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Strike and Robin - Love Languages? [Spoilers for All Books]
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01/26/2018 - 11:06 am

I think LindaMea is right, Strike shows affection via gift giving, ( the dress, the training and the Hazlitt's Hotel), but not just expensive gifts,h e shows his appreciation by small gifts, like taking Robin along to Lula Landry's flat in CC when he really didnQt have to do that. Also he feels at ease with giving expensive gifts to Robin due to their similar financial status. He knows she will appreciate these gifts just as much as the small ones and not take them for granted and chalk it up as something that Strike should do for her like Charlotte or Elin did. Do you remember by the end of CoE he is going to diner to Le gavroche vith Elin, an she said is "My Treat"

"Strike had spent sixteen years with an another woman who had been far richer than he was. Charlotte had alternately brandished money as a weapon and deplored Strikes refusal to live beyond his means. Memories of Charlotte's occasional fits of pique that he could not or would not fund treats on which she had set her capricious heart made his hackles rise when Elin spoke of having a decent dinner 'for a change'. It had mostly been him how had footed the bills for French and Indian meals in out-of-the-was bistros and curry houses where Elin's ex-husband had been unlikely to see them. He did not appreciate the fruits of his hard-earned cash being disparaged."

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01/26/2018 - 10:10 am

LindMea said
I was musing the other day about the way Strike acts in relationships; we've only ever seen him with women that he's not particularly into, so we've really never seen how he acts when he's being affectionate. It made me wonder what his love language is, and I think I've figured it out: GIFT GIVING. Evidence?

- He mentions in Cuckoo's Calling that he bought Charlotte a bracelet by taking out a loan with huge interest rates - to me that seems like an absolutely terrible idea, unless he expresses affection through gifts (we do know that Charlotte guilted him about not being able to buy her things, so this instance on its own isn't exactly conclusive).

- THE DRESS. The dress that he gives Robin at the end of Cuckoo's Calling costs 2899 pounds - in 2010, when he buys the dress, that would equal like $4,400 USD! (by my terrible calculations). At this point he is deeply in debt, buying this dress is a ridiculous decision - but he does it anyway. I think that he felt safe showing his affection for Robin because she's leaving; we know he regrets buying the dress when she decides to stay - but he doesn't seem to regret the money so much as the emotional intimacy that the gift creates (he worries about Matthew's reaction). I think that gift giving is, generally, the way that Strike feels comfortable showing affection - and, the other way round, receiving gifts is what makes him feel appreciated/loved.

- His nicest thoughts about Lucy in the whole series are when she gets him a new watch - after remembering he broke his old one - even though the watch looks just like the one Greg wears (and we know he dislikes Greg).

- When Robin gives him a gift basket of Cornish food he is "ridiculously touched".

Does anyone have another theory??

As far as Robin goes, I lean towards "words of affirmation", based mostly on how pleased she is whenever Strike praises her. We don't often get to see her being affectionate towards Matthew, because they're usually fighting... but there is a point in CoE when her bad mood 'softens' after Matthew tells her that he bets she looks beautiful in her dress.

I'm a lot less sure about Robin... We need more!  

Excellent point, Cormoran expressing affection through gifts, rather than words! I would add though, that he does so because he is not used to voice his emotions, not because he doesn't want to.
This changes dramatically in CoE, 20, p.163 when they're in the Tottenham and Robin complains (well not really, but yeah, actually she does) about him being uncommunicative:

"Don't be nice! [...] Be normal!"
"What's normal?" he asked confused.
"G-grumpy and uncommunic-- uncommunicat--"
"What do you want to communicate about?"
"Nothing in particular," she lied. "I just thought... keep things professs'nal."
"What happened between you and Matthew?"
"What's happening between you and Elin?" she countered.
"How's that important?" he asked, nonplussed. [haha, well... why would that be important, Corm!?]
"Same thing," she said vaguely [...]

So, both WANT to communicate openly, and Stike does not have any problems with that. They are both just afraid of breaking down the walls of professionalism that keep them both from admitting their feelings, scared that this would destroy their working relationship.

