Repackaging Love Languages: A Digital Version
GRACELYN LIM talks about the five traditional love languages and explores how they can be reconceptualised and understood in the digital world we live in.
Hype Issue #58
December 6, 2023
Are you the type of person who’d pick up a protein bar for a friend while running errands just because you know they’d like it? Or are you the type who’d give your friend a hug out of nowhere? Whether you’re the former or latter, it doesn’t matter, it’s all about the way you show and receive affection. This brings us to the concept of love languages – the way we show and receive affection. Let’s take a look at the different love languages.
According to Dr. Gary Chapman, there are five primary love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, gift giving, and physical touch. Photo by Teo Hui Ying.
Words of affirmation
Words of affirmation are all about showing care and affection through words – whether it’s spoken, written, or over text. Phrases such as “I’m so proud of you”, “this friendship is important to me”, or “thank you for being here” mean the world to those whose love language is words of affirmation, so you better believe that this group of people really mean what they say with their entire heart, body, and soul. On the flipside, insults or negative comments, even if they were meant to be “casual remarks”, can really hurt them even if they seem to laugh it off on the outside.
The definition of quality time varies from person to person. For some, it might mean making time out of one’s busy schedule to meet up or simply dedicating a few minutes of your day to give your undivided attention to them. Contrary to popular belief, quality time doesn’t necessarily mean spending many hours together. Fundamentally, it all boils down to how you spend the time you have with those who have this love language. Postponing or cancelling time that’s meant to be spent together or not giving your fullest attention when together is detrimental to those whose love language is quality time.
Acts of service
Acts of service are all about showing that you care by making the life of the person you love easier. It could be as simple as helping them to pick up something while they’re busy, or something as simple as opening a bottle of water. To this group of people, actions speak louder than words. They’re not looking for big and grand actions. This group feels loved through small and thoughtful actions that show you care. Doing things for them without being asked to? Getting them a cup of coffee in the morning? You got it!
Individuals with gift-giving as their love language aren’t looking at the present you gave them at mere face value. They look at the meaning behind your gift as well as the time and effort you put into picking it. As long as your gift is heartfelt and not just another typical notebook or mug, they’ll be more than grateful. Psst… handcrafted gifts are sure to tug at the heartstrings of these individuals.
Last but not least, the fifth love language that we’re touching on (pun intended) in this article is physical touch. For this group of people, physical contact is the way they express affection, whether it’s through a pat on the back or a big bear hug. Another aspect to physical touch that you might have heard of would be public displays of affection, or more commonly known as, PDA. Playful hits, holding hands, walking down sidewalks, shoulders brushing – anything that allows you to display your affection and intimacy physically.
You might already be practising these digital love languages in your day to day life without noticing. Photo by Teo Hui Ying.
Moving forward, let’s take a look at the world that we live in today; it’s an undeniable fact that we live in a new world that’s driven by technology and dominated by digitalisation. With the increased prominence of social media in our lives, the concept of showing affection online has grown in significance as well. Here’s where the concept of digital love languages becomes relevant. The idea of digital love languages proliferated during the pandemic as well when the world went into lockdown, and physical interactions became limited. Let’s explore how the five traditional love languages can be presented and understood from a digital standpoint.
Digital love languages are becoming increasingly important as we live and navigate in a digital world. Photo by @werenotreallystrangers via Instagram, designed by Gracelyn Lim.
You might already be practising the “words of affirmation” love language unconsciously in the digital world through thoughtfully crafted and encouraging messages you send to your friends or loved ones. Beyond that, words of affirmation in the digital world can show up in the form of little updates throughout the day, quick replies, and even random sweet messages. Keep in mind that this love language is all about conveying affection through words. In a digital context, this involves using emojis and digital stickers to add a “tone” to your messages, compensating for the inability to express them verbally on a digital platform.
Quality time goes beyond video calls; it includes taking the time to record a voice message, while the other person takes the time to listen. The same principle applies to crafting and reading texts, both of which foster meaningful communication. We’re talking about proper messages and replies here, not a casual “lol”, “k”, or any small talk for that matter of fact. Another way that quality time shows up in a digital context is through playing video games together, whatever the game might be.
The concept of physical touch in a digital setting might seem paradoxical, but it’s still comprehensible. You may not be around your friend, but you can still see them through video calls and hear their voice through voice messages. PDA reimagined in a digital context can look something like posting your friends or your person on your social media platforms. Show them off online, just like you would in real life.
Acts of service and gift giving can go hand in hand in a digital world. Whether you’re creating a playlist for someone, sending them a post which reminds you of them, or ordering something online and having it delivered to their home. All of these are small and thoughtful actions that express your affection for the other party.
At the heart of it all, it’s all about the way you express and show your love and affection for your loved ones and those around you, be it in a physical world or a digital one.