When my body needs fuel, I experience a sensation I call hunger. When my body is becoming dehydrated, I feel something we call thirst.
And when my soul needs authentic human connection, I experience something — a hunger, a hurt, a passion — which doesn’t really have a name.
Sometimes we call it loneliness, but it’s more than that. It’s an emptiness. It’s emotional. It’s intellectual. It’s spiritual. And it’s physical.
This inner yearning is the force which has allowed the human race to survive for so long. The writer of the Hebrew book of Genesis tells us that God looked at the world he had made and at the man he had made, then said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Even thousands of years ago, the wise men who wrote such books knew that a man and a woman needed one another. And something inside us won’t leave us alone until we go back to our personal origins — and finally get that right.
In a time of crisis — such as today — I feel this hunger as never before.
In talking with others in the last few days, I can tell it’s not just me who’s feeling this way. I can repeat the words that others have told me, but I can really experience only what I’ve felt for myself.
When I look back on it, it’s probably predictable, but I didn’t really see it coming. I felt it a couple of weeks ago and I even wrote about the early longing I was feeling for a family to take care of during this crisis, but it’s gotten far worse.
The crisis we have going on — part medical and part economic — has really pushed some inner emotional buttons for me related to the need for companionship, in every sense of the word. It’s a primal hunger that feels like emotional need and intellectual longing and sexual urgency all rolled into one.
And when I mention sex, it’s not really even the pleasure that I’m talking about, as much as it’s the intimacy of being touched and needed and wanted. I want that all the time — as any normal person does — but the crisis has really made the feelings more acute for me. And I think it’s doing the same for others.
It feels as though we’re going into bad times and I feel the desperate need for a partner to fight through the situation with. There is certainly a pragmatic part of it, because two people can help each other — when they’re both sane and responsible — in a way that makes it better than being alone.
But the bigger part is the need for the comfort of emotional intimacy. Since I think things are going to get much worse, I am feeling a deep craving for the right woman in my life. And the hunger is deep and primal and powerful.
The longing is so terrible and painful and powerful that it even makes me want to lower my standards. I’ve mentioned to you before about a woman I dated for a few months about four years ago. She was crazy about me and was upset when I broke up with her.
She was (and is) a terrible fit for me, but even so, there’s a part of me that wishes I had her at the moment. I’m not seriously thinking of contacting her — because I know having the wrong person is even worse than being alone — but I’m just using that as an indicator of how powerful this longing is.
The deep need I’m feeling seems to be pushing me to reach out in desperation for someone who might want me and might be good for me as a partner. The rational part of me knows that it has to be more than that, but there is a voice of need which whispers, “Even she would be good enough.”
This desire is what allows the human race to keep surviving and reproducing. Even if we don’t know why we need each other — sometimes even a specific other — the powerful cravings push us to take what we need. Something in our genetic makeup won’t allow us to settle — at least not forever — with not having the authentic connection we need.
I’ve known for a long time of my need for love and understanding, but this is even more. This is a primal — even carnal — craving to reach out for the connection I need. As the writer of Genesis knew long ago, “it is not good for the man to be alone.”
I am that man. And I’ve already been alone too long.