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Entries in holiday post (1)

Monday
Feb132012

Don Juan's love languages

Did you ever notice people *subconsciously* give things they themselves like to receive? For instance, I like buying soft things--comfy sweaters, throw blankets, scarves. Now, everyone knows what to get me for Christmas.

This notion can apply to Valentine's Day giving, too. I rarely purchase candy for someone unless (like my daughter) she is an avowed chocolate lover. I'm not really hoping to get a box of chocolate truffles or chocolate turtles. Gummi bears, maybe.

Flowers are another matter entirely. (Bring on the roses!)

This idea of preferring to give and receive certain kinds of gifts ties into the notion that human beings possess a love language or languages, which the inventor of the concept Dr. Gary Chapman calls the primary way of expressing and interpreting love.

In case you aren't familiar with the concept, the love languages are:

  • Words of affirmation - "I love ya, honey. I love ya."
  • Quality time - "Sit right beside me, honey, while I watch the Super Bowl."
  • Acts of service _ "You washed and waxed my car?" Oh, you shouldn't have, honey."
  • Receiving gifts - "You got me a necklace from Jane Seymour's Open Heart Collection? Honey, you shouldn't have. You really shouldn't have."
  • Physical touch - "You don't mind if I rest my hand on your thigh while you're driving, do ya, honey?"

Most people have a predominant way(s) of expressing love. The trick, then, to pleasing someone is to discover and speak their love language, even if you don't speak their native tongue.

Don Giovanni is wooing Zerlina, a soon-to-be bride, but not his soon-to-be bride.I've been keeping company with history's most legendary lover, Don Juan, one casualty of writing a modern retelling of the legend. As characterized in the libretto of the Mozart opera Don Giovanni (Italian for Don Juan), Don Giovanni speaks two love languages--words of affirmation and physical touch.

In Act I, when he sees a damsel in distress that he doesn't yet recognize as the woman he'd thrown over in another town, Don Giovanni says, "I think I'll go and try just to console her." Notice he doesn't say, "I think I'll hand her this daisy I just picked." Don Giovanni uses words to  impress and later seduce.

Similarly, he's more afflicted by name-calling than having sticks and stones tossed his way, a sure sign that words are his love language. A little later in Act 1, he tells the same trying woman, "Hush, be still. Thy silly raving will a rabble gather round us."

So, ladies if you want to catch the eye of Don Juan-type, don't skimp on the affirming words. Similarly, if you want to wound a Don Juan, wound with words.

In my book, the Don Juan character takes great umbrage when another character says he has a big head.

"What you mean, big head?" he says, highly insulted.

As you might have guessed, Don Giovanni also speaks the language of physical touch.  In the aria " ci darem la mano," Giovanni sings, "Give me thy hand, oh fairest. Whisper a gentle 'Yes.'"

In another passage in Act II, he mentions both of his love languages in one passage sung to a maidservant on a balcony he's admiring from the street below: "Than roses art thou fairer, than honey sweeter, Balmier 'tis when thou sighest than western breezes. Oh, come, my fair, descend, I entreat thee!" He combines his love languages frequently, so it's difficult to tell which one is dominant, but I'll go out on a limb and say words.

If you are writing a character in a relationship, you might want to consider what love languages he or she responds to. Give different characters different languages for more diversity and to create other sources of conflict between them.

Because he's been so successful with the ladies, Don Juan hasn't given much thought as to the languages of the women he's chasing. Maybe Zerlina likes to have things done for her. Maybe if he had said, "Come my love, and let me do your laundry, he'd have had a better result."

If you want to be a Don Juan this Valentine's Day, pay more attention to the language that your love responds to (rather than the one you respond to).

And act accordingly.