Why Do So Many People Want To Be in a Relationship?

Why Do People Want To Be in a Relationship?

Why Do People Want To Be in Relationships?

Sharing your life with someone else. Always being together: if not in person, then at least in mind. Sharing in the other person’s pain (but also in their happiness of course). Always having an obligation to someone. Not being fully free.

These are merely some of the consequences of being in a relationship. I wonder: what draws so many people into a relationship? Why do so many people appear to have the urge to always have that other special person in their lives?

Is it is to share your feelings and ideas with someone who truly cares about you? Who doesn’t judge you, who wishes the best for you and tries to help you? That might be true, but it seems like you don’t have to be in a relationship to have such experiences. You might just as well talk to friends – who by definition care about you, want the best for you and try to help you – and achieve pretty much the same results.

Is it for sex then? To have sexual intercourse with someone regularly without having to go through the seduction process over and over again? Maybe, but again: you don’t need to be in a relationship for that. You can have sex with pretty much anyone who wants to have sex with you; also with the same person, so that you don’t have to go through the seduction process over and over again. ‘But’, someone might object, ‘sex with someone you’re not in a relationship with is less intimate in some way, than sex with your girlfriend/boyfriend.’ But is it really? Because why would the fact that you are in relationship with someone, which appears to be nothing but a social construct, add to the intimacy of sex? It might be that being in love with each other does, but then again: you don’t need to be in a relationship to have that experience.

So why then, if not for companionship or sex?

Maybe it is to boost our own perception of ourselves. Maybe it is the idea that we mean so much to someone that that person is willing to give up a large part of their lives, time and bodies for us. And the prettier, smarter, kinder that other person is, the more special it is that that person chooses you. And it might just be that feeling of possession that we, insecure humans, crave for, and why we value being in a relationship with someone.

Or maybe it is because it is just the normal thing to do, according to the unwritten rules of society. But one could question whether this is ever a good reason to do anything.

The best reason I can think of is when you plan on having, or actually have, children with someone. For in case you have children with someone, it might only be fair towards that person to devote all your resources to him/her and your children – if only because it might be best for your children, which from an evolutionary perspective seems an important consideration in one’s actions. However, I doubt many teenagers, or people in their twenties, consciously decide to get into a relationship with someone for this reason.

None of this is of course a problem; not if both parties agree to the relationship. But it might shed light on the not-so-conscious reasons that drive people into a relationship.

Trust and Having Three Locks on the Door

I was looking out of my window, staring into the night, and saw my neighbor returning to her home from – what seemed to have been – a late night walk. She opened her door and – when she was inside – closed it. She not only closed it, but she locked it as well: with three separate locks. But why did she do that? Why three locks? Why not merely one or two? The answer is as simple as it is frightening: because we can’t trust each other. We don’t know what other people’s plans are. We might have worked hard in order to buy our flatscreen television, but others might have another interpretation of what “working hard” consists of. Robbing a middle-aged woman is – after all – not as easy as it might look.

This morning I went to the grocery store. In front of me, in the queue, stood an old lady. She was paying for her groceries, by pin. When she was about to enter her pin-code, she threw a look at me: a suspicious look. A look as if I would rob her of her pin-pass, if only I would have the chance.

I was going on holiday with a couple of friends of mine, and we were booking a flight. When the point came at which one of us had to pay for the flight up front, assuming that the others would pay him back at a later point in time, each one of us hesitated to take the offer.

If you want to trust someone, you better share your secrets with one person only, and that person is yourself. And even that person isn’t fully reliable. Even that person might come to change his mind and break his part of the deal. Because the “you of tomorrow” might have different needs than the “you of today”. While the “you of today” might intend to save money in order to pay for his education, the “you of tomorrow” might really like to buy that MacBook.

People have different interests, and different means for satisfying these interests. While some might be good in football and make tons of money with it, others might be good in carpentry and make not so much money with it. And some people don’t know where they’re good at, so they decide to make use of those who know where they’re good at. And although we can’t blame anyone for not having the required means at his disposal, we might doubt the morality of those who (ab)use the talents of others.

