In the larger teaching of Unique Self theory we have laid out six core human needs.
Every human being needs to be intended. We do not want to be an afterthought. We do not want to be a result of a chance attraction. The more intention goes into a present chosen for us the more moved we are by the present. The more the present seems to be a careless gesture the less moving it is to us.
Every human being needs to be chosen. But not only to be chosen but also to be chosen first. I (Marc) was not a great athlete in elementary school. I was generally chosen last or second to last for every sport. I can feel the experience alive in my body now. But I did have some skill. I was a great wide receiver in football and a fierce goalie. Every once in a very very long while the nature of a game line up would constellate in a way that I was essential to the game. I would then be among the first choice. I was ecstatic. My unfulfilled fantasy was to be actually chosen as number one.
Human beings need to be recognized in their uniqueness. We need to know that we are special. We need to feel like we are seen in our specialness. There is little as painful as our unique self of being invisible or systematically mis-recognized.
Every human being needs to be desired. The experience of being desired itself arouses our Eros and awakens our aliveness at the core.
Every human being needs to be adored. Adoration is an intensification of love. We feel delighted at the feeling that we are capable of arousing such delight in an other.
Every human needs to be needed. The feeling that we are an extra on the set is correlated regularly as a primary catalyst for death. The feeling that our lives are without purpose robs our existence of its potency, passion and poignancy.
Naturally all of these six distinct needs are related. They are different faces of the same diamond. They are all distinct but we might also say that they are inter-included with each other. When all six of these human needs are met we have two experiences. We feel radically alive. We feel profoundly valuable. Those are the two best feelings in the world. When these needs are not met we experience a fundamental deadening and devaluation of self.
Now here is the problem. In the premodern and modern world these six needs were provided by a host of experiences. We were part of systems of meaning that provided multiple paths to having those needs met.
Pre-modernity abounds in texts of revelation, which speaks eloquently to some of these needs.
Modernity abounds in texts of reason, which address other of these needs.
Between the traditional texts of revelation (pre-modernity) and the modern texts of reason, the core human dignities of being intended, chosen, recognized, desired, adored and needed are affirmed. While each of these six needs is met imperfectly* both in the texts of revelation and reason – there is at least a sense of meeting.
Along comes postmodernity and kills all the Gods of pre-modernity and modernity expect for Aphrodite. All of the values and worldviews of pre-modernity and modernity are systematically “deconstructed by postmodernity”. The only Goddess left alive is Aphrodite, the goddess of love and desire.
At the same time the cultural texts of modernity and postmodernity exile love and desire to a very narrow script, namely, monogamous marriage. The implications of this exile of love and desire coupled with the radical deconstruction of all other ultimate frameworks of values is shocking when you but stop to consider it. It means that one’s entire experience of all of these core needs must come from monogamous marriage.
Adoration – intense love- has been exiled four times over. First love is exiled from outrageous love, i.e. the evolutionary love that drives the cosmos, to human love. Love is then exiled again to a very particular form of human love which we call romantic love. Love is then exiled again to a very particular form of romantic love, the experience of falling in love. Finally love is exiled yet a fourth time, to the romantic experience of being “in love” in the context of a monogamous marriage. The entire human need to be intensely loved — adored — must be met in this context. Imagine the existential pain that must then ensue in the event of an affair — when the only possible source of meeting this essential need is destroyed.
Desire is similarly exiled four times over. We exile all of our need to be desired to be human desire. I need to be desired by another human being. Second we exile that desire to sexual desire. We want to be desired sexually by another human being. Third we exile that desire to a particular form of very hot and raw desire, like the kind a 22 year old man has for a naked 19 year old girl the first time he sees her naked. Fourth we exile that desire to monogamous marriage with one person for our entire lives — or one person at a time — and demand that person constantly fulfill that need. The entire human need to be intensely desired must be met in this context. Imagine the existential pain that must then ensue in the event of an affair — when the only possible source of meeting this essential need is destroyed.
Being chosen is similarly exiled. The only reliable place we can feel fully chosen first is by our monogamous partner. My partner chooses only me sexually. There is no other ultimate sense of being chosen. To have my partner step outside of the exclusivity of that choice is therefore devastating.
Most of us are systematically misrecognized from when we are very young. The place we expect to be systematically recognized, the place we are at least in theory fully seen is by our monogamous partner. To have his or her gaze averted to an other is therefore devastating. Particularly I need to be seen as unique and special. Society values my function and my talents. My uniqueness or specialness is honored to the extent that it is productive or generative. The only place that my unique and special place is unchallenged is in my exclusive monogamous partnership. He has sex only with me. She has sex only with me. I am special. When that specialness is devastated by his or her affair with another it is therefore devastating.
It is only my partner who is always intending me. I am the subject of his or her intention. This is more than mere attention. It is through my partner’s intention that I feel personally addressed by reality. That is why birthdays and anniversaries together mean so much to me. When his or her intention is diverted to another I am devastated.
For most people the only reliable place that they have a long term sustained experience of feeling ultimately needed is by their monogamous partner. While in its shadows form we call it co-dependency, in its light form it is a core source of human dignity. Is in our being needed that we experience our purpose and in our purpose that we experience our goodness. When my partner shifts his intention to another beloved, he no longer needs me in the same way. I am devastated.
All of this is precisely why, even after all of the dogmas have been shattered, postmodernity clings desperately to the dogma of monogamy. Now in some sense this list of six needs met fully in monogamous marriage could well be seen as the most powerful argument in favor of monogamy. In fact many noble defenders of monogamy pick up on these different needs – that seem to be only met in monogamy – as part of their core argument.
And they are not entirely wrong. As long as we are coming from a consciousness of ego or separate self, rooted in ordinary love which is a comfort, security strategy of the ego, and the couples are coming together for a role mate relationship which meets their personal needs to survive and thrive, then that argument makes sense. If the purpose of a relationship were to address the needs of the insecure ego, then classic monogamy would at least on the surface seem to be the best structure. From a surface perspective it can at least give the average person something of an experience of having these needs met. And that is a very big gift to very many people. Viva Le’ Monogamy.
But what if I approach relationship, as we have suggested above, from an entirely different level of consciousness. If I am a Whole Mate and not only a role mate or even soul mate, then the whole story shifts. A Whole Mate is an expression not merely of ordinary love but of Outrageous love. A whole mate holds a core identity not merely of separate self but of Unique Self and evolutionary unique self. The Whole Mate comes from a pan-faithful place of fidelity to the larger whole.
This is the change that changes everything. It changes everything because for the first time, the core six human needs are met internally. The human being is able to attain a sense of Wholeness through their own sense of identity. That transformed identity allows for entirely new possibilities in relationship. Those new possibilities might be a radically deeper monogamy than was ever possible or it may be the practice of a monogamous polyamory. It does not matter that much. The point is that the transformation of identity through access to an internal sense of wholeness fundamentally changes what is possible in relationship.
How does this happen? The essence of the response to this question lies in what I (Marc) have referred to as the six noble truth of Unique Self. These six truths — not surprisingly – directly address the six core human needs.
*By imperfectly we mean for example, you are loved by God but only accept a particular doctrine. You are chosen but only if you are a part of the chosen people. You are needed by the religion or the king but you are also expendable. You are recognized but your felt sense of your uniqueness is most often invisible. You are desired is rarely addressed. In pre-modernity you are intended but again often only as part of the right people or nation. The sense of being intended is wiped out, not by evolutionary science but the social Darwinist dogma (that had little to do with Darwin, See On Evolutinary Love and the Evolution of Love, Gafni, Stein, forthcoming) which viewed evolution as a chance unfolding without purpose or direction.
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