I and Thou

Some Topics

Ariadne’s Thread

Falling in love has been compared with intoxication, possession with spirits, illness or divine inspiration. The experience of falling in love is a complex of feelings, perceptions and cognitions designed to bring to two people together in a tight, exclusive bond that supports reproduction. Falling in love requires bodymind “chemistry” to work.

The essential feature of falling in love is a fascination with another person coupled with a drive to be with them and to protect them. Men idealize their loved one and suspend business as usual in favor of serving the needs of their potential spouses. Falling in love has variations that continue to fascinate sophisticated observers of the human drama.

My poetic and iconoclastic friend, Joe Kowalski would be disappointed if he did not “fall in love” frequently in his forays into the world. A transient moment of contact with an attractive woman standing in a crowded subway car was a budding romance. For Kowalski, a brief encounter would inspire a romantic fantasy, a poem or a short story. Kowalski was on a quest to find his true love whom he referred to as Ariadne after the Greek legend of Theseus. Ariadne held the spool of thread that was to lead Theseus out of the labyrinth, avoiding death at the hands of the Minotaur who lurked within.

Adriane’s thread has deep significance for sensitive and romantic men who believe that they will be rescued from their loneliness and despair by a beautiful and loving woman who knows the way.

Joe was a tall, handsome man, elegant and articulate. He attracted women easily but Ariadne was hard to find.

Women have a reciprocal desire to find the knight in shining armor, astride his white horse, who will rescue them from oppression and danger. This desire for the soulmate can be unrelenting and painful for both men and women. The search can be lifelong. The standards are high and the candidates are few and far between.

Joe Kowalski declared in a long poem, abbreviated here:

I looked for you
in every bar
in every store
in every café
in every house
in every car
in every park
in every school
in every bus
in every train
in every eye
in every window
in every weed
in every year
in every street
in every city…


Francine Prose wrote: "Affairs of the heart, passionate connections that don't involve sex, are as common and as various as any other kind of love. Affairs can be short-lived, the length of a plane ride, a school semester, or a conference; some endure for decades. Some affairs go unacknowledged and pass for intense friendships. Others are declared, discussed, agonized over; still others are recreational, a mild form of amusement. Some are more serious, and when they end may cause a piercing sense of loss and grief. Or they may last and lead to "real" affairs and eventually to marriage, as mine did."

Few humans escape the longing for a soul mate and the painful loneliness when one is not found or found and then lost. The desire for a perfect mate is at the top of every human’s wish list. What is remarkable about most humans is that they never give up, even after several unhappy, even destructive or tragic relationships. Most are willing to try again. This is not a matter of choice but the expression of a deeply imbedded drive to mate.

Love transcends local conditions and may be an inappropriate beginning for long-term partnership in a given social setting. Some couples fall in love and discover after they are living together or married that they are incompatible and cannot sustain the bond that brought them together. When the love intoxication subsides, they awaken to the banal realties of relationship with aptitudes, attitudes, needs and habits that may not match.


  • I and Thou focuses on intimate relationships. Innate tendencies are hard at work when people meet, become lovers and end with arguments and fighting. The same tendencies determine how family members interact and explain why so many families are “dysfunctional.” When lovers form an enduring pair bond, they often become parents and everything changes. Humans seek bonding with others are distressed when they become isolated. Humans bond to each other in several ways. The most enduring bonds are kin-related, based on closely shared genes. The deepest bonding occurs when mother and infant are together continuously from birth and mother breast-feeds the infant. Bonds among family members are the most enduring. Bonds to friends, lovers and spouses are the next most significant. Bonds to colleagues, neighbors and even strangers that are admired from a distance are next. Friendships are often temporary bonds, based on the need to affiliate with others for protection, social status, feeding, sex and fun.

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