If you’ve spent any time reading relationship-related content over the last ten years, then you would have come across the concept of Love Languages.
From TikTok videos and dating-app questions, to TV and movie scenes, the Five Love Languages have been heralded as a key to understanding your partner’s needs… and your own!
But do they have an impact on relationship happiness and satisfaction?
Let’s start with the basics…
What are Love Languages?
The Five Love Languages were coined by Gary Chapman in a book originally published in 1992 – titled The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts.
The Five Love Languages intuitive premise is that there are five ways of expressing and receiving love. They are: physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, receiving gifts and quality time. While you may use any of the five “languages” to show your partner love, according to Chapman, each of us have a primary or dominant style that will be the most important to us.
The key to a happy relationship, Chapman says, is figuring out what language your partner speaks and becoming fluent in it.
A recent study found that the most preferred love language was quality time (40.8%), followed by physical touch (40.0%), words of affirmation (22.7%), acts of service (13.6%), and receiving gifts (4.0%).
Maciej Stolarski, a psychology professor at the University of Warsaw says that while the framework encourages us to have a primary love language, “Humans are not so simple,” she says. “Each of us may prefer to receive love in more than one way, or may equally desire to be loved using three love languages.”
How to find out which love languages you & your partner hold?
To find out which love languages you and your partner hold, you can use this free tool online or read Chapman’s book.
Many couples report that it has led to a greater understanding of them and their partner. Whether you’re entering a new relationship—or hoping to improve an existing one—ask your partner about their love language, and share your own. See for yourself what impact it has on your relationship and understanding of each other!
However, it’s worth mentioning that while couples therapists have used the love-language framework for years, researchers cannot agree on whether it has a positive impact on relationship happiness or satisfaction.
What does the science say?
The verdict is still out on what impact love languages lead to within a relationship. Most studies have focused on validating Champan’s framework as opposed to discovering its impact on couples’ relationship happiness.
However Gerald Mathews at George Mason University carried out a recent study, finding that heterosexual couples’ relationship satisfaction is in fact linked to whether their partner uses their preferred love language.
People whose partners used their preferred love language had higher levels of relationship satisfaction than people whose partners didn’t. In addition… people who used their partners preferred love languages in return also reported greater relationship satisfaction! It goes both ways.
“It shows the importance of good communication, understanding your partner’s needs, and being able to provide the things they want to affirm the relationship” he says. “Your satisfaction is boosted not only if your partner adequately responds to your love-language preference, but also when you do the same for them.”
Interestingly, his team also found that out of the 100 heterosexual couples they interviewed who had been together for 6 months to 24 years, participants’ most frequently declared love language was quality time, followed by physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, and receiving gifts.
One thing we can agree with at Cupla, is that quality time – one of the five languages, has a huge impact on relationship happiness! It’s the reason that alongside the team at Cupla, we created the ultimate app for couples – to revolutionize the way busy couples connect.
Anywho back to the science. While Gerald Mathews team found a link between relationship happiness and the five love languages…not all researchers agree!
Other research has found that knowing a partner’s primary love language has no correlation to greater relationship satisfaction now or for couples’ in the future.
In short: the verdict is still out!
Over 11 million people have read the book and believe in the five love languages by Dr. Gary Chapmen. That is a lot of other couples, similar to you… trying to understand their partner better! So Dr. Chapman must be onto something. In saying that, the best approach is the unique one that works for you and your partner! As long as you’re actively communicating with your partner, learning about each other and bettering yourselves – that’s all that matters.
But a few tools here and there don’t hurt. Like reading new books together or trying out new relationship management tools like Cupla!