The Evolutionary Early Forms of Human Bonding

The need for positive social connections and bonding has deep evolutionary roots among animal species. There is strong evidence that many animals, such as birds, dogs, cats, and primates, are social in their emotions and behavior. And they love and need the love of others.

Humans have become one of the most social species in nature, even though sociability varies between individuals. People’s love for each other evolved into more complex forms of bonding (Karandashev, 2022).

According to multiple studies, the need for bonding and the need to belong have been at the origin of the need for love and attachment (Karandashev, 2022). So, we may assume that love and the need for love are widely present among many animals and humans, with variation between species and individuals.

Human bonding and love have undergone a long course of biological and cultural evolution. Researchers have traced their evolutionary roots back to the early times of biological evolution and human domestication as well as to the history of cultural evolution (Karandashev, 2022, chapter 3).

The Evolutionary Need for Positive Social Connection and Human Bonding

Biological and cultural evolution has made humans the most “social animals” among various animal species. People have survived by cooperating, assisting, and supporting one another, their family, and their tribe. Humans outperformed all other species in their capability to survive and thrive.

The early need for tribal coordination and cooperation triggered the evolution of bonding, attachment, and love. “Love,” in a broad sense of “bonding,” became the primary factor of emotional attraction and attachment between people that strengthened their relationships.

The evolutionary distinction between “ingroup” and “outgroup” provided the evolutionary foundation for the need for bonding and love. People distinguished those who they identified as part of their “ingroup” from those who they identified as part of the “outgroup.” And their need to belong to the “ingroup” and love the members of the “ingroup”—kin, family, significant others—became the motivation intrinsic to their human nature. Belonging to an “ingroup” provided them with security, subsistence, and psychological attachment to others who were essential to their survival.

The Early Cultural Evolution of Community Bonding

Tribal and community bonding were the earliest forms of love in the history of cultural evolution. This type of love fits well with the ecological, economic, and social conditions of the societies in which people lived in those times.

Men and women in tribal community-based societies were united, collaborative, supportive, and responsible for each other. This “community love” was the love within a tribe, kin, or other group of related people. Later, this form of love transformed into an apparent “ingroup” favoritism toward those belonging to our “ingroup.”

 That dutiful love worked well for the interdependent way of life in those ecological and social conditions. Men and women felt this collective love primarily in the form of responsibility for the community. Many tribal members were involved in serving, supporting, and assisting one another in their labor of protection, subsistence, and child rearing. The kin, extended family, and community felt responsible for the nursing and parenting of children. The proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” was a reality of community bonding.

Later in cultural evolution, religious teachings, such as Christian and Buddhist ideologies, continued to support “love for all and everyone” as a high value.

Evolution of Kinship Bonding and Love

Kinship bonding and family love evolved later in human history. Emotional attraction and attachment between kin and members of extended families became common in collectivist societies of the traditional type.

People have lived in tribal communities of extended families in many traditional collectivistic societies for centuries. Kinship love meant the priority of family interest, favoritism, and support among kin and extended family (de Munck, 2019; de Munck, Korotayev, & McGreevey, 2016).

This kind of bonding provided the resources for physical and social security, wealth, and the care of everyone in the family. This type of dutiful and responsible love supplied food, shelter, safety, and other accommodations and resources. Consequently, kin bonding, family attachment, and “filial love” emotionally supported this collectivistic way of life concordant with the economic and social conditions of their lives (Karandashev, 2022, Ch. 3 and 7).