We lose our human connection when we stop communicating with each other.
It seems so obvious, yet so many of us lose sight of this truth in our relationships.
We feel that somehow our partner, friend, or family member is supposed to intuitively know exactly how we feel and understand our precise disposition without us even uttering a word.
This is garbage.
The only way anything ever becomes clear is through articulated speech—and this applies ten-fold in relationships.
Human beings are incredibly complex; there are many layers of who and what we are. There are so many things about ourselves that we are not yet aware of, that we have yet to contend with, which make it impossible for anyone to understand us completely.
We are far too strange to be wholly understood.
That being said, our best chance at connecting with somebody in a sustainable and fulfilling way is through negotiation—through constantly bargaining with that person through each other’s weirdness and strange behavior in attempt to create common ground.
Alain De Botton talks about seeing our partner, or just adults in general, as needy, depraved children who are desperately trying to fulfill their improbable desires. This is greatly helpful in navigating our way through interpersonal problems because there ceases to be any expectation that what the other person is saying makes any sense at all.
It is a quite realistic approach, because many of our actions are done to redeem some early childhood experiences.
What we want in relationship isn’t always going to be reasonable. There must be some degree of negotiation taking place to have a mutually beneficial connection.
What is it that we really want in relationships anyhow? What is the purpose of human connection?
To be seen, and to see oneself in one other.
The essence of human connection is to shatter the boundary between subject and object, to break through the division between “self” and “other.” When we successfully achieve this, we cease to feel like isolated observers moving through a foreign universe alone.
Instead, we feel like active participants in the movement of life—this is a much more comforting feeling to have. That abiding sense of loneliness and confusion comes to an end, and in its place arises a sense of communion with the outside world.
This is the feeling that we are after—particularly in the domain of love.
To feel this way all the time is entirely unrealistic, just as feeling completely aligned with and connected to our partner all the time is entirely unrealistic.
For this reason we must negotiate, just as we negotiate with ourselves when a candy bar looks so delightful but conflicts with our diet, or when it’s a nice day out and the beach sounds wonderful but we have a strict work regimen.
Negotiations with a partner are predicated upon two things: assertion that we have deeply-rooted desires and insecurities that must be acknowledged, and willingness to put some of those things to bed to maintain the adequacy of the relationship.
We have to admit when we are wrong, or rather admit we don’t know everything and aren’t the proprietors of absolute truth.
Self-righteousness has no place in love.
I like the term “partner,” because true relationship really is like that. We work together to build this connection, and ultimately the relationship must take credences over our little annoyances and peculiarities.
Of course, if those annoyances and peculiarities add up, we have ourselves a real dilemma. But generally speaking, if we truly care for each other, these things can be rightly dealt with and overcome.
Relationships are a beautiful thing, even when what I said here alludes to the contrary. There is nothing more powerful in the universe than an agreement between two people to love each other, so this is something that must be truly honored.
We honor this agreement through engaging in the processes of self-expression and communication. Honesty is key, as brutal as it may be, and it can only manifest through articulated speech.
Let’s speak our minds, and at once admit that our minds can be totally incoherent much of the time. Sometimes we’ll be a bit off, and other times they’ll be slightly askew, but the underlying aspiration is one of mutual understanding—truly moving in accordance with each other.
If we remain present with this intention and the willingness to negotiate to maintain this commitment, then it is quite likely good things will happen.
Author: Samuel Kronen,
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman
Social Editor: Callie Rushton