I am not a professional researcher, but I have done my fair share of obsessively, asking, searching, and attempting to answer the question, “What is the secret to happiness?” Every time I dive into this topic I find more bits of the missing puzzle pieces. After years of constantly playing scavenger hunt, I have come to realize that there is not, just one particular image. Everyone has a different perspective of what the “ideal” life resembles. Life and the key to happiness is a colossal collage of multiple images, some clearer than others. The puzzle may never be completed. So does this mean no one will ever truly know the face of pure happiness? Well not quite. Although the pixels on everyone’s screens are different, there are a few aspects that we all share in common.
Now, I can go on and make an endless list of certain things that we humans define as the ultimate form happiness, but I want to focus on one specific corner of the puzzle today. It is the, love and relationship portion. I know some of you are thinking, “Seriously? We all know that being in a good relationship makes us happy. You’ve just wasted my time”. Well, before I go on, I’d like to point out, what I am offering right now is probably not something novel to most of us, but a reminder.
As we progress in life, many of us forget to fulfill one of our most basic psychological needs. Let’s take a look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:
It’s clear that, “belonging and love” is pretty important. Just to clarify when I speak about, relationship and love I am not only directing it towards romance. I am pointing at all of the following: Self, friends, family, and intimate partner(s). The biggest issue with us is that we often times try to skip steps. How many times have we told ourselves, “Fuck everyone, I’m just going to do ME!”. Every time we feel rejected or unloved, we form a callous around ourselves and block people out. Why do we do this? Human beings by nature, consciously or subconsciously always try to find the easy way out. We don’t want to deal with heartbreaks; we don’t want to face our emotions. We also like to think that amazing relationships can come later on, but our lives and futures cannot wait. However, loneliness DOES kill.
Researchers have found that, regions in which people are the HAPPIEST, and have the LONGEST LIFE SPANS are communities comprised of strong connections and love. To answer the question, “Why humans constantly search for love?” – deep down we all have the need to be in long lasting relationships.
So, if and according to the pyramid, love from a romantic partner is not the only kind of acceptance we need, why do so many of us seem to disregard our friends, family, and sometimes ourselves when we’re in an intimate relationship? Why do we feel blue here and there when we don’t have Mr/Mrs. Right in our lives, even if we have amazing friends and family? In response, many of us reply, “It’s not the same.” This also stems from our need for life long relationships and the hate for loneliness. We worry that, no matter how loyal our friends and family are, one day they will have families of their own; when that day comes they will no longer have as much time for us. And the tragic truth is, our parents will not be with us throughout our entire lives. We believe that if we invest enough time into one individual, he/she will always be closely knitted in our lives. Hence, we all search for that perfect someone we can go home to. In doing so, we forget that our other relationships are crucial too.
All in all, it’s one big cycle. To sum it up:
- Love makes us happy because being alone sucks.
- Though, we are aware that each type of relationship is equally as important, we subconsciously choose the one that seems longest lasting.
- When things fall apart with an intimate partner, we are left alone.
- We feel hurt.
- We say, “screw everyone”, and try to skip to the second psychological need.
Like many others, I have been through this cycle countless times. To be honest, I was slightly embarrassed by it. As someone who constantly preaches self-love and fulfillment, I felt like I had succumbed to the validation of another. Whenever a person, whom I believed I was in love with took the nearest exist out of my life because our situations and standings got too complicated, my heart would shatter and fall into despair. Although, I knew that I personally did not have a hand in the unfortunate results, I could not stop myself from being enraged and heart broken. I could not help but blame myself for being so weak. My train of afterthoughts were, “Why are you like this? You have an amazing support system. Why am I so affected by one person? Fuck this! Fuck relationships! I’m just going to focus on myself!”
After that, I would feel fine for a couple of days, but then I would relapse back into a state of clamor. I would be repulse by my own being. I simply could not handle it anymore. Finally, I decided it was time to actually ponder upon what I did wrong. For the first time, in a long while I dug back into my roots of psychology. I slowly, started to realize, it is okay to feel dependent on another. There is nothing to be ashamed of, because the psychological need of belonging is essential to one’s health. It is human nature to crave love and affection.
I am not saying that we should solely focus on finding a life long companionship or that focusing on ourselves is a poor choice. Instead, we should all just remember, isolating ourselves is not the solution and desiring another is not a crime. We should not punish ourselves for not wanting to feel lonely.
Life is a difficult journey. We cannot walk alone. We cannot take shortcuts to get to the top. Let us not, let loose of helping hands, while we are all climbing our way up. Never forget to always love and to not seclude ourselves.
“Isolation is the name of the giant, whom stomps on our loves, dreams, and happiness.”