How to cultivate love in the digital age
Technology has changed the way we experience love, intimacy and connection. How often do we text instead of talk, Skype instead of meet face-to-face, or use emoticons instead of actually articulating our feelings? And what impact does it have on our relationships?
According to seasoned relationship counsellor Gary Chapman, there are 5 basic love languages — words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time and physical touch. Individuals tend to naturally give and express love in the way they prefer to receive love. But what they really should be doing is using the love languages that their partners can receive. And this can be an even more challenging task, given the prominent role technology plays in modern day romance. Do thoughtful texts qualify as “words of affirmation?” Does face-timing with your partner count for “quality time?” How has your own love language changed in the digital age?
The answers to these questions, of course, are subjective. But the fundamental issue remains the same — we all must make a conscious effort to discover how our partners interpret and experience love, so that we may empathise and communicate more effectively. And we must realise that technology, as it is, can act as both an asset and a deterrent when it comes to expressing and experiencing love:
WORDS OF AFFIRMATION
If your partner’s primary love language is words of affirmation, kind words of affection, praise and appreciation are what really sink in.
Sending texts to check in with your partner throughout the day is okay, but make it a point to call them to say “I love you” or “I’m thinking about you.” You may think you are too busy, but every single person has the time to make a 30-second phone call. Texts should be limited to logistics or additional words of praise and affirmation.
For those who don’t feel completely comfortable expressing your emotions verbally, then start small. Try writing a letter of appreciation. Or paying your partner a sincere compliment every day. If your partner does something that you appreciate, make it a point to express what that means to you. Opening up and communicating takes practice, but the more you try, the more natural it will begin to feel.
ACTS OF SERVICE
If your partner’s primary love language is acts of service, then actions, not words, are received the best.
If this is your partner’s primary love language, actions speak louder than words. Cooking your partner dinner, picking up his dry-cleaning, giving her a massage, folding the laundry, taking care of your partner when he or she is ill — these types of services resonate. And technology actually makes a lot of this easier. How? On-demand apps that help save time and money.
Looking for stress relief on demand? There’s an app that makes getting a home visit from a masseuse a 30-second process. Need food in the middle of the night? There’s an app that offers food delivery 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with tens of thousands of restaurants in its database. Tired of spending so much money on groceries? There’s an app that helps you compare prices of similar products at various stores. That’s right, from laundry service to house cleaning staff, to hiring someone for the day to run your errands — apps help make it easier than ever to do things for other people when you are short on time or resources.
If your partner’s primary love language is receiving gifts, then tokens of affection are taken as a symbol of love.
Gift giving is universal, because it is part of the human nature to feel that if you love someone, you will give to him or her. But if your partner’s love language is receiving gifts, then the importance on gifts is heightened, as it is what truly makes him or her feel loved.
Commemorating birthdays, holidays and anniversaries with a gift will make your partner feel special and adored, of course. But you can go the extra mile by giving a gift on “no occasion” days. And you don’t need to break the bank to satisfy your partner’s love language. The cliché in this case, is true — it really is the thought that counts.
The advent of technology has made it easier than ever to be creative and thoughtful. Online shopping gives you access to stores across the world, and internet giants like Amazon and Etsy can help you find the perfect gift to fit your partner’s unique taste. Online coupons and flash sales are another added bonus for budget-conscious shoppers looking to get their partner something special.
If your partner’s primary love language is quality time, then giving him or her your undivided, undistracted attention is what matters most.
Some of us pride ourselves on the ability to multi-task, but if your partner’s love language is quality time, then spreading yourself thin won’t help your relationship grow. You need to learn how to give you partner your undivided attention and how to connect with your partner intimately. Because this is what will help him or her feel deeply loved.
How often do you check your smartphone during a date? How often do you text at the dinner table? Do you have a tendency to use your laptop in bed? How many times do you check Twitter, Facebook, Instagram when you could be spending real time with your partner? It’s hard to stay present and connect with your partner when you are engrossed with whatever is on your screen. And constant checking of your mobile device can be interpreted as there being something or someone more important than your significant other.
So make a point to disconnect with your technology when you spend time with your partner. And keep technology out of the bedroom. There is always time to use your technological devices, but is it more important than the person sitting across from you trying to connect and wanting to feel loved?
If your partner’s primary love language is physical touch, reaching out and touching your partner communicates a deep love.
The benefits of human touch have been well-documented. Touch has been shown to lessen pain, lower blood pressure, enhance pulmonary function, and even improve immune function. But for an individual whose love language is physical touch, touch is the ultimate expression of love.
Whether it’s a squeeze of the hand, a close embrace, or even an intimate bedroom experience, the act of touching your partner is enormously important. But in today’s world, we are so often in a rush that we find it difficult to slow down. And a lot of this has to do with how we have been conditioned by the culture in which we live.
Think how impatient we get when it comes to a slow internet connection. Waiting a few extra seconds for a page to load can feel like forever. Or how we have come to expect a certain level of convenience and efficiency in our lives. We stream movies and TV instantly. We can request a cab, a table, or even find a date with a few swipes of a finger. Demand for instant results has seeped into every corner of our lives. But it has come at a price and made us less patient and less likely to take a moment and slow things down.
Make a conscious point to touch your partner in thoughtful ways. Start and end your day with a hug and kiss. Give your partner a massage. Rather than sit passively next to them, hold their hand, or saddle up close. There are a number of ways you can express your love through touch, and by keeping it at the forefront of your mind, you will find it probably comes easier than you expected.
Whether you’re in a relationship or looking for one, one day isn’t enough to
create lasting passion – it’s a continuous effort.
This year, learn to light up your partner each and every day.