For me, as a person, the single most important virtue that I lust for is INDEPENDENCE. OH my God! The liberation and joy of this feeling is unmatched to any other. Independence of thought.. of choices.. of actions.. of expressions.. of finances.. of expectations.. of sustenance. It is said that man is a social animal and we genetically need others to make our clock tick. But how true is that? Personally, i feel we are all blessed with the essential basics to survive on our own. What we make of these basics is in our hands...
However, there is one concept that intrigues and alludes me. It is almost too tedious for me to comprehend-" True Love". "Love makes the world go round..." - so i have heard. While i agree that it is mutual love that is crucial to our peaceful existence, it is difficult to fathom the concept of "True Love". How is it possible for us to be in love with one person for our entire lifetime? It defies logic and genetics! Biologically, we are bound to be attracted to unaccountable persons of the opposite sex ( or the same, your choice!).
The need for a partner and a want for another person's constant involvement in your life robs the essence of independence. This person that you commit to shall be a natural candidate for your dependency; since, the bond is stemming from mutual attraction, trust, attachment and respect. True love and independence are contradictory in nature since a partnership/relationship implies consensual symbiotic co-existence of two fruitful lives.
According to me, commitment is a product of cultural evolution. Being monogamous was far more healthy (in terms of sexual and emotional health) and even negated the possible confusions that may ensue in one's social life. For example, consider that a man impregnates a woman. Assuming that concept of marriage has yet not been applied, lets study the various complications that may arise.
Now, lets see, you do not have to undertake scientific researches to conclude that women are not blessed with as many arms in their arsenal to fight out for survival, as much as men are (considering physical strength). Men were supposed to be the providers and women were hardwired to be care-takers. Nurturing an offspring is a demanding venture. Protecting and caring for the offspring comes naturally to woman considering that a deep bond is cemented during the 9-month gestation period. While a man is more adept at roughing it out in the jungle for sustenance in terms of food, water and shelter. So, now, if a man has to father a child for more than one woman at the same time, resources get divided. The natural protective impulse of a mother would be to secure as much as possible for her child. This leads to a clash of interests.
Supposing, if a woman is party to multiple sexual partners and eventually gets impregnated. The role of a father has to be played by the one responsible for the fertilization. Again, there is a conflict of interests between the men involved with the concerned woman. Such situations and maybe even worse may have occurred. Not to mention, the kind of health risk involved in such promiscuous sexual activities. It is not that such situations do not occur even now. Yes, they do but the frequency and intensity is relatively minimal owing to the institutionalization of the concept of MARRIAGE!
Polygamy had its ill effects on health and social existence. Hence, the natural solution veered towards monogamy. Procreation is inevitable. If the tendency of this phenomena to occur is restricted to one couple then the ethical confusion ends then and there. Commitment was more natural for females than males because after the birth of a child, most of a female's energy and impulses are absorbed in the well-being of the child. Subsequently, the need or desire to get involved in sexual activity is muted generously. Such is not the case with males. Inherently, they may not be bound by such impulses. However, once committed, the protective impulse is imbibed in their systems and attachment to the offspring is also a natural progression. The love between the two parents amplifies with new experiences they go through together.
However, man is essentially selfish and paying heed to natural impulses is inevitable. A loose base of a "commitment" cannot bind him. Thus, the institution of marriage came into existence. Marriage is a binding commitment which is enforced by the society at large. It is a man-made law established to bring order in an otherwise cacophonous world. Commitment is cemented and thus, the exclusivity is maintained.
Now, getting back to the 21st century, the roles of the provider and care-taker are intermingled. Monopoly of men over "hunting" has ended as now, even women are empowered with the will to do so. As opposed to the earlier means of earning livelihood, today "hunting" does not demand as much physical exertion. A female can secure food, water and shelter for herself with as much ease. In fact, a household is more stable if both the partners can contribute to the basic necessities. Sometimes, situations demand a sensitivity of a mother from a father when caring for the child. Men and women are truly becoming EQUAL.
The above statement it true although the many centuries of ethos inscribed in our social fabric are difficult to disembody. Cultural evolution is also painstakingly slow. Women are blessed with a unique and amazing gift of giving birth. which men will never get a grip of. The initial dependence of women on their counterparts for security is abating steadily. Some sectors of society are yet to feel the winds of change. It is safe to say that the wait may not be too long. So, here is my question... what is then the need for marriage? What is then the urgency for commitment? Is it security that we are searching for? Or is it that humans were destined to live as couplets?! If one can sustain individually then the reliance on another person is moderated. That earns you independence. That is liberation!
"True Love" is clearly an abstract concept and it is the work of our subconscious that leads us to the most suitable partner to procreate a better offspring complementing our own genes! However, it does not imply that there is only one unique person that can "complete" us. The Earth is overflowing with human population! Do the math!!