Polyamory readiness question #3: What do you need in a relationship?

[caption id="attachment_30" align="alignright" width="250" caption="By Konrad Mostert @ stock.XCHNG"]By Konrad Mostert @ stock.XCHNG[/caption] In yesterday's post, I wrote about the different types of intimacy that can occur in a relationship (friendship, fwb, dating, etc.) While most types of intimacy are tied to an action or thing (intellectual, physical, and sexual), what builds emotional intimacy is a bit harder to pin down.  The reason for this is that it's tied to what a person needs in order to feel loved and cherished, and that varies based upon the individual. Fortunately, we don't have to reinvent the wheel.  An author and relationship counsellor, Gary Chapman, wrote a book on something he called the Five Love Languages, which are five elements that people use to deepen emotional intimacy. Rather than simply go over these 5 love languages, I am going to add a twist - I will show you where my husband (Corey), my boyfriend (Dale), and I rate in each category, along with how I feel on each of these. Before we go further, I highly recommend that you take this meme. Feel free to either post your results here, on your favorite social networking sites, or keep it to yourself.   

Our results:

 
1. Quality Time
  • Jessica: 10 pts
  • Corey: 8 pts
  • Dale: 7 pts
Quality time is spending time with your partner where your partner is receiving your undivided attention (or only partially divided). This can be done in deep conversation of by sharing an activity of mutual interest.  This falls in line with building intellectual intimacy.  Another way that the three of us are able to fulfill our need for quality time is using text messages and IM's to check in on each other on a regular basis throughout the day. To give you an example of something I did that made Corey's night - last night I moved my chair and laptop computer into the "man cave" (Corey's room where he has his computer and mini-bar).  We talked while each of us did stuff on our respective computers.  It wasn't anything overly spectacular, but it showed how much the both of us valued time with each other.  
2. Physical Touch
  • Jessica: 9 pts
  • Corey: 9 pts
  • Dale: 11 pts
I found it really interesting and neat that the three of us had "quality time" and "physical touch" as our top 2 love languages (though I placed a slightly higher priority on the former).  Obviously, touch is tied to physical intimacy. This brings up the question on how to handle the need for physical intimacy when you're in a long distance relationship. Dale and I are fortunate enough where we are able to see each other every 2 to 3 months. However, even that amount of wait time is straining. One way that we are able to manage our need for physical intimacy is through the use of a web cam. It may sound strange, but have you ever had a time where you were simply glad to be in the same room as your partner? While we may be hundreds of miles apart, using a web cam can create the illusion of only being a short distance away.  
3. Acts of Service
  • Jessica: 8
  • Corey: 6
  • Dale: 5
This ranked in the #3 spot for all three of us, but there is a noticeable difference in importance between me and the guys.  I am thrilled if the dishes or laundry get done without me needing to ask for it to happen.  I will take the grass getting cut and garbage taken out over a bouquet of flowers and a love poem :-) You might want to check and see if "Acts of Service" is among the top love languages for your sweetie - if that's the case, then doing household chores is an easy way to show you love them. If you're looking for a more selfish reason to do household chores, studies show that it can give you a more active sex life. The tongue-in-cheek series, Porn for Women, is further proof of this phenomenon.  
4. Words of Affirmation
  • Jessica: 3 pts
  • Corey: 6 pts
  • Dale: 5 pts
This ranked #4 for all three of us, but it is noticeably less important for me than the other two.  I will sincerely give compliments and words of endearment and encouragement to others that I know it will have an impact on,  but it doesn't move me as much as a caress or looking deeply into someones eyes.  
5. Receiving Gifts
  • Jessica: 0
  • Corey: 1
  • Dale: 2
To clarify - I appreciate gifts and will gladly accept them ;-)  However, for me, I do not feel that they are a vital part of expressing affection (for me). I prefer gifts of self, either through spending time with me, touch, or helping me with a project.  
How this relates to you:
There is no right or wrong answer to the Love Languages meme. This was meant to be another exercise into self exploration. I strongly recommend that you have your partner(s) take this quiz as well and see how you rank in the different categories. Hopefully this project can help you discover different ways that you can emotionally connect with them.  
Related Sites

greenfizzpops (not verified) wrote:

Tue, 02/03/2009 - 23:07 Comment #: 1

I'm loving these! Great stuff. I've been posting them to our poly mailing list too.

Young Metro Poly » Blog Archive » Polyamory readiness questi (not verified) wrote:

Fri, 02/06/2009 - 17:17 Comment #: 2

[...] my next article in this series, we will delve a bit deeper into how to foster emotional [...]

Young Metro Poly » Blog Archive » Polyamory readiness questi (not verified) wrote:

Sat, 02/07/2009 - 16:22 Comment #: 3

[...] what expressions of love you need in a [...]