As a body image and sexuality coach, one of the messages I try to help people internalize is that they are worthy of sexual desire — of both being the desirer-er and being desired — no matter how closely they conform to the narrow and arbitrary standards of sexiness that their era and culture has imposed on them.
And I truly believe this. We are all worthy of desire.
But does this mean we get to go around acting like everyone should be attracted to us? Does being worthy of desire mean that when someone isn’t interested, it’s because they are a superficial jerk who has been brainwashed to only feel attraction toward eternally young women with Barbie-like proportions or men who make six figures while living at the gym?
No, it doesn’t mean that. Because that’s not worthiness. That’s entitlement.
What’s the difference?
A few years ago, I hit a sweet spot between confidence and humility that allowed me to react the same way if someone was interested in me, or if they rejected me, which was this: “I totally get that.”
At the time, I wouldn’t have considered myself to feel particularly “worthy,” because in my mind, worthiness was just a form of entitlement disguised in spiritual language. I was under the impression that believing I was”worthy” of something meant I thought it was owed to them. That I should get it.
But this past year, as part of my coaching certification program, we spent an entire module learning how to help clients connect to their worthiness, and I realized I had misunderstood the whole thing. Here’s the difference:
Worthiness is being able to accept someone’s love and desire for you as something that totally make sense. You understand how someone could be drawn to you and love you. When it happens, you don’t question it and think something must be wrong with the person who feels that way about you — you can receive it and feel GREAT about receiving it. You’re worthy of it: from others and from yourself.
Entitlement is expecting people to love you or want you (perhaps even having a compulsive and desperate need for them to) and getting outraged when they don’t, as though an injustice has taken place. Lacking the self-awareness and humility to understand that you aren’t for everyone, and no one owes you their bodies or desire.
The same concepts apply to money. To know that you are worthy of making six figures simply means that you do not have resistance to it. You know that what you offer is worth the amount you charge to someone who values it as much as you do. When someone sees the value that your work offers them, and they are willing to pay you top dollar for it, you can readily accept it from them without a voice of inner resistance telling you “you don’t deserve this.”
Being entitled about money, on the other hand, is when you get upset when other people don’t value what you are offering at the price point you’re asking. You believe that they owe you that money — that you are being wronged somehow when people aren’t willing to pay you what you think you’re worth, as though value is objective and universal. (It’s not.)
Lessons on Worthiness and Entitlement from Incel Culture
For those who aren’t already familiar with the term, here is the definition of Incel from Urban Dictionary:
“…a person (usually male) who has a horrible personality and treats women like sexual objects and thinks his lack of a sex life comes from being “ugly” when it’s really just his blatant sexism and terrible attitude. Incels have little to no self awareness…They believe that women owe them sex, and many of the more extreme incels like to spend time in incel communities on the internet coming up with ways to make women have sex with them…”
This mentality makes me cringe, and it’s something I want to distance myself from as much as possible.
However, just thinking about these extreme entitlement attitudes has made me more aware of my own sex and love entitlement behaviors.
For example, if someone expresses a body type preference that does not align with my own (e.g. large breasts or long legs) my knee-jerk reaction is typically to knee the jerk in his balls. Not because he had the preference, but because I feel entitled to not have to know about it. (Anyone else with me on that?)
I mean, how dare he imply that I’m not everything he could possibly want in a woman, when I’m standing right there! So rude.
The worthiness shift
Fortunately, I’ve learned to accept the fact that I — my appearance and personality and values and everything about me — am not for everyone, and that’s totally fine. I no longer feel so offended by someone’s real or perceived non-attraction toward me, because I believe in my own value, and I believe in my own unique beauty. These beliefs open the door to receiving the love and desire I am worthy of.
Worthiness also makes it possible for you to own your desires — to unapologetically pursue the romance, career, impact, and abundance that you really want, and to express your own preferences and opinions. You are not entitled to any specific response from others when you do this, but you are worthy of having, expressing, and pursuing your desires.
When my fiance tells me I’m beautiful, I believe him. I let it in. I think to myself “hell yeah, I’m gorgeous, and I’m glad he sees it.” If other people don’t see it, that’s fine. They’re not wrong for not seeing it, or for having another “type” or whatever the case may be. Healthy worthiness says, “If you’re into me, I get that. If not, I get that too.”
Entitlement says, “If you’re not into me, something is broken, and it’s you. An injustice has occurred and I’m going to throw a fit until someone gives me what I deserve.”
Which attitude are you bringing to sex and love?