The need to form relationships seems to be built into the DNA of humanity. We are, after all, a social species, and though each of us is born, lives our entire lives, and dies within a cage of bone, muscle, and tissue, relationships enable us to feel connected to others of our species. Our relationships define us, and their importance to making us who we are cannot be measured. Relationships are essential to emotional growth and development, and both the soul and, it has been proven, the body are stunted without it. The very thought that there are, in fact, a very few individuals among the 7 billion-plus of us who, for whatever reason, are unable or in some manner denied the opportunity to establish some sort of relationship with another human being is both terrifying and infinitely sad.
Most people give little thought to the power or importance of relationships. Why should they? They are, to most, as natural a part of life as breathing. There are an almost infinite number of types of relationship, and an almost infinite number of levels within each type, that attempting anything other than a cursory examination can become mind-boggling.
The most elemental of human relationships is that between parents and their children, and creates a very intense and unique bonding we define as love. Like a stone dropped onto a calm surface of water, this primary human relationship radiates concentric circles of relationships of varying intensity. Secondary to the parent/child relationship are relationships to siblings and relatives and then friends and acquaintances, social and work. And each level of relationship provides another element essential to human existence: validity of one's worth.
Of all the types of relationship, romantic relationships are unique in that they involve a factor not present in any other: sexual attraction.
I consider it one of the greatest deprivations in my life the fact that I do not have--and undoubtedly never will have again--one other human being with whom I can share that most special of relationships; the sense of being one half of a whole. And as a soul-deep romantic, it's impossible to really convey what this lack means. And there are vast numbers of people who, as they grow older, see the vital inner ripples of relationships...parents, siblings, close friends...disappear from their lives. Being able to adjust to these losses, to substitute other forms of validation, is essential to maintaining stability.
Fortunately, I have a few close friends with whom I can share much of my life, whose company I enjoy, and whose emotional support I can always rely upon. I can't imagine being without it. I am closer to my best friend, Gary, probably, than I am to anyone else with the possible exception of my relatives, and yet, as much as I treasure it, it is utterly devoid of the element of romantic love. (The very idea of there being anything even remotely romantic between the two of us would produce the same result as chewing tinfoil.) Yet I am often amused by the fact that many people, who see us together nearly every day, seem to automatically assume that we are something more than we are.
One of my favorite TV shows is Supernatural, the adventures of two brothers devoted to fighting various demons, ghouls, ghosties, shape-shifters, and other unworldly creatures. That I find the actors playing the brothers extremely attractive is amplified by the fact that, in the show, they are often mistaken for lovers.
In the final analysis, it is not necessary for us to make charts and graphs of our relationships, or of what elements comprise them. That would be rather like peeling all the petals off a rose just to see what makes it beautiful. Let it suffice that we be perhaps a little more aware of the value of the relationships in our lives, and considerably more grateful for having them.
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back.