Significance of Close Relationships

“No man is an island.” Perhaps a very famous saying that you would rather utter, when you were alarmed, with your introvert friend. But this is not just all one famous “words of wisdom” formulated for the better sake of something, it is one of the very manifestation of human being’s evolutionary development from being solitary animals into socially inclined beings.

Stephanie L. Brown’s proposal is one attempt to strengthen that famous phrase. The effort constitute mostly about humans’ “hows and whys” on forming close relationships. According to her theory, there is such a “miracle” on this phenomenon. In the article, the author is trying to point out that although humans know that it would be costly to form close relationships with other individuals, they would rather choose to set aside the down – sided fact and still form bonds with other people. Very bothered about it, the author formulated her own hypothesis regarding the issue.

On Brown’s proposed knowledge, there is this concept that is called the Costly Long Term Investment or the CLI. It is explained that this is something unexplainable within a person who involves amounts of sacrifice just for the sake of others. One best example explaining this is a mother and child relationship. The mother does everything and anything for her child’s sake. Well, following Brown’s wonderments, this would be one phenomenon that cannot be explained. Questions like “What will the mother get from taking good care of her child? Her child is just another stranger just like any other strangers that one will find in the streets then why do that?” Just take a closer look on what does the mother gets when taking care of her child. At first glance, it seems that on any angle, the mother is the one being aggravated in the situation and all the benefits goes towards the child. But as what can observed, it is not that what happens at all. She enjoys of taking good care of her child. There is a strong motivation that drives her to do that without hesitation. And that is what the mother benefit in the exchange knowing that when she takes a good care of her child, in the future, when the child grows up and becomes capable, the child will repay all the hardships and sacrifices done to him by his mother. And this instance is also true for romantic relationships. Two couples show love to each other without waiting for anything in exchange of the complement. They know that when they show love to each other, or probably I would say unconsciously they know (similar to Freud’s), in the coming future, they will have a very satisfying sex life.

There also comes her idea about the Selective Investment Theory that people choose to be extensively altruistic with a lot of resources are at stake because of the evolutionary rule that it ensures survival. Well there is nothing really to oppose in this particular proposal. Everything that any species particularly humans do are all for the sake of survival. Anything from breathing to riding an airliner, from fixing the roof of the house to lifting weights and from painting a portrait to washing clothes, are all for the sake of survival. Anything even the most pathetic thing that one would think of that is significant and has something to do with ones survival. So there is no wonder, even what is being pointed to at by the Selective Investment Theory has also something to do with our survival. The concept is simple. Do something good to people, even to strangers, and then expect something good from them because you have given the motivation to do so. A small step on your survival is already, we can perhaps refer to as, satisfied.

Brown told in her article that reproductive success can be connected to why people show altruism to their relatives or even to other people mostly being strangers. It is also an agreeable argument. As what can be observed, the main reason for altruism is that they wanted something in return for the benefit that one gives to a person. The reasoning looks pretty ironic because when we look at the definition of “altruism” in the dictionary, “it is the consideration for other people without any thought of self as a principle of conduct or it is the opposite of egoism” (The New Lexicon, 1987, p. 27). Although we do not see at the beginning the effect done by showing altruism to other people, unconsciously or hidden from us, we are gaining or somehow we can say the “benefit” of what we are doing. The people to whom we show our kindness to gains trust of us. He or she is having positive thoughts about us. In the future, we are going to benefit from what they are going to give back. It is just like putting in other words the proverb which is saying that do not do unto others what you do not wanted to do to yourself but in an inverse thought.

In the article it was pointed out that costly long – term investment is not just produced by intuitive or just a cognitive process. It tells that there is nothing driving us to show this kind of characteristic that from the beginning, we already have it, and that it was already within us from the day we were born. I agree that that is not. This characteristic of ours, although some organisms might reflect the characteristic, is our unique feature molded by millions of years of evolution – meaning to say that this characteristic of ours is one that makes us more advanced and keen than any other animals in the planet. There is something that drives us towards this. Motivation is the key on how we facilitate this kind of unique characteristic of our species. Probably motivation driven by physiological needs like food, shelter or even by sexual pleasure is probably some of the examples that harness us humans. Without the aid of motivation, probably until today, we still act just as how the animals interact with other individuals, there would be no long term relationships. All things will be based solely on the needs for survival. And then probably, another motivation that is driving us to continue developing this characteristic is the social motivations. Whenever we show altruism to other people, probably in all instances, those people to whom you express your compassion also returns back compassion, or perhaps, probably love and affection. That is why we are still trying not to lose this characteristic of ours.

Now, conceptualized on the particular article that “social bonding is a dynamic memory complex with emotion regulating features, a conceptualization that is distinctive” (Brown, 2006, p.22). What the proposal tries to tell at this point of its discussion is one agreeable argument. Just like what sociologist are telling about what society is; social bonding is also as complex. Why? Simply because every individual composing the society, whereas that is us, humans, are reasonably complex. Whenever a system is composed of complex individuals, as a whole, it will also exhibit complexity. It is not easy understanding and studying the society as easy as how physicists study quantum physics, although the two things are two different things in different contexts. Society is incredibly dynamic. Consider looking through the human race in a chronological manner from the day he learned how to use fire, or create the wheel, or at the day he learned how to organize groups of people dwelling in just one area. The way the society is behaving from that point of time compared to what we have today are totally different. It is because of many different factors that affects humans each and every day. It may be the geographical location where the people live in, it may be the way of living the people are performing that is affected by the current technology that they currently have, and it can be at least the food they eat. There are lots of things that affect society that is why it has been regarded to as forever changing and there will be no end to that change unless the whole universe came into history.

Just like what Brown tries to emphasize in the article, I can actually observe from the theories that the Selective Investment Theory is concentrated in “giving”. It always gives most of its points to just a side of the theory which is giving. It tells that through giving, we can expect “rewards” from society and that also gives people the drive on continuing rendering our characteristic of being altruistic beings. Well, I agree to what is being pointed to at. I have already stated in this essay how those can be supported. On the other hand, the author also pin – pointed some theories that does not comprehend, if not opposes, what she is proposing on the field of close relationships. Like for example, she told that self – interest relationship theories concentrate more in terms of stressing the act of receiving. It tells that society revolves, lives and works around the act of receiving. And that other psychologist believe in this perspective. Will you actually and honestly agree that always, the reason why you are offering your friendship to other people is because you always wanted something in return from them? The answer would be no. But maybe one way or another, these psychologists are correct on that matter because this maybe one of the reasons that drive us to do the things we do; to do the things that will make us survive the storms of this harsh ecosystem. But the thing is that their theories alone will not be agreeable, it must be complemented by some of the theories. Well, that is how social science works things out. There are vast possibilities; there are no fixed standards that must be followed.

After reading the article regarding close relationships, after understanding that human beings give and take to and for each other, I am raising a question that may be answered in the near future. What if humans are let to survive only by themselves? Probably it might be possible because it is still not tested in a controlled environment. Probably it might not be possible because of the theories that is prevailing the social science scene today. But who knows what might be the possibilities?

So, after being introduced to Stephanie L. Brown’s theories and hypotheses, I formulated my own perspective and hypothesis. I can say that human beings are intended to work together no matter what. They are created that all are connected to each other, with invisible bonds linking them together. No one alone can do successfully anything without somebody. That is what brought humans to its overall survival.

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