Making Money Instead Of Love

We all start out in this life looking for love. That’s a fact. But for some people, disappointment is unfortunately what they find. Eventually some give up on love. Love proves to be too difficult to find or too hurtful when it’s found. Or even worse, love doesn’t hang around for very long after it’s found.

For some people, money is a safer bet. So making money is elevated to the most important, or in some cases the exclusive objective in life, and love is demoted to a lesser priority. Let’s talk in more detail about why money is such an easy substitute for love when a person is chronically disappointed with love.

For someone who has been very disappointed with love, there is always the relief that money as the primary motivator is never ‘personal.’ Money is not living. Money is dead, cold, impersonal, but controllable in ways that love is not and can never be. Another strong reason why money can so easily substituted for love is the ‘power’ and ‘security’ it can provide. Love is not good at providing either one of these. Let me explain.

Money provides power because of it’s accumulated value. The more value you’ve accumulated the more power you have to influence other people who also value what you’ve accumulated. Money in essence gets its power from the fact that we are all taught to value money. This collective conditioning gives money its power, in addition of course, to the fact that a certain amount of money is needed to obtain the essentials for survival in a society (e.g. food, shelter, etc.).

Love, on the over hand, does not provide power. In fact, quite the opposite. Love’s tendency is to create feelings of vulnerability in a person. Some people would say, this feeling of vulnerability is a necessary precursor to love. A defensive state of mind where a person is trying to avoid vulnerability, makes it impossible to feel love directly. Defensiveness implies an emphasis on security and protection. Security is the other experience love cannot provide a person. Why?

Money provides security because money as an accumulated value can be used to establish a certain amount of valued ‘control’ in life. Love requires and involves the opposite experience, ‘risk.’ If your priority is money, your focus will be on being as secure as you can possibly be. Threats to that security will occur mostly in the form of losing money. This preoccupation can be very demanding and consuming of time and energy. The point is, people can get lost in the pursuit of security with big sacrifices in their love-life.

Love on the other hand requires a certain amount of risk. What usually happens is, love comes into a person’s life and disturbs the predictable and controllable routines of life that have been set up until then. Now we’ve introduced a wild card, love. It’s common for a person to describe falling in love as a kind of ‘going crazy.’ Everything that mattered, matters less, as the person loved begins to matter more and more until the feeling of not being able to live without him or her takes over. The ‘risk’ involves letting this re-organizing experience occur without running away from it or trying to control it.

For some people, falling in love is a disruptive experience that disturbs their security beyond the point that’s tolerable. They have made a ‘choice’ to stay away from the craziness of love, while substituting a tolerable preoccupation with power and security. Intimacies with other people are kept predictable and controllable. Whatever emotional losses this creates are absorbed into the preoccupation and activity involved in staying in control of the securities of life. Minimal risk is the unconscious emotional objective.

Before concluding this post on the relationship between love and money, I would like to talk in a little more detail about what happens psychologically to a person when the pursuit of money takes the place of love in life. We’ve already talked about a focus on money as a defensive preoccupation that allows a person to avoid the intolerable emotional experience of falling in love. Building from there, what happens when money takes the place of love?

Fundamentally, true love is never judgmental. True love is accepting of individuals just the way they are. True love is egalitarian. All people are created equal regardless of individual differences. Every individual is unique in the eyes of love. Given the uniqueness of individuals, if we must think in terms of value, each and every individual’s ‘worth’ is set at ‘priceless’ with every person being one of a kind. When money is the primary objective in life, equality and uniqueness are lost, and a different set of values are introduced into an individual’s emotional life.

Money values are fundamentally judgmental. Objects, or people for that matter, are comparable relative to their ‘value.’ Everything or everyone has a price. The price of something or someone determines it’s value. The most problematic form of this type of thinking is the way in which human beings can be ‘objectified.’ People becomes ‘objects’ that can be more easily compared relative to some standard of value. The individuality of the people involved is diminished to the point of nonexistence. Manipulating people is experienced as doing things to objects with little or no feelings involved.

For some people money becomes a quick fix for their self-esteem problems. The reasoning goes something like this: I wasn’t loved sufficiently to really feel worthy, so I make money, now I feel like I have ‘worth.’ Another version of this goes something like this: the more I possess, the more I feel substantial as a person. The only problem is, these kinds of temporary solutions never last. They always have to be boosted with a renewed experience of material worth. Otherwise,  a person can begin experiencing a painful feeling of loss. Tragically it’s this painful feeling of loss that is usually involved when a person suicides after a financial failure of some kind.

When ‘money values’ are primary, the following psychological consequences can be expected:

Some people are worth more than others. As I indicated earlier, when money replaces love, people take on a measure of ‘value.’ Some are worth more than others, usually depending upon their particular ‘value’ to the individual or individuals involved. If you happened to be ‘worth less’ for whatever reason, you are considered inferior in this measure of worth.

Everyone has a price. Once people are measured according to some standard of value they are viewed as being able to be ‘bought and sold’ for money. The price may vary as per each individual, but the fundamental assumption is, everyone will sell themselves for the right price. This of course presupposes that human beings have no other standard upon which to build a personal integrity other than money.

People are substitutable based on value. No recognition of unique individuality is needed. If you get into the habit of recognizing the unique individuality of persons (check their thumbprints!), you can no longer substitute one for the other. By the way, this interpersonal skill will enhance your ability to be intimate and love more deeply. The only problem is the feeling of loss you’ll have when that ‘unique’ person is lost. The price you’ll pay for the enhanced ability to love is the experience of grief when you lose the particular individual. If you can get use to this as part of life, it’s not a bad deal given the benefits.

Accumulation beyond personal need. The idea here is more is always better. Personal need is not the standard when money values dominate a lifestyle. The accumulation of money provide greater and greater value and therefore more security, at least on the outside. For people who are dominated by the accumulation of wealth, this particular objective can eclipse most if not all of a person’s emotional life.

Money allows more and more control. The problem here is control, in the way some people would like to have control, is an illusion.  If your value system is dominated by the objectives of power and security, it’s easy to see how being able to control as much of your world as possible would be considered a valuable tool. The problem is, one of our tasks in life is to get used to the fact that certain things are beyond anyone’s control. Boy is this a big pill to swallow for some people. You can see how an excess of accumulated value can predispose someone to challenge what the rest of us are trying to live with. The end result is usually disappointment, perhaps more disappointment than usual because of all the illusion of control the person has ‘bought’ into.

Time is money. This one’s interesting because it’s another example of how the unchecked influence of money can drive you crazy. When making money is the prime objective in life, time itself takes on value. How much time does a person really have to make money? If you think about it, so many other activities are competing for time. If you are a true money addict you will eventually try to make money all the time, or at least most of it. Tell tail signs of this are increased impatience, difficulty sitting still (considered a waste of time), and the general neglect of certain activities in life that are now viewed as taking valuable time away from the accumulation of value.

The last and final money value I’ll present to you my reader involves a developed interest in prostitution. Since love is too risky, ways of buying a feeling of controlled intimacy with other human beings will be of interest. Of course, I’m not just talking about prostitution in the hiring somebody for sex sense of the word. I’m more interested in the ways in which a person who is emotionally relying upon money can try to buy love. When money is what you live for, transactions with attractive people can and do become commercial. You do this for me and I pay you for it. Services rendered and payments made for the various pleasures and satisfactions procured. Now a life has succeeded in being bought and sold. What’s the price for this?

Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan

Posted in

Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

Leave a Comment