But what if morality would be a talent too? What if, just like soccer and carpentry, morality is just another quality ingrained – or not ingrained – in a person’s nature? Are we then still allowed to blame those whom seemingly lack this sense of morality? Or is this just the way they are, are they just using their “moral means” at full power? Or what if morality is only reserved for the few lucky ones? The ones who can afford to be moral, because they possess all the resources allowing them to live a moral life? Isn’t morality a luxury, like a MacBook or a mobile phone? A secondary need, only relevant for those who have passed the first layers on the survival-ladder?

Maybe…but it’s still a good idea to lock your doors.

But what do you think?

The Digital World is The Real World

What’s the difference between a human and a tree? Well, frankly, I don’t know: at least not by looking at the manner in which we act around each of these objects. I mean: don’t you notice that most of us, whenever we cross another person’s path, whether this is on the street or in the park, just plainly ignore him? That while you are walking the dog, and there is no-one but you, the dog and the person you pass by, that you don’t even make the effort to say hello; not even to watch the other person in the eyes? What is going on here? Where did it all go wrong?

I might be exaggerating, but if so that is because I find this to be a very sad observation of the way our society appears to function. I find it sad that we as a species are too drowned in our own little worlds to open our mouths or eyes to validate the existence of a fellow species member. That we rather send an extra WhatsApp message, than that we nod generously to the old lady living next door.

But the truth of the matter is that we are all living on our own little islands. We are living in our own little worlds, and it is within these little worlds that we are king. And despite the smartphones and technologies, the Facebooks and the Twitters, the gap between our outer and inner worlds is becoming wider and wider. Today’s 14 year olds have never lived in a world without social media, a world without Facebook and WhatsApp, without likes and group chats. And even though our isolation might reach its peak in our real lives, it is in the digital world that every form of privacy, autonomy and deliberation has been extinguished. The boundaries have blurred, our real lives have switched. Being ‘AFK’ has crossed the boundaries of the World of Warcraft, and entered the real-world human domain. Connection equals life, being plugged out equals being dead. Having a friend has decreased in value, and the fact that we get hundreds of them in return can’t possible make up for that.

But maybe this way of living is the only way for us to live together, for us to be around so many of our own kind without losing our minds; without being scrutinized by real-world physical eyes reminding us of our mortality. Facebook makes us in charge of our boundaries, of our identity, of what we want to share and what not, of how far we want others to invade in our wolds, to let them know about our victories and our losses. Artificiality empowers us. And given this huge amount of power we have in the digital world, why would we even want to interact with non-digital people? Everyone we want to know, we are connected to via the internet. And that’s enough. We can’t manage two worlds at once, not the digital world and the real world. That would be too much. So let’s shut down the real world, let’s put it offline, and focus on our really real words: the World of Warcraft, the world of silicon chips and the world of tweets.

We are one step removed from total connection, from chips in our heads rendering superfluous any face-to-face communication. The ‘we’ that we once were are dead, the us that we have become are born. Happy lives to us all.

But what do you think?

Social Value: Friendship or Fame?

“I am not really supposed to say this, since I promised John I wouldn’t tell anyone, but do you know what he told me? I will tell you if you promise – absolutely promise – that you won’t tell anyone, okay?”

Secrets and insecurity mix like candy and children: those who have got it, think they have got something valuable, something that others might want to have. Something that makes them being appreciated by others. After all, who doesn’t want to hear a big fat rumor about that chick on college that “allegedly” has some kind of affair with the crippled teacher? That’s awesome to know, right? Because, now you know it, you have increased your value, you have increased the number of likes on your Facebook-page, you have got a check that you can cash at any time you want. And why would it even matter that you promised someone that you wouldn’t tell anyone about his or her little secret? I mean: the people you tell the secret to aren’t going to spread it, right? Of course not. Not if they just shut their mouths and stick to their promises. Just like you almost managed to do.

Choices, choices. Considerations, considerations. Friendship or popularity, comfort or fame. Considerations, considerations. What would you do? Would you hear the confession and leave it with that? Or would you use this precious little inside information for increasing your very own social value? Difficult, difficult. A stock broker would cash his inside information, right? Exploit it to the fullest. And so should you, right?

