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Domain Query: Romanticide

by | Jan 11, 2022 | Domain Query | 4 comments

We’re back with a new podcast, this time answering an interesting query from LRFotS Robert W. He asked me for my thoughts about inter-cultural communications, based on a particular book, in light of my 2021 reading list:

RE Five Love Languages By Gary Chapman:
My wife and I read this as part of a group study within the first two years of our marriage. It was a useful read but seems like it was a 24-page brochure puffed up to a 120-page book. The core concept of people experiencing incoming love in different ways and express outgoing love in different ways has a broad application beyond romance. In any type of customer-facing context, it’s good to pick up on how people respond. Just listening to the problems (quality time) or taking charge immediately (acts of service) or just a replacement latte (gifts) or a statement of appreciation for bringing it up (words of affirmation) all come into play.
Chapman (author) has made a real cash cow out of this whole thing though, there’s a half dozen different variations on this book that are all, years after release, still in the top sellers of relationships book. It makes me think people are looking for quick and easy fixes for handling people, and this promises quick and easy without having to do any work on one’s own self, at most just changes in how to respond to other people.

I would find your perspective on it interesting, in particular on how applicable (or not) it is in cross-cultural (eg USA/India) dynamics.

The book itself is called The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, and it is in fact pretty good, if somewhat puffed-up and overlong, given the subject matter.

I endeavour to answer his question by first providing an overview of the 5 languages themselves:

  1. Words of affirmation
  2. Acts of service
  3. Quality time
  4. Gifts
  5. Physical touch

(I almost surely referred to them out of order, but never mind that.)

Based on that, I then provide some cultural context for the cultures with which I am most familiar, and explain how differences in the ways in which we receive, and express, affection and respect, then create gaps in communications between different cultures.

The astute listener will note that I spend a lot of time talking about Russian culture. This is not accidental, since I know a lot more about it than the average Westerner (who knows basically nothing). If you know any Russians, run through what I say with them, and see if they agree – I’ll be interested to know your thoughts.

As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments, and don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe.

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  1. Robert W

    I had a good size drive today and I was able to listen in one straight shot. Thank you for putting this episode together.

    You added a lot of depth to my view of East meets West through the Japanese example. Everyone does the official meeting and says yes boss. Then the bosses go to golf and the supporting cast goes to dinner and drinks. Hours later, the karaoke busts out and there’s a bonding that comes from the quality time. The eastern hosts don’t take well to the over-the-top enthusiasm words of affirmation that come easy to the western guests, and the western guests enjoying the evening out don’t realize they’re expressing an I love you through quality time. In this case, the crossing of wires works out so long as everyone is patient with one another and doesn’t mind some N’Sync.

    A different example of gift-giving as a transaction was also informative. It reminded me of the Fat Leonard scandal with the US navy you linked to on Monday: https://www.rt.com/usa/542682-fat-leonard-francis-scandal/

    Everyone knew what the terms of the ‘gifts’ were: “You take the hooker, now I have my hooks in you”
    Simultaneously, a lot of coaching for international engagements includes the idea: “Don’t reject a gift/evening/entertainment, you don’t want to offend your hosts” I wonder if there was a short circuit for some of these Navy guys when Fat Leonard breaks the ice and they get swept away into deep water before they realized what was happening, and then ended up to deep to get back out.
    Or there’s a lot of scum running the ships and issuing orders…could be both.

    Good show mate, thank you!

  2. JohnC911

    Hi Didactic,

    I will for sure pick up this book and read.
    By the way happy new year.

    I have one question on the relationship. Have you ever had a person more on the Physical touch and Acts of service?

    In my experience Italians (especially Southern) have a mixture of these 2 (physical and service).

    • Didact

      Happy New Year, brother.

      I have one question on the relationship. Have you ever had a person more on the Physical touch and Acts of service?

      Sure. Mothers who love to cook, often express affection through Acts of Service – basically, by throwing vast amounts of food at you. This is a somewhat iffy way of expressing and receiving affection, because those same people usually derive satisfaction from consumption of food as well. And this is dangerous to them. There is a REASON why so many such women are fat.

      In terms of expression through Physical Touch – culturally, probably the Italians, the Punjabis, and the Arabs have those traits. I think there is an inverse correlation between the concept of “social distance”, and the amount of physical affection expressed by cultures. By this, I mean that cultures that are willing to tolerate a lot of physical proximity, are also more expressive physically.

      If you look at the Brits, the Germans, and ESPECIALLY Americans, they have very high social distance requirements. If you get within a metre of an American, that’s way too close – and that was BEFORE the Scamdemic made this silly “stand two metres apart” thing a rule. Americans need their space, as they like to say. But in Arab cultures, that social distance requirement drops down to a few centimetres.

      That’s just my opinion based on anecdotal evidence, of course. I have no hard data to back up these arguments, so take that with a big grain of salt.

  3. thedeti

    I’ve got a secret. Ready? Here it is.

    Every man’s Love Language is Physical Touch. Every one of us.

    There, ladies. See how easy that is? Touch your man lots. He will love you forever.


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