Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Comment author: Strangeattractor 02 October 2015 10:25:34AM 1 point [-]

This sounds very similar to journaling about ways my wife showed love each day

Journaling is focused on keeping track of what happened in the day, and what you perceived externally. That's not the point I had in mind with the exercise. The exercise was more to help your mind remember what it feels like to be loved. It's almost like training a muscle with weights or something. If you can bring up that feeling to mind more often, you might get used to it being there more often.

Journaling might help, but in a different way.

You could say that I'm feeling unhappy as a result of being lonely as a result of not perceiving enough love.

Thank you for this comment. I understand a little better.

I don't want/need stuff and a gift is more stuff wrapped in garbage which will eventually end up as garbage too.

If this has been your most common experience with receiving gifts, then no wonder you don't like it.

As someone who enjoys giving and receiving gifts, I would say that such gifts at least partly miss the point of giving gifts. It works much better when the gifts are thoughtful and something that the person receiving it actually likes.

There is weird cultural stuff around gift giving, different in different families and culture. In some cultures it is polite to pretend to like a gift you don't like. But in a romantic relationship, I think it is better to give feedback, and practice at getting better at it. Say it tactfully, but be honest. Then through several cycles of gift giving and feedback, adjustments can be made as you go along.

Perhaps you would prefer gifts more along the line of some sort of food that you enjoy that you could consume in a short period of time, or digital files that don't take up more physical space in your home. Those are examples I thought of that I think are less likely to fall into the category of "garbage wrapped in garbage". But you may have ideas that better suit you.

I know your topic is broader than just gifts, but I think in this example, you may not have had the experience of a gift done really well, with a lot of thought given to your preferences. When that happens, that feels pretty great, at least to me. But I also have had the experience of being given things that are of no use to me at all. If it's strangers I smile and nod, but for people close to me, I think it is worth bringing some assertiveness to the topic. In a long term relationship, I would not be satisfied with "That was kindly meant, but made my life slightly worse." Or maybe I would on occasion, but I would find it easier to accept if I had attempted to make the situation better in general.

In such a situation, I would communicate with my partner to see if we could find a way of doing things that was better for us both.

Maybe it should be "How can I feel positive emotions when people do nice things for me, irrespective of the format/modality of the nice thing, without having to consciously think about how it was a nice thing for someone to do."

Would it help to be able to separate in your head a bit the intent and the result? Because sometimes these do not match up.

You probably won't get to it being automatic to recognize and acknowledge someone's intent without spending some time doing it consciously.

If you observe people carefully over time, you may get a better idea of what their intent is. Or you could be more active and ask them directly (but politely) why they do the things they do.

Its seems I would like to make that lower-cost to me.

I think I'm missing something, because I'm not sure how that relates to what we are discussing. How would changing your perceptions of how love is shown make it easier to deal with when your wife takes some time to be with her friends?

It sound to me like your wife needs more time with her friends, but that the two of you also need more alone time together. Time is at a premium. I don't think it is reasonable to say "don't see your friends". But I do think there may be a way to achieve that, and achieve more time together. They don't have to be mutually exclusive.

I don't know your specific circumstances, so maybe your time really is that scarce. But from the outside, and from the limited information I have, I think "making time to be alone together more often without reducing time spent with friends" sounds like it might be important to the future of your relationship.

It seems like an incredible brain hack, that (assuming it works and is easy or not-terribly-difficult and has no side affects) would be wise for people in general to do. The end goal would be having all modes equal and highly sensitive.

I think that getting better at perceiving the other modes is achievable. I think that having more appreciation than currently you do for the other modes is achievable. I'm not sure that preferences for which modes you like best are so easily changed. I'm also not sure that having all modes equal and highly sensitive should be the end goal. I think that to you right now it looks like it would make your life easier, but it may not be optimal.

I also don't think that this is something that you necessarily have to do alone. If you can talk to your wife more, ask her what she's thinking, get her help in this project, that may help. When she's doing something that shows her love for you, she likely knows it, and could help you notice it, if you ask for help noticing.

I've had times in a relationship where I've asked my partner to help me when I'm clueless about something that they care about, and it has worked out well, though it can be uncomfortable at times. Sometimes expressing the confusion openly helps.

