Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hedgehog Dilemma - A dating analogy?

Have you ever heard of the Hedgehog Dilemma?  I first heard of this analogy today when I was talking to a friend about her dating life.  She was venting to me about the typical relationship paradox that's all too familiar to most of us.  How, when we finally decide to take a chance with someone, and let our guard down..  how it always seems we end up getting hurt.  I listened to my friend describe her newest dating fiasco, thinking to myself.. been there, done that, sigh.  She ended her tale with this: 'Oh well, what can I do? It's the typical hedgehog dilemma.'  Never having heard this expression before, I asked her what she meant by 'hedgehog dilemma'?  She seemed genuinely surprised that I hadn't heard of it.  She explained that it was an analogy used to describe the perils of dating and intimate relationships.  I found myself wondering if was better to be a porcupine or a hedgehog.. or are they the same? I know that porcupine can shoot their quills out from their body.  I'm not entirely sure, but I don't think that hedgehogs have that same talent, though I could be wrong.  If I'm correct, then it would probably be better to be a hedgehog.  I should probably be worried that I'm even having this debate with myself right now...

Well, anyone who knows me, knows that once something piques my interest, I will have no peace in my life until I do some research.. so, of course, I Googled it.  Wikipedia had an interesting definition:
The hedgehog's dilemma, or sometimes the porcupine dilemma, is an analogy about the challenges of human intimacy. It describes a situation in which a group of hedgehogs all seek to become close to one another in order to share their heat during cold weather. However, once accomplished, they cannot avoid hurting one another with their sharp quills. They must step away from one another. Though they all share the intention of a close reciprocal relationship, this may not occur for reasons which they cannot avoid.

Both Arthur Schopenhauer and Sigmund Freud have used this situation to describe what they feel is the state an individual will find themselves in relation to others. The hedgehog's dilemma suggests that despite goodwill, human intimacy cannot occur without substantial mutual harm, and what results is cautious behavior and weak relationships. With the hedgehog's dilemma one is recommended to use moderation in the affairs with others both because it is in self-interest, and also out of consideration for others.
Maybe it's just me, but after reading above.. I find the whole love thing sort of depressing.  Really, what hope do we have if we are, in fact hedgehogs?  Couldn't we just be soft, fluffy bunnies instead?

What's your opinion on the Hedgehog Dilemma?  Do you think it's an accurate analogy of love and relationships? 

"Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life...You give them a piece of you. They didn't ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn't your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like 'maybe we should be just friends' turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It's a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love." ~Neil Gaiman


  1. Ok Jennifer, since you know me from Facebook, and you know that I am going through this just like you, I *had* to comment.

    First, Hedgehogs and Porcupines? Whatever happened to rats and guinnea pigs? The rats of course being the men, and guinnea pigs being the women. And yes, I can back this up!

    I have been back in the single dating field for the past two months after being in a "relationship" for six months. Being a mom who didn't get out much, I did the online thing. Met a great guy, who after our first date we both thought that was it! However, in the fashion of chilvary, he asked me if he could kiss me -- *FIREWORKS!* After that date he because very "smothering" and quite a pest, to put it lightly. I told him to give me a little space because he was being needy. Well we kept going out, got closer and the more we talked, the more we figured out we were perfect for each other. He wanted exactly everything I wanted, and vice versa! He was the first to say "I love you", told me he wass in this relationship for the long haul evertyime I didn't let my guard down, and told me he would never hurt me. He told me he wanted a nice long engagement with me, move in with me and my kids, and would give me any vacation I ever wanted. Until one day, six months later--after meeting my children--after what I thought was a fabulous weekend together, when he TEXT me telling me this isn't what he wanted, he was destined to be alone forever and never heard from him again. So, Him -- Rat! Me -- Guinnea Pig, after FINALLY letting my guard down after six months, AGAIN!

    I went back on the dating website because I knew I could do this again, after feeling like someone punched me in the stomach, only to find him back on there! *Dopeslap for me!*

    So, to me hedgehogs and porcupines are cute -- right now I don't find anything cute about the whole dating scene!

    Hopefully it will change, but I need to make myself happy before I allow someone else to make me happy ;o)

    Kimberly S. ;o)

  2. Wow Kim.. I'm so sorry, what a CREEP! And let me get this straight.. after six months of seriously dating you.. he broke up with you via a text message???! That makes him a total douche canoe!! I'm sorry that he hurt you, and I'm sorry that it seemed like you wasted six months of your life on this idiot.. but let me tell you something that my bestie told me when I was going through something similar recently.. 'if it doesn't work out, it's okay.. it's practice.' And you know what.. as much you hate the fact that it turned out as it did.. you did learn things, about yourself, about men, and about relationships.

    I think your attitude is fantastic, I really do! I mean, there would literally be dozens of women who would have silently plotted his untimely demise;) Instead, you have kept yourself on your feet and moved forward, and that, my friend, takes a lot of strength and moxie:)

    And FYI.. I don't find anything cute about the dating scene either.. it seems like it's damn near impossible to find a man who is honest, has some integrity and doesn't play games. It's frustrating. It can be absolutely terrifying putting ourselves back out there. However, I believe that we have a choice to either keep believing or to give up. I choose to keep believing, and it looks like you do too:)

    Thanks for your comment Kim, as usual, I enjoy our conversations:)


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