I've read, seen at many places these lines repeated : man is a social animal.
Can't exist outside of a tribe/community.
When we say that we are doing so in response to and in opposition to the stark individualism of modern culture and the loneliness it has produced.
Well, while I do believe in that somewhat, I think there's another part to it that has been left out, and I'm seeing the reasons for it in the personality profiles of the people who I find saying it the most.
I think, more than a social animal, man is a coupling animal.
Humans need, more, to exist in pairs.
After that, comes the family that before pairing is the family one grew up with, and after pairing is the family of the pair and their offspring. (I was thinking of putting an "if any" after offspring, but thinking again, that won't work. The offspring part looks more necessary to me now than it was some years earlier. The pair may still fall apart with it, but I feel its much, much more likely the pair won't last without it.)
The broader social group etc comes after that.
So I think its been a mistake to assume that being in the social group is more important than being in a pair or in a family.
I don't think, as of now, that the social group can substitute for a life partner.
The utility of said group may be in helping finding a partner, but that still makes the group secondary to having a partner.
And.. this is where the personality profiles I mentioned come into the picture: See how uncomfortable this next line makes them:
The group is a poor substitute for the pair.
And here perhaps the distinction between man and woman might also come, Maybe the social group is more important for one than the other. But is the pair is more important for one than the other?
Maybe this is just a state of mind I am in right now. Or maybe I'm coming out of another state of mind. Maybe its simply a matter of what's there and what's missing in someone's life : a hole present is more visible than a hole filled. Or maybe the infrastructures of modern life are decreasing the group component's importance, in real life-need terms if not in companionship terms. I can't predict if I'll still be thinking this later on. But for now, here's what I feel :
Man is a pair animal much more than a social animal.
That doesn't make the social animal part irrelevant. I still think it's important. But the neglect of the pair part and substituting it with social part, is a mistake we're making, in my opinion.