Here is the full transcript and summary of Amanda McCracken’s talk titled “How Longing Keeps Us From Healthy Relationships” at TEDxCU conference.
In this TEDx talk, journalist Amanda McCracken explores the concept of longing and its impact on our relationships. She shares personal experiences and discusses societal influences that contribute to the addictive and unhealthy nature of longing.
Listen to the audio version here:
What are you longing for in this moment? Is it the father or mother you lost last year? Or maybe one you never had? Is it the child you wish to conceive? Or maybe the one who just left for college? Maybe it’s that beach on your bucket list or a past lover who haunts your dreams.
We long for the divine, for home, for youth, for nourishment. But what happens when longing itself becomes your lover? You fall in love with the possibility and the withdrawal of that possibility.
Now longing can be our greatest muse. It can soothe us in times of uncertainty and give us a sense of control in our lives. It can also become a debilitating crutch, even an addictive neurochemical boost, a naturally occurring antidepressant.
My friend with anorexia told me she fantasized about elaborate meals but never ate them. In a way, I understood. I was a 35-year-old virgin when I realized I was addicted to longing. By remaining starved, I could stay hungry, which somehow felt more satisfying than feeling nothing at all.
About 10 years ago, I started writing a letter to an ex-college boyfriend, trying to untangle my actions and desires and questions I had. That letter became an essay The New York Times published, titled, “Does My Virginity Have a Shelf Life?” When that essay went viral, The Katie Couric Show flew me to New York for an interview. I sat side-by-side with Katie as she asked me questions, mainly, “Why are you waiting for a loving, committed relationship to have sex?”
What she should have been asking me is why is it so hard to find such intimacy? The sexual revolution did a lot of women a disfavor by encouraging sexual freedom without the need for emotional intimacy. No matter how hard many of us try, most women are not programmed to be Samantha from Sex and the City, to have no-strings-attached sex where mutual consent is the only requirement.