Sussex columnist: The lost art of romance in WhatsApp messages and learning our love language

The early days of a relationship might see you send your partner messages filled with affection. In those heady days of being a new couple, your WhatsApp stream is probably filled with declarations of love and carefully crafted messages.
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But they’ve got nothing on when you and your significant other have been together for 20 years, been married for 13 of them, and you can get straight to the point.

Take this exchange from last week:

Husband: Sends video of a plane landing sideways in high winds during Storm Ciaran.

Katherine's love language is 'receiving random videos of planes landing in a storm' (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)Katherine's love language is 'receiving random videos of planes landing in a storm' (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Katherine's love language is 'receiving random videos of planes landing in a storm' (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
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Me: “This is when pilots really earn their money. It’s called crabbing, isn’t it? I believe it’s a relatively common technique for landing in strong crosswinds.”

Husband: Sends GIF of Amelia Earhart.

Me: “I can’t help the fact I’m basically a pilot.”

Husband: Sends eye-rolling emoji.

That’s pure love right there. The stuff great romance novels are made from.

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Me: Sends panicked text from the supermarket at 8.30am on a Saturday (who in their right mind is up and shopping that early in the morning, anyway?!) – “Quick, text straight back, are you going to want to carve pumpkins with the kids or are we not bothering this year?”

Husband: “Yeah, I suppose so.”

Me: “Shall I get a couple then?”

Husband: “Yes, but get the cheap ones.”

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Practicality and financial savviness wins out over the mushy stuff any day, right?

This one is guaranteed to get you blubbing with its sentimentality.

Me: “I forgot to get bread. Please can you pick some up on way home for kids’ sandwiches.”

Husband: “Yep.”

I know, I know, I’ll stop now, it’s all way too emotional – lol!

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I can’t remember when the switch from ‘sweet nothings’ to ‘nothing special’ happened, but it was probably right around ‘having babies o’clock’.

Because there’s nothing like throwing two small and time-consuming people into the mix to make sure you get straight to the point.

A popular concept around relationships in 2023 is the idea of love languages.

The premise is that we all give and receive love in different ways: such as words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch.

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I’m thinking my husband’s and my love language could be summarised as ‘The sending of random TikToks (have you seen the one of the guy running on the giant treadmill? Hilarious!), GIFs and sarcastic comments’. Although I’m pretty sure this wasn’t what author Dr Gary Chapman had in mind when he penned the now hugely successful books on the subject.

Sure, it might not sound as wholesome as saying your love language is quality time, but the power of being so comfortable with somebody that you can simply send them memes of people that look like their pets with no explanation or preamble is not to be underestimated.

Who else is going to send me random reels of The Rock talking to tourists on a tour bus in Hollywood?

It might not be chocolates and roses, but he knows I really do love The Rock.

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In amongst all the texts about the children, the making of plans, the shopping needs and the downright random, there will occasionally be a little reminder that romance isn’t dead.

Just today, without warning or expectation, an ‘I love you’ GIF dropped into our WhatApp chat.

Maybe ‘words of affirmation’ is our love language after all?

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Either way, in the middle of the videos of cats falling off walls and flashbacks to a young Rishi Sunak (perhaps the most random yet?!) it’s always nice to hear that.

Don’t worry though. Before it all got too soppy, I replied with a video about shark attacks. Because life is all about balance.

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