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Written by Celine Hosea.
Art by Alex McKelley.

I get that the rules of the free market inevitably infiltrate into all aspects of life within capitalist economy. In the dating space, love is a currency and beauty is what is being purchased. Social exchange theory dictates that we build our relationships based on how we can personally benefit from others, whether it be materially or psychologically.

Women are often loved for their ability to provide sexual gratification and boost the male ego through object-subject relations, with the woman being the object and the man being the subject. In this view, women are dependent on men and their desires.

I’m not a great beauty, but I can feel men wanting to own me. They want to show me off, like a gem that they’ve been able to acquire. But being ‘loved’ as a sex object or trophy girlfriend disables you from being able to self-actualize. You are permanently stuck on defining yourself in relation to how you are to someone else, instead of the individual achievements you derive out of your labor and intelligence.

There’s a longing in my heart for the unconditional love that I did not receive from the people I’m supposed to receive it from. So, I find myself looking for it by dating anyone who will say anything to convince me that they love me for more than my size two body.

Everyone – men, women, enbies, trans people – want to be loved for who they really are: adored for their real self and not ideal self, to be cherished for their idiosyncrasies and not in spite of. There is nothing more human than the longing to feel love and to be loved in return; to hold someone’s hands and feel the universe in your palms, to gaze into someone’s eyes and feel the connection to their soul.

“Only women and children receive unconditional love. Men are loved for their ability to provide,” my boyfriend argued. But I contest that it is much better to be used/loved for your money and competence rather than for your beauty and docility. Being recognized for your capabilities as a provider allows you to self-actualize and develop self-esteem as an individual.

Can someone please love me unconditionally? I don’t want to have to be a good girl in order to be loved. I want the security of knowing that if I changed my partner would still love me the same. So when I say I want to be loved unconditionally, I mean that I want to be seen for my inner world, as I exist today.

So maybe I’ll start taking “Looking for a woman who takes care of herself” on men’s Tinder bios more literally. I know it’s a euphemism for “a girl in her early twenties, tight body, clear skin…” But for me, a woman who takes care of herself is a woman who puts herself first.

About the Author

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