Rob ponders relationships. Do we have to or do we want to have them?
Why is it that we all feel the need to have a partner? Why are we not content alone? What does it say about us-as living souls-that we are not comfortable walking through life unless hand-in-hand with another? Sexual desire/in-built instinctual programming to procreate aside, why do we feel such a need to involve ourselves with a companion, after we have done the said necessary ‘biological deed’? This is something I have began to ask myself more and more after the experience of my own relationships with another and witnessing and analysing those around me who are in relationships.
Despite such supposed monogamy, many humans are polygamous and far less faithful to each other than are the 11 or so other species that maintain life-long partnerships: Gibbons, Swans, Wolves, Albatrosses and Turtle Doves are just a few of those to stay together of the entirety of their lives. In the interests of keeping a species from going extinct and carrying forth, nature plants a ‘programmed’ instinct within animals-whereby the males are programmed to spread their genes as much as possible and females are programmed to seek out the best genes from the best males in order to generate the best offspring they can: that is pure biology.
However, monogamy, polygamy and sex aside, what is it that feeds the [less tangible] desire and emotional need we have to become permanently attached to another (whether that be the same partner of many partners in our lifetimes)? Society in itself seems to view gaining a partner a necessity, part of growing up, ensuring you fulfil your life and conform to the ABCDE of life (Education, Career, Partner, Mortgage, Kids-and in that order!). Everything in the modern world seems designed for couples; single people are penalised-from single supplement charges in hotels, to holidays, to taxes, to pensions, to renting a room/house, to food shopping, etc. etc. Apparently being single costs an extra £250,000 over a life-time than it does to be in a relationship! So, do financial benefits act as an additional lure to be with someone? It does seem that we are all conditioned by a degree of brainwashing-from the moment we step inside an educational establishment when we are 4 or 5-with the notion that we must adhere to such a formulaic path in life. There seems to be a social stigma attached to being single; how many times do single people get asked that question: “are you still single?” Tell me, what is wrong with being single? It is as much a choice and right as being in a relationship! The media certainly seems to enforce a sense of guilt or failure upon singletons, with their obsessional reporting on celebrity relationships and marriages-although they do seem to revel on and glamourise the failed side of one’s relationship; this is more though to make the average couple feel better about their own relationship.
Of course we all get lonely-naturally-but is this loneliness caused by our apparent inability to cope alone, as we should be able to do? We all enjoy affection from another and we all have the desire to be romantically or sexually involved with another, but at what point does this desire manifest itself in to wanting to zip yourself to another body and soul permanently? People often refer to their lovers as their “other half”, or if single, “searching for their other half”; does this mean that person feels they are not a whole person if alone? Who knows. It just seems to me that many people jump in to relationships with the first person that comes along, or settle for second best, out of a matter of convenience or fear of winding up a spinster or bachelor. This is why I think so many relationships fail, because people get with incompatible people, because they jumped in head first without thought.
I am not proposing for one minute that people stay single, but I think that being single (whether through personal choice or consequence) should be as celebrated and supported as being in a relationship with someone. After all, we are born alone and we die alone, so we need to be able to cope alone and not have to rely on having someone by our side all the time. To be content alone is to be complete and to be complete and to love yourself is essential in ensuring successful relationships with any other person.