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The Five Love Languages Found 'Insufficient' at Describing How Love Works

Milton Quintanilla | CrosswalkHeadlines Contributor | Updated: Feb 16, 2024
<em>The Five Love Languages</em> Found 'Insufficient' at Describing How Love Works

The Five Love Languages Found 'Insufficient' at Describing How Love Works

A new research paper has found that there is not enough support for the core ideas in author and pastor Gary Chapman’s best-selling book The Five Love Languages.

The paper, titled "Current Directions in Psychological Science," concludes that Chapman’s theory about how love works is insufficient. Emily Impett, a psychology professor and director of the Relationships and Well-Being Laboratory at the University of Toronto Mississauga, and several colleagues conducted the research to assess three main ideas in Chapman’s book: that people have a primary love language, there are about five love languages, and that couples are happier when they speak their personal love language to each other.

However, Impett and her colleagues say that the studies do not support the theory. In one case, people would choose a primary language if they are forced to pick one in a quiz. On the other hand, people rated all five love languages highly when asked what they thought of them individually.

The researchers also found that supporting a partner’s or spouse’s goals don’t suit the model in the five love languages model and that people with the same love languages are not more satisfied than other couples.

“Love is not akin to a language one needs to learn to speak but can be more appropriately understood as a balanced diet in which people need a full range of essential nutrients to cultivate lasting love,” Impett and her colleagues wrote.

They also said that Chapman’s book has helped couples in that “it provides partners an opportunity to reflect on, discuss, and respond to one another’s need.”

The Five Love Languages, released in 1992, highlights different ways people express love, including words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, acts of service and gifts. Overall, the book seeks to help couples strengthen their happiness.

Since its release, the book has sold over 20 million copies and has experienced mainstream success. For instance, the Bumble dating app provides a Five Love Languages quiz, while the love language concept has also been featured on the Bachelorette as well as other major media outlets. The Five Love Languages also has a TikTok page that has drawn tens of millions of views.

According to Christianity Today, Impett says that reading Chapman’s book is more helpful than taking the online quiz because it keeps people from being too restricted in finding a primary love language.

“All of the behaviors Chapman identified are important,” she told Religion News Service in an email.

“We are not suggesting that people necessarily are multilingual (skilled at all five behaviors) but that they should learn to be since the five behaviors that Chapman identifies are really important things people can do to maintain their relationships.”

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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for CrosswalkHeadlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.



The Five Love Languages Found 'Insufficient' at Describing How Love Works