Updated: Dec 21, 2020
The pain coming from relationship hurts is perhaps the most agonizing pain of all pains. This is because lacking a relationship in which you feel you have each other’s back 100% makes the difference between feeling “alone in the world” or having that special one who is 100% there for you.
As human beings, we may learn resilience through recovering from traumatic events, but no matter how resilient we become, we also are physically fragile in nature. As mammals, we find strength and respite from the stresses of the world in the power of two. We may have a large frontal (thinking) cortex in our brains, but we are also still mammals by nature. One important feature of mammals is that when in stress, they seek others for bonding. Bonding protects mammals in stressful times.
While our "mind" / frontal cortex thinks of complex possible scenarios that can happen in the future, our primitive areas of the brain (associated to emotional reactions) can get us dully stuck in the past. The reptilian brain - evolutionary speaking, the oldest part of our brain - keeps track of every traumatic event and reminds us of what seems unsafe. Don't do that, don't get there. Don't go for another hurt!
We are as 'primitive' as we are sophisticated: we function in more than one dimension at the time. We are multi-dimensional beings. We have physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual needs. Seeking the love of our life, our soul mate, our life-long partner represents seeking that special one who (ideally) would meet our basic needs for companionship. Needs for physical and emotional closeness. Needs for intellectual stimulation, and social interaction. Needs for shared values.
In a world where individual needs and independence are considered the highest value, some people get confused about the relationship between becoming an "individual" and being "independent." Having needs and trying to meet some of these needs through an intimate relationship is frequently associated with a label of “neediness” or “weakness.” We have been brain washed by a culture that values individualism and “being on your own.” We are convinced that we need to be fully independent when in reality we are never independent.
We are "interdependent" with each other and with the world around us.
Our need for companionship and intimate relationship stems out from basic human physiology. We need each other, we find solace and decrease stress by bonding with another human being. We also form deep bonds with other species, but there is a very particular bond that we can form with another human being who listens and interacts with us at various levels.
We need to experience a sense of being fully there for each other multi-dimensionally: physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
As a biologist who was trained on neurosciences and stress physiology, this concept was "intellectually" easy to understand for me. As a student of spiritual wisdom of many traditions, I understood that my search for ultimate independence was interfering with my bio-psycho-social-spiritual needs. As a "trained" modern independent woman"- it felt easier said than done! Letting go of my beliefs about independence and accepting the fragile aspects of my nature was a real challenge. This is a challenge that transcends gender, education, and a few more classifications...
If bonding in intimate relationship was such a natural physiological reality, why is it that intimate relationships are so difficult to negotiate for most of us?
The answer to such philosophical question (or at least my answer) may be found here.