I’ve had lots of…conversations about whether psychology is really part of STEM (it is by the way, not biased as a psychology major in any way at all), and in the same way, there are many conversations on how reliable information is if it’s not backed by science. If there isn’t yet evidence, is it real and should it be taken seriously? One of the “things” is love language. Is there science behind love language?

Now, I’m sure all of you probably have stumbled across one of those BuzzFeed quizzes titled something like, “Take this quick quiz to find out what your love language is!”  After you’re done clicking through the totally legit quiz, one of five options pops up in your face when you’re done: words of affirmation, acts of service, gift receiving and giving, quality time, and (seemingly the most popular) physical touch.

The “Five Love Languages,” originally a bestselling series, was written and founded by Dr. Gary Chapman, who was also a marriage counselor. The premise is that people have different personalities, and therefore, like and reciprocate love differently than others. If you have the love language words of affirmation, then spoken affection, encouragement, or compliments might be your thing. Acts of service as a love language refers to feeling loved when your partner helps you with your workload, like washing the dishes or making you breakfast. If it’s receiving and giving gifts, a very well-thought-out and special present might make you feel loved. Quality time is when you feel loved when the other person gives you their undivided attention. And physical touch refers to the whole hand holding, hugs, and close proximity ordeal, which could make you feel safe and warm.

The love languages were developed to strengthen bonds in relationships. Chapman suggested that couples who might have different love languages could have many misunderstandings in their relationship. There have been mixed studies since then that tried to prove whether couples with the same love language actually have higher satisfaction in their relationships. Some found yes, others didn’t. All in all, research is still lacking.

When it comes to whether that special someone suits us more than the others or if understanding your partner’s love language actually improves relationships, the science behind love languages gets questionable. But if we really look at what “love” is, it’s one of the most subjective terms in the universe. Everyone shows love differently and has their own specific meaning of what