8 billion people on this planet. Seven point eight billion. That’s a hell of a lot of people. And as hard as the right person may be to find, I promise you – they’re out there. The good ones do exist and they’re within reach. The thing we have to remember, is we accept the love we think we deserve.

This means if we don’t value ourselves, we’re likely to end up with someone who doesn’t really value us either. We’re also likely to settle for a relationship that’s not not as fulfilling as it could be… Compromising on the level of love we want or not even being fully aware that it’s possible to have more.

This is actually a topic that is very close to my heart, so I guess the best place to start when it comes to explaining my thoughts on why we accept the love we think we deserve, is to start with me and my experiences…

My Experience With Love

So when I was eighteen, I’d just gotten out of my first serious relationship and I felt completely and utterly heartbroken. We’d been together for two years and it had given me the comfort I needed to get through the most difficult time in my life, shortly after a teenage trauma. The first year was almost perfect. I think I could count the number of arguments we’d had on one hand and we were so completely in love.

The second year, we kind of popped out of our bubble and hit reality. Issues started to arise. Many of which were actually probably caused by me, due to the fact I hadn’t properly dealt with my past properly. In turn, I acted in ways that weren’t necessarily right or fair. I definitely wasn’t being my best version of myself. But I just didn’t know how to deal with anything. My ex certainly wasn’t faultless either, and we just no longer fit well together.

When it all broke down, I found out that the guy had actually cheated on me… Which of course felt like another punch in the stomach on top of the huge loss that was already hanging over me. It took me a long time to re-build myself after this. And when I finally had, my self-esteem was absolutely shot. This wasn’t the first time someone had hurt me as you know, and I craved the connection with someone else again. I just wanted to be loved. And when I didn’t feel it, I felt worthless. 

I guess in hindsight, I’d adopted a lot of toxic beliefs because of what had happened to me when I was a teenager. I hadn’t had therapy at this point. In fact, I completely bottled everything up that had happened. It was tainting my views and judgement.

The Turning Point…

After a year of being single and making some pretty stupid mistakes, I finally found my feet again (just about!) and ended up meeting ex number two. I fell pretty fast – not necessarily just for him, but also with the idea of being in love again. I so desperately wanted everything I’d lost before. In fact, I thought I needed it, which was dangerous really because it made me ignore the warning signs right from the start.

The thing is, the spark and attraction was there, we could chat for hours on end about anything and everything, but on top of that, we also bonded by the fact that we were both still pretty broken as people. In fact, that was the thing that made him stand out above anyone else – because I thought he could relate to me.

See my ex had issues. Different ones to me. But he’d been through a lot in his past too and still had things he was struggling to process. So there was this mutual understanding of being a bit messed up and still in pain. You attract the type of person who is a reflection of how you are feeling about yourself at any given time. Because as they say,

‘Water seeks its own level…’

I went into that relationship knowing that there were things that weren’t right, but accepting them anyway. Why? Well I guess I didn’t actually see that I deserved more. And I’m not actually talking about my ex as a person here right now. My feelings towards who I think he is, are irrelevant. I’m talking about the way I was treated, the way I felt, the healthiness of the relationship. The love wasn’t everything that I really wanted, but it was something. So I settled. And the only reason I settled was because I still felt so low in myself as a person. I didn’t believe I was worthy of more.

This is why I agree, we accept the love we deserve. There’s no doubt about it. And the proof of that now – for me anyway – is I would never make the same mistakes that I did before. For the first time ever, I know my value. I know what I deserve. And I won’t settle for less than that, no matter how long it takes to find what I want.

Why We Accept The Love We Think We Deserve

So why do we? This is a pretty complex topic, thats open to discussion. Ultimately however, I think it’s very closely linked with our self-worth. We accept the love we think we deserve based on how we feel about ourselves. So, if you don’t even treat yourself with the love and respect that you deserve – you’re unlikely to demand that from anyone else.

You therefore need to appreciate how wonderful you are and the fact that actually, others would be lucky to have you. And this isn’t about arrogance, it’s more about self-respect – particularly if you know how well you treat others. It’s not unreasonable to want the same back in return. But that’s the thing, if you’re not used to it, you’re also unlikely to demand it. Because we also accept the love we think we deserve, based on what we know. 

