We have a powerful need and desire for coupling that drives us into and out of relationships. The desire for partnership is pervasive and universal, reaching back to the origin of our species, spanning almost every culture and civilization.
85% of us marry at least once. In a recent survey, 94% of young adults stated that finding a “soul mate” was one of their highest goals. The vast majority of us want partnership and are driven into and out of relationships seeking- what? Love? Happiness? Security? Healing? All of the above?
Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs might give us a clue to what we want in relationships. Once our physical needs are met (food, shelter, sex) we pursue our higher order needs, such as emotional needs for love and pleasure, and our spiritual needs such as meaning and purpose. As a society we have secured our physical needs, and are evolving to prioritize our emotional and spiritual needs.
In spite of the high failure rate of marriage and the availability of other options, why are we still driven to pair up in monogamous, committed relationships?
There are many benefits to a committed relationship beyond survival of the species:
- REGULAR, SAFE, GOOD SEX: Committed, monogamous partners have more, and better sex than singles and non-committed partners.
- COMPANIONSHIP: We are social beings and are comforted by closeness. Married people are healthier, happier, and live longer than singles.
- INTIMACY: Emotional closeness, love, trust, mutual support, builds and improves over time in a committed relationship, and is much more difficult to achieve in quality and quantity outside of a committed relationship.
- FAMILY: Both children and adults thrive in an environment of stable, long-term, multi-generational relationships.
- ECONOMICS: Committed couples are financially more successful than singles and non-committed partners.
- COMMUNITY: Extended family, neighbors, churches, and other forms of networks of supportive relationships thrive on the stability of committed relationships.
- MENTAL/EMOTIONAL/PHYSICAL HEALTH: Married adults live longer and have fewer mental/emotional problems.