The Good Part of Online Dating

The Good Part of Online Dating
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Most people hate online dating. I understand why.

Too many choices. Too little quality. People who lie about their age and photos. People with lame, poorly spelled profiles. People who want to meet as quickly as possible. People who just want to text. People who just want to get laid. People who flake. People who say the nastiest things hiding behind their phone or computer.

These are all valid criticisms. And yet.

And yet my first book was about online dating.

My TEDx talk was about how to screen better to ensure higher quality first dates.

My first product, Finding the One Online, is a comprehensive guide to mastering the medium, enjoying the process and attracting the best guys online.

Oh, and pretty much every married client I’ve had in 16 years met her husband online.

Which is to say that online dating is a perfect glass-half-empty/glass-half-full situation.

Which is to say that online dating is a perfect glass-half-empty/glass-half-full situation.

And since we hear so many complaints about what’s wrong with it, I relish the opportunity to share with you some more positive words about this flawed medium that somehow allows you to meet more men on a consistent basis than any job, school, bar, church, social network or salsa class ever created.

Written in the New York Times and entitled In Praise of Online Dating, Katherine Smyth takes the bold (and EMK-approved) sentiment that it’s not just about the destination, it’s about the journey, too.

“Now, over three years and seven dating apps later, I’ve gone out with 86 men and counting; I know because I keep a list that reads like free verse (“David the orphan … Nathaniel bone broth … Shawn with rainbow tattoo … Shane sheepskin sex”). I haven’t met anyone I’ve liked enough, or who liked me enough, to cancel my accounts. But I am nevertheless here to offer a defense of online dating, not necessarily as a tool for finding a partner — I have no idea if the internet will ever yield me true love — but rather as a world-enlarging enterprise, and a means of rebuilding one’s self in the wake of separation.”

“Thanks to Hinge and Bumble, I have dated German poets and Indian bankers, Australian contractors and Brazilian waiters. I’ve met United Nations diplomats and my favorite movie star’s ex-husband. I have spent a summer dog-sitting in Los Angeles and flown to Jamaica for a third date; licked cocaine off car keys and undressed at midnight in a Barcelona square. I’ve had my air- conditioner stolen, inherited an Eames chair, expanded my music library a hundredfold, and made a dear friend, who, now that our fledging romance has failed, will be with me for life. I have learned about spearfishing and Oceanic art, about life in the merchant marines and urbanism in late antiquity. I have learned how to sext, how to plant tomatoes, how to drink mate, beat box, and navigate the bars of Bushwick. I could introduce you to men who believe in God and men who live in their cars; men who have slept with their sisters and others who have followed the Dead.”

I love this paragraph and can certainly write my own version of it.

But that’s ultimately a framing issue; you can look at all the men who are not your future husband with scorn and resentment, or you can do what the author does here.

You know what I would recommend.

I understand if you feel like, “I don’t want to DATE. I just want to meet my husband NOW.” Alas, that’s not how it works. Dating is an iterative process that allows you to see the world in a different light, hold up a mirror to yourself, and try on different people to see who fits (or, more likely, does not fit.) The more you date, the more you should know about what kind of man works best for you in the long run.

In the short run, concludes Smyth, “the flip side to the disappointment of each mismatch or aborted romance was a mounting sense of strength and self-sufficiency, a hardening of character, a greater understanding of the woman I am when I’m intact. There’s little like ghosting to delineate where we as human beings begin and end; and little like ghosting, too, to lay bare our own infinite reserves.”

That is called a growth mindset and it’s what you have to have to succeed in love.

Click here so you can get it. 

Your thoughts on online dating, below, are greatly appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Malika With an L

    ‘Dating is an iterative process that allows you to see the world in a different light, hold up a mirror to yourself, and try on different people to see who fits (or, more likely, does not fit.) The more you date, the more you should know about what kind of man works best for you in the long run.’

    Before meeting my partner i went on roughly 80 first dates (40 in my twenties, and another 40 in my EMK- enlightened mid thirties). The overwhelming majority did not lead to a repeat and a handful lead to short term or swiftly ended relationships. It would have been lovely if i had my met my partner in the first few dates, yet i gathered so much wisdom from soldiering on and meeting new men when many others would have given up and decided to hermit themselves off from dating. Resilience, empathy, a greater understanding on the many different ways people can choose to lead their lives, the importance of advocating for your needs, what truly matters in a partnership and the power to be selective in a healthy and constructive way. These were all valuable lessons i would never have learnt if love had come to me in an easy way. By the time i met my partner, i felt i had an arsenal of tools to make the relationship work and the mindset to appreciate what he did bring to the table, rather than to endlessly nitpick what he did not.

    Most people reading this post are dearly hoping they don’t have to withstand 80 dates. I hope they get the chance to find out it can be a blessing in disguise, if they have the right mindset and time on their side in order to take the long journey.

  2. 2
    Yet Another Guy

    @Evan

    “I understand if you feel like, “I don’t want to DATE. I just want to meet my husband NOW.” Alas, that’s not how it works. Dating is an iterative process that allows you to see the world in a different light, hold up a mirror to yourself, and try on different people to see who fits (or, more likely, does not fit.) The more you date, the more you should know about what kind of man works best for you in the long run.”

    That part of the blog entry is priceless. What I found during my stint online is that the more people a person meets, the more he/she learns about himself/herself. I met over one hundred women during that period of time. The type of woman I sought when I first started to date online is not remotely like the women with whom I left the dating sites. The jury is still out, but this relationship is different than previous relationships, very different.

    With that said, one thing that I learned while dating was that the majority of woman I encountered could not make the mental shift from in-real-life dating to online dating. Instead of taking time to learn enough about a guy to be able to “say” or “nay” to meeting in person, they wanted to rush to a meet-and-greet to test for chemistry. The reality is that chemistry does not matter if it is with a person who is a poor fit. Chemistry without compatibility is like riding an emotional roller coaster where one wonders if one’s car is going to leave the tracks. I met several women with whom I had smoking hot physical chemistry that would have been total train wrecks had I pursued something with them more than sex. Let’s say that dates became much more enjoyable after instituting a filtering process. May dates may not have been as hot, but they were better women. The reality is that some of the hottest women are also some of the craziest. I am certain that there is a male equivalent.

    1. 2.1
      Evan Marc Katz
      1. 2.1.1
        Lauren

        Serendipitous timing for this post… I’ve taken a 3-month breather from online dating and have been getting sidelined by the voices in my head: “How many more dates do I have to go on before I find the one?” “God, I can’t bear the apps again, so many times, so many fruitless encounters” (and, I’ll be honest, my thought is also “so many douchebags”!). So, a positive frame of mind? Not there. I know when I’ve dated in the past – with just the intention of going out, having a good time, flirting, have a good conversation, and enjoying company for the evening – rather than reliant on a “result” happening – I’ve had a GREAT time. Hopefully, I can get back into that “flow” or mental state. This article certainly proved an insightful reminder. Although I don’t think I’ve dated quite the variety of men as the author! She certainly seems to have had a plethora of incredibly interesting dates! Haha…

    2. 2.2
      Yet Another Guy

      *My dates

  3. 3
    MilkyMae

    Online dating has intrinsic flaws. One problem is that most of the dating sites have “free” option. This lets in the dumb masses and real folks get crowed out. The person you are emailing may be a teenage boy or some scammer on another continent or a bot or someone just goofing around. The industry uses the large number to worthless profiles and activity to sell false hope and increase profits. The FTC has filed a lawsuit against the big player in the industry.
    The other more important problem is that you meet people who are outside your social network. Most relationships start by dating a friend, friend-of-a-friend, neighbor, classmate, coworker. All these people are already somewhat vetted. You know the person isn’t married, has a job, has a car, doesn’t smoke, isn’t on parole, likes to smile, has friends, isn’t a sexist jerk, has similar values… You don’t know any of this when you meet some while online dating. You can spend a months of dating before this important details come up. Its difficult to pursue a relationship when you have to question. If you try to vet too much in the beginning, you end up looking desperate and weird. Plus, Facebook turns you into a stalker. Furthermore, when you meet someone in your social network, you get real feedback. You will find out if the person interested by the way they act and the way others act. You won’t have to call or wait and hope the other person will give you an answer.
    Online dating can get you dates. The typical number of dates can vary dramatically and I’m skeptical of the number of dates some people claim. But meeting many many people has marginal benefits if you want a relationship. Trying 50 diets for a week doesn’t help you loose weight. Trying 2 diets for six months might work. I’m not against online dating but it should be renamed to “Online meeting and hoping”.

