"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" author Stephen Chbosky wrote, "We accept the love we think we deserve." Psychologists often communicate the same sentiment to their patients.
Also, psychologists maintain that much of what influences what today's 20-somethings think they deserve is rooted in what their younger selves watched happen between their parents. Unfortunately, some of us were subject to front-row seats to divorce.
Though our parents' relationships are just that, we not only witnessed them, but also lived through them.
Wade Horn, the US Secretary for Children and Families under George W. Bush's presidency, once said,
Children ought not to be victims of the choices adults make for them.
Well, Mr. Horn, I appreciate your empathy, but fact remains that any child of divorce will admit he or she is greatly affected by his or her parents' decision, regardless of whether the decision was made unabashedly, shamefully, slowly or hastily.
A chart in the December 2014 New York Times article shows the divorce rate was on the rise in the 1970s and 1980s, which is when our parents were getting married. These numbers make a solid case for why daddy issues plague many women of our generation and why many chase emotionally unavailable men.
It's a trend our mothers didn't even entertain as an idea, but we mirror the dynamic we observed between Mom and Dad.
The results of this emulation? Millennials are attracting the love we don't deserve, but what we nonetheless think we deserve: a shaky, fleeting, residual-dirt-you-find-on-the-bottom-of-your-shoe kind of love.
My parents divorced when I was a baby. My father decided not to be present for the majority of my life, which left me knowing little to nothing about him and left my mother to raise me all on her own.
I don't turn a blind eye to my own imperfections; I'm prone to attracting emotionally distant men, whom I believe I can change to be emotionally un-distant (see my previous article).
My mother chose to remain celibate after divorcing my father, and I personally prefer being single to throwing myself into the merry-go-round trenches of dating. Hmmm, wonder where I picked that up from.
Natasha Burton's story is not a far cry from mine. In her Huffington Post piece entitled, "Children Of Divorce: How Kids Are Affected By Splits," she admits:
If I had kids, I'm afraid that I might not improve all that much on my parents' performance, and that scares me to the point of not wanting to experiment with other people's lives. It just wouldn't be moral.
Being a child of divorce redesigned my brain into a cynical clusterf*ck of sorts; a cluster f*ck that led me to ask myself the following questions: Why do people even get married?
Why have children when, given the freedom to opt out of our own marriages, there's no guarantee we'll be able to provide our kids with "fair" shots at love?
Is it possible to "train" my heart and mind to transcend the guy who doesn't possess the ability to care, and shift toward the guy who can love me "normally?"
I'm not using divorce as a reason to wallow in self-pity, or as a sob story. There are many girls and guys out there who gravitate toward partners perceived to be "wrong" for them, and they do so in spite of being blessed with happily-married parents.
Still, for those of us who have experienced it in the various kinds of arrangements it offers, divorce leaves us noticeably jaded.
Divorce is our impending doom; it's like a dormant virus that lives in our blood and can manifest itself in any shape or form, whenever it sees fit.
But, despite my shaken core, I'm beginning to regain my faith in humanity. The same statistics that shun the Baby Boomer era show the divorce rate is now on the decline. It's a statistic that presents a glimmering beacon of hope for the future of our generation.
Though my father's leaving left a permanent hole in my heart, these numbers mean even the offspring of divorced unions will eventually make more resilient decisions than the generation before us.
We can reasonably believe our children won't have the same issues we do when it comes to love, and especially when it comes to choosing partners.
Eh, a girl can dream.