Friendship without trust is like shitting on a broken toilet: it just gets messy. And after a while, you decide to take your shit elsewhere, away from the leaky toilet. Betraying your friends’ confidence is like the buying of derivatives in reverse: instead of you distributing the risk among the many happy buyers, thereby decreasing your own risk, the more happy buyers that buy your pretty little rumors, the bigger the risk you carry will get. And although high risks go hand in hand with high pay-offs, you should have balls of steel in order to cope with it. Because if someone snitches, the pyramid of conspiracy collapses, and it will all come back to the source: the leaky insecure source that is you. The source whose longing for social value was higher than the loyalty to his friends. And now, as the crisis has taken off, you have lost all of your value. You are bankrupt. You not only lost the respect of the periphery of your social circle, whose hypocrisy resides in the fact that they like to spread tasty rumors on the one hand, just to increase their own social value, but – when they get caught – scream that loyalty is the biggest virtue of mankind. No, you lost something far more valuable. You lost the core, the fire that was there to warm your hands and absorb your confessions. Your friend, your trust, your dignity. It’s gone. It’s all gone.

So what do you do? Love your friends or enjoy the fame? Get a steady pay-off or go for the highest of profits? It’s up to you.

What do you think?

Honesty and Friendship: A Good Combination?

Should you always be honest with your friends?

Should you always be honest with your friends?

I have to make a confession: I am not always completely honest with the people I talk to. And not only with random people I meet at birthday parties; even with my very own friends. But let’s be truly honest: that’s not shocking, is it? Not because I am such a jerk, but because no-one is always completely honest with his friends, right? A more interesting question would be: should you always be honest with your friends? Being honest might hurt your friend’s feelings, so maybe you should rather lie and keep you and your friend happy, than telling him the ‘painful’ truth, right? Or would that prevent you in some way from bonding – with your friend – on a deeper level? A ‘friend’ level? Or maybe the entire dichotomy – between kindness on the one hand and honesty one the other – is just completely wrong: who says that honesty and kindness cannot go hand in hand? After all, isn’t being honest always a kind gesture, even though the content of this gesture might not always be flattering? Let’s take a look at that.

I am sure you know the dilemma: should you tell your friend the not-so-positive truth or should you lie in order not to cause a stir? Of course you should tell him, you might think. After all, what is the value of friendship without honesty? Isn’t that where friends are for, to be honest with each other, no matter what? No matter how tough the message might be, someone should tell you the truth. And this someone should be your friend, right? But then, after having thought through the consequences of being honest, you might start to think differently: ‘I don’t want to be rude to him. Maybe he’ll think that I am not respecting him. Maybe he’ll avoid me in the future. Maybe I will lose him as a friend.’

We human beings are afraid to be honest. We are afraid that people – including our friends – might not want to hear us say negative things about them, even though these negative things might be said with the best intentions. Friendships are valuable to us; so valuable, that we don’t want to risk losing them. But what if you had to choose between (1) your friends being always honest with you (but not necessarily positive) or (2) your friends always being positive (but not necessarily honest with you)? And, more importantly, what category of friends would you consider to be ‘better’ friends? Not the first category, right? Not those superficial and cowardly creatures. No. A true friend should be willing to tell you the truth, no matter what. That is what true friendship consists of.

But that implies that you should also accept the comments of your friend. That you should be grateful for him having the courage to tell you what he thinks. You would have to show him that he is a true friend to you and that he is valued for being honest with you. Don’t criticize your friend’s comments. See them as a sign of true friendship. And, on the other side, interpret flattery for what it really is: a mask to hide feelings of insecurity and neediness.

To end on a personal note: I believe that you should always be able to tell your friends the truth. And if it turns out that they cannot handle the truth, then you probably weren’t true friends in the first place, right? On the other hand, we all want to be happy and sometimes hearing the truth might make us sad. After all, how happy would we be if everyone around us, including our friends, would constantly share their negative – but true – conceptions of us? Nonetheless, we must grow up and dare to face the storm of well-intended criticism. Because you will never be able to improve if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong.

But what do you think?