Comment author: beberly37 08 October 2015 01:31:00AM *  0 points [-]

Thanks for your replies

If this has been your most common experience with receiving gifts, then no wonder you don't like it.

My issues with gifts are very layered and very deep, from going from middle class to "free-or-reduced-lunch" in middle school and becoming acutely aware of the value of things and what my mom was sacrificing for a new-but-cheap pair of jeans to a general avoidance of having stuff I don't want/use to a history of big gifts that were literally the opposite of "its the thought that counts". My wife and I don't really engage is gift giving, and it is not an area of contention.

Perhaps you would prefer gifts more along the line of some sort of food that you enjoy that you could consume in a short period of time...

I have been making a conscious effort to train people in giving experiences, as they are should to improve happiness vs presents, and don't offend my minimalist/zero-waste ideals. This is going to be a big challenge in the coming years are our 2 and 4 year olds get older.

You probably won't get to it being automatic to recognize and acknowledge someone's intent without spending some time doing it consciously.

I'd would disagree, at least for me I have been able to temporarily create new unconscious reactions. I have a little quirk that I'm paranoid that I'll call my lover the wrong name. When I first started dating my wife, any time I thought about my ex, I would repeat my wife's name in my head, this led to an odd habit of doing the same thing when I caught myself checking out another girl. That habit let to an unconscious reaction that seeing a "hot chick" would make me think of my wife. That has now attenuated away, but I'm sure if I started mentally repeating my wife's name whenever I check out a woman, it would come back.

Comment author: Larks 25 May 2015 06:11:11PM 7 points [-]
Comment author: beberly37 02 October 2015 12:57:10AM 0 points [-]

It appears that MetaMed has since gone out of business.

Is anyone else attempting to do this? Is there any data on MetaMed's success rate (other than the fact that they went under)?

Comment author: Strangeattractor 30 September 2015 05:18:44AM *  3 points [-]

One exercise you could do is to remember a time you felt loved, and how it felt, and focus on that feeling. Spend a bit of time each day bringing up that feeling into your consciousness. Or, another similar thing to do would be to imagine being surrounded by love, with whatever visuals or feelings feel right to you.

There are likely ways to feel more comfortable with receiving compliments or gifts. But, once you are more comfortable with these other expressions of love, would you feel more loved?

Feeling loved does not seem straightforward to me.

I think "How can I feel more comfortable with receiving gifts and compliments?" would be an achievable goal. Perhaps that's a good first step. But I'm not sure it will get you what you want.

Feeling loved, at least in my experience, does not always correlate to external circumstances. Sometimes it's more of an internal issue.

Are you sure that "feeling unloved" is what is going on? It sounds to me like it's possible that what's happening is that you are feeling frustrated and lonely. Which may not be the same thing.

I know you said it is unlikely to be able to set aside more quality time for each other, at least for the time being, but I think it would be worth taking the time to think about it in more depth. Perhaps there are creative approaches that could result in more time together. Even if that's not feasible for the moment, perhaps you could make a more long-term plan to get to a point where it becomes more feasible.

Here's one idea, though perhaps you have already considered it. Find some friends who also have children, and set up a schedule with them where they have your kids over to their house, for the evening or even for a sleepover, one night of the week, and you have their kids over to your house one night of the week. Then you have at least one night of alone time, and it isn't costing you extra money. I have no idea if this would apply to your circumstances, but I thought I'd throw it out there.

Back to love languages. There are a few things people do with oral languages: speak, listen, read and write. It sounds like you've trained yourself to speak the other person's love language, but haven't yet learned how to listen as well as you'd like. You could ask your partner how they feel when you do something that they like but you don't. Once you hear their perspective about why they like something, and how they feel about it, perhaps you will find something that you can relate to when it happens to you. Training yourself to like something can often happen when you spend some time learning from people who already like it, and asking them questions about it. If your partner doesn't enjoy some of the things you want to learn to like, then perhaps you can find other friends or family who do like them, and learn from them.

Comment author: beberly37 30 September 2015 06:36:37PM *  2 points [-]

One exercise you could do is to remember a time you felt loved, and how it felt, and focus on that feeling. Spend a bit of time each day bringing up that feeling into your consciousness. Or, another similar thing to do would be to imagine being surrounded by love, with whatever visuals or feelings feel right to you.

