There are shards of bullshit behind every grand theory or product due to the researcher’s biases. This is a common and expected phenomenon that happens to every creator. Yet, some of the works out there don’t contain just fragments of bullshit. They have an abyss of it below them. – by me.
It was 1992 when 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 little 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 never dared to admit that. In fact, they often lied about how they purchased it to avoid embarrassment within their tight social groups.
Soon after the release of Chapman’s book, its ideas spread around the world like wildfire. And soon, they took a life of their own and overhauled the Internet. By now, everyone and their dog have been exposed to them in some form.
Be that through several discussion in Reddit groups, via Instagram-quotes like, “pizza is my favorite love language,” or memes like this one:
The book’s popularity became so massive that marriage consolers began to use it during their therapy sessions, and relationship experts started preaching its content at their overpriced, overhyped seminars. And don’t even ask how many other relationship books copied or, or as they call it, expanded on Chapman’s ideas.
Ok, enough of the hype.
You’re probably wondering, what the Hell makes this book so fucking revolutionary? Well, here’s the gist of it.
Dr. Chapman’s claims that each person has a 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. Here’s a description of each one:
- 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 with extra fudge, 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 per se.
For example, if your favorite way of receiving affection is, by physical touch, the absence of it will make you feel unloved or unwanted. If your love language is quality time, and your partner is not giving you any time, you’re, again, going to feel less loved in your relationship. Or if you’re the type of person who prefers acts of kindness as his go-to language, a shortage of support and care from your partner will also make you feel less cared for.
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.
But now comes the fun part, that is, my humble opinion.
After researching all the material surrounding Chapman’s famous book, I find the information presented in it vague and the claims he makes farfetched. Some even utter bullshit.
First of all, the author never addresses compatibility issues when teaching about love languages. In Dr. Chapman’s world, partners are always compatible, relationships are effortless, and the satisfaction in them easily achievable. Now, these delusions annoy me.
Relationships are not as easy as he presents them to be. In fact, they are chaotic and unpredictable by nature and a shit-ton of hard work to be kept intact.
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.
Like, 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 relating to love languages.
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 its assumptions and testing them early on.
Their findings were…unsurprising.
One study informs us 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 more practically oriented study found that love language alignment between couples wasn’t necessarily an accurate predictor of relationship satisfaction. The research in them showed that if you share the same primary language as your companion, you won’t be happier than a couple where both people have a mismatch in love languages.
But it doesn’t stop there.
There are even more problems with what the book teaches, mainly regarding how people use its information. For example, people who read Chapman’s work love to seek, find, and prioritize their preferred love language. They even begin identifying by it, while the book’s sole point is to find your partners’ love language.
Even though identifying your or your partners’ go-to love language is unnecessary, it’s at least a healthy aspect that the book teaches.
Nevertheless, people wholly neglect this altruistic feature today. I mean, that’s why you see a storm of self-absorbed posts like “Hell, yeah, my love language is acts of service, what’s yours?” splattered all over your newsfeeds. This hyper-focus on solely your love language at best only leads to less relationship success, not more of it.
And, don’t even get me started on how the people who believe that discovering their partner’s love language will cure their, for example, their nasty cheating-and-covering-it-up habit.
Let me make it clear that finding and speaking your lover’s love language isn’t the cure for their acts of unfaithfulness, shitty communication, or any other toxic behavior. It’s not the fix for incompatibility or an insecure attachment type, nor is it a way to rebuild broken respect or trust in a relationship.
Here’s another crucial fact. When it comes to couples where each person knows each other’s go-to love language, it’s also worth remembering that their language may change over time. In other words, the love language (or love languages) that your partner finds mindbogglingly awesome now is probably not the same one they’re going to find amazing in ten years.
Let’s say that your girlfriend/boyfriend is a gold medal champion cuddler right now, but after ten years, they might begin to gain interest in just spending some quality time with you. It varies from person to person; just be aware of that.
The bottom line is that these “languages” are hyper generalized, to the point where I would state that a primary love language doesn’t even exist Hell, I believe it’s all bullshit. Yes, your partner may prioritize one, maybe two, or three, but most of the time, it doesn’t fucking matter. One study even recommends you see Chapman’s work merely as a personality test at best. I love that study.
What I believe to be true is that all 5 love languages are just indispensable ingredients of any loving relationship. It’s not about finding the right one. It’s about practicing all of them as much as possible.
This means you date your partner, perform acts of service for them, tell them how hot and cute they are, kiss and cuddle and surprise them with a gift here and there. Do it all fucker. These acts of love are simultaneously ways of meeting your partner’s emotional needs and making them feel special in the relationship. Ultimately, Love languages are common sense. And far from some mysterious thing, you have to study or read a whole book about.
If you’re interested to know more about love, that is, what is love, why it’s overrated, and how to show it in aa healthy and mature way, feel free to read my two recent articles on those topics:
- Two Ways To Show Love
- What Does Love Mean To You? The Guide To Love And The Startling Truth Behind It
Cover photo by TomTC via DeviantArt
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