    1. 3.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Talk about a glass half-empty view of the world. Okay, forgo online dating. Meet men in real life. Can you get a date per week? If not, you’d better learn to look at the glass as half-full.

    2. 3.2
      xxxxx

      You have a very realistic view of things, Milky. Online meeting and hoping (ha) should be one of many tools in your arsenal. It may bring more matches than through social and friendship networks, but the quality of those matches are certainly more questionable.
      That said, I think online is superior compared to meeting and connecting with total strangers at your favourite cafe or bar, in terms of cost and time efficiency.

      1. 3.3.1
        xxxxx

        Don’t forget Karl, that with technology, people are increasing becoming atomised and estranged from each other. You can now work remotely. You don’t need to actually go to a physical shop to buy things. You can study online. The outlets we previously had for meeting people no longer exists. It follows that people will need to go online to meet friends and partners. That is the fortunate or unfortunate reality. It does not mean that online is better or superior than traditional social networks. To be honest, I still prefer the organic, biological way of doing things, but given the explosive uptake of technology in recent years, I guess most of the world does not agree with me.

    3. 3.4
      Jess

      MilkyMae, you have made some good points. I personally prefer meeting people in person (e.g. Meetup groups) or through my social network. But I also realize how people date has changed drastically in the last 7 years or so, so I try to make the best of online dating right now. It’s good that I get to meet men outside of my network or profession, but it’s more enjoyable if there’s some screening/filtering mechanism in place. And those screening mechanisms get better the more you use online dating. “If you try to vet too much in the beginning, you end up looking desperate and weird”. There’s nothing weird or desperate about asking personal questions, but probably not that effective if you come off as doing an interrogation. If you genuinely try to get to know that person and he is interested too, chances are good you will soon find the answer to your question. I have found that if I ask questions about their siblings, family or friends I end up getting a lot of insights into their values and beliefs (without them feeling being vetted).

    4. 3.5
      Yet Another Guy

      @MilkyMae

      There are three basic types of daters online. First, we have those who have figured out how online dating works and have learned how to effectively screen dates before agreeing to meet in person. Secondly, we have those who cannot make the mental shift from in-real-life dating to online dating. I personally found that more than 50% of the women I encountered while dating online fall into this group. Finally, we have those who want to use online dating sources to find people to meet, but seem to have difficulty understanding how things work. Even if they may not love it, Types 1 and 3 do not hate online dating because they see it as a way to expand their respective dating pools. They manage to maintain a positive attitude about the experience. Type 2 daters tend to hate online dating and it comes through when you meet this type in person. They are so blinded by the need to test for chemistry upfront that they waste an important opportunity to test for fit. Chemistry does not matter if a person is a poor fit.

      Of the two genders, women benefit the most from vetting upfront because women who are looking long-term tend to need emotional and intellectual connections before proceeding further. That is not true for all women, but it is true for more women than men. I have heard women complain about how well things went upfront only to have things fall flat when meeting in person. The reality is would you rather meet a guy with whom you had red hot chemistry, one that will probably use and discard you, or would you rather be patient and find the guy who can meet your emotional and intellectual needs while being enough to meet your physical needs? I guarantee that you will find the second type of guy faster by testing for fit before meeting in person.

      As far as to vetting, many states in the United States have placed court records online; therefore, verifying what a person has claimed for a legal point of view is fairly straight forward, including his/her relationship status (financial judgements are also including court records). Granted, it is not foolproof, but people who have recent divorce decree entries can be assumed to be divorced. I usually dug further when a woman’s divorce decree entry was more than a few years old. Those who claim to be divorced whose degree does not appear in courts records are either lying or have been divorced long enough to change residency, proceed with caution. There is an enormous amount of information online if one knows a few search strategies. I vetted and spoke to my current girlfriend three times over a month before agreeing to meet in person.

      By the way, yes, some people go on significantly more dates than others. For women, it is comes down to desirability and willingness to accept requests to meet in person. Some women are just too darn selective. For guys, it is about putting forth a lot of effort, desirability from a total package point of view, and being open to contacting a wide range of women. The guys who do poorly online are the ones who constantly shoot above their pay grade. They are just as bad as women who are too selective. Some guys take the approach that they might as well go for broke all of the time. In my humble opinion, that is a surefire path to frustration.

  4. 4
    Lynn

    Learned so much about myself and the man I would like to share my life with after 100 online dates. MOST of the men were not matches or of the caliber I was seeking, but they made me stronger to keep pursuing. I doubted myself often, but kept going. I met the love of my life at my Unity Church,and he’s nothing like I would ever have imagined. Thanks to EMK I gained tools to understand how to find that quality relationship.

  5. 5
    xxxxx

    From a practical point of view, going on many many dates to hone your relationship skills and develop self knowledge seems very expensive and time consuming. Sure, I guess we can all make the time for something that is a priority, by an asymmetry exists between men and women when it comes to expenses. Perhaps it is this that is creating the situation where men are responding to online dating in a way that women find very upsetting. Women want men, not unreasonably, to expend the time, attention, effort and expense when dating, and she loses nothing (except maybe her time) by accepting many many dates. Men on the other hand, find they cannot expend all the time, energy, effort and expense on many many dates that will probably lead nowhere. So the situation facing men is this
    a) do traditional dating through social network contacts, but behave well because you will be called to account for bad treatment of the lady by people you know, and who are important to you
    b) do online dating with women you don’t know, but put in less effort and expense because despite your vetting, you really don’t know if she is serious or if it will work out. Also you will not be called to account for your bad treatment of her.

    1. 5.1
      Emily, to

      xxxx,
      People keep mentioning the idea of meeting the old-fashioned way, through social contacts. I’m wondering, in their own lives, if people witness that working. I know very few single men my age, and none that I would set a friend up, with but maybe other peoples’ experiences are different ?

      1. 5.1.1
        Yet Another Guy

        @ETO

        I am always curious when someone who is out of his/her twenties pushes the in-real-life meme. If we want to talk about limiting our options, in-real-life dating is an option killer. There is not a single unattached woman in my social network that I would ask out on a date and that includes the social network I inherited with my girlfriend.

        1. Emily, to

          YAG,
          “I am always curious when someone who is out of his/her twenties pushes the in-real-life meme.
          You’re exactly right in saying “out of his/her twenties.” Thirty is the age where you look around and say, “Where’d everybody go?” The option of meeting someone when you’re out and about is greatly, greatly reduced.

    2. 5.2
      Buck25

      …but an asymmetry exists between men and women when it comes to expenses.”

      @xxxxx,

      Doesn’t have to be that much of one, especially with online dating. Just set up a simple meet-and-greet for coffee/drinks and conversation. You and she can find out in 45 minutes or less whether there’s enough mutual chemistry to warrant an actual date; if not, you’re out maybe $25, max. No big deal. For an actual date, you can do what you’d do if you met her IRL; doesn’t have to be the traditional dinner date, just a fun activity you can both enjoy that also gives you time for conversation. I’ve found that works well, and actually many women seem to like those better anyway. Besides, it’s cheaper, if that’s a major concern for you. All it takes is a little imagination and planning.

      As for “being called to account for your bad treatment of her”, why would you want to treat her that way in the first place? Not sure I follow you on that one.

      @ Emily,

      That depends on a lot of factors; your age group, what social circles you move in, where you are, and so on. I happen to live near a city where I have a lot of social contacts, and there are a couple more within an hour and a half where I also know a lot of people. Plus, when I was last single (about the age you are now), I had a lot of social contacts through my business relationships. That makes real-world dating comparatively easy, but of course, a lot of people don’t have that situation, especially when people move around like many do now, and find themselves in a place where they don’t know anyone. That requires creating a whole new social network, which isn’t always easy.

      Looking back, (I actually haven’t really been in the dating market in over a year) I only got into online dating when my last marriage ended about seven years ago. It’s an entirely different marketplace that requires an entirely different skill set. Once I figured out how to do it, I did get a pretty good number of dates, but it was definitely quantity over quality. That’s probably due to my age group; online may be a happy hunting ground for the 35 to 45 set; maybe a bit less so for the 45 to 55 set, but it’s a virtual desert for people 60+, especially in my area. That could be somewhat location dependent; I’m not sure. My sense of it is that I’ve most likely aged out of the online side of things, but at 71, that’s not unexpected, is it?