Therefore, they are forced to let their actions and gifts (metaphorically) speak, since they dare not vocalise their emotions. My tipp would be that this is the reason why there is a quite heavy symbolism going on - the flowers have already been discussed in a different thread. But also acts of "Ersatzhandlung" (redirection activity) seem to be super important for both of their emotions: Every time Strike comes close to thinking about Robin in a sexual way (incidentally, he seems to be lying down every time that happens!), he gets restless and almost instantly busies himself with something completely different. This is the case both in the massage parlour (p.259)

"The idea of a full body-to-body naked massage with oil was far from unpleasing. For no reason that he could think of, his thoughts jumped to Robin, sitting outside in the car. He got biskly to his feet again, as though he had been discovered doing something compromising"

and again on the Saturday night after their field trip to Burrow-in-Furness (p.287)

In fact, thought Strike, sitting up on the bed, it might be an idea to call Robin right now and give her Brockbank's number. She was alone, he knew, in he Ealing flat, while Matthew was home in Masham. He could perhaps -- Oh no you don't, you silly fucker. A vision of himself and Robin in he Tottenham had bloomed in his head, a vision of where a phone call might lead. They were both at a loose end. A drink to discuss the case... On a saturday night? Piss off. Strike got suddenly up, as though the bed had become painful to lie on, dressed and headed out to the supermarket."

Similarly, Strike gets very aggrevated when Robin either is endangered, or puts herself at risk. His main emotion there seems to be worry (in contrast to Matthew who SHOULD be worried, as Linda points out, but instead is preoccupied with jealousy, so, himself, actually), but since he cannot voice that (maybe because that would be too suspicious), he gets frustrated and, ultimately, angry.
His contant worrying and not being able to shield Robin from potential harm seems, at least to me, to be more than Strike's general tendency to help; the underlying implication appears to be, that the thought of loosing her (because, ultimately, somebody wants to target him) is driving him mad - even more so, as he doesn't admit to himself that the fear of loosing her is routed in more than just collegial concern. I have always wodered, if Robin's sacking was due to more than just professional disappointment - maybe that, too, was him not being able to show that he was terrified that she could have died?

wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure

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08/17/2017 - 4:49 pm

theladybeatrice said
Strike seems to inspire affection. Nearly everyone has a different nickname for him, but he doesn't use nicknames in return (at least that we know of). Even he admits though that Charlotte wasn't a real love of his life though. Maybe as the stories unfold, he'll get more comfortable with his feelings for Robin and he'll fall into a nickname for her. But I bet it will be a practical reason, like an alias on a case rather than an attempt at affection.  

Bea, I like the way you think. Their love language would be very different with each other then their previous relationships because what they feel for each other is based on respect and understanding of each other. I don't see a lot of manipulation with them. It will be interesting to see what happens.

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08/10/2017 - 10:36 am

I love this thread!

I totally agree with Robin's love language being "words of affirmation".

I find Strike's love language is a bit harder to pinpoint... but I think both "gift giving" and "quality time" are great guesses!

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08/08/2017 - 7:55 pm

I like this analysis so much I'm going to revive it! I really like your points about how the gifts Strike has given throughout the series (the dress, notably, as well as the ticket to the counter-surveillance course in the Silkworm) definitely have significant meaning for him. But just to play the devil's advocate (and engage in some lovely character analysis), I'll suggest an alternate opinion for his love language.

With Robin, I would argue that Strike is showing and discovering his affection through Quality Time. If you think about it, that is what he values most about her: the easy flow of their conversation, how happy he is just sitting next to her in a car all day and talking "inconsequential nonsense." When he's trying to reason through why he loves her, he keeps remembering the times they've spent together, working through crimes, driving together, supporting each other when each is at their worst, emotionally. He can't express his feelings through words, we all know that! But he finds ways to express and understand what he feels through the time he spends with Robin, the simple, pure enjoyment he has in her company. I don't think he's used to this sort of Love Language--I think that with Charlotte, he was forced into expressing himself in the way she needed (because beware her wrath otherwise): through physical intimacy, through gift-giving. I think that's put into evidence by the way he remembers her--primarily in a physical sense. And I don't think that was ever right for Strike. I think with Robin, he's learning a new way to love, and I think it comes far more naturally to him.

As for Robin....I am so on board with the words of affirmation. It's always been so obvious, she literally "balloons," "blooms," etc when Strike praises her. She's been beaten down, her self-esteem crushed, and these words of appreciation, showing what her work means to others, are just so important. Strike can give her that. And Matthew, through his diminishment of her work, his fear of her accomplishment, on the other hand, is in core conflict with her most core means of expressing and receiving love. Which is why their relationship would always be a failure.

