Rethinking Friendships and “Romance”: Our Need for Relationships

By | April 15, 2011

In sorting out what I’ve been thinking, I’ve come up with a number of “bullet point” style ideas. They are either beliefs which I have, or ideas I’m seriously considering. I’m posting them here to communicate my overall paradigm, and numbering them for easy reference.

  1. I believe that we—human beings—are made to be in relationships. The need for love and relationships is a primary, basic human need, right after eating and breathing. (This is how we are created in God’s image.) We seem to have the need to share life with one or more people. So, for example, I may know of many people who love me and who would do what they could to help if I had a specific need. That’s wonderful, yet I also want someone (or more than one person) to talk about life with, and to participate in activities together on a regular basis.
  2. Relationships, especially deep, close relationships, can be life-giving and transformational. We all deeply desire intimate love, closeness and acceptance. We have more need and desire than any one relationship or even all our relationships can satisfy. Good relationships can be healing, uplifting, growing, encouraging, strengthening, etc.
  3. There are different types of relationships, some chosen, some not. There are also different levels of relationships. This can range anywhere from antagonistic to cordial to intimate. We need different types of relationships. Among these, I believe that we need relationships with both sexes—males and females.
  4. We don’t choose the family we’re born (or in some cases, adopted) into. We have a limited ability to choose who we work with, who is in our community and who is in our church. We have the most freedom in choosing our friends and, in our culture, spouses.
  5. People naturally have different qualities. We think differently, look differently, feel differently, and interact differently. Because of this, we naturally get along better with and are attracted to certain people more than others. There are also different types of attraction, or attraction to different kinds of qualities. For example, you may respect one person because of their knowledge, and enjoy talking with them, while being physically attracted to someone else.
  6. Since we have freedom in choosing our friends and spouses, we will naturally choose those for whom we have some kind of preference or attraction. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We can’t have the same type and level of friendship with everyone, as we have limited resources. So we must choose. I would venture to say that a person can only have at most a handful of close, life-sharing relationships at any given time. (Interestingly, the majority of Christ’s ministry was about his life-sharing relationships, and he spoke very highly of friendship.)
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