      1. 5.2.1
        Emily, to

        Hi Buck25,
        “That depends on a lot of factors; your age group, what social circles you move in, where you are, and so on. ”
        My social circle consists mostly of single women. When I go to meetups, it’s mostly women or men who are much younger or much older. The same is true when I go to bars to go dancing/drinking. I think the pool of middle-aged guys in my area is pretty shallow, as many of my friends/acquaintances who do online dating end up dating the same guys!
        ” My sense of it is that I’ve most likely aged out of the online side of things, but at 71, that’s not unexpected, is it?”
        I don’t know where you live, but cities that have a high number of retirees would be great for you. For of all, you’re a man and you’re breathing. 🙂 Let’s be honest, the older you get, the fewer men there are. Secondly, you seem like an intelligent and suave gentleman with some game. I think you’d have your pick. 🙂

        1. Yet Another Guy

          @ETO

          “For of all, you’re a man and you’re breathing. Let’s be honest, the older you get, the fewer men there are.”

          Yes, but older women are selective too, often too selective for their own good. I will be 59 later this year. I am hoping the relationship I have holds, as neither of us are looking to get married. I would hate to be back on the street at age 60. The age bias against men is pretty bad after age 55, but it does appear to get much worse after crossing age 60. I lost track of the number of sixty-something women I encountered online with age ranges that go 59 or less.

        2. Emily, to

          YAG,
          “I lost track of the number of sixty-something women I encountered online with age ranges that go 59 or less.”
          While I don’t doubt what you write, it’s probably worse for women. There are probably a far greater number of sixty-something men who want to date younger, and I’m guessing that the age disparity between the age of the male dater and his preferred age range for the women he wants to date is far higher. I’m guessing there are fewer sixty-something women putting 40-50 as a preferred age range than her male counterparts, but I could be wrong. I’m thinking some older women want to date a bit younger; some older men want a lot younger.

        3. Emily, to

          YAG,
          Also, if I remember correctly, Buck has done well for himself financially and, based on how he’s described himself, he’s not betaesque. Both of these will help.

        4. Yet Another Guy

          @ETO

          Yes, there are older men who are truly delusional, but they are actually in the minority. If you follow the publications on dating past age 50, you will find that age 50+ guys prefer peer-age women when looking for anything more than a hookup. I dated a few women twenty years my junior. While the dates were fun and being with a woman that many years my junior was a bit of an ego stroke, we had absolutely nothing in common. Plus, sex with a peer-age woman is an order of magnitude better than it is with a woman twenty years my junior. Why do you think younger men want to date older women?

        5. Emily, to

          YAG,
          “Plus, sex with a peer-age woman is an order of magnitude better than it is with a woman twenty years my junior. Why do you think younger men want to date older women?”
          Your damn right sex is better with us older chicks! 🙂 (Actually, I was joking. Why in your opinion is it better? I’m not interested in hearing about who looks better.)

        1. Buck25

          Scott,
          That’s quite a story! If nothing else, this man’s pure dogged determination, and persistence in the face of continued adversity for so long, is impressive. He practically made a second full time profession of dating, which would have been remarkable even for a man half his age. That seems a little extreme to me; then again, everyone has his /her own priorities. All’s well that ends well…

    3. 5.3
      Yet Another Guy

      @xxxx

      I will not deny that online dating can become very expensive for men. I spent a ridiculous amount of money meeting my first 50 dates. I finally got smart and set boundaries. If I agreed to meet a woman for a drink at the bar, I made it clear that we were only meeting for a drink. If upon arrival, she immediately ordered a meal without informing me that she planned to cover the cost, I excused myself, went to the bathroom, and never returned. I then blocked her on my phone and online. Sure, it is a dick move, but so is blantly ignoring the terms of a meet-and-greet; therefore, I never felt guilty doing it. It is one thing for a guy to offer to cover the cost. It is a totally different thing to assume that he will cover the cost even though you agreed to meet for just a drink. Toward the end of my online dating experience, I started to do a pre-meet-and-greet with question marks before opening my wallet. I lived in a town with a nice downtown lake that had a very public walking path. I would set up the meet-and-greet to meet at the lake and walk around it, which took about twenty minutes at a leisurely pace. If there was mutual interest at the end of the walk, we would get a drink or coffee and continue our conversation. If not, I never had to open my wallet. In the winter, I would set up a walk around the town mall, which is a very nice, multi-story shopping mall as my pre-meet-and-greet. Women who are interested will usually agree to such an arrangement because they do not want to possibly be stuck with a guy who misrepresented himself online any more than he wants to stuck with a woman who did the same thing.

      1. 5.3.1
        Emily, to

        YAG,
        “Toward the end of my online dating experience, I started to do a pre-meet-and-greet with question marks before opening my wallet. I lived in a town with a nice downtown lake that had a very public walking path. I would set up the meet-and-greet to meet at the lake and walk … In the winter, I would set up a walk around the town mall, which is a very nice, multi-story shopping mall as my pre-meet-and-greet. ”
        This is perfectly fine. How many times, over how many posts, did the women commenters on this site say a free meet-and-greet is fine when men mentioned the costs of dating? Could even be free or cheap first few dates. I understand that it’s frustrating to be told by the woman, after going on three dates and spending a good amount of money, that she’s “not feeling it.” Keeping things free or low-cost prevents this.

        1. Yet Another Guy

          @ETO

          I do not know about other male commenters, but I never bothered with a second date unless there was real interest after the first date. If mutual desire to break the touch barrier did not exist on the first date, there was no need for me to go on a second date. However, then again, my primary love language is touch.

          My advice to guys is to closely watch your date’s body language. If she is not feeling it on the first date, you should not bother with a second date. I know that this practice cuts women who need several dates to assess a man before being open to breaking the touch barrier off at the knees, but it is better to play it safe than end up being sorry. Alot of guys meet a woman who wows them with her attractiveness and lose all sense of reality. It does not matter if she wows you if you do not wow her (it is usually a sign that you are attempting to date a woman who either is or believes she is out of your league). That advice applies to women who are wowed by a guy. If he is not wowed by you (read his body language, not his words), you should pass on a second date offer because odds are he has you marked for easy sex. If you are okay with that outcome, feel free to go at it.

        2. Jeremy

          YAG, quick question: Your love language may well be touch. So might your date’s. But why would you expect her to love you on the first date? To show you signs of love, either because she’s feeling love or wants you to feel love? Is that not monstrously premature?

          It’s one thing to say that one wants women who are physically expressive on the first date because one likes to feel attractive. Feels validated when a woman expresses physical interest. Doesn’t want to feel like a chump, doesn’t want to be used for resources.

          But as a love language?

        3. Yet Another Guy

          @Jeremy

          I do not look at it that way. I have discovered that people whose primary love language is physical touch are just more open to breaking the touch barrier than those who are not. All of the women I met who wanted to break the touch barrier on the first date either knew that their primary love language was touch or were not surprised to discover that it was when I asked them to take the test. When your love language is physical touch, it is better to start out with someone whose love language is also physical touch, that is, unless one wants to spend one’s life translating love languages. Now that I know the difference it makes, I could never go back. Partnering with someone who shares your love language makes expressing and receiving love effortless. Verbal communication also becomes much easier because you are both meeting each other’s need give and receive love without having to be conscious of each other’s love language.

        4. Jess

          @Jeremy, having the same love language(s) matters in forming a relationship, and it’s tied to one’s value system. While I’m an independent women, my love language is quality time and acts of service. To some men, they might interpret that as being dependent, but for me action speaks louder than words, and it’s part of the give-and-take of personal relationship. It does feel a lot easier when two people share the same love language, and there’s less misunderstanding. However, studies have shown that love languages often evolve throughout a person’s lifetime…

  6. 6
    Jelena

    YAG
    The desire for immediate touch Is not an implication of how a person perceives physical expression of love or connection;iin your case in my opinion putting a primarily focus on a touch or hug is a sort of rebound behaviour, looking for what you had deeply missed in your previous primary relationship/marriage; It is not necessary “bad”, but you have excluded some potentially good candidates for a relationship.
    For example, it would exclude me; exactly because I put emphasis on affection and attention, I don’t like to behave like that to a total stranger meeting for the first time. But I do consider physical expression of connection a very important part of a relationship.
    If that worked for you that’s fine. But point out that it is your particular case, not a ‘one-fits-for-all’ one.

    1. 6.1
      Jeremy

      I guess I’m sort of torn here, Jelena. Because I do understand your point but I also understand YAG’s. A woman who puts emphasis on affection and attention to subtend the physical part of a relationship will often withdraw physical affection in that relationship when feeling less affectionate. And will often not see anything wrong with that, though she’d certainly see something wrong with withdrawing conversation, for instance, when feeling less affectionate. Because for her, conversation is what BUILDS affection. So why on earth would one ever withdraw it? Ah, such blindness to perspective.

