A week of a boyfriend/husband
Data in my boyfriend
Willing to evolve our data collection, we decided we could also track data coming from people around us, without telling them, of course.
This week we focused on our partners (!!), and, as usual, we didn’t tell each other what we were going to track, leaving the discovery up for when we would receive the postcard.
Disclaimer: my boyfriend and I spend our whole days together because we live and work together, since he is one of my partners at my company Accurat (and no, we haven’t killed each other yet).
During the week I noticed and recorded everything that my boyfriend did (i.e. what he said or the acts he performed both on a work-related environment as well as in our personal life) that caused me to react emotionally, or that I found worth noticing, ...and it was incredibly informative and instructive!
I didn't wanna categorize my information in advance, I just took wrote things down, and I went about finding data on my notes only later on.
Findings of the week.
I am a monster, he is a Saint.
(and this week of data shouldn’t have been so necessary for me to figure this out).
As you can imagine, by having to be aware and ‘count’ all the little positive acts that the person you live with does, you realize how many they are, and you realize how little attention you normally pay to these things: it is just incredibly more natural to notice more the ones that annoy you, in a way.
And my boyfriend IS really a Saint.
Every single day:
he organizes his schedule around mine,
he puts my needs before his,
he bears with my venting and complaining and he never gets mad at me,
he lets me do weird stuff (for example, he lets me eat from his plate, every day, every meal, and sometimes I steal food from his dish with my hands. :/ ),
he helps me physically (carrying bags for me, or opening heavy doors for me) all the times,
he reassures me,
he shows me love and affection,
he figures out stuff for me I couldn’t solve by my own,
he helps me with…hem…all kind of technological issues,
and I could go on for ages.
Generally, he takes very special care of me, I of course knew he does, but I probably never realized how much and how deeply.
The main spatial organization of my postcard plays around the positivity or negativity of the emotions his actions triggered me: elements on the left side (sooo many!!) are the positive ones, and the few things on the right are the negative ones.
Well, because yes, as in every relationship there are also things that drive me crazy, such as when he forgets something he was supposed to do, or when he is stubborn, or when he doesn’t do something I was expecting him to do, hem…
Each ‘group’ of elements represents a type of action, such as the one described before, and each single bar is the actual action, in chronological order.
During my data collection, I also noted down the ‘intensity of the action’ - was it a very special thing or just a regular act that caused me some feelings?
And in the drawing I indicated it with the size of the bars.
Also - if I said thank you to him, I tracked it (and I promise I have tried to be very very honest and not over-thank him :))
When I looked at my data, I definitely thought most of the things I noticed are likely to happen often, regularly, and every week, (if not every day!) so I decided to center my drawing around it: all of the connection lines that link his ‘actions’ to the center are things that can likely happen in a regular week.
the importance of acknowledging.
During this week, I really focused a lot more on aspects of our relationship I normally don’t really look at.
It is so easy to be careless of what happens between you and your partner, it is incredibly important to have a reminder of that kind!
I think this week’s reflections will help me become a little better with him!
I love that both Stefanie and I categorized our data around a ‘positive and negative' feelings main structure.
I loved very much looking at her card, this topic is very personal and at the same time it reflects a very important part of our lives: our relationship with our partner is definitely something that influences our own life and our way of being.
Now I definitely want to meet Steve (Stefanie’s husband), sooner or later!
A week of gathering data on our partners was always going to be be slightly questionable, as Giorgia and I both agreed that we wouldn’t say we were tracking them in order to gather the most accurate data. Planning this secretive data-gathering in advance felt slightly unsettling.
I chose to gather data on moments in the week where my husband inspired feelings of love in me, and moments where he inspired feelings of annoyance. Luckily for my husband, we were on holiday in Spain for much of this week, so I didn’t have much opportunity to be annoyed by him while sipping glasses of sangria in the middle of the workday.
And as I gathered up every ‘feeling of love’, I enjoyed how this action made me more aware of what makes me love my husband and how much I appreciate him, and how it also made me aware of how that which inspires ‘feelings of annoyance’ is often petty and inconsequential.
Finally, on Sunday night, I knew I had to tell him about the data-gathering, because of course I needed his consent to use this data for a postcard. And while I told him, I felt almost sheepish, because I realised this could seem incredibly weird, and creepy, and you know... ‘proper NSA like’.
I think he was ok about it, or at least pretended to be, though I think telling him that he had come off well with only a quarter of the final count being annoyances helped things. He gave me consent to use his data, but I still felt a strange shame about tracking someone without their approval. It didn’t feel right, even though it was done out of love.
On the following Monday after work, we were preparing dinner and he said to me that he was thinking about the previous week’s data-tracking and that he thought it was quite sweet.
I said, surprised: ‘Really? I thought you might think it was weird.’
And he replied: ‘It is weird … But I kinda like it.’
And then I got a little teary, relieved at his response, and pleased that he knew I was tracking him out of love. And then seeing me crying, he called me a ‘big softie’, I laughed, and we resumed our normal, non-tracked
This is surely evidence that data-stalking can be an acceptable way of showing love in our day and age, right? Hmm, I wouldn’t go that far, but I think there is something interesting in how gathering data on emotional topics has a resonance to it. The resulting data has again become a love-letter to my husband.
Through this project, I have started to attach emotional meaning to tracking and counting. By tracking my friends and my life, I’m telling the people/places/things that I love that I notice them, and am aware of them. However, I’m sure this type of tracking is more charming coming from me instead of one of the most powerful nations in the world, perhaps.
One final note on my husband: as I read out to him all the times I felt feelings of love for him, his body came up the most frequently! Oops…
I never realised how superficial I was, but can I help that I quite like the sight of my husband? Hearing this, he told me he hoped I loved him for his mind as much as his body (which I do, obviously), so I added a little red annotation to Giorgia highlighting his brilliance to even things out.
Upon receiving Giorgia’s card, I was pleased to see that we both tracked similar themes of love and annoyance. Also, I like seeing her drawing style evolve as she explores a more curved, organic aesthetic. But really, her postcard made me feel relieved, as I can tell by her card (and the resulting conversations we had after) that we have similarly-balanced relationships: we are both the often-grumpy, often-irrational half of the relationship, whereas our partners are the more calm, relaxed, and measured halves. I like this balance, because many of my closest girlfriends have similarly-balanced relationships, and so similar personalities to me, so this realisation has been nice to see that for all our differences, Giorgia and I come from the same sort of personality type, to some degree!