One of the most positive outcomes of our adoption of a D/s dynamic has been the dramatic improvement in communication. We’ve always been good at verbally expressing ourselves and would try to talk out issues, but many times all the right words would be there, yet the message just wasn’t “clicking”. Part of our self discovery process, which included working with a kink-aware therapist, was learning some of the other various ways in which partners communicate.
Gary D. Chapman, in his book “The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts” puts forth the theory that there are five emotional love languages – five ways that people speak and understand emotional love. His contention is that the majority of relationships that fail do so because partners are not speaking the same language. We tend to speak our primary love language, and become confused when our partner does not understand what we are communicating. We are expressing our love, but the message does not come through because to them, we are speaking a foreign language. As frustration mounts, we try even harder to communicate, making the signals even more mixed.
While the book is a little dated and most of the case studies are heteronormative, the five languages themselves did resonate with me in terms of our D/s dynamic and how in our particular case love is expressed. This is one of the few resources I’ve found that talks about multiple channels for that expression, some that are particularly appropriate for our lifestyle.
The Five Love Languages:
Words of Affirmation – Mark Twain once said “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”. People in the catagory thrive on verbal compliments, and words of appreciation, both giving, and receiving.
Quality Time – This is best described as when being with someone, being totally with them. They get your undivided attention, and become in those moments, your ultimate priority.
Receiving Gifts – Gifts can be physical tokens, but can also be the gift of self. It’s something you can hold in your hand or your heart and say “Look, they were thinking of me.”
Acts of Service – Doing things you know your partner would like you to do. You seek to please by serving, and express your love by doing things. Done with a positive spirit, not a spirit of exchange.
Physical Touch – Not just bedroom activity, but the casual touchs and gestures that make up everyday life.
Chapman challenges readers through several exercises in self discovery to determine their primary love language and communicate it to their partner. It’s not necessary that each partner have the same primary language, but it is imperative that they come to understand what their partner’s is, and how to interpret it.
Everyone has some slight mix of all five, and I’m sure Lady Pagan will comment on her own love language. For me as a submissive, it really boiled down to two:
Acts of Service – Household chores, personal service, obeying commands, all give me a sense of satisfaction and contentment. For me, they are the ways I express my love and dedication to my partner.
Physical Touch – This is a big one for me as well for both expressing and receiving assurances of love. I’m not talking specifically about sex, but more importantly, a casual caress, hug, or lingering touch. As a masochist, I also interpret things you might not normally consider, such as a flogging, slap, or spanking, as a loving gesture when done it that spirit.
Now that Lady Pagan and I understand each others love language, our communication and reassurance that we are loved and love in return is occurring on many levels. We still have conflict, which will be the subject of another post, but it tends to be around real issues, not misperceptions or feelings of being unloved/unwanted.
They might first seem a little simplistic, and real life is always a little more complex. In practice however, we’ve found the exercise quite useful, and worth a little investment in time.
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