I and Thou

Some Topics

Bonding

Humans bond to each other in several ways. The most enduring bonds are kin-related, based on closely shared genes. Mothers bond to their babies and siblings bond to each other.  Friendships are weaker and often temporary bonds that are based on the need to affiliate with others for protection, social status, feeding, sex and fun. Success in business and professions is dependent on affiliations with others. Success depends on what you know, on who you know and how well you are regarded. Affiliations are ephemeral and must be maintained by regular contact, grooming, food sharing, expressions of conformity and concern, and exchange of gifts and favors.

Trust is established over time by regular and reliable maintenance of affiliation. The strongest connections are maintained by grooming, story telling, eating and sleeping together. Humans seek bonding with others are distressed when they become isolated. Social conventions rely on bonding. Descriptions such as “love, affection, friendship, loyalty, duty, faith, and obligation” refer to affiliation and bonding. Humans groups employ bonding strategies intentionally – initiating new members into the group with rituals, secrets, symbols, costumes and codes that distinguish members from non-members. Groups emphasize special privileges given to members and resist attempts of outsiders to enjoy these privileges.

The most celebrated bonding is described as "falling in love" and occurs between individuals who are not related. The experience of falling in love is a complex of feelings, emotions, perceptions and cognitions designed to bring to two people together in a tight, exclusive bond that supports reproduction.

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 often idealize their loved one and suspend business as usual in favor of serving the needs of their potential spouses. Women are overwhelmed with maternal feelings and fantasies of home, the family, and enduring devotion and support of the male. The female task is to choose the right male, motivate and train him to devote all his resources to her and her children.

Because human mates often cannot live up to the deep expectations for a soul mate, people imagine a friend or join a support group that reduces loneliness. Artifacts are often used to support the belief in a divine and omni-present friend. Objects are often used as substitutes for actual companionship. Humans have a remarkable tendency to bond to inanimate objects and treat them as if they were alive. A picture, letter, book, jewelry, or article of clothing can act as a substitute for a real person.

Children infuse toys with meaning and young females treat dolls as if they were real babies. Christopher Robin had Winnie the Pooh, his teddy bear. Pooh, of little brain, has become a sage, a cultural icon; his image is adored and sold world-wide and he is quoted in this book. Toys have progressed toward simulations of living creatures that have wide appeal. Doll eyes that open, mouths the receive water and urethral openings that pee delight children and increase their bonding to the doll. For some, toy robots that move and respond to voice commands are virtually alive.

Books contain the voices and stories of other humans and can be relied upon to provide companionship when humans in the flesh are unavailable or too disagreeable to engage. For many humans, television and movies replaced books in the latter part of the 20th century and introduced virtual families and virtual friendships.  The viewer develops a friendship, even a sense of intimacy with actors who appear regularly on screen in the living room or bedroom. The actors, of course, do not develop a reciprocal sense of friendship with audience members and can be overwhelmed by strangers approaching them in public places, as if they were close friends.

Listen to Overview of Bonding and Group Membership


  • 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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