The way that I see it, I have an inner bank account with a certain amount of emotional “cash” to give. The currency’s similar to emotional availability but not quite the same. It’s relevant whether I’m in a relationship or not, but I need to be at a certain level in order to be able to fully show up for dating.
- Emotional currency is what dictates my state of being. How I am in the world is driven by the emotional currency I have in the bank. If I’m happy-go-lucky and feeling energized, I generally have some metaphorical cash in the bank. If I’m feeling blah and without energy, my stash is likely running low.
- Sometimes I have it, sometimes I don’t. It’s funny to be dating online because my level of availability can oscillate wildly. I’ll have a few days where I’m totally psyched to be trying to meet people this way—I’m answering and sending tons of messages and I’m all pumped to be talking to new people. Other days, a super dreamy person could send me a message and I’m like, “Ugh, not today.” The currency in the bank is a day-to-day thing. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not.
- Varying levels of emotional currency lead me to make different decisions in dating. Sometimes I have just enough emotional currency that I’m pretty excited but also chill. This may be the healthiest level to be at. I could also be a little low but still have some currency, so this is when I’ll push myself to go on a date even when I’m a bit tired. Like many people, my actions are dictated by how I’m feeling at any given moment.
- When my emotional currency is low, everything suffers. Being exhausted around dating, not being excited about people I normally would be excited about, and either being completely blase when something doesn’t work out or freaking out—these are all signs of having little to no emotional currency in the bank. It’s not a great feeling, but it happens.
- When my balance is high, I feel like I am too. Having the energy to respond to online dating messages, being excited about first dates, and being somewhat even keel when something doesn’t work out are all signs of having emotional currency in the bank. I love being on that high even if the people I meet don’t necessarily pan out.
- All sorts of things affect my levels. I’m talking all about this emotional currency—what to do with it and what not to do with it—but I haven’t talked about its origins yet. These reserves are a product of self-care, health/mental health, circumstance, timing, and other things. There are so many pieces that can affect my levels, but some major ones are how much dating I’ve been doing, sleep quality, what’s going on in my life at any given time, and my mental health status.
- My levels may be deeply affected by my mental illness. My levels of emotional currency are pretty sensitive to variation due to my mental illness. My diagnosis is bipolar, so swinging from one extreme to another is something that I’m quite used to. I’ve learned how to navigate the frequent changes but it can be tough at times.
- There are ways I can nourish my emotional currency. My level of cash in the bank isn’t just something that happens to me. It’s something that I can actively cultivate. Getting to bed on time, surrounding myself with good people, saying no to things that don’t feed my soul, and just generally keeping up on self-care are all biggies to nourish my emotional currency. I also sometimes have to take a break from dating because even the best of it in and of itself can be a suck on my energy.
- Once I’m in a relationship, I have more leeway. I have to say, I’ve been talking exclusively about dating so far. It’s definitely different when I’m in a relationship, though I suppose parts of it are the same. When in a relationship, the person has committed to being with me through the ups and the downs—the low and the high emotional currency. Still, if my reserves are low I might have to just hit the pause button on a fight, not go out for dinner with my partner’s friends, and even spend some time alone. After all, being aware of my emotional currency is about accepting what I need and rejecting what I don’t.