      I agree with you that much of this is rebound behavior – one would expect a man who had suffered for years in a sexless marriage (read: affectionless marriage, for those who express/receive affection through sex) to build walls against repetition. To screen for those who don’t subtend their physical affection on their oh-so-changeable emotional state. In this respect, I don’t think YAG is missing out – or rather, what he’s missing out on is exactly what he doesn’t want. He wants a woman who, regardless of whether she feels pissy, feels angry, feels whatever…will still want to give and receive physical affection. Perhaps in spite of her emotions, or better yet BECAUSE of them. As the way to alleviate them. Like a man would.

      My disagreement with YAG was not about this, it was about love. Because love is the willingness to speak in your partner’s love language, not to insist on always receiving yours. It might indeed be easier to give love to someone who receives it the way you naturally give it…….but is it love to want only this, or is it an insidious form of selfishness? A wanting to give love only if it suits you, only in ways that suit you? Is this, in fact, giving at all, or is it focusing on receiving, really? And if the way to build love is to give, rather than to receive, is this perhaps in fact a block to the development of real love, in the end? Depends on one’s goal, I suppose. Or on one’s values 🙁

      1. 6.1.1
        Evan Marc Katz

        Jeremy, for the win. Love isn’t just about what you get; it’s about how you give. YAG (in his comments, anyway) is solely focused on the former. And it makes hims sound selfish – just like the women he decries for wanting what they want without considering HIS needs.

        1. Yet Another Guy

          @Evan

          I am sorry, but you are missing my point by wrapping it in a way that makes it appear like pure selfishness. Yes, a love language is about giving, but according to Chapman. it is also how we experience love.

          From Chapman’s FAQ:

          “What do you complain about most often? When you say to your spouse, “I don’t think you would ever touch me if I did not initiate it,” you are revealing that Physical Touch is your love language.”

          That is the part that you and Jeremy are skimming over. I can assure you that giving love in a way that is accepted as genuine is effortless when the person with whom one shares one’s life gives and experiences love the same way as you. That is a huge part of why my current relationship is the easiest one I have ever had in my entire life. It is almost effortless. I stand by my experience that demonstrates that people whose primary love language is touch play their hand fairly quickly. If your love language is touch and your date demonstrates no interest in breaking the touch barrier on the first date, it is best to move on. By breaking the touch barrier, I am not talking about hooking up. I am talking about the desire to breaking one’s personal space bubble. It can be as simple as reaching out and touching you.

          Out of morbid curiosity, I asked my ex-wife to take the test. Looking back, I was not surprised to that her primary love language is words of affirmation and her secondary love language is gifts. The love language impedance mismatch between us was huge from day one. Words of affirmation and gifts never made me feel wanted, and she was never receptive to touch, even in the begging.. My girlfriend’s ex-husband’s primary love language is blatantly gifts, which made her feel like he was trying to buy her love.

          Jeremy, I take issue with your conflating touch with sex in my case. They are two different things. My desire to touch and be touched has nothing to do with occurred in my marriage. It is how I have been my entire life. When one’s love language is touch, touch can lead to sex, but it does not always lead to sex. I would argue that If a guy uses touch to obtain sex, then his love language is not touch. Touch is touch. Sex is sex.

          What I have come to appreciate living with a woman whose love language is touch is that touch is a recipe for alleviating pissiness. Once again, we are not talking about sex. We are talking about touch, as in human-to-human physical contact. My girlfriend has a high-powered job in a large organization. There are days she comes home where I would leave her alone if she was my ex-wife, but what she needs at that point is touch, to be held to show that she is loved in the way she wants give and experience love. My conclusion is that women can become pissy when they feel threatened by an external stimulus. Gottman made it clear in “The Man’s Guide to Women” that women experience fear much more often than men (the male social hierarchy at work can clearly be a source of fear). We know that women usually seek a relationship for different reasons than men. For men, a relationship is usually a source of emotional support and physical intimacy. For women, it is a source of safety and security. Sure, women desire love, but love from a man is embodiment of safety and security (that is why women tend to prefer masculine men). Anything that a man does to nullify the safety and security a woman experiences in her relationship will put him in the fast lane to being her ex (e.g., losing his job). For example, an important difference between how women and men process infidelity is that for a woman, infidelity is a threat to her source of safety and security. What is the number one question women tend ask when they discover that their partner has been unfaithful? It is “Do you love her?” Women have a tremendous capacity to forgive unfaithful men as long as they are not in love with their paramour. Men do not ask that question because infidelity is experienced as an attack on their manhood. That is the primary reason why marriages usually dissolve when adultery involves the wife.

        2. Jeremy

          This isn’t true, YAG. Both a man and a woman’s love language might be physical touch. But within that context, she might not want to touch because she’s not feeling close, and he might want to in order to feel closer. Having the same love language doesn’t guarantee their compatibility any more than speaking the same verbal language does. Because all that language does is convey content. The content matters.

          Which is why that other thing you write, that someone whose love language is touch is usually down to touch earlier is very misguided. It’s wrong about me, for instance. Why do you think that might be?

        3. Yet Another Guy

          @Jeremy

          “Which is why that other thing you write, that someone whose love language is touch is usually down to touch earlier is very misguided.”

          We are going to have to disagree one this one. Touchers are touchers. Non-touchers maintain their personal space bubbles. If we examine touch at its core, we find that it is a nonverbal cue for acceptance. While everyone touches, people whose love language is touch are more prone to touch. People who think that touch is all about sex. Well, there is no way on earth that their love language is touch. Furthermore, people whose love language is touch are more prone to engage in PDA (I am not talking about making out in public). Granted, not all people whose love language is touch are prone to PDA because PDA is affected by baggage and socialization.

          Most guys do not get it because they conflate touch with sex because most men use touch to obtain sex. I suspect that you may be one of these men given your projection on me. A woman can tell when a man touches her because it is his love language and when he wants sex and so can other women who are observing. How many women have you heard complain that the only time their men touch them is when they want sex? My girlfriend did not know a thing about the 5 Love Languages when we met. I had mentioned it in passing. It was not until one of her girlfriends mentioned to her that I spoke her love language that she took notice and sat for the text. Trust me, a relationship is very different when both people speak the same love language. Yes, there are times when you have give a person space regardless of his/her love language, but people who are in distress want to know that they matter.

        4. Jeremy

          I agree with most of what you wrote here, YAG. It’s funny how just a minor detail, though, can change the flavor of any statement. Like one of my favourite scenes from the show 30 Rock, where a character sends birthday invitations to all his friends and writes at the bottom: Give to charity no gifts please

          He later sends a clarification email, because he’d forgotten to add punctuation to the first and was worried that people would misunderstand: “Give to charity? No! Gifts please!”

          In the same way, I agree with most of your statement above: That touch and sex may be very different things to many people, that people whose love language is touch are more prone to touching than average, that people in distress want to know that they matter (in the way they want it expressed).

          Where I disagree: With the notion that those whose love language is touch play the touch card quickly – they don’t, necessarily. And conversely, with the notion that if someone plays the touch card quickly, it means their love language is likely touch. Touch is communication. But not necessarily a communication of acceptance. It says, “I want to touch you and be touched by you.” Doesn’t say why. I can think of several possible reasons.

          But yes, I have projected erroneously onto you in the past. As Marika once wrote, you and I could not be more different. Well, we could, but you know what I mean. Was it really so revelatory to you that women want to feel desired? That if you lose interest in a woman, she’ll lose interest in you? Was your own loss of desire with the waning of novelty so revelatory to you, given your history?

          I miss Marika. Hopefully she has stayed away because she’s busy with happy things.

        5. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          “I miss Marika. Hopefully she has stayed away because she’s busy with happy things.”
          I was just thinking the same thing. Hopefully, she’s ensconced in some hotel room with the man of her dreams. 🙂

      2. 6.1.2
        Emily, to

        Big Jer,
        “He wants a woman who, regardless of whether she feels pissy, feels angry, feels whatever…will still want to give and receive physical affection. Perhaps in spite of her emotions, or better yet BECAUSE of them. As the way to alleviate them. Like a man would.”
        Does such a woman exist? Do most people feel affectionate and express affection when they feel angry (specifically, angry at their partner) or, in you example, when there has been a withdraw of attention? Who wants to get up on someone if you’re angry with them or if you feel like they’re not engaging with you as much?

        1. Jeremy

          “Who wants to get up on someone if you’re angry with them or if you feel like they’re not engaging with you as much?”

