The term comes from the 12th century, Middle English word band, which refers to something that binds, ties, or restrains. In early usage, a bondman, bondwoman, or bondservant was a feudal serf that was obligated to work for his or her lord without pay (in modern usage, a bondsman is a person who provides bonds or surety for someone).
- 1: the formation of a close relationship (as between a mother and child or between a person and an animal) especially through frequent or constant association
- 2: the attaching of a material (as porcelain) to a tooth surface especially for cosmetic purposes
Human bonding is the process of development of a close, interpersonal relationship. It most commonly takes place between family members or friends, but can also develop among groups such as sporting teams and whenever people spend time together. Bonding is a mutual, interactive process, and is different from simple liking.
Bonding typically refers to the process of attachment that develops between romantic partners, close friends, or parents and children. This bond is characterized by emotions such as affection and trust. Any two people who spend time together may form a bond. Male bonding refers to the establishment of relationships between men through shared activities that often exclude females. The term female bonding is less frequently used, but refers to the formation of close personal relationships between women.
In the 4th century BC, the Greek philosopher Plato argued that love directs the bonds of human society. In his Symposium, Eryximachus, one of the narrators in the dialog, states that love goes far beyond simple attraction to human beauty. He states that it occurs throughout the animal and plant kingdoms, as well as throughout the universe. Love directs everything that occurs, in the realm of the gods as well as that of humans (186a–b).
Eryximachus reasons that when various opposing elements such as wet and dry are "animated by the proper species of Love, they are in harmony with one another ... But when the sort of Love that is crude and impulsive controls the seasons, he brings death and destruction" (188a). Because it is love that guides the relations between these sets of opposites throughout existence, in every case it is the higher form of love that brings harmony and cleaves toward the good, whereas the impulsive vulgar love creates disharmony.
Plato concludes that the highest form of love is the greatest. When love "is directed, in temperance and justice, towards the good, whether in heaven or on earth: happiness and good fortune, the bonds of human society, concord with the gods above—all these are among his gifts" (188d).
In the 1660s, the Dutch philosopher Spinoza wrote, in his Ethics of Human Bondage or the Strength of the Emotions, that the term bondage relates to the human infirmity in moderating and checking the emotions. That is, according to Spinoza, "when a man is prey to his emotions, he is not his own master, but lies at the mercy of fortune."
In 1809 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, in his classic novella Elective Affinities, wrote of the "marriage tie," and by analogy shows how strong marriage unions are similar in character to that by which the particles of quicksilver find a unity together through the process of chemical affinity. Humans in passionate relationships, according to Goethe, are analogous to reactive substances in a chemical equation.