|For the purposes of this paper, we shall define love as a gentle sense of acceptance which is a subtle yet profound ‘force’ in its own right. Of course it plays a role, a vital role, in relationships, but it is easily overwhelmed when emotional currents surge forth in us.
Relationships are not glued together with love, but with need . . . inter-dependant need. When any party in a relationship no longer feels the need of what the relationship has to offer they drop out of the relationship . . . or, when any party seeks and/or finds another relationship which gives them more of what they need, they switch . . . or, if other needs arise and the current relationship doesn’t fulfill them, they leave if there is no overriding need to stay. Need is the driving force behind what we do and don’t do. Pondering the nature of need, then, is key to understand the dynamics of relationships.
First, need seems closely linked to ‘fear’ (fear is the unpleasant feeling caused either by an actual, or perceived, possibility of losing what we need). This need/fear response is the fundamental biological ‘tool’ of survival. Need/fear makes our choices, not ‘free will’ (a myth central to our cultural paradigm). We think we choose because we need to feel we have control over our circumstances. We ceaselessly struggle toward that end. But the motive for this struggle is the primordial survival instinct—need and fear—over which we have no control.
We don’t see ourselves as we really are, but rather as we think we are. Those thoughts being laid down from year one to puberty (with minor modifications throughout our lifetime). Then our need / fear response causes us to adhere to this ‘thought of self’. Furthermore, the general (and ceaseless) process of thinking re-enforces this ‘thought of self’.
Now, back to relationships…
One of many needs that relationships satisfy is companionship. But this is far easier to meet than other needs. I think the fear of losing what ever need your relationship satisfies will keep you in that relationship until you are feel secure enough to let go and venture forth to meet more pressing needs. It can be a kind of a tug-of-war, a la, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”.
When basic needs are met, like food, shelter, security, and companionship, then we innately (biological instinct) search for what ever appears to be missing from our life. This becomes the current need. It’s important to note that the biological experience (emotionally speaking) of needing food and ‘needing’ a Cadillac are the same. As an observer we can sit by and judge other people’s needs (which we don’t share) as being frivolous, but to them it’s a valid need. And of course to us, our own needs aren’t frivolous. They are immediate and intense depending on the depth we feel that need.
Before I digress into more Cadillac examples, let me conclude with an anecdote. My exwife stayed in our relationship until she matured and outgrew the need for what I had to offer. As that need (a need for a father figure probably) dwindled, it became increasingly replaced by the need to “be herself”. Actually that really meant being in a relationship which fulfilled what she needed most. And what was that? Deep down she needed to be in the leadership role in the relationship. Deep down that is also my natural role. So she met a fellow who is milder than she—she can embody the ‘strong’ personality. Likewise with me, my wife feels more comfortable in the follower role so is at home with me being ‘head of the house’. Now, we’ll be together as long as we are comfortable in our interdependent roles. I suspect that neither of us will change in that regard, still, if it does, we’d be finished as a relationship.