Mar. 22nd, 2018

joreth: (being wise)
I was listening to a recent episode of the Multiamory podcast and they were talking about their Triforce of Communication, and I realized that this actually mapped pretty well with 3 of the 5 Love Languages. If you're having trouble figuring out your Love Language(s), this may help you narrow it down.

Their Triforce of Communication is pretty simple. It breaks down communication styles into 3 categories:

1) Sharing - one person wants to share something with another person and does not want advice or anything else, they just want to share and for the other person to listen.

2) Support - one person wants to share something with another person and does not want advice but does want some kind of support, like praise or expressions of sympathy or whatever is appropriate for the thing being shared.

3) Advice - one person wants to share something with another person for the purpose of eliciting advice, practical tips, or actual help.

Even though I've heard of these 3 categories before, because I've been listening to the podcast from the beginning, it just dawned on me tonight that these 3 categories overlap with 3 of the 5 Love Languages.
  1. Sharing = Quality Time - specifically the dialect of Quality Conversation. This is where two people are sharing *intimacy* with each other by being vulnerable and sharing of themselves through conversation. This is also known as wanting to be "heard", wanting to be "seen", or wanting to be "witnessed".  This is a connection-building moment. Someone wants to *connect* with another person by sharing something of themselves and the entire point of this conversation is to build intimacy and to make connections.  

    That is why advice-giving is so wrong here. Trying to "fix" the thing they're sharing about makes them feel like the connection has been missed, and the gift of their intimacy is being rebuffed in favor of problem-solving.  They don't feel "heard", "seen", or "witnessed", they feel as though they are being dismissed, not accepted, a problem to be fixed, or that the situation has been turned around to focus on the other person and their problem-solving skills.  I wrote about the Gift of Presence & The Perils of Advice recently, which included a link to a longer article on the subject.

  2. Support = Words of Affirmation. This one is also about building connection and sharing intimacy, but they want it to be more of a two-way street. They are sharing something for the purpose of eliciting praise or sympathetic words. It's through these Words that they get to feel that connection coming back at them from the other person.

    Again, advice-giving is wrong here because, to someone who is looking for Words of Affirmation, trying to "fix" their problem implies that they are not good enough to problem-solve on their own. It doesn't matter if the advice-giver doesn't feel that way, the point is that the speaker needs to hear Words of Affirmation and Support in order to feel loved, but what they are getting is "you should do something different from what you are doing" which, while *helpful*, is not necessarily *supportive*.

  3. Advice = Acts of Service. Now is the time for advice because this person is asking for your help ... a "service" of sharing your wisdom and/or offering to actually do something for them. When a person speaks Acts of Service, and they share a problem with another person, they are requesting that the other person show their love by assisting in fixing the problem.

    Our culture really reinforces the idea that we should not ask for help. It's often a gendered message, but still somehow everyone gets the message. Men are taught not to ask for help because they would seem weak and apparently that's the worst thing a man can be. Women are taught not to ask for help because it would *inconvenience* other people, and apparently being inconvenient is the worst thing a woman can be.

    So it may not always be clear that someone wants advice. They may come to another person with just a story of a problem and be hoping to have solutions offered, but not know how to ask outright. If this is the case, then merely sitting and listening, or listening and offering emotional support, can be seen as not offering *help* when they are in need. They need an Act of Service.
So I thought that was an interesting pattern here, that the types of communication that people often are looking for but very rarely express that they are looking for this specific type, match up with 3 categories of how people express love and how they feel loved by others.

In addition to all of that, these are all examples of Bids for Attention, as described by John Gottman. As a reminder, a Bid for Attention is when a person is requesting the attention of someone they love, and repeated rebuffs of these Bids result in the loss of intimacy in a relationship, which leads to a loss of the relationship itself. Bids are often very small requests, and not usually phrased as a clear "request", so if you're not paying attention, you can miss them. Which is part of the problem - that not paying attention to your loved ones.

So, there ya go - just connecting some patterns for you, bridging 3 different communication tools for your relationship toolbox. If you're having trouble wrapping your brain around one or another, perhaps seeing the connection to one of the other systems can help. Or maybe *you* get the systems just fine but you're having trouble expressing to others why this communication style is so important to you and this other one isn't because they can't really tell the difference? Maybe putting it in the terms from another system can help.



P.S. I teach a workshop on the 5 Love Languages where I take out the religion, the gender binary, the heteromononormativity, and even the assumption of romance, provide the basic framework of what the 5 Love Languages is and how to use it, and expand on it. I have very reasonable speaking fees and I'm quite often willing to waive the speaking fees for some kind of travel accommodation or assistance in getting to your event. Contact me to arrange a lecture or workshop for your group or event.

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