Theories of Detachment

Author and social activist Bell Hooks wrote once about how dominant, detached men surface and how they react towards their partners. This may be somewhat true to all genders (the fact is that childhood is incredibly interlinked with who are and grow up to be as adults). Detachment and dominance from either side is now common scenario in today’s dating culture. Do we even still call it “dating”, anyways?

Before anything, I’d like to share with you that quote from Bell Hooks:

“Usually adult males who are unable to make emotional connections with the women they choose to be intimate with are frozen in time, unable to allow themselves to love for fear that the loved one will abandon them. If the first woman they passionately loved, the mother, was not true to her bond of love, then how can they trust that their partner will be true to love? Often in their adult relationships these men act out again and again to test their partner’s love. While the rejected adolescent boy imagines that he can no longer receive his mother’s love because he is not worthy, as a grown man he may act out in ways that are unworthy and yet demand of the woman in his life that she offer him unconditional love. This testing does not heal the wound of the past, it merely reenacts it, for ultimately the woman will become weary of being tested and end the relationship, thus reenacting the abandonment. This drama confirms for many men that they cannot put their trust in love. They decide that it is better to put their faith in being powerful, in being dominant.”

Hooks is the same author who’s books are focused on the interconnectivity of race, class, and gender, and their ability or inclination to develop oppressive or dominative behaviors. While one may argue that the behavior may be purely coincidental — that, like food, is an ‘acquired taste’ — more than it is rooted to gender, upbringing, or chemistry, these theories cannot be completely ignored.

But this is really just getting it out of the way. In a time of instant gratification, with match-up possibilities in a swipe, and poor attention span, detachment and dominance (a.k.a. having the upper-hand in the poker game of life and hoping no one calls your bluff) is happening because it’s cool, and it is accepted.

I read a great piece on the New York Times site a few days ago titled “The Millennials Guide to Kissing”, where the author narrates her encounter and parting with a complete stranger. And while the bond was almost destined to the point of escalating to the intimacy of a kiss, it was a spark that blazed but the fire was short-lived. It is a tragedy that looms today’s trying times: the era of the entitled, the unsatisfied, the insatiable. It is a tragedy that cries that there is no such thing as “forever” and that happiness, especially in love, is but momentary.

I hugged him a brisk no-nonsense goodbye. We didn’t exchange numbers. “Bye,” he shouted down the stairs at my back. “See you never.” – The Millennials Guide to Kissing, NY Times

The thing with detachment is that regardless of the circumstance, whether it be some spark-of-the-moment encounter, a text that was read and never replied to (read: ‘seen-zoned’), or a grueling no-strings-attached relationship that keeps you up at night, they hurt and damage people. The tricks of separating the emotional from the physical has become a science that must be applied if you don’t want the shorter end of the stick. Keep it shallow and avoid wearing your heart on your sleeve. Better yet, put it in a box and lock it away for good.

There’s nothing new with trying to avoid getting hurt. In fact, it is very natural. But while we’re all building walls around each other, there are others who are also wrangling to get in. Because we’ve closed our eyes, we also, unfortunately, shut ourselves off to the possibility of seeing something truly good. Have you ever wondered how many chances lose when you pretend not to care?

Being vulnerable and intimate has become a weakness when in fact it should be the strength that bonds and binds.

Youth is always so often confused with chances. When we are young, we always think that we are given leeway for us to make mistakes, to play, collect and select, and that there’s time for us to correct. But whether our walls our were built because of the nature of who we are or how we’ve grown, or because it’s what this generation calls for, it’s best we be reminded that there is beauty and hope in vulnerability and that chances don’t come often.

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