We all have needs – especially in relationships- that we’re unwilling to vocalize. We long for particular things in our love lives and from our partners, but we do so secretly, discreetly. I’m not talking about stuff like grand romantic gestures or sexual intimacy, I’m talking about something much more sinister, much more disturbing. The one thing we all want out of a relationship secretly is a distraction. A distraction from an existential loneliness that exists within each and every one of us.
The existentialist school of thought views loneliness as the essence of being human. Each human being comes into the world alone, travels through life alone ,is alone in his/her own skin ,and ultimately dies alone. Some philosophers, such as Sartre, believe in an unavoidable loneliness in which loneliness is a fundamental part of the human condition because of the paradox between people’s consciousness desiring meaning in life and the emptiness and nothingness of the universe. Loneliness in this sense is not the same as suffering the loss of a loved one, or longing for the company of other people. Rather, existential loneliness is a way of being in the world, a way of grasping for and confronting one’s own subjective truth. A certain degree of loneliness is an avoidable part of being a sensitive, intelligent human. It’s a built-in feature of a complex existence. There are several big reasons for this:
1. It takes a lot of energy to listen to another person and enter sympathetically into their experiences. We should not blame others for their failure to focus on who we are. They want to be engaged in our lives and help us with our problems, but they also have to put their problems and their lives first, their life will remain the center of attention of their small little world ,as it should be . Our pain and suffering is for us alone to endure , others can throw us words of encouragement , but at the end of the day , they can’t be fully engrossed in our lives , because they have their own life to take care of.
2. It is deeply unlikely that we will ever find someone on exactly the same page as us, someone who fully understands us to our very core and can even relate to everything we’re feeling and saying. We will long for utter harmony, but we will only be met with disappointment. We can’t fully understand each other, because we appeared on the earth at different times, are the product of different families and experiences and are just not made of quite the same fabric. So they won’t be thinking just the same as us on coming out of the cinema. Looking out at the night sky, just when we want them to say something cheesy and romantic, they will perhaps be thinking about the amount of work they have to do for tomorrow or how tired they are.
So we keep existing, traveling through life and trying to figure out the general meaningless of our existence – alone. This is where love comes in. In ordinary company, we cannot simply share whatever is passing through our minds. We need to alter our personalities, in such a way that won’t raise any concerns or won’t make us look too weird or too unbalanced for any passing acquaintances. We must operate with a degree of politeness and carefully constructed charm. All these quietly soul-destroying aspects of casual life, love promises to make better. In the company of a lover, you will not be forced to alter your personality to fit the status quo. We will be accepted more or less as we are. It will be possible to reveal our truest most vulnerable selves, with no fear of judgment or disgust. Our less than charming tantrums and unnecessary breakdowns will be tolerated and cared for, until they retreat. We will start to feel like we exist. Our identity will be safe; we won’t be the only character of our story. When the world’s disinterest and coldness hurts us ,we will be able to return to our loved to put us back together again, they will reassure and console us.
We fall in love with people who promise that they will in some way help to make us whole. That they fill the emptiness inside of us that we feel due to our existential loneliness . We are all fundamentally, irredeemably alone ,but in order to not go mad thinking about this fact all the time , we develop coping mechanisms that distract us from the painful truth. Being in love and loving someone takes our mind off our nihilistic thoughts and allows us to live in the allusion , that life has meaning and that we don’t have to travel through life alone.
The darkest truth about love is that despite being alone by nature, humans yearn for connection and intimacy, they want to have meaning in each other’s lives , but ultimately they must come to realize that they cannot depend on others for validation, and with that realization they finally acknowledge and understand that they are fundamentally alone. The result of this revelation is anxiety in the knowledge that our validation must come from within ourselves and not from others.