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How does the pandemic affect our love language?

By Ysabel S. Vitangcol Published Apr 09, 2021 6:12 pm

Over a year in lockdown, the pandemic has challenged us to improve our communication skills. Personally, as health protocols prohibited social interaction and face-to-face meetups, I have learned to be more expressive toward others, particularly my loved ones, through whatever means possible other than what I am greatly comfortable with: words of affirmation. 

Known for conceptualising the “Five Love Languages,” best-selling author and counselor Dr. Gary Chapman argues that an individual speaks "one primary love language.” Once identified, relationships are believed to grow and improve, acknowledging a deeper understanding towards one another. Besides words of affirmation, the theory also includes acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. 

3, 2, 1… Touchdown

Physical touch is the most difficult language to fulfill today. Now that the Philippines is returning to stricter lockdown protocols, it could get unnerving for those who exhibit affection through touch. 

A Metro Manila-based art director, who prefers to remain anonymous, was given no choice but to “suck it up”. Being stranded in a different city, he was only repatriated after three months since the outbreak last March. 

“We were able to meet up once a month (with masks on), but it was because I did swab tests for work and was confident to meet up, monitored if any symptoms developed after hanging out.” 

Meanwhile, medical student Cai T., who considers herself as an introvert, always sought comfort in “me time.” However, as time flew by and online learning came in full swing, she began craving face-to-face socialisation.

“I’m very malambing. I’m the kind of person who likes to hug people a lot, randomly hold hands with friends, or rest my head on my seatmate’s shoulders. Now that lockdown measures are stricter again and we have more infectious strains, I feel like I’m back to square one.”

As the risk of COVID-19 increases each day, making it a much longer period before embracing love through touch, Cai advises to work through other love languages in the meantime.


 
As the risk of COVID-19 increases each day, making it a much longer period before embracing love through touch, Cai advises to work through other love languages in the meantime. For her case, it was giving and receiving gifts. 

“I became accustomed to this and all the more grateful when my friends take the time and resources to send me things that will hopefully lift my spirits, or just because they thought I would appreciate the gesture. I wouldn’t say that the shift has made me a materialistic person, since I’ve always seen their gifts as hugs from far away.”

Show and tell

Those who consider themselves as someone who renders love through deeds validates how actions are meant to speak loud. Entrepreneur Trish is one classic example.

As a professional in the jewelry industry, Trish helps fiancees-to-be in choosing the engagement ring of their partner’s dreams. In a way, she gets to play cupid and use her love for the craft and genuine care for their clients.

“It feels extra special for us to be able to assist and share these milestones with them despite the situation. If there’s any silver lining amid all the chaos surrounding us, it’s that love is still very much alive and there’s just absolute no time to waste,” she happily shares. “It feels extremely rewarding and I found happiness sharing these precious moments with them.” 

Coy S, who has been in a nine-year relationship, regards acts of service as a means to show how much he values another person’s happiness or contentment. 

“I always try to read people and think ‘what would this person appreciate’ or ‘what can I do to possibly please this person.’ I think it’s because it’s one of the things that I also like receiving. I like returning the favor.”

Noelle G., a newly-wed based in San Diego, California, shares that acts of service come in different forms, so communicating is key in determining what you want met. 

Other people might not reciprocate the same effort you might be doing. We have to accept the fact that it just might not be their own love language.

“Find out which act of service holds the most meaning to you and communicate on how you want that specific thing to be done,” she says. ““[My husband] Dean is very good with making sure that he's doing the little daily things for me like making the bed and making food. Or when we're out, he fills up the gas tank for me.  

“If you're with someone, be patient with your person. They can't read your mind and you won't appreciate that certain act if it's not how you want it done.”

The silver lining of acts of service, or any love language for that matter, is requiting. Coy humbly suggests that deeds should be done from the heart, without expecting anything in return.

“Other people might not reciprocate the same effort you might be doing. We have to accept the fact that it just might not be their own love language,” he advises.

The greatest gift of all

Receiving and giving gifts has been made convenient nowadays, where online shopping and courier services peaked during quarantine. Because of this, it became a “developed” love language over the past year. 

Chris J.*, believes that the way through one’s heart is through the stomach. 

