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we are each the supplier to the other



relationships • 19.10.05   

Do people engage others - friends, family, partners and all - mainly as a function of biology? I mean do they bond less for reasons of connection, compatibility and love, as is commonly thought, and more out of needs similar to the drives to food, sex and security?

By this account it would be mainly the biological determinant which commits people to each other. This would help explain the base selfishness that seems to pervade relationships. Here, so called love simply takes its place along with all the other impulses common to animals. Here, we are each the supplier to the other and seek out those others accordingly.

What else of relationships? What of altruism, empathy, understanding and compassion? What of the motivation to help someone, to alleviate their suffering in a crisis? I’d say that these things are contingent and invariably absent. And when they are present they can just as often be understood in terms of a different kind of self-interest. At all times the selfish instinct is always there at base. That is not to say it is all there is. It is to say it is all that is ordinarily there.

Still, it is these elevated attributes that interest me more than the ones that are about satisfying feral appetites. And it is these that are lacking in my experience. In the absence of these I stay aloof. I go along with the mutual supplying thing as pretty much the only show in town with a constant eye on the horizon in hope of the exceptional.