          Who wants to talk with such a person, Emily? What is the purpose of conversation?

        2. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          “Who wants to talk with such a person, Emily? What is the purpose of conversation?”
          I’m not sure what you’re asking. The purpose of conversation is, in this instance, to connect. If you’re in a big argument in which you don’t feel connected or heard, is it any wonder that you don’t feel affectionate?

        3. Jeremy

          EXACTLY the point, Em! To you, the purpose of conversation is to connect. Because you (and most women) need to feel connected before you’d want to become physical. Would you believe that a significant proportion of the population connects otherwise?

          It’s funny, I can *write* that sex is a love language until my hands fall off, but people still don’t understand. The purpose of [whatever one’s love language is] is to connect. What if their love language is sex? Would that not mean exactly what you wrote about conversation? And wouldn’t that mean that, in the case of an argument or emotional distance, that making that person qualify for sex via conversation first is actually holding their language hostage to yours? Which is ok as long as it only happens about half the time? How often does it only happen half the time? Because people can’t seem to understand that conversation isn’t the only way people connect…

          I fully realize how foreign this seems, especially to some women. It comes back to our conversation about compromise and willingness to share power….and a lack of understanding of when reciprocation is needed. Because I agree that having a woman go at it when she’s angry is about as realistic as the orgasmic yelling in porn. As realistic…..as a man enjoying the inevitable conversational hoops he’ll have to jump through to get his partner to feel connected to him before he can begin to feel connected to her in his own way.

        4. Yet Another Guy

          @Jeremy

          I do not know about you, but I sure as heck do not want to connect with a woman whose source of anger is me. The anger needs to dissipate before I am willing to make an effort. I know that it is different when one is married because one’s only source of sex is one’s spouse, but under no circumstance do I ever see having sex with a woman who is mad at me as a way to connect.

          Did you ever stop to think that a woman’s source of anger with a man is often because she feels unloved? Isn’t that what love languages are all about? If a man does not understand why his partner is pissed off, maybe it is because he does not understand her love language as well as he thinks. Once again, as Chapman wrote, a love language is how we express and want to experience love. In my humble opinion, conversation is needed much more often when there is an impedance mismatch between love languages. Anger in a relationship rarely stems from one little faux pas. It is the result of that faux pas triggering built-up resentment from not feeling loved and appreciated. That is when conversation is needed to quench the inferno of anger.

          I now know why my marriage became sexless. It was because I rarely initiated. I just was not that interested in having sex with my ex-wife after the initial novelty wore off. We married little over a year after meeting. The novelty did not wear off until after we exchanged our vows. That is a huge reason as to why I am onboard with Evan’s assertion that a couple should wait at least two years (novelty will definitely wear off in two years).

          One thing I have come to appreciate since re-entering the dating pool, meeting many women, and hearing their stories is that a woman needs to feel desired to want sex. With that in mind, it is not surprising that my ex-wife stopped wanting to have sex with me. Your situation appears to be much more complicated than mine; therefore, I do not have an answer for you other than your wife may have married you more for your “dad” attributes than your “cad” attributes because you clearly desire her. That is a deal that a lot of guys make.

        5. Jeremy

          @YAG, you asked, “Did you ever stop to think that a woman’s source of anger with a man is often because she feels unloved?”

          Would you believe…yes? 😉

        6. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          “What if their love language is sex? Would that not mean exactly what you wrote about conversation? And wouldn’t that mean that, in the case of an argument or emotional distance, that making that person qualify for sex via conversation first is actually holding their language hostage to yours?”
          I understand what you are saying but what would you propose? Would not pushing her to have sex when she’s not feeling a connection hold her hostage to his love language? But a large part of me just doesn’t get the obsession with sex. I guess I’m limited. I mean, maybe hottest, best-sex-of-your-life.

        7. Jeremy

          Never, ever, would I suggest pushing her to have sex. Useless, harmful, divisive. Nor was my suggestion even that she should push herself to have sex like he should push himself toward conversation. The societal messaging just isn’t there, most simply won’t do this, and frankly most men wouldn’t reciprocate, would take it for granted.

          No, my suggestion was simply to understand it. Because the behavior that follows understanding what brings people closer, respectively, is different than the behaviour that follows the assumption that everyone gets closer the same way.

          Such assumptions make even the simplest truths seem revelatory.

        8. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          “No, my suggestion was simply to understand it. Because the behavior that follows understanding what brings people closer, respectively, is different than the behaviour that follows the assumption that everyone gets closer the same way.”
          Fair enough. But why do you always write that having a conversation for a man is like getting needles driven into his temples? I realize some women are hyper verbal and there has to be some time for silence and just enjoying being together, but I couldn’t be with someone I couldn’t really talk to and who didn’t really know me and vice versa. I couldn’t have a shallow relationship with someone who was supposedly my primary relationship. My roommate described her late mother as “interesting” and then went on to say: “She loved her family. She liked to garden and to sing in the church. She was a good cook.” And I kept waiting for the rest of the story … but there wasn’t any more to it. So either her mother was the dullest woman on the planet — does that description not describe almost anyone? — or my roommate had no idea who her mother really was. I suspect the latter. How could you know someone from birth until your late 60s and that’s the best description you can come up with?

        9. Mrs Happy

          ETO: “But why do you always write that having a conversation for a man is like getting needles driven into his temples?”

          Related to this, my main feeling reading all this, is pity for people whose primary love language by far is sex or sexual touch, because mainstream society’s rules restrict them to having that with only their partner, which must narrow their experience of connection and love with anyone, in fact, everyone, else, and, for a very long time cultures have not been set up to have people dive into sex without decent swaths of time first spent in conversation, interactions, acts of service, gifts and compliments.

          Basically, sex/sexual touch must be the most regularly frustrating love language to have.

          But it does make sense of men who write that all they need to feel content is their job and their wife; I suppose nobody else can make them feel loved or valued, so there’s no point to them having other close connections. Maybe it’s why so many men are so insular.

        10. Jeremy

          My wife’s family has a very different culture around meals than I was used to when we met. Growing up, my family had a “You snooze, you lose” mentality. If the food was ready, you went and got it as fast as you could, because if someone else got it first there might not be much left for you. My wife’s family is much more genteel (some would say, waspy). When they invite company over for a meal, they spend at least half an hour in the living room chatting before coming to the table, and they serve the courses slowly, no matter how hungry their guests appear. It’s just how things are done, doing otherwise makes them uncomfortable.

          I remember the first time our parents met at a restaurant when we were dating. The waiter served my parents first, and they began eating voraciously as soon as the plates were set down. My in-laws, who were served about five minutes later, looked at them like they were a couple of savages. Because who eats their meal before everyone else is served? My parents were oblivious, of course, and after we all went home I spoke to them about it. “Why couldn’t you wait to eat until they got their meals?” I asked. They were baffled. “What, I should sit there starting at my food like an idiot, waiting for it to get cold?” they replied. “what does it benefit them to see us wait? Wouldn’t that make them feel guilty?”. I let it drop. Partly because I sort of agreed with them, partly because if I explained the other perspective they’d probably think it was stupid. Because it doesnt speak to them internally, being absolutely zero-part Guardian.

          I bring this up, Emily, in response to your question about conversation. It’s not that men can’t enjoy conversation – we can. It’s not that men don’t want to feel close or to know our partners – we do. It’s that some people prefer to converse for an hour before the meal to build rapport, and others feel that rapport is better-built over a meal. If you see what I’m saying.

        11. Emily, to

          Mrs. Happy,
          “Related to this, my main feeling reading all this, is pity for people whose primary love language by far is sex or sexual touch, because mainstream society’s rules restrict them to having that with only their partner …”
          Is the love language touch or sexual touch? Those are two different things. In some cultures, men are more physically affectionate with close friends and family members in the way that women are, so if touch was the love language, a man could receive some of that from other people other than his sexual partner.

        12. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          “I bring this up, Emily, in response to your question about conversation. It’s not that men can’t enjoy conversation – we can. It’s not that men don’t want to feel close or to know our partners – we do. It’s that some people prefer to converse for an hour before the meal to build rapport, and others feel that rapport is better-built over a meal. If you see what I’m saying.”
          I guess … You’ve written before that you don’t like casual sex, haven’t had it and wouldn’t be with a partner who had. So, if that is true, you, Jeremy, emotionally, even if your love language is touch, still needed that hourlong conversation before eating your meal in the very beginning of a relationship. You might want to skip that conversation now, after being married and knowing each other, but the difference between you and YAG is that he has had a lot of casual sex and was, at a different point in his dating life, down for it. That may have something to do with him needing the touch barrier to be broken on the first date and you not expecting it to be, though your love languages are the same. I’m not sure how the casual sex angle fits in, but people who’ve had it are, I think, a bit less circumspect than you about involvement (or at least some of their involvements).

