Why Human Relationships?

If the thread is perception and perception is growth then why bother about society? why marriage? what is the need to connect with people and form deep relationships? Would it not suffice if we live alone and experience things larger than self? These are curious questions from my student crowd and I wouldn't be surprised if you also are having similar questions.

Before jumping into maximising your max potential, let's understand our needs from a biological standpoint.

When we speak about needs, it is important to discuss the Maslow's hierarchy of needs. In 1940s Abraham Maslow published a theory of needs. He structured it in levels as shown below.

In 1940s this model made sense. With World Wars and depressions, it is understandable that physiological needs came first but biologically speaking, this model is wrong. If you look deeply into our brain structure, we are social animals. We have mirror neurons which keeps our social side of the brain is always active. While we use different parts of our brains at different contexts, the social brain is always on and vigilant.

Take a simple case that we have all witnessed. A mother in poverty will feed her child first before she has her meal. She is willing to sacrifice her meal for the survival of the children. She doesn't care about her physiological needs before her social needs. It is an innate behavior.

Take our own daily lives: we don't drop all other needs when there is a dominant need. For example, you don't drop your self esteem needs or stability needs or career progress because you are hungry that afternoon. In my view, Maslow hierarchy needs an update. Here is my updated version of hierarchy of needs. In my version, social needs come first as that is our biological basis. Social needs are primary.

Biologically speaking we are social animals. We need human relationships to survive and thrive. In the entire animal kingdom, human children have the longest dependency period. To get properly enculturated it takes almost 16-18 years for a human baby and it needs protection during this time. Our cortex takes that long to program itself. Hence 21 years is the ideal age of adulting. Till then human intelligence is not fully developed. In that period cooperation is absolutely necessary. The bonding between mother and child is long term and continues beyond this period.

Several studies (including the 75 years long Harvard study) have shown that authentic and meaningful relationships are core for human happiness. A well structured internal psyche is important for human sanity and the human relationships hold them together. In your life, you would have witnessed that you inner circle keeps you in check. The close knit relationships can tell you, when you behave arrogantly, when you cross the line, when you say something that is hurtful etc. In simple words, our relationships keep us sane and help us learn better.

Then why not just be with family and why we look for partners, might be the next question in your mind.

Pair bonding is a common construct in animal kingdom. It helps the animals to procreate. They stay together for long term, so that they can keep each other sane, survive in a complex society and raise the children together. Neurobiologically speaking, the pair bond activates the same circuits in our brains as that of a mother and child bonding. Innately we refer to our spouse/pair bonds as baby or honey or a child. The typical question, that pops here is, why not live together and why marriage?

Marriage is a commitment for the longest term to distribute sanity. It keeps the order between two individuals despite their limitations and blind spots. It also keeps the order in the society with distributed sanity. If the female/male chose their partners then the sex ratios will disturb the distribution. One high demand male will have a lot of female partners & vice versa, leaving a lot of men/women partner less. On the other hand, one high demand individual will not be able to nurture a deep authentic relationship with one person, as the demands pull them in multiple directions. Sexual attraction vs a committed relationship are two different things. Authentic intimacy in a relationship is not built on attraction but on honesty, trust and conversations.

A marriage (and especially monogamous marriage) helps in long term conversations, dialogues and negotiation to work things out between the two people involved. The working out in a long term is essential as it takes so much to course correct and stay sane. Tips for long term marriage and why casual relationships/live-ins are detrimental to your sanity for another day.

In summary, human relationships and connects are a must for your sanity, perception, learning, course correction and more. It is hard to be isolated. Loneliness kills more than cancer. The risk is 32% more. Nurturing a high quality inner circle and a community that fosters belonging is a necessity. Knowing that you need one is the first step.

🥂 to human bonds!

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