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love is too often little more than a deficiency need met



relationships • 22.12.05

I've come to realise I don't like people much. It's not just the ordinary slow burn cynicism I'm talking about, the stuff that comes to most of us with time. It’s something more fundamental. It's the realisation after scanning thirty years of adult life that it's the connection I like before the people themselves. The respect, affection and good will I have enjoyed with others, the benefits of communication and intimacy, of moments shared that mark the memory, of the involved social and professional life, I think all those have had much more to do with a deficiency in me being catered to than anything more fanciful.

I say this in the interests of analysis, aware that it is only the furthest gone of curmudgeons who would ordinarily state such a case. But really, I think it is so for most folk if they are honest with themselves: it's the neediness that does it. With human contact a need is fulfilled in the same way food fulfils the needs of the body.

You can see this at work when deficiency requirements change with time. When a need is no longer pressing, or when it is catered to in some other way, then connections get broken. Compare for example when the population lived off the land huddled in small-holdings, forced into communities for survival, compare that with the modern day and its more atomised lifestyles. Soon as it wasn't a base requirement the extended family with its close communal existence got dumped in favour of something more individualistic.

The bonds and camaraderie that grew from those forced communities were often romanticised and understood to be about love of kin. A similar sentimentality is indulged these days with the nuclear family. Despite the manifest disasters of matrimony and its spiralling failure rate people still cleave to it. They seek moral kudos for doing so and even demand concessions. There is a marked hypocrisy in this given the selfishness engendered in families and the poor quality relationships that proliferate. I feel there is something rotten in the heart of family life. Perhaps in time it will go the same way as the old dependent communities. It will atrophy soon as it is seen to be detrimental to emotional development and societies find alternative ways of upholding partnerships.

Simply said: when people can win for themselves some private space free from the constraints of others while still enjoying the security of connection, that advantage is almost always taken up. This indicates the drive to relationships coming from need before any other refined aspect. That need is more material than spiritual. What is good for material subsistence is also good for the psychological of course so this is not hard to appreciate. Nor should it be exaggerated into something it's not. Love is too often little more than a deficiency need met, largely a material one with emotional import. What I'm saying is that if humans didn't have dependency needs of others then they wouldn't rush so much to bond or at least the bonds would be made with respect to other criteria. It is the possibilities of these other criteria that is my area of interest. If love is worthy of its name it is to be found in these connections, dare I say, more elevated and less materialistic.