I'm looking for a short way to talk about genetic and social bonding.

Which one of these sentences would fit the best?

  1. The ability to care for people we're not related to (or "with"?)
  2. the ability to care for people we have no direct bonding with
  3. the sense of concern for people (with 1 or 2)
  • 1
    The ability to care for strangers?
    – Jim
    Apr 30, 2015 at 14:53
  • 6
    ... to care for people with whom we have no family or social bond.
    – TimR
    Apr 30, 2015 at 16:02
  • @Jim strangers would be to exclusive, it would for instance somehow exclude your neighbor or your working colleagues.
    – JinSnow
    May 1, 2015 at 5:14
  • I would say that we do have some form of social bond with neighbors and coworkers. And you are looking for a word to describe people with whom we have no familiar or social bond.
    – Jim
    May 1, 2015 at 14:43

3 Answers 3


A good word might be

tie(s) from ODO:

A thing that unites or links people:

  • ‘it is important that we keep family ties strong’

  • ‘Studies consistently show that those who are socially isolated are two to five times the risk of dying from all causes compared to those who maintain strong ties with family, friends and community.’

I would say that it is the most similar one to the word bond. It can also be used as a verb to be tied to.

  • a good one, thanks! Would this one work: "The ability to care for people we're not tied to"?
    – JinSnow
    Apr 30, 2015 at 16:24
  • 1
    @GuillaumeCombot I think it would (it is grammatically correct), since you are looking for a short way to say it, although if you specified in which way tied (genetically and/or socially) it would be clearer. It depends on the context, but also on the writing purpose (how precise you have to be), space (if you have a limit for character/word number), if you later have some space to elaborate/explain what you meant etc. I looked for antonyms of tied/related/bonded - but they were all too strong, suggested antagonism, so I would go with 'the people we're not tied to'
    – Lucky
    Apr 30, 2015 at 16:37
  • 1
    @GuillaumeCombot I checked Google Books briefly, and it seems that tied to is more often used in legal documents or meaning 'affiliated with a group' (although it sounded good to me in your context) - so it would maybe read better if you said "people we have no ties with" or if you went with TRomano's suggestion, I like that one very much
    – Lucky
    Apr 30, 2015 at 16:46


  • [...] for people we are not biologically related to.


  • [...] for people we have no social bond with.

You may choose not to end your sentences with "to", or "with."

  • 1
    We generally just say "related" and not "biologically related" unless in context there is a possibility of confusion.
    – Jay
    Apr 30, 2015 at 21:24


The principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others.


Unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others

Behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species

  • thanks, that an interesting one, but I'm looking for something more precise. It's a tricky one, it has to be more precise: people believe they care for "the welfare of others" (since they instinctively, naturally care for those with whom they are tied to), but not all the "others". So "others" would not show that.
    – JinSnow
    May 1, 2015 at 5:11

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