As technology has evolved, the ways we create intimacy and experience love has shifted.
If you have an active love or social life, you’ve probably been asked about your love language. Created by Dr. Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages has been a source of support to bring lovers closer since it’s introduction in the ’90s. Acts of service, gift-giving, physical touch, quality time, and words of affirmation are categorized as the general ways in which we express and experience love in all relationships. This concept has been prevalent since 1992, but just like the way we experience movies has evolved from VHS to Netflix, so has the way we experience love.
The five love languages serve as a basic framework for how we love, but as society has evolved into a digital era, Millennials and Gen-Z have redefined the way we create intimacy and experience closeness, reframing our love languages with the rise of technology.
It’s not uncommon to see people attached to their cellphones around the clock. Subsequently, proximity is no longer a determining factor when it comes to intimacy and feeling loved; you could be sitting directly next to someone and still not feel intimate, but if you’re sending funny memes to each other the entire time then you’re now creating a close bond. It’s simple yet amazing that FaceTime, voice messages, web browsing, and even text messaging are now all major factors with how we connect and bond with others.
Jasmyne, 28, shared about how she uses technology for quality time. She stated that, “The spread of information and resources available through technology allows me accessibility to discover ways to create closeness and intimacy with others via quality time i.e., using Google search to find places to go, activities to try, etc.” Not only can we discover places to go, but we can also find friends and partners that may want to join us.
The internet has drastically increased the level of accessibility we have to our loved ones. What does this mean for the ways we experience each other in the new millennium? Perhaps it means our needs, wants, and values in relationships have developed with the times. Thus, with technology we see an extension of the original love languages. For example, digital support can serve as an extension of acts of service and accessibility, an iteration of physical touch.
When observing the effect that technology has had on the way we create intimacy, the ways we experience and express love can be categorized as: support, feeling seen & heard, care & concern, and accessibility. Ladies and gentlemen, these are ILY’s digital love languages.
It seems that having increased accessibility to our partners makes the time we spend apart more appreciated, yet we value feeling included in our partners daily lives and whereabouts. With video chat options, we have created the option to be present with each other even when we’re not physically in the same room. Mother of two, 31 year old Brittany Wright expressed how FaceTime and voice notes make her feel more connected to her loved ones. “I love that I can hear a person’s voice without having to really sit down and give my undivided attention to a phone call that might last 20 plus minutes. When I get a voice message I can listen when I have time to focus and then respond when I’m ready,” she said. “I also like sending them because what I need to say might get misconstrued via text.” They also allow her to feel more connected to her family, who she isn’t able to see often.
Accessibility can include sharing locations, removing the do-not-disturb feature for your partner, and sending selfies when you’re out enjoying life. These digital acts allow select people in or more access to you than others.
Feeling Seen and Heard
Nothing creates that special bond more than feeling seen and heard. Creating and sharing a playlist specifically for someone can show you’re attentive to and understand someone’s likes and dislikes.
Shannon Johnson, 31, believes that sharing media creates special moments that bring us closer. “Sharing videos help get an idea of a person’s sense of humor and can create a closer bond, like inside jokes and stuff,” she said.
In addition to exchanging memes and other outsider created content, sending selfies, and responding to messages using iPhone’s tapback feature are all ways we create intimacy through affirming your understanding of someone.
One of the fondest ways of showing love is through support, and with the use of social media, Millennials and Gen-Z have shown that there’s a ton of ways to do so. Sharing your partner’s business, brand or posts on your social networks and commenting those are the ultimate forms of supporting your lover in the present digital society. Sending supportive text and voice messages are also instant ways to show up for your partner at any time.
Care & Concern
If you’re not sending that “did you eat today” texts to your partner, do you even care about them? There seems to be this unspoken rule that sending messages of care and concern throughout the day increases connectedness. How good does it feel to have someone say, “Let me know when you make home safely,” or receive that “made it home” text?
Makeda Ray, 31, broke up with a guy for not responding to the selfie that she sent him. “I’m like, did you even care about my new hair color?!” she exclaimed. His lack of engagement made it seem like he didn’t care to her.
Going public with your partner on social media, leaving heart eyes in their comment sections, sending articles relevant to their life and sending messages throughout the day are a few ways we digitally show care. It’s that extra “umph” in effort that technology brings that takes showing care and concern to another level.
While these actions may seem small, they’re not to be taken for granted. Just 20 years ago, it was normal to maintain a close connection with a loved one without constant communication.
With a mass of studies indicating the detrimental effects of technology on our ability to socialize, connect, and be present with each other, it’s refreshing to see that Gen-Z and Millennials are getting creative with the ways we create closeness and redefining what intimacy looks like in our relationships. However, much like Chapman’s love languages, not everyone shows or receives love in the same way. One person’s heart emojis in the comment section of an Instagram post may be another’s FaceTime. It’s all about talking about what creating a deeper connection looks like for you and your partners.
Disclaimer: The last names have been withheld at the request of the sources.