Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Thought Picnic: Appreciating emotional needs

Separating the morality from the need

I was involved in a discussion early this morning on the matter of relationships and infidelity with a good friend of mine and he suggested I espoused a perspective he did not really consider when he first got wind of the circumstance he shared with me.

I suppose there are people who will consider my views liberal and they probably are but within that thinking I hope to expose some fundamental issues that we fail to pay good heed to.

Now, in my view, relationships can be composed of any gender pairing, the matter of love is just too complex to be constricted to the moralisation that allows for a seemingly religious majority to tyrannically abrade those who do not subscribe to a particular norm.

Relationships are diverse

The norm can only be derived from the freedom of adults to do what to the participants is the pursuit of happiness and the freedom to associate for the emotional comfort each needs of the other.

From marriages, through civil partnerships to love affairs and casual encounters, there is every possibility that the emotional need is partly satisfied with a sexual encounter – I do not intend to moralise about that apart from say that innately we are all sexual beings after a sort too.

One can only feel for the pressures that companions are under when their partners are not near or a relationship is a long-distance one – much as the fondness and longing is there, either party for all the moral muscle they can exercise is not completely devoid of the need for a cuddle, an embrace, a listening ear and the unplanned encounter leading to error.

Provision is not love

Many can expect their partners to keep themselves but absence cannot be fully compensated for by reason of the bond that is not constantly renewed and rekindled with proximity, presence and physical feeling of your mate.

The theory is simple and valid that a partner who is highly-sexed might seek temporary succour not to establish a parallel affair but in casual encounters that some might call “sleeping around”, it is unfortunate, but in every sense natural and probably should be expected.

However, how the other partner deals with knowledge of that situation is a different thing and that brings me to another issue that needs a bit of analysis.

Too often, partners in a relationship tend to think provision is the equivalent of love, by extension; there are settings where the provider supposes the provision of shelter, food, education and clothing is the full expression of love to their children. The honest truth is that whilst it might be an expression of love it is fundamentally a responsibility.

The emotional need

Love in and of itself ministers to a more ethereal need which is to the emotions, to the feelings, in the expression of concern and in attention to needs that are rarely material.

Sadly, the warped use of provision as a substitute for love schools the thinking into a materialistic mind frame where the provider by listing the material things done automatically expects loyalty, love, chastity and obedience to be the purchased bundle they have acquired by money completely absent of emotional input.

That is not to say that material things are not good and needful but the foundation on which most relationships is based is emotional and to let that pale into insignificance by buying allegiance through gifts or nominal responsibility will not satisfy emotional longing and obligations partners have to each other.

Recovering our emotional quotient

The point is we need to discover better our emotional selves, recognise better the emotional needs of all our relationships; be they marital, familial, casual or any construct where those are intertwined to the pursuit of our mutual happiness and work to ensuring that our obligations are fulfilled.

Where such is not possible, then we need to appreciate that our moral rectitude might not necessarily be as strongly expressed in our partners, our inabilities to satisfy their immediate or long-term emotional needs might well mean they seek that elsewhere.

I will hate to see this read as a license to lasciviousness but the sooner we realise the needs of our humanity and the strengths individuals have along with the disappointments that might ensue, we will better be able to make the best of the times we have together and save many a headache or heartbreak.

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