Chapter 12: Affection

In his relation with others, affection is a great cause of happiness and its lack is a great cause of misery. There are various reasons a man may "have the feeling" of being unloved - and he may in fact be a person whom nobody loves - but the sense of being unloved most often lies in a lack of self-confidence due to some misfortune.

The need to win acclaim is often a symptom of feeling unloved: people make the most desperate acts to win the approval and affection of others - whether through benevolence or extravagance it is an attempt to cajole others into admiring him. And likewise, the twisted man who weeks to do harm to others is often acting out of revenge for the love he feels that he deserves, but has been withheld. The problem is compounded in that the actions they take to win affection are self-centered and one-sided: they wish to be loved by their fellow men without expressing, or even without feeling, love for others.

The love of others is not merely emotionally gratifying, but a necessary function of survival in societal existence. He who does not have the respect or admiration of others cannot gain their cooperation, and is capable of very little except by his own efforts. A man with many friends is also secure against disaster, as their affection can be counted on to render assistance. This security grants man a boldness of character and the willingness to take the risks that are necessary to accomplish great things.

Return to the notion of reciprocation. The trust one has in others to care for one's welfare must be reciprocated by their trust in that individual to care for their own. The converse may be easier to accept: that people are seldom warm toward people who are cold to them.

He returns again to early childhood: the child whose parents are affectionate develops a secure and adventurous nature, whereas the one whose parents are reserved becomes fearful and timid. (EN: This notion is echoed in the psychology of attachment styles - and while there is now the notion that parental attachment is less significant and human nature is not indelible, there is still strong evidence that "secure attachment" is important to development.)

However, affection can also be negative. The mother or child that is perpetually warning children against danger can instill in them a lifelong fear of life - the fear that "every dog will bite" produces a fearful perspective that follows through life - and a level of timidity that exceeds even the child for whom affection was withheld. The father who is ever critical in the misguided notion that the child will push himself harder to excel instead produces a man who has no confidence in himself, or expects he deserves no praise of others. There are still others who, expecting to be praised no matter how little they accomplish, see fit to do very little and expect great rewards.

To define the proper kind and measure of affection is not at all easy, as it is a matter of degrees in which too much can be as toxic as too little.

There's also a brief mention of the kind of affection that is merely a camouflage for possessiveness. In primitive societies, a man who protects a woman comes to own that woman, in the manner of an object or an animal. This attitude prevails even to the present day in some degree.

In adult life, affection serves a biological purpose. Marriage and parenthood rely upon mutual affection, as there must be a sustained affection between man and woman to sustain a relationship that started with rather easier and short-lived attraction, and as suggested above the affection between parent and child is critical to their development and success in later years.

In terms of love, it is observed that women love men for their character whereas men tend to love women for their appearance. In that respect, men certainly show their inferiority in the silliness and superficiality of their desires. It is relatively easy to present a good appearance, but far more difficult to become a person of good character. And in that respect, women certainly show their inferiority in the silliness and superficiality of their very selves.

Some mention is made of destructive affections, as constructive affection produces mutual pleasure whereas there are many instances in which a relationship is entirely one-sided. There is a "bloodsucking type" who demand from another and happily receive what is given but offers almost nothing in return. Such people are seldom capable of sustaining a relationship, but are constantly being discarded by partners who soon discover and tire of their parasitic nature - as well they should be. A partnership of constant demand and no reward is not worth preserving, though it can be readily witnessed that some people seem to have a great propensity for self-sacrifice for others who seem entirely undeserving.

It is noted that the present culture of the author's time puts restraints on affection, and particularly discourages people from expressing affection toward others as a sign of immodesty or a lack of integrity. This seems entirely irrational and harmful. One can be too affectionate toward others, and cheapen ones affections by giving them too freely, but as in many things society seems to have propelled itself to an equally undesirable opposite extreme.