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03/25/2017 - 5:06 pm

Strike seems to inspire affection. Nearly everyone has a different nickname for him, but he doesn't use nicknames in return (at least that we know of). Even he admits though that Charlotte wasn't a real love of his life though. Maybe as the stories unfold, he'll get more comfortable with his feelings for Robin and he'll fall into a nickname for her. But I bet it will be a practical reason, like an alias on a case rather than an attempt at affection.

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03/10/2017 - 7:37 pm

That is a good point! Robin does seem a bit ambivalent about the nicknames Matthew calls her - I'm guessing that she does enjoy them, and the ambivalence is from the state of their relationship at this point. I personally find both Robsy and Rosy-Posy pretty nauseating... but maybe that's because it's Matthew saying them :p

I'm with Robin, I just can't picture Strike "murmuring endearments". I could maaayybe see him saying something like, "Good morning, beautiful..." but nothing cutesy or sentimental. He just isn't the type. Although I could be wrong! We know that Charlotte called him Bluey, but we don't know if he had a nickname for her.

Ooh, I could see him occasionally using Robin's middle name, Venetia. He found it amusing, and in CoE told her it made her sound like a poncy southerner - it could be a cute teasing sort of endearment.

(And I've always loved that Robin is pretty much the only one who calls him by his whole first name, Cormoran.)

~~~ Follow me on Tumblr | Find my Strike Series Fanfic on A03 ~~~

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03/10/2017 - 9:49 am

You are probably right with your conclusions, at least based on the three books we currently have this is the picture that we get.

I'd only like to add a quote from CoE. which I think is relevant to the topic. Scene: Strike is talking to Elin over the phone and Robin is listening (turning her face away, toying with something).

"She drank her tomato juice and stared out of the window, trying not to listen to what Strike and Elin were saying to each other. He always sounded matter-of-fact when on the phone to his girlfriend, but then, it was difficult to imagine Strike murmuring endearments to anyone. Matthew called her both 'Robsy' and 'Rosy-Posy' when he was in the right mood, wich was not often these days."

From the above I deduct (may be wrongly) that Robin likes "endearments" and likes when Matthew calls her Robsy and Rosy-Posy. How will Strike call her when they get together, do you have a guess? 🙂 (I don't, but I am pretty sure that he won't sound such matter-of-fact then.)

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03/09/2017 - 10:24 pm

I was musing the other day about the way Strike acts in relationships; we've only ever seen him with women that he's not particularly into, so we've really never seen how he acts when he's being affectionate. It made me wonder what his love language is, and I think I've figured it out: GIFT GIVING. Evidence?

- He mentions in Cuckoo's Calling that he bought Charlotte a bracelet by taking out a loan with huge interest rates - to me that seems like an absolutely terrible idea, unless he expresses affection through gifts (we do know that Charlotte guilted him about not being able to buy her things, so this instance on its own isn't exactly conclusive).

- THE DRESS. The dress that he gives Robin at the end of Cuckoo's Calling costs 2899 pounds - in 2010, when he buys the dress, that would equal like $4,400 USD! (by my terrible calculations). At this point he is deeply in debt, buying this dress is a ridiculous decision - but he does it anyway. I think that he felt safe showing his affection for Robin because she's leaving; we know he regrets buying the dress when she decides to stay - but he doesn't seem to regret the money so much as the emotional intimacy that the gift creates (he worries about Matthew's reaction). I think that gift giving is, generally, the way that Strike feels comfortable showing affection - and, the other way round, receiving gifts is what makes him feel appreciated/loved.

- His nicest thoughts about Lucy in the whole series are when she gets him a new watch - after remembering he broke his old one - even though the watch looks just like the one Greg wears (and we know he dislikes Greg).

- When Robin gives him a gift basket of Cornish food he is "ridiculously touched".

Does anyone have another theory??

As far as Robin goes, I lean towards "words of affirmation", based mostly on how pleased she is whenever Strike praises her. We don't often get to see her being affectionate towards Matthew, because they're usually fighting... but there is a point in CoE when her bad mood 'softens' after Matthew tells her that he bets she looks beautiful in her dress.

I'm a lot less sure about Robin... We need more!

~~~ Follow me on Tumblr | Find my Strike Series Fanfic on A03 ~~~

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