If you have a terrible Valentine's Day track record, we hate to break it to you, but the stakes are getting higher year-on-year.
Ashley Madison reports the day women cheat the most is February 15th. Yep, sign-ups supposedly skyrocket the day after a disappointing haul on Valentine’s Day (though I'd take that statistic equally as fact as I would a grand marketing play).
The hallmark holiday places a big emphasis on gifts as the ultimate expression of love. But if gifts aren't her primary love language, then no, money 'Can't Buy Me Love' (just ask Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa).
What do we mean by 'love languages'?
Dr. Gary Chapman penned the Five Love Languages theory in the ’90s after noticing reoccurring patterns in his marriage counselling sessions. It blew him up to New York Times best-selling status and has since helped millions of couples off thin ice and thousands of men out of the doghouse. Win-win.
In short, we've all been doing it wrong. There isn’t just one way to say ‘I love you,’ there’s actually five. They're called 'love languages,' and each person speaks a different one (or a combination of a few). Read them below, commit them to memory, and never forget them.
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Receiving Gifts
- Quality Time
- Physical touch
Generally, we favour one or two, well above the rest. But each of us (and our partners) have our own individual hierarchies. Essentially, they're determined by how you received and observed acts of love growing up.
Dr. Chapman simplified relationship break-downs to couples not knowing how to express love in the way each other preferred to speak it.
You might think you're doing all the right things, but emphasising the bottom of the ladder could lead to turbulent times ahead and a very frustrated partner.
Chapman invented this quiz to allow the average chump a chance to understand both theirs and, more importantly, their partner’s, priority love languages. My advice, ahead of the big day, is to do it together and swap notes. It's really that simple.
This minor reframing can have a massive long term impact on how you communicate. It's also crucial that you do you too. Love begets love. The better you feel heard and appreciated, the more you will be able to express it.
And of course, in the short run, it will save you from cleaning up a massive mess after a dicey Valentine’s Day. Especially if you discover that when it comes to 'gifts', she's just incommunicado.
Are you still trying to get your head around things? Here's where you should start.
Words of Affirmation
Don't just fish for compliments; be firm in asking for them. Rogue "I love you's," won't cut the mustard. You feed off praise - and often. It doesn't need to be gooey, romantic words over candlelit dinners - messages or cute personal jokes of appreciation are enough to unlock the key to your heart.
They get a thrill from hearing how much you care about them and appreciate them. Do it consistently. Start small with encouraging compliments and move on to more significant gestures with how good they make you feel. Think handwritten notes, lipstick on a steamy mirror, and upping the text game in the lead up to February 14th. Kanye West engraved one of his loving texts to Kim onto a Vintage Cartier Necklace. Two birds one stone?
Acts of Service
You aren't just a master delegator. You need to know someone is around and willing to make life easier for you. Even if it revolves around the more mundane of day-to-day life. Think of items on your to-do list that would be great to have a hand with and ask for some help.
Prove it! For those playing at home - this is the whole "actions speak louder" one. Ask in specifics how they want you to show them love because they might surprise you. Think breakfast in bed, washing up or vacuuming the house. Don't ever say you'll do something, and then not do it. And don't forget to deliver service with a kiss or a smile. (Tip not included).
You are a very 'present moment' person and get satisfaction from deep chats and attention. Basically, your day is distraction overload, and when you want to be with your partner, you just want to be. Set the example by keeping your phone out of the bedroom, and ask interesting questions to get them to open up.
If quality time is significant for your partner, we’re talking phones down and undivided attention. Mute the group chat. Do something together that you can both give your energy and focus toward equally. This could be a romantic getaway over Valentine's Day or just carving out a night together to cook or unwind with an epic Spotify playlist. Bonus points for making it a regular thing.
You're very comfortable with PDA and look forward to time alone together above all else. Missing out on these moments makes you feel lonely. Introduce a lot more couch time and nights-in so you can get your fix of intimacy, but know that you can still find this intimacy outside four walls. Get creative.
Jackpot, and not that you ever needed reminding. But don't just focus on sex. Make sure your partner gets their fix with hugs, massages, play with their hair, hold their hand, cuddle on the couch, and keep them close. If you're apart this Valentine's Day, sneak something of yours into their suitcase, so they have something of yours with them.
Gifts are your be-all and end-all, and no, you're not a materialistic asshole, I promise. Rationalise it to your partner this way; you're very sentimental. You love knowing the thought that went behind it, and you cherish the memories of opening it together.
Now I ain't sayin' she a gold digger...but there are aspects to the gift-giving process to focus on that won't break the bank. If you are making a judgment call on the item, be able to explain the thought that went into choosing it and present it beautifully. There's also still time before Valentine's Day for one of their friends to weigh in. Treat the whole exchange as essential and don't skimp on wrapping.