This sounds very similar to journaling about ways my wife showed love each day

There are likely ways to feel more comfortable with receiving compliments or gifts. But, once you are more comfortable with these other expressions of love, would you feel more loved?

My gifts issue is mostly to do with minimalist/environmentalist concerns. I don't want/need stuff and a gift is more stuff wrapped in garbage which will eventually end up as garbage too. I know all gifts can't be described that way, but I guess (which is just hitting as I type this) I have an ugh field around "gifts".

As far compliments go, I have analyzed that quite a bit, and I believe it stems from the fact that, even though I don't give insincere compliments, they generally sound (to me) as insincere on the way out of my mouth and so I don't give them (at least not standard ones). Since they are funny for me to give, they are funny for me to get. (probably another ugh field)

Perhaps there are creative approaches that could result in more time together.

Its a little more complicated than not having enough time. I'm a "relationship guy" {a term I stole from the movie I love you man}, which is to say, while I have friends, friendship is always a lower priority than my relationships, I'd rather sit on the couch next to my wife and watch netfix on the laptop with headphones (so we don't wake the kids) than just about anything else I could do on an evening out on the town with her home with the kids. That's an unrealistic expectation of a lover if they are also not the same way (1). So since service is one of the ways I prefer to give love (and thankful she receives it) as a service to her, she can go out as needed and tend to her friendships, which are important to her. Its seems I would like to make that lower-cost to me.

Are you sure that "feeling unloved" is what is going on? It sounds to me like it's possible that what's happening is that you are feeling frustrated and lonely. Which may not be the same thing.

You could say that I'm feeling unhappy as a result of being lonely as a result of not perceiving enough love.

I think "How can I feel more comfortable with receiving gifts and compliments?" would be an achievable goal. Perhaps that's a good first step. But I'm not sure it will get you what you want.

Maybe it should be "How can I feel positive emotions when people do nice things for me, irrespective of the format/modality of the nice thing, without having to consciously think about how it was a nice thing for someone to do."

It sounds like you've trained yourself to speak the other person's love language, but haven't yet learned how to listen as well as you'd like.

The general premise of the books is to change the way you show love to match the way people receive it. I have not found anyone reference changing their own receiving modes. It seems like an incredible brain hack, that (assuming it works and is easy or not-terribly-difficult and has no side affects) would be wise for people in general to do. The end goal would be having all modes equal and highly sensitive.

1) A bummer since during the typical relationship pre-screening process early in a relationship; hormones, novelty, general insanity, etc make everyone a "relationship guy/gal" and the need for them to go spend time with other people doesn't manifest until after substantial pair-bonding has occurred.

Comment author: Elo 29 September 2015 11:57:47PM 3 points [-]

My considerations about the love languages (with a partner of mine) was that - once you start considering languages you are already steps ahead of people who are not even trying in a relationship. Because of that it has an effect of winning-by-trying that otherwise wouldn't happen. whether or not love languages are real is completely debatable; but trying is certainly going to help (and having someone else's jargon to talk about things that you like/dislike should also help.

further comments; the 5 languages - gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion), and physical touch (intimacy)

I value them in this order: physical, time, and lower - words, and significantly lower - gifts or service. (as does my partner mentioned above)

There is a sneaky trick that I noticed; considering how much I don't care for gifts (and neither does my partner); when I gave my partner a gift it tricked my brain into going; "if I have time for gifts I must be fulfilled on the physical, time and word levels". Not sure why and how it works, but maybe try that?

Comment author: beberly37 30 September 2015 01:14:22AM 0 points [-]

Because of that it has an effect of winning-by-trying that otherwise wouldn't happen I have already noticed this happening; similar to people I know who are avid social media posters who view everything in terms of an instagram post, I have been thinking, "Oh I can journal about that." (at least for today, the persistence of this affect is yet to be seen) And (in as unbiased of a measurement as can be done) this brings a smile to my face they might not normally arise from hand-holding (for example).

having someone else's jargon to talk about I find having jargon very helpful, even if from baseless origins (example: astrology jargon is always helpful for me thinking/talking about personalities)

Comment author: Manfred 29 September 2015 07:48:41AM 3 points [-]

Typical method is something like a gratitude journal.

