Debunking the Five Love Languages

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love languages

Are the 5 love languages supported by science? New research debunks them and suggests they might even be harmful to some relationships.

A recent article published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science concluded that the 5 love languages are not supported by empirical scientific evidence. Do love languages really matter? Or are they actually harmful?

Debunking the 5 Love Languages

Thirty years ago, Baptist priest, Gary Chapman wrote The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. This book has sold more than 20 million copies in several languages. As a dating and relationship coach, I have taught about the love languages as a way to better understand how we give and receive love. So, why are scientists skeptical now? First, let’s look at what the love languages are…

What are the 5 love languages?

1. Words of affirmation (giving compliments, saying kind things to each other)

2. Gifts (giving presents big or small)

3. Acts of service (helping your partner with chores or other means of support)

4. Quality time (spending time and doing things together) 

5. Physical touch (hugs, kisses or sex)

What’s wrong with the Love Languages?

1. People don’t really have a primary love language

The findings suggest that most people connect on all of the love languages, so finding a primary love language is very difficult. 

2. There are more than 5 love languages

Research indicates that there are additional love languages, such as conflict resolution and social skills. Helen Fisher, biological anthropologist at the Kinsey Institute, says there are hundreds of love languages, such as “being on time, creating interests together, learning things together, and more”. 

3. Sharing the same love language may not improve your relationship

If you don’t speak the same love language as your partner, is your relationship at risk? Research suggests that receiving any expression of love is associated with better relationships, even if your love languages don’t match.

John Gottman says that learning your partner’s love language is not an indication of relationship satisfaction. He says, “My general conclusion is that these dimensions are not very distinct conceptually, nor are they very important in terms of accounting for variation in marital happiness and sexual satisfaction.”

Chapman disagrees

He says couples come up to him all the time to tell him that the love languages saved their marriage. He believes that some of the research criticizing the love languages are too literal.  He stands by the five love languages being fundamental to human nature and how we give and receive love.

Is this the end of the love languages?

Love languages are still an effective way to start conversations between partners about their needs. However, John Gottman believes couples should be focused less on love languages and ask each other: “What can I do to make you feel more loved now?”

What do you think? Are love languages a thing of the past, or can we think about them differently, as a way to open a conversation and meet each other’s needs to feel loved by a partner?

If you’re curious about how coaching can help you work through issues like trust, hyper-vigilance, anxiety, shyness, repeated patterns in dating and more, let’s talk! I offer a complimentary 45-minute breakthrough session to anyone who’s seriously interested in working with me. Apply here:

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Check out my books, Becoming a Woman of Value; How to Thrive in Life and Love and Choice Points in Dating: Empowering Women to Make Healthier Decisions in Love.


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