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June 9, 2012 / Jess

Data Analysis

Dear Army,

There are many tangible aspects to relationships – knowing glances, clasped hands and lingering kisses, among other things.

You took that away from me. You take that away from all of us who date soldiers. It’s hard. But this is particularly problematic for me, because of my love language.

I had never heard about love languages before. Apparently, there are five. As I struggled to figure out how I was going to navigate a long-term long distance relationship, a friend suggested we take the quiz to determine our preferred love languages before he left. “Then, you can know more effectively how you prefer love to be communicated to you,” she said.

So we did.

There are five love languages in all: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. Most people have one or two languages that are most prominent; you can find out what yours is by taking this quiz.

Mine is, very clearly, Physical Touch. Jonathan’s is Quality Time.

Perfect. Of course that’s how this would play out.

We can sometimes get a semblance of Quality Time – it’s defined for this quiz as being there for someone, and giving them your full attention. I’m clearly being there for my soldier: I email every day, twice a day at a minimum. I try to send mail three times a week. Doubts may creep in, but my actions are consistent. He can see that. And we try to IM or Skype (WHICH NEVER WORKS ARGHHHH) every week or so and, at some point, I’m hoping to talk to him on the phone.

I’m out of luck when it comes to Physical Touch. Wah wah.

Neither one of us was particularly surprised that it is my love language. It is not uncommon for me to scamper up to him if he’s walking a bit ahead of me and grab his hand. If he greets me and we’re in a hurry, I’ll say “Wait!” and kiss him deeply, sigh in relief and say, “Okay, we can go now. I’m ready.” I feel connected through touch. I just do. I like hugs.

There is no semblance of that now. But I found a work around: I collect data.

I have a Google Calendar, and on it I put everything about this deployment. I know that the last time I spoke to him on the phone was April 15, and we spoke for 14 minutes. I know that in February we spoke on the phone for 2 hours and 45 minutes total, but when he was in quarantine in March, there was one day that I got speak to him twice and we spoke for almost 2 hours that day alone (March 11).  I know that the mail I sent him on Friday will probably get to him on Thursday because I write down the day I mail something and then make a note on the day he mentions that he received it. I know it averages out that we (try to) video chat every 10 days or so.

I know that it’s weird that I know this.

I do this because without physical touch, I lose my sense of connection. He feels far away (because he is), and sometimes, because I hear from him less often than he hears from me, it can feel like he is not as dedicated to this relationship as I am. That’s nonsense, but there’s nothing for my hand to hold – so I look to my computer to remind me that the gestures are there. I can’t feel their weight and they are not tangible, but they are there and as consistent as you, Army, allow. It didn’t feel like we talked at all in February – because most of our conversations were less than 10 minutes long. They often ended abruptly with someone in the background shouting “ROLL OUT” or “RAAB!” (his last name) and my suddenly angry-sounding soldier saying “I have to go – bye!”… but if I look at the facts, he called me 9 days out of 28, and we spoke for almost three hours. That’s actually quite a bit.

I have never loved math, but it is what helps me feel loved these days – the math shows me I am a priority.

But I’m ready for him to show that to me by holding my hand and kissing my cheek and giving me as many hugs as my heart desires.

I’m so ready to feel him again.

(Not) love,

Jess

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