As time becomes scarcer, it's also worth looking into more ways to exchange money for quality time with family. For example, for me I have to make a conscious effort to spend time and money on travel to see my parents and relatives - even though it's almost always a good exchange I don't do it automatically.

Comment author: beberly37 29 September 2015 05:28:00PM 1 point [-]

Typical method is something like a gratitude journal.

Thank you, I have been procrastinating gratitude journaling (for increasing general happiness) for a while, but it seems that journaling about the ways my wife shows her love, excluding quality time, would shift my perception.

Alas, I have considered daycare to put more of her alone-time during periods when I'm unavailable, but money is nearly as scarce as time these days.

Comment author: philh 29 September 2015 10:05:32AM 1 point [-]

Actually, I think the problem is just that there was a space between the bracket pairs. This link is written without backslashes: love languages.

Comment author: beberly37 29 September 2015 05:15:31PM 0 points [-]

Yep, this was also a problem. Thanks.

Comment author: DanielLC 29 September 2015 05:01:02AM *  1 point [-]

The link is broken. You need to escape your underscores. Write it as "[love languages](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The\_Five\_Love\_Languages)". That way it wil print as "love languages".

Comment author: beberly37 29 September 2015 05:13:28PM 0 points [-]

Thanks!

Comment author: Lumifer 28 September 2015 05:41:45PM 1 point [-]

a method to change my love language priorities?

Do you want to change what makes you feel happy and loved?

I suspect a lot of it gets baked in during childhood and attempts to change that would involve fairly major surgery on your psyche.

Comment author: beberly37 28 September 2015 07:09:43PM 0 points [-]

Do you want to change what makes you feel happy and loved?

Yes. I edited the post for clarity.

Comment author: beberly37 28 September 2015 05:24:26PM *  4 points [-]

This is an open question about a brain-hack.

I don't believe the concept of love languages is big on LW, but searching the forum leads to a few mentions of them. It not exactly a data-driven concept, but anecdotally, spending time and acts of service are effective ways to make me feel loved, while gifts and compliments are not (they actually usually make me feel uncomfortable).

The primary concept of the love languages book is to change the way you show love from what you prefer to what your partner prefers (ie if your main language is touch and you are always snuggling with your spouse, but their main language is services, they will feel unloved while you snuggle with them instead of doing the dishes, so you should make an effort to do the dishes instead of snuggling on the couch)

My question is, has anyone experienced or developed (or will develop, prompted by this comment) a method to change my love language priorities so I can feel more loved given current circumstances?

The small back story is; as a result of adding two kids and a real job and an alone-time-hungry-stay-at-home-mom wife time is very limited, which means quality time is at a premium, so I'm feeling unloved. It would be preferable to make more time exist, but that's unlikely, so I would like hack my brain to make me feel loved in other ways. Any ideas?

edited to add italics for clarity

edited 10/7/2015 to add cautionary update: It has been commented that there may be side effect to brain hacking. Two that almost immediately come up and are worth mentioning because they can be in direct opposition to the goal of feeling more loved are:

Nightly listing of all instances of signals of love results in real-time noticing of them (which is a plus, the "I can write about this later!" feeling), but this is coupled with real-time noticing of missed opportunities to show love (Why didn't she make me tea?)

There is a tendency (for me) to compare/notice list lengths from day to day. ie There are only 5 today and 15 yesterday [trombone sound]

Comment author: MarkusRamikin 27 September 2015 10:02:50AM *  0 points [-]

Yep, me too.

Comment author: beberly37 28 September 2015 04:28:10PM *  0 points [-]

disclaimer This defense of corn ethanol is by no means “publish ready”, it is simply a gathering of data and concepts obtain during my work that has been sufficient enough to change my mind on the merits of a seemingly insane practice. It could use more work, however I don’t really care enough either way to put much more effort into this particular topic.

The primary data driven argument against corn ethanol is that it takes more energy to make than the fuel contains. A statement that is generally true, which I don’t really care about. The whole point of getting away from fossil fuels is to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and slow/stop/reverse climate change. My grizzled, old, super-conservative thermo professor in undergrad often complained about hippies wanting to conserve energy. “Energy is always conserve” ,he would suggest , “what we need to conserve is exergy”. Likewise, I (and I believe the collective “we” should feel the same) don’t care about energy balance, I care about carbon balance.