        13. Jeremy

          Mrs H, do I seem to you someone who does not enjoy the connection obtained through conversation? Conversation is not my love language because connection is not my love content. The mix of emotions that I interpret as romantic love is not primarily connection. This does not mean that connection is unimportant in my concept of romantic love, nor that connection is unimportant in non-romantic love (or like, or acquaintance).

          It is not that people whose primary love-language is desire (not sex, remember) are totally satisfied as human beings with just their wife and their job. That other connections are unimportant. They just provide one with something else, other than that which makes up *romantic* love. Other things that seem far less important when one lacks romantic love (and wishes that one had it).

          When one has scurvy, a nice ripe orange is all that one craves. But once one gets a few oranges, one starts to crave other foods that provide things other than vitamin C.

        14. Jeremy

          @Emily, regarding your comment here – it’s true that I needed the “hour long conversation before the meal” when I was dating. Because why on earth would you want to give and receive love from someone who doesn’t know you, whom you don’t know? If love (to me) is feeling holistically desired for who I am, however could I do otherwise. Different story once known, once married. Or rather, same story.

          This is what I was getting at with YAG. Someone’s love language might be any particular thing. Expecting it from someone whom you don’t know, whom you’re just meeting….whatever you’re seeing is far less likely to be a love language than a method to get what they want. Whatever and whyever that might be.

        15. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          “Because why on earth would you want to give and receive love from someone who doesn’t know you, whom you don’t know?”
          Imo, what YAG wants expressed on the first date is not love but attraction. He wants to know his date is into him so as not to waste money and time. I totally get what he’s saying. I think a woman knows within a few seconds if the guy is a “hell, yes,” a “maybe” or a “no” in terms of if sex will ever be on the table. But, as Marika wrote on other posts, some women can grow in attraction.
          ” If love (to me) is feeling holistically desired for who I am …”
          I’m wondering if that’s my love language, too. I really want someone to pick me out for me, both as a woman and as a person, but I think it’s harder for a woman to receive that from a man because men find appealing such a high percentage of women.

        16. Mrs Happy

          ETO:
          “I really want someone to pick me out for me, both as a woman and as a person, but I think it’s harder for a woman to receive that from a man because men find appealing such a high percentage of women.”
          I know, it’s almost upsetting to hear from males on this blog that 80%, i.e. almost any woman, will do. Jeez. I mean, I don’t want to be a rainbow-coloured unicorn in my rarity, but a bit of special would have been nice …

          Jeremy:
          “..do I seem to you someone who does not enjoy the connection obtained through conversation?”
          Well, it’s hard to see over the walls you’ve built.
          The inconsistency does seem strange, balanced against your obvious enjoyment of conversation on this blog, when you infer how unwanted conversation is, in your connection with those close to you, or your sexual desire. That’s why Emily questioned you with her “needles driven into his temples” metaphor, it doesn’t seem to gel with how you present here.

          For a lot of women, we connect in such a variety of ways with everyone, so there isn’t always one way for the guy we are having sex with, and other ways for everyone else, and that’s why Emily and I are often shocked to read those ideas from you.

          Just in terms of the basic 5 love languages people discuss here, I see women all around me exchanging gifts and compliments with many people, and receiving enjoyment from both the giving and receiving of these, and investing in quality time with many, many people, and acts of service, doing things for family, friends, church, volunteering, and touching their children and other women, all far more than I see men doing any of those.

          I’m left wondering whether men usually narrow love language exchanges, to just those people they are having sex with? That’s one of the things I meant when I mentioned insular; to a woman who gets as much connection and joy out of conversation with friends as she does out of conversation with her partner, or touching her kids v touching her partner, the world is a place rich with numerous feel-good hormone spikes and happiness each day. If you can only feel that good for the few minutes the average sexual act takes, or when you happen to touch your partner, and no other love language exchange with anyone leads to much connection or pleasure, that’s quite sad, and the world must feel a more lonely, less connected, less enjoyable, place.

          And if this is true, when does it start? Because my 6 year old son joyfully exchanged Christmas presents with his male classmates at the end of the school year in December, and frequently approaches me for a big hug. But adult males in this country would view exchanging presents or compliments with their male friends as girly or gay, and not many of them seem to go out for long conversation-filled evenings with male friends.

        17. Emily, to

          Mrs. Happy,
          “I know, it’s almost upsetting to hear from males on this blog that 80%, i.e. almost any woman, will do.”
          Grosses me out to the very core.
          ” But adult males in this country would view exchanging presents or compliments with their male friends as girly or gay, and not many of them seem to go out for long conversation-filled evenings with male friends.”
          Funny you write that because I just started watching the TV series “The Sopranos,” and one of the things that struck me about the show, aside from the fact that the straight male characters obviously pride themselves on dressing well, particularly in very dapper-looking suits (yeah for well-dressed men!), is how affectionate and warm the men are with each other within the “mob family.” They are friends. They aren’t related. They hug and kiss their “bros,” and there’s nothing effeminate about it. When one of the male bros is in the hospital, the Tony Soprano mob boss character goes to see him and sits on the edge of his bed. My dad didn’t even do that with his own father when my grandpa was in the hospital dying.

        18. Jeremy

          Not that conversation is unwanted, Mrs H, but that it is unwanted in the context of desire. Don’t ask me what I want, just do it (in an established relationship when one really ought to know, much of the time). Don’t make me ask you for what I want. If we have to discuss it over and over, analyze it, break it down – then do you know me at all? That’s what I begin to wonder. Nothing at all to do with conversation in and of itself, as a means to build connection, share interest, exchange information, etc. But you can converse with anyone. Desire only comes from one person (as we tend to structure things today).

          I think, Mrs H, that you are definitely right when you say that men’s love languages are narrower than women, that we aren’t as able to connect or have pleasurable chemicals released in our brains from nearly as many of our daily interactions as women. Agreed. Leads to all sorts of problems, as we’ve discussed before. But I also wonder if the converse is also true – that because of this, women are less able to singularly love and be happy with a romantic partner in the long-term, because her attentions are too spread out otherwise? Again, who is the conscientious one, the multi-tasker who does lots of things but none deeply, or the person who does few tasks but follows them down the rabbit-hole?

      3. 6.1.3
        jo

        Jeremy, while I agree with your premise, I think you and YAG are talking about different points in the relationship, yes? While you are talking about love in established relationships, YAG is talking about first dates, in which it would not be wise to automatically assume love. He used the term ‘love languages’ just because that is the existing phrase, not because he means that he and a woman give and receive love on the first date. If only there were a more broad phrase that captured how we communicate in general (touch, gifts, service, etc.), even with people for whom we may not feel ‘love’, but just affection or accountability.

        While I agree with you that we should care about giving those we love the type of love that they care about, I also agree with YAG that searching for compatible love languages is sensible. It’s not wrong, for example, to seek partners who have a similar background (including ethnic and religious) or similar education level. At its core, finding similarities has the benefit of eliminating as many sources of potential conflict as possible.

        1. Jeremy

          While I agree with you on this, Jo, I’d add something. Something that I’ve commented before regarding the deficiencies of the “love languages” concept. Chapman talks about the languages that people use, the ways in which we communicate our emotions. But he neglects to mention that language is irrelevant without content. That once a language is a given, the words used are more important than the language – because in the words lies the message. You give a gift, because you know your partner’s love language is gifts. But if the gift you give is a dust-buster, what are you SAYING? What are you saying when you give a half-hearted hand-job to a man whose love language is physical touch; bury your face in your smartphone while sitting on a couch beside a woman whose language is quality-time; bake a cake and leave the mess for a woman whose language is acts-of-service; Copy the theme song of Family Ties as a love-letter to a woman whose language is words?

          The woman who is eager to touch YAG on the first date….WHY is she so eager? Is it that she is communicating the words he thinks he’s hearing in the language he thinks he’s speaking? Or is it entirely otherwise?

          I might have told this story before, but last year while on vacation, my wife and I were out having dinner and snooping on the young couple at the table next to us. They stared into each other’s eyes. “I love you,’ he said. “I love YOU,” she replied dreamily. I snickered into my glass (of which I’d drunk too much). “What’s your problem,” said my wife, “it’s beautiful.” “They think they’re saying the same thing,” I chuckled. “They ARE saying the same thing,” she replied testily. “No,” I replied, suddenly very sober. “They’re saying the same WORDS.”

