What's Your Love Language? It Doesn't Matter Because Scientists Claim They're Fake

I don't care, I still want Quality Time. :')

Cover image via Canva & Love Languages (edited by SAYS)

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You probably took a quiz a long time ago and can now list your love languages in order of most important to least... But is there any truth behind the psychology test?

Scientists say no.

Love languages, a concept introduced by Baptist pastor Gary Chapman over 30 years ago, have become a staple in discussions about relationships. Chapman's 1992 book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, has sold a staggering 20 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 49 languages.

Despite its widespread popularity, recent examinations cast doubt on the scientific validity of love languages.

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Chapman, drawing from his experiences counselling couples as a Baptist pastor, developed the idea of love languages

According to him, there are five love languages through which individuals express their affection:

  1. Acts of Service: Doing something to help a partner, such as running an errand.
  2. Physical Touch: Demonstrating physical affection, like giving a hug or a kiss.
  3. Quality Time: Spending undivided time together.
  4. Gifts: Giving presents that convey thoughtfulness, effort, or expense.
  5. Words of Affirmation: Expressing admiration or complimenting a partner.

Chapman proposed that understanding one's and their partner's primary love language can enhance relationship satisfaction.

Despite the widespread acceptance of love languages, there is scant scientific evidence supporting it

Image used for illustration purposes only.

Image via Anthony Tran/Unsplash

The Love Language Quiz, a popular online tool, lacks published findings regarding its reliability and validity. Researchers attempting to develop their own love languages survey encountered challenges, with results failing to align with Chapman's proposed framework.

One qualitative study even suggested the possibility of more than five love languages, casting further doubt on the rigid categorisation.

Additionally, research investigating the core premise of love languages — that matching love languages lead to greater satisfaction — has produced mixed results. While some studies support this notion, others find no significant correlation.

Recent research from the University of Toronto Mississauga questions the entire love languages framework

The study argues that the concept lacks empirical support and that Chapman's sample, consisting mainly of Caucasian, religious, mixed-gender, traditional couples, limits its universality.

The researchers propose an alternative metaphor, likening relationships to a healthy, balanced diet. This metaphor suggests that people need multiple essential ingredients for satisfying relationships, in contrast to the limited scope of love languages.

Despite the skepticism, some relationship experts acknowledge that love languages can initiate conversations about emotional needs, fostering understanding between partners

Image used for illustration purposes only.

Image via Pablo Heimplatz/Unsplash

However, critics argue that the concept is not grounded in data-driven psychological findings, labelling it as pseudoscience.

Relationship Coach Katie O'Donoghue notes that the concept's religious undertones and the lack of empirical evidence can be off-putting. While love languages might serve as a basic guide for those new to relationships, O'Donoghue emphasises the importance of shared values, communication styles, and mutual support beyond the confines of the five proposed love languages.

So, what do you think?

Are love languages a simple and accessible metaphor for relationship dynamics? Or was it a way to make one man a multimillionaire?

Maybe it's a bit of both. But knowing there's no legitimate science behind the concept, perhaps it's time to move beyond the confines of the love language system and understand that people are individuals, who have their own wants and needs when it comes to feeling loved.

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