Is our “need”/want to be with someone biologically controlled, influenced by society or a bit of both?

18 Mar

Rob ponders relationships. Do we have to or do we want to have them?

Rob Kneebone

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.


9 Responses to “Is our “need”/want to be with someone biologically controlled, influenced by society or a bit of both?”

  1. Team Oyeniyi March 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    I think we are pack animals, but living in packs is not so well regarded these days, so we stick to the concept of the nuclear family (in western civilisation anyway) as a sort of approximation.

    Clans, tribes, extended families……. we live in smaller households now than we have ever done before in history.

  2. rob March 19, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

  3. rob Kneebone March 19, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    my friend read this and said I sound like Carrie Bradshaw (from Sex and the City)! I can see her point! 🙂

    • Team Oyeniyi March 19, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

      Yes, I would agree with that now I think about it!

      • rob Kneebone March 19, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

        ha :)It wasn’t my intention, although when I wrote it the other night, I was sitting at my laptop with a coffee staring out the window 🙂

  4. gypsywife March 19, 2011 at 10:05 pm #

    I can sit with the desire for flesh on flesh and companionship generally but cannot comprehend that unthinking need to be “partnered” continually, makes me feel claustrophobic just thinking about it. One of the things I have realised is that too often we rely on someone else to fill our well other than taking responsibility ourselves to stay full and no wonder relationships then fall apart if we are projecting all that need and expectation onto one other! It is a wonder to me that any relationship works, and a rather depressing thought that most don`t, the people are just thrown together and trapped because they don`t have the means or imagination to free themselves. I do think that a lot of this is another example of our considerably lost and deranged western culture, within indigenous communities and more enlightened people here too, there is much more of a tribal, extended consciousness..more female bonding, male bonding..much less intense expectations of one another, less intense parenting between two parents and no other, less hang ups about commitment…that is not to say there is more “infidelity”, just less expectation that the person you have sex with must also be the person you do absolutely everything else with for the rest of your days!

    Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet has some wise and astute things to say about love, marriage, children/parenting…and have I ever shared this with you?


    personally I don`t think you have to be “single” in the accepted sense to understand this. I think that all of us are “single” just as much as we are also “one with all that is.” In our culture we seem to have lost a sense of both of these truths..we don`t comprehend that we are all alone and we don`t comprehend that we are all One. That way we can slope the responsibility of maintaining our own wellness and wholeness and deny the bond with all-that-is and thoughtlessly and unaccountably make war and destruction on the big scale or thoughtless and needy, greedy sex without love on the other…

    • Team Oyeniyi March 22, 2011 at 9:34 am #

      “just less expectation that the person you have sex with must also be the person you do absolutely everything else with for the rest of your days!”

      I agree totally with that. I have witnessed the “more male bonding”, “more female bonding” first hand in my husband’s culture.

      Western culture has a lot to answer for in some respects. The nuclear family is not a replacement for other interactions.

  5. rob March 21, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

    Great comment!

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