To find the “best” data on carbon balance of fuels, I turn to the California Air Resources Board, which limits carbon intensities (CI) for fuel sold in California, they have lists of every producer of fuel sold in the state and list the CI’s of the fuels. The unit they use is gCO2e/MJ (grams of CO2 equivalent per megajoule). Which can be found here. They also have published pathways for CI, which are documents describing how they arrived at the CI numbers. The one for corn ethanol is here. Reading through the pathway for corn ethanol, the biggest take away is that there is wide variation in production practices that have major impact on the CI of ethanol, for example, the highest CI for corn ethanol listed as of 5/20/15 is 120 (1) gCO2eq/MJ while the lowest is 63(1) gCO2eq/MJ. That’s nearly a factor of 2. For comparison, the CI of standard CA gasoline is 95(1). The difference between the high ethanol CI and the low is primarily the production energy (ie heat for boilers) for the former is coal and the latter is natural gas with some landfill gas and waste wood.
If you look at the breakdown for “average” corn ethanol there are three major sources of carbon emissions, ag chemical production, ethanol production and land use, each being approximately 30 g/MJ. The total number listed for “average” dry mill is 97 (1) gCO2/MJ. I should note that there is a -11g/MJ credit for “co-products”, which is the left-over solids that is used as animal feed call dried distillers grains.

So here is my general belief, making corn ethanol is not inherently bad (insane), however the way we do it is slightly insane. We get a marginally lower CI fuel, which gets blended into gasoline and reduces non-GHG emissions (at least that’s why it’s mandated in CA). However, by shifting the process (which I might outline sometime if folks are interested, but would turn this comment into more of a TLDNR) to one that is more sustainable, and more cost effective, corn ethanol production become perfectly sane.

So why does this mean we should have more corn ethanol? Well more corn ethanol means more corn ethanol plants (building out the infrastructure is costly and time consuming and a large barrier to expansion). Eventually, there will be a revenue incentive to ethanol plants for caring about the CI of their fuel (since in the US, as a whole, it’s only mandated as being non-fossil caring little about GHG’s). California is a good example of this. Gasoline blenders have to buy ethanol because gas in CA has to be 10% ethanol. There is also a limit to the CI of the gas/ethanol blend, which right now is higher than the CI of most ethanol. However, this “low carbon fuel standard” CI drops every year until 2020, where is stays at 89 (1) gCOe/MJ. This means that if the ethanol a company is trying to sell in CA has a CI above 89, the customer would have to purchase carbon credits as well. So companies would then have an incentive to change their production practices to lower their CI, because they could sell their ethanol for higher prices. If/when a US carbon tax (or something akin to the CA Low Carbon Fuel Standard) is adopted, having an existing ethanol infrastructure will make the scale-up and spread of low carbon liquid fuels able to happen much faster.

There are a few other sides to the corn ethanol argument; growing crops for fuel instead of food for example. An argument I find full of holes, since the increase in the corn crop has not been on the same scale as the increase in ethanol production (2) . This is due to the aforementioned animal feed co-product and the fact that before wide spread ethanol production most of the corn grown in the US was used as animal feed (2) . So making ethanol doesn’t displace another crop, only the starch portion of cattle feed. If you have a moral problem with growing a fuel while people in third world countries starve, you should have the same moral problem with growing a crop to raise meat while people starve. Also, if you have a moral problem with displacing food from American mouths, we have an obesity problem, which means we produce and consume too many calories per capita already, we don’t need more corn in our diet. There is also the notion the ethanol is bad for engines, while I believe that the higher anti-knock characteristics of ethanol combined with the higher heat of vaporization means ethanol-only vehicles could have diesel-like compression ratios with otto cycle performance, resulting in a higher efficiency, lower non-GHG emissions vehicle. There are a few other minor facets, but I think they are immaterial, though I did not want to give the impression that I did not consider them.

1) I’ve truncated these numbers as they are reported to the hundredths place.
2) I really need to dig up some good reference for these, because they are based on me looking at old ag reports, which is less than ideal

As for nuclear power, we know that it is a near 100% probability that burning fossil fuels is bad for the planet (and us too) and that can't really be mitigated with existing technology. However, catastrophe from nuclear power has a probability less than 1 and there is technology that can decrease that probability.

edited to fix hyperlinks and to fix unintended text formatting.

View more: Next