There are shards of bullshit behind every theory or product due to the researcher’s biases. This is a common phenomenon that screws every creator, including myself. Yet, some of the works out there don’t contain just fragments of bullshit. They have an abyss of bullshit below them. Let’s take a gander at one of such works…
In 1992, a short and simple book from some Christian Baptist pastor hit the shelves and made one hell of a crater in the relationship advice industry. The book that changed so many lives was called The 5 Love languages, and that random pastor who wrote it was the now-famous marriage counselor, Gary Chapman.
Everyone who was at least somewhat interested in relationship advice bought a copy of his book. It was so popular that even the people who didn’t buy it lied they have. Soon after the release of the book, its ideas spread around the world like wildfire, eventually, taking a life of their own.
Chapman’s love languages were so popular they even took the web by storm, specifically the cringey inspirational quotes and memes. Here’s one just for you. Enjoy.
The book’s popularity became so massive that marriage counselors began to use it during their sessions, and relationship experts started preaching its content at their overhyped seminars. And don’t even ask how many other relationship books copied or, or as they call it, expanded on Chapman’s ideas.
By now, everyone and their dog have been exposed to the 5 Love Languages in some form. But that’s enough hype… You’re probably wondering at this point, what the hell makes this book so fucking revolutionary? Well, here’s the gist.
What are the 5 Love Languages
Dr. Chapman claims that each person has one primary love language. That is, a favorite and most frequent way of giving and receiving affection. Big surprise, there are 5 of them to choose from.
- Words of kindness and affirmations: These are your basic expressions of endearment like “Thanks for making dinner,” “You’re so great, I love you,” “You look really hot in that dress!” or “You look adorable in that button-up shirt.” In general, people with this love language love to hear how much they mean to their partners.
- Physical touch: This love language relates to unsullied affection. The partner who has this language will respond best and feel most loved when you kiss, hold hands, hug, or cuddle them.
- Gift giving: This love language is all about giving gifts to your partner, which can either be materialistic, such as baking them a bitching three-story cake, or abstract like checking out their new artwork piece. The person who holds this language will feel most loved when you buy or create and give them stuff.
- Acts of service: Similar to abstract gift-giving, people with this love language appreciate it most when you help them out in some way. For example, by doing the dishes, mopping the floor, or taking the time to prepare a kickass dinner.
- Quality time: People who have this love language will appreciate you the most when you invite them to an adventure or prepare an activity where you both engage with each other. In the realm of relationships, this translates to a date.
It’s also often addressed that the above five love languages have an alternate form—a dark side. For example, if your favorite way of receiving affection is physical touch, its absence will make you feel unloved, unwanted, and if you’re really insecure, even unworthy. And this applies even if your partner is communicating all other love languages.
Chapman also claims that if we learn to identify and speak our partner’s favorite love language, we can boost overall relationship satisfaction and the frequency of our “fun times.” If ya know what I mean.
Well, here’s my take on these claims: after researching most of the material surrounding Chapman’s books, I find the information he presents vague and the claims farfetched. I would even argue that most of what he says is total nonsense.
Problems With The 5 Love Languages
For one, the author never addresses compatibility issues when discussing love languages. In Chapman’s world, partners are always compatible, relationships are effortless, and satisfaction in them is easily achievable. These are delusions and they annoy me. Relationships are far messier than he portrays them to be.
There’s so much more to relationships than just finding your partner’s love language and calling it a day. You need to develop solid communication skills, practice meeting your partner’s needs, keeping respect unimpaired, holding and setting boundaries, dealing with logistics, keeping sex spicy.
I don’t know if the guy was high while writing his book, but seriously, maintaining a relationship is fucking hard work. What’s even more worrying is that the only cited reference that backs up all of Chapman’s theories is the Holy Bible. Now, there’s nothing wrong with the Bible, but the lack of referenced scientific studies means there were no real tests performed on the validity of Chapman’s theories.
Luckily, due to the book’s popularity and massive reach, I’m not the only one being skeptical of its ideas. Other relationships and marriage researchers began questioning and testing them as well. Their findings were unsurprising to me.
One study proves that following Chapman’s theory makes us perform relational behaviors such as practicing present moment awareness and empathy or affirming commitment. These behaviors are linked to higher relationship satisfaction; but, they don’t guarantee it. Another study found that love language alignment between couples wasn’t necessarily an accurate predictor of relationship satisfaction. The research rather showed that if you share the same language as your partner, you won’t be any happier than a couple where both people have a mismatch in love languages.
But the problem-train doesn’t stop there. There are even more problems with Chapman’s work, mainly regarding how people use its information. Many people want to solely discuss their preferred love language, and some even begin identifying by it. That’s why you see a deluge of posts like “My love language is acts of service, what’s yours?” splattered all over your newsfeeds. It’s this hyper-focus on your own love language that sabotages relationships and gives us a skewed and selfish view of love.
Another problem is that Chapman paints finding your partner’s love language as some miracle cure for all your relationship issues. This is bullshit. Finding and speaking your lover’s love language won’t suddenly make a toxic relationship healthy. And if that’s not enough, he also fails to point out that our love languages change over time. The language(s) your partner finds mindbogglingly sexy right now won’t be the same language(s) they find mindbogglingly sexy in ten years.
My verdict On The 5 Love Languages
In my opinion, the 5 love languages are just basic ingredients of any loving relationship in disguise. It’s not about finding the right one; it’s about practicing all of them as much as possible. Most people have may more than love language. And while there are preferences in how we want to be loved, relationships don’t just fall apart if those preferences aren’t met, as Chapman implies.
So date your partner, perform acts of service, tell them how hot and cute they are, kiss and cuddle, and surprise them with a gift here and there. Go wild, fuckface, and think of love languages as nothing more than a glorified horoscope.
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