        2. Yet Another Guy

          @Jeremy

          “What are you saying when you give a half-hearted hand-job to a man whose love language is physical touch; bury your face in your smartphone while sitting on a couch beside a woman whose language is quality-time”

          Why do you continue to conflate touch with sex? Touch and sex are separate things. You are making the major mistake that most men make when they think that their love language is touch. From what I recall, none of the questions that Chapman asks to assess one’s love language involves sex, not one. The questions asked are focused on what makes one feel closer to another person. Sex is not a love language. It is a physical act that causes the release of neuropeptides. The bonding effect is temporary at best. If sex was a love language then the only thing a man would need to stay with a woman would be to get sex from her on a regular basis. I do not know about you, but sex with the same woman becomes damn boring if there is nothing more. That is why most of my relationships have only lasted a couple of months at most. I have dumped a lot of women who were always DTF and great in bed because I never felt bonded to them. I am fortunate to have a girlfriend who has a high sex drive, but it is not sex that keeps me in the relationship. I am one of those guys who is fortunate enough to be able to obtain sex without having to expend much in the way of effort. What keeps things alive for us is that both us feel bonded from being physically close and touching each other (e.g., cuddling). I really could not grok what a few female commenters meant when they used the phrase “mind-blowing” sex until I met her. I am embarrassed to admit it because I spent a large part of my life as a man-slut, but great sex has little to do with technique. If that were true, I would have never dumped the previously mentioned women.

        3. Jeremy

          @YAG, you wrote, “Sex is not a love language. It is a physical act that causes the release of neuropeptides.” Not even sure where to start with this, YAG. 1) ALL touch is a physical act that releases neuropeptides. 2) Sex is not a love language….for YOU. Or me. See my comments elsewhere about desire as opposed to sex, particularly in Evan’s post “Women Teach Men, it’s about time.” For your comments about boredom, research dopaminergic personalities. For your comments about what Gottman wrote, research concrete-oriented personalities. I won’t bother with the rest. I am, however, very glad you’re happy in your relationship. May it continue.

      4. 6.1.4
        jo

        Also Jeremy, I just noticed your sad face when you wrote about values. 😉 Well, several of us women have written about power, so let’s mutually agree to shake hands and be friends!

        Emily, I have known some women who want to do this more when they are angry, but I am not personally like that. Strange, because my primary language may also be touch – but not expressed in that way, if I were in the situation you described. It would not feel natural or right.

        1. Jeremy

          Why would you expect it to feel right? If touch is your love language, why would you want to give or receive it when love is the last thing you’re feeling? Which is exactly my point to YAG.

          Oh, and I noticed and appreciated all the writing about power – that you initiated. Mrs Happy even admitted, in her most recent post, that what her earnings do is give her power when compared to other women who don’t work for income – power that translates into the freedom she needs. Will. Not. Gloat. After all, where’s the satisfaction in having one’s partner admit that the sky is blue? Especially when she herself has written about the duck-egg-blue-sky while denying it? 🙂

        2. Mrs Happy

          I thought about not mentioning the word, but decided being genuine and honest was more important than winning that round. After all, it’s important to do all this with you, with my honour intact.

        3. Yet Another Guy

          @jo

          What if the reason that you were angry was because you felt unappreciated and unloved? What would cause you to feel that way?

        4. jo

          YAG and Emily, yes, if I were angry for any reason at my partner, it would usually be because I felt unloved in some way, and sex would not make me feel better (even if it would make him feel better). Trying to understand why, I think this might be it: If I am upset at him, I don’t want to make myself vulnerable to him, and sex makes a woman hugely vulnerable – even with her long-term partner.

          YAG, I completely agree with you that sex and touch should not be conflated. In the past I have had partners whom I felt were cold because they rarely wanted to touch, hug, cuddle – and would only get all touchy-feely (often in a very obvious and aggressive way) if they wanted sex. Then of course, I resented that; thinking: why couldn’t you have been that affectionate with me the times I wanted it? Why does your touching have to come with an obvious end-goal in mind, not be the good end in itself? It felt so cold.

        5. Jeremy

          Hi Jo. I think the example you gave here, of wanting non-sexual touch and resenting the fact that a partner only touches you when he wants sex, is an important point to discuss. Is this a case of mismatched languages, or is this a case of mismatched content?

          I’ve written in the past that to me, love is being known and wanted in a holistic sense. Not wanted for certain attributes while others are politely ignored or undesired, but wanted for who I am. I don’t think this is uncommon, in fact I think it’s what most of us want. The question is, once someone does feel that way about us, how do we need them to show it? What comes next? Well, I think it follows that the person who knows is so thoroughly would know to do the thing we want them to do. The thing we like, that is meaningful to us – and would do it without our having to ask for it and thereby assume responsibility for it, the burden of it, the possibility of rejection.

          “If he knew me, if he loved me, he’d make me dinner and clean up the kitchen.” “He’d buy me a diamond ring to show me that I mean the world to him.” “He’d just sit with me, spend time with me, get off his phone.” “He’d hug me, massage my neck and shoulders, play with my hair.” “Because, [for any and all of these desires] that’s what I want. And a partner who knew me and loved me would know that and be happy to do it. And that’s how I’d know that he knows me.”

          Contrast that with the man who only touches you when he wants sex. He not touching you to give you what you want, he’s doing it to get what HE wants. He’s not expressing love – not in any language or form. What IS he doing? Maybe seeking pleasure. Maybe expressing dominance. Maybe SEEKING love, his own language that he feels is lacking. Depends on the person. But he isn’t showing love. Certainly isn’t showing the knowing of his partner.

          Touch, sex, not necessarily the same language, I agree. But might also be the same, for some. It’d be bad enough for a person to push any form of touch on an uninterested partner. But how much worse if that uninterested partner’s language WAS touch, and didn’t want to be touched in that way? Wanted something wise, wanted their partner to KNOW they wanted something else. Would this not turn their special language into a desecration? Like a woman whose love language is gifts, who’s expecting a ring in a tiny box – man gets down on one knee, gives her a tiny velvet box, and in it is….a note that the house is filthy and directions to the broom closet? It’s not that the language was wrong – it was exactly right. The very best way he could possibly tell her that he only cares about himself.

          …. Of course, the balance is that if the woman who wants non sexual touch has been ignoring her partner’s desire for sexual touch, she’s absolutely no better.

        6. jo

          Jeremy, we’re in complete agreement here. To answer your question, I think in the example I described (or was it Emily who first described it?), it is different content rather than different languages. An expectation of love vs. seeking something for oneself, not for one’s partner.

          What we’re discussing is relevant to a point in Chapman’s books about the love languages: that of needing to fill our partners’ ‘love tanks’ before making requests of them, as the optimal way for both parties to be happy. Give (in a way that our partner feels it most) before getting. In a trusting and equal relationship, one shouldn’t feel reluctance or distrust in putting one’s partner first.

        7. Mrs Happy

          Jeremy, re
          “I’ve written in the past that to me, love is being known and wanted in a holistic sense. Not wanted for certain attributes while others are politely ignored or undesired, but wanted for who I am.”

          I think that’s really unrealistic. Because everyone has faults, nobody can be 100% completely holistically admired and feted and loved. There will be aspects of everyone that even their most loving companions don’t holistically desire.

          Think of your 3 or 6 year old girls, for example. You love them completely, but they have tantrums, and whine, and are naughty, and don’t always do what you want them to e.g. eat veges, not hit their sibling, go to sleep. You don’t love them holistically, there are aspects of them that are less desirable or you ignore, and you’re their loving father; you’ll love them far more than most people will love them.

          You’re trying to fill a gap left by your narcissistic mother, but the way to fill the gap is not to yearn for complete holistic love from a partner to replace that childhood absence of maternal love and care, in doing so pouring more and more love into one partner in the hopes she’ll reciprocate and provide the whole 100%, it’s instead to accept nobody ever holistically loves everything about another, and change your expectations and behaviour.

          “… who is the conscientious one, the multi-tasker who does lots of things but none deeply, or the person who does few tasks but follows them down the rabbit-hole?”
          Following this need down the rabbit hole to the exclusion of other activities hasn’t worked in any sustained way. It’s not about being conscientious in this situation, it’s about simply doing what will actually work best to make you happier. You’re allowed to be somewhat pragmatic here.

