“To belong is a fundamental human need”
– Baumeister and Leary (1995)
I came across an article way back from the nineties arguing that we all have a fundamental need to form and maintain close and meaningful relationships. That is, to feel like you belong. But it left me wondering – how to feel closeness and belonging from a distance? Do I feel like I belong in my long-distance relationship? For me, the answer was a definite, capital-letter, shout-it-out-loud YES, and here is why:
- We communicate daily. We text, send pictures, share links, call, video chat – whatever we can do to stay in touch every day! I start my days waking up to a message saying good morning and end it with one saying goodnight
- We share both the good and bad – and the boring. People feel connected by sharing emotions, and I really want to know how my partner is doing especially since I cannot physically be there to share these moments. For us, it is important to know what is going on in the other person’s life even when nothing is going on.
- We deal with normal relationship stuff. We talk honestly about our feelings. We tell each other we love and miss them, but we also let the other person know if we feel neglected or hurt. We might argue. Without all this, it wouldn’t feel real!
- We plan for the future together. We have smaller plans for spending some vacation time together in the near future, and bigger overall plans to be reunited for good!
But is it perfect? No, of course not. It is a real struggle to feel closeness when you cannot physically be close to each other, but you do whatever else you can to get that feeling. And luckily every day there is one day less until you meet again.
Psst… If you’re interested in reading the whole article:
Baumeister R. F., & Leary M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497-529.