“When [my girlfriend] says she's ‘thinking of buying’ or ‘craving’ something, I just take note of it and order it right then and there, or another time. When the restrictions eased up, we started to visit each other at our houses, usually bringing food for each other's families.

Chris has been in a relationship since 2019.

Being away from home for so long, it takes a lot of creativity to get around and fulfill my usual love languages. The time difference only makes it difficult. Yes, there’s always quality time and words of affirmation, but they hit differently when you can’t see them face to face.

“We also developed a fascination for Funko Pops, so we would surprise each other with a Pop the other one is eyeing to buy. It’s always the thought of the gift that counts and usually serves as a memory.”

Similarly, distance makes gift giving almost a necessity. Luigi L., who has spent more than a year abroad, has gotten comfortable with giving gifts, even if it isn’t his usual love language.

“Being away from home for so long, it takes a lot of creativity to get around and fulfill my usual love languages. The time difference only makes it difficult. Yes, there’s always quality time and words of affirmation, but they hit differently when you can’t see them face to face.”

Luigi has since turned to flower deliveries and Lazada purchases to make his significant other feel loved. 

“Most of the time, we’re always busy. But whenever there’s a special occasion, I always make sure that I send something over even if it’s a little something. Every small gesture helps.”

There’s a certain kilig factor when a concrete piece of love is sent your way, isn’t it? Just make sure to always thoroughly sanitise them upon receiving!

Tale as old as time

I recently conducted an Instagram poll asking my friends online what their love language was. I’m not surprised quality time scored the highest. With our current situation, truly, today’s era has given us the chance to think about strengthening relationships amid the loneliness brought about by the quarantine.

Garrich F., a primary school teacher now based in Madrid, considers himself lucky to be surrounded by a great support system.

“Being away from my family, I was filled with a lot of fear and anxious thoughts. However, I made it a point to be hopeful and vigilant at the same time during this period, and it really helped!” he exclaims. “There were many times when I really received [quality time], through video calls— whether they were expected or not, and just warm endearing messages of support - all thanks to social media, to be honest.”

To Garrich, honest conversations were key in handling and strengthening ties, uprooted from quality time. Lifestyle writer, Koji A., couldn’t agree more.

Social media has played a powerful tool in making do with quality time while meet-ups are still deemed risky.

 

“Calls helped! It’s so weird but I only started doing voice and video calls during the second lockdown. It definitely helped hearing my friends and my family’s voices and seeing their faces.

Social media has played a powerful tool in making do with quality time while meet-ups are still deemed risky.

“I’m so grateful for [social media] because now, quality time doesn’t have to be physical. I get so giddy when friends tag me in memes or articles. It means they remember me,” he says. “I now have deeper friendships because there are people I talk to everyday. Talking to them on Messenger and Instagram made me feel less lonely. “

Sweet talk

Known as the most common of the five, it has been regarded that those who have words of affirmation (WOA) as their primary love language have a way of verbally soothing the souls of those close to their heart.

“Without the face-to-face interaction that we were used to prior to the pandemic, I became more expressive than usual and I felt that I needed more WoA as well,” says dog enthusiast Grace G.  “The main challenge for me would be not really on manifesting words of affirmation, rather than the longing for it.” 

Food technologist consultant Izo H., on the other hand, admittedly finds it difficult to express affection as a result of the series of unfortunate events during these trying times.

Don’t be shy to share with your partner if your emotional needs are unmet.

“[Nevertheless], I always try my best to just give positive or good vibes. Through this you are able to build an aura, which for me really, affects the people you come in contact with… with proper protocols and social distancing, of course.”

The digital era has proven to be beneficial for WoA manifesters, as love can be coursed virtually through instant messaging applications.

“With my partner showing support by cheering her online, studying with her online, reminding her of her exams, and once she gets through them successfully, she would always thank me for being there,” Izo smiles. 

Grace also reminds that in as much as the power words can give, she reminds to “say it lovingly.” 

“If your partner’s love language isn’t WoA ,and maybe they’re not as expressive as you wish, be patient with them. Maybe you also need some learning to do with their love language. 

“Don’t be shy to share with your partner if your emotional needs are unmet,” she explains. 

*Name has been changed.