        8. Jeremy

          I agree with what you wrote, Mrs H, though it’s not what I meant. Of course, no one will love my proverbial tantrums. My wife loves me, though she doesn’t love my bouts of anxiety – and I don’t need her to love those. Cause I don’t.

          What I was referring to was more of the broad category sense. For instance, wanting me for what I provide while not loving how I look. Or wanting me for my kindness while wishing that my personality was more extroverted. Or, in your case, loving you for your body and not caring about your mind.

          Your point about my mother and attempting to fill voids is likely correct. But your statement, “Following this need down the rabbit hole to the exclusion of other activities hasn’t worked in any sustained way”… I don’t know that that’s true. It has procured a relationship for me, a family, a series of attachments that I lacked previously, and has allowed me to do so with honour, to my satisfaction. Less effort would not have resulted in same… I don’t *think* less effort would have resulted in same.

          Said and done, my emotional reserves are used up within my household. My guess is that even the simplest women have greater reserves than I do in this regard. Or perhaps it’s not that their reserves are greater, but rather what they do to recharge those reserves only depletes my own, does not recharge me. Like an introvert at a party.

          Do women not focus on their husbands because doing so does not “work in a sustained way?” Or because it’s just not in their nature? I think it’s because they’d be miserable without all those other sources of connection. Do our expectations set our baseline happiness, or does our biology?

        9. Mrs Happy

          “Do women not focus on their husbands because doing so does not “work in a sustained way?” Or because it’s just not in their nature? I think it’s because they’d be miserable without all those other sources of connection. ”

          Observations within my social circle lead me to conclude that women don’t only focus all their energy on their husbands because their husbands can’t provide all their connection and life-interest wants.
          One friend’s husband only sees the world as black or white, so to discuss any issue of grey she seeks out friends. Another’s sits on a screen every hour he is at home, and it’s a barrier between them and any deep conversation. Another’s is such an introvert he never leaves the house except for work, so she attends parties and outings alone. Quite a couple of female friends have husbands who just want to go to work then come home and rest every evening and weekend, so anything e.g. sports she wants to do, she’ll do alone or with sisters or friends. Most of the husbands, while being a lot more involved than the average man worldwide is with his kids, aren’t devoting many hours a week to being with their children, so the wife does more of that, and on the whole has less irritability and impatience doing such. The women volunteer to forge connections at school or in their communities, probably because they’re interested in building relationships there, and giving makes them feel good.

          I think women would feel empty and isolated without those connections. In fact, I can’t understand why men don’t feel empty and isolated, mainly connecting with just their wife. It seems almost autistic to me.

          I’ll go with the gender frequent statistic language here though I know abuse goes both ways. Most people know one of the first things a controlling or violent man does, is cull their female partner’s friendships and social supports, male friends first, then female friends, then family relationships. The women end up feeling really isolated and empty, as well as fearful and alone. I bring this up with only a vague thought in my mind, that somehow doing this to a woman really weakens her hold on life and security, perhaps more than it would for the average man, … so those connections must be really important for females.

        10. Mrs Happy

          “What I was referring to was more of the broad category sense. For instance, wanting me for what I provide while not loving how I look. Or wanting me for my kindness while wishing that my personality was more extroverted. Or, in your case, loving you for your body and not caring about your mind.”

          You know, I’ve come to the conclusion that – and I don’t want to sound flippant – this sort of doesn’t matter. If my looks and body saw me able to have a string of great relationships (even though appearance-wise I’ve now descended into complete middle-aged frump disaster), does it really matter that the initial attraction for many men was my looks, or something different to what I most value myself? Not really. Worked out the same in the end, we all got what we wanted. I mean, why does someone else have to see worth in the things I hold worthwhile in myself – it’s enough I hold them dear.

          Similarly, if your providing ability and kindness let you have the kit and caboodle you want, it would be nitpicky to complain your loved ones didn’t value various other Jeremy things really highly too. None of us are perfect, and people prioritise different things; it’s ridiculous to assume we’ll all have the same order of wants and regard for each other’s every personal characteristic.

          The overall take home message is, your loved ones accept whatever combination of attributes make up you, or they would have chosen someone else.

        11. Jeremy

          Mrs H, you wrote, “Worked out the same in the end, we all got what we wanted.” Yes. But what if what you wanted was not static or historical, but rather ongoing? This is the crux of the issue, as we discussed months ago – the couple at the bar mitzvah. “You are my life partner.” “You are my everything.” Worlds apart.

          It is not that I pour love into one person in the hopes that it will be reciprocated in kind. I have given up hope of that years ago. Because when ones shoulds don’t match with reality, the problem is not with reality. I have opened my eyes and I see the reality, of what practical love looks like in the context of busy lives and limited emotional resources. It is good, certainly good enough.

          Yet when I blink, I still see the world as it could be, like an after-image behind my eyelids. And the map from here to there, my role to achieve that reality, is so very clear…and while challenging, certainly not impossible. I act as I do, Mrs H, because I have, in my heart and in my hands, the wherewithal to make it so. So why wouldn’t I?

          Why wouldn’t anyone? Perhaps it is because they don’t know how. And so I write.

          And perhaps it is because they don’t want to. Because the world that could be no longer holds the same appeal as it did, because “in the end we all got what we wanted,” as you wrote.

          Words. Confections of air and sweetness, like waves of meringue atop a lemon pie. Meringue that adds depth to the pie, softness to offset the crunch of the crust, a hint of sweetness against the tang of the lemon. But on its own, without the reality of the pie beneath it? Wholly without substance. Why do we not think about what we mean when we say the words, “I love you”? Is it because it isn’t important to us, or is it because we’re afraid of what we’d find if we did?

  7. 7
    Emily, to

    Jo,
    “Emily, I have known some women who want to do this more when they are angry, but I am not personally like that.”
    I guess in you see 2 characters in a movie who are really angry at each other and then suddenly go at it like animals, but .. It looks sexy but it’s about as realistic as porn where the woman is screaming her head off. 🙂

  8. 8
    Jeremy

    YAG, if you’re still reading, I was thinking quite a bit about this post over the weekend. Specifically, about your assertion that people whose love language is touch will break the touch barrier earlier. I wrote above that I agreed with this statement. I’ve changed my mind. I don’t.

    When I was a kid, I was forced to touch all sorts of people I didn’t want to touch in order to be polite. To give kisses to elderly distant relatives, to submit to being smelled by my great-aunt who had some sort of fetish about smelling children’s heads. To hug and kiss people as a way of saying hello. I hated it then, and I dislike it now. And your post has forced me to think about why I hate it so much. It is because touch is my love language.

    Physical touch is, to me, the means of conveying genuine affection. I want to be touched….by the people whom I love, who love me. I do not want to be touched (at least, in intimate ways – and I consider kissing and hugging to be intimate) by people I don’t like, don’t know. In the same way that a woman whose love language is words of affirmation doesn’t want to be told that a man loves her until he does (and preferably, she also does), I don’t want to be touched in that way under those circumstances. Because touch is my love language, and love is my love content. Intimate touch without love is worse than meaningless, it is a desecration.

    How could it be that a person whose love language was touch would want to touch and be touched by people he barely knows? How could he be eager for such? Is it that his default-setting to love is turned to “ON” (while mine is turned to “OFF”), and so he seeks touch as a default while I must wait on my emotions? Maybe. Or is it that love is not at all what he seeks when he seeks (and gives) physical touch? Likely.

    …..Or is it that what he means when he thinks of “love” is simply unlike what I think of – the word simply means something different to him? I find this the likeliest of all. How does any of us know that what other people see when they look at the colour blue is the same thing we see? How does any of us know that what other people think of as love is the same thing we do? I see ample evidence that the answer to the latter question is that it isn’t the same at all. So perhaps I’d suggest a modification to your assertion, YAG, that compatibility is best determined by similar love languages. Perhaps it is better to say that compatibility is best determined by similar emotional pie-charts of what we mean when we use the word “love.” But can that be right? Few men and women have similar charts in this regard. Does that mean they’re not compatible? Must we be the same, or is it sufficient to understand each other?

    I guess, in the end, I think the understanding is sufficient. But that understanding requires us to step beyond our own languages, beyond our own contents. And one has no understanding on the first few dates. That’s why I disagree with you, YAG.

    1. 8.1
      Jelena

      Agree with this. Love and greetings and two fundamentally different concepts, and are expressed in different ways by the same individual. When you meet someone for the first time, you put your ‘social mask’ on, and behave your best way and according to your own values for that social occasion; it does not have anything with love. That’s why for example people working in community or health services often have to attend courses in verbal communication, and to learn how to greet or ask specific questions people of different cultures.

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