We Accept The Love We’re Used To…

So, perhaps you grew up in a family where love was not valued or felt very deeply. Perhaps you witnessed difficult things with your parents. Or maybe you just didn’t have two parents that were happy and in love at all so you kind of assumed that was just common for how things really would be. It has an impact you know. Just like how you’re raised also influences the attachment style you take with you into future relationships. These things all play their part.

On the flip side however, let’s say your parents had a good relationship – they were absolute ‘couple goals’! Yet your past experiences were not and it was in fact these negative experiences that tainted the way you view things now. Maybe you feel like you’ve never fully experienced true love, so you don’t know that there’s more out there. Or maybe the love that you’ve had has always been pretty toxic.

For example, if you’ve been lied to, cheated on, had your feelings disregarded time and time again. And these things have happened multiple times in multiple relationships – it’s very easy for them to end up setting the standard. You assume most people are like it, that it’s just the ‘norm’ (even if it is crap!) So if you then come across anything that’s an improvement, it becomes easy to jump into it too fast… Even if the standard of that relationship is far lower than what it should be still.

It’s all about what you know, how you view things and how you feel in yourself. 

For this reason, the limiting beliefs you have around love will also play a part. I highly recommend you read this post if you haven’t already as it delves into this further. It’s important, because if you want to change the love that you accept, you have to change what you believe.

So What Should We Do?

Well, like I said, you have to change the way you feel about yourself. To commit to improving your self-esteem and working on knowing your value

Before you get into anything, you have to be in a good place mentally. That way you can genuinely assess whether this person and this relationship meets your expectations and needs. And then you have to stand by that, so that you don’t compromise or settle… even if you do start to catch feelings for someone. If they’re not right, and they won’t treat you properly, you cannot go there.

It’s tough, there’s no denying it. But until you break the pattern, you’ll keep falling for the wrong guys and ultimately wasting time. 

You deserve to be with the best person for you, and you deserve to live a life that is (almost!) free of self-doubt and insecurity… A healthy relationship, with the right person. Where you’re not only able – but are encouraged – to be the best version of yourself. A relationship that brings both you and your partner so much love and joy. That’s the end goal. 

Nothing or no-one is perfect. But you shouldn’t settle on the level of healthy love that you have in your life. We accept the love we think we deserve. That’s unmistakable. So, hand on heart, I hope you know just how special you are and that you really can find everything you want and more.

Take care. All the best!


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Why We Accept The Love We Think We Deserve

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Ella Stearn
Ell is a Breakup, Dating & Relationship Specialist & Coach, with over 3 million annual readers, globally. As the Creator of Forgetting Fairytales, her mission is to help you learn to love yourself, find the right person to give your love to, then make it a love that truly lasts.

12 thoughts on “Why We Accept The Love We Think We Deserve”

  1. Finding love and accepting that you deserve it can be hard but I think it’s important to remember that you deserve to be loved and treated with respect and not accept less

  2. Everyone deserves true love and happiness, and I agree that it’s out there for everyone it just might be tough to find. But it’s worth the wait to find the person who will love you regardless x

  3. Excellent article, i was very fortunate to find my love at a young age, we have been together for 20 years and theres never been a day we dont love each other completely, we are a team and share everything, we are so lucky to have found each other.

  4. I really resonate with this post. I have definitely always waived towards relationships where I put up with less than what I deserve because I have my own underlining issues from childhood which has manifested into unhealthy relationship habits. Going to therapy helped me realize this – but it’s still a long journey to go!

  5. This is a lovely post to come across, especially at the moment with the whole world engulfed with the corona virus! My first relationship turned toxic and it was heartbreaking to step away but it is the best thing I ever did! It took me a while but I eventually ended up with someone who loves me for me and we are now married with 2 beautiful children. Know your worth people, don’t settle.

  6. Thank you for sharing your past experience Ell, it must be hard writing this and feeling those feelings again but I know this is going to be helpful for so many out there. You are right about us deserving love based on how we feel about ourselves. I know so many of my friends who keep going for the wrong guys because they thought they were not good enough.

  7. So many will relate to this post because you have got it spot on. They always say happiness starts from within and if are not happy no one will. I agree also there are so many good people out there – it’s the few that leave a scar on you and change the way you think. Thanks for the read

  8. I think all relationships need work, it’s easy to take the other for granted. But I also believe that we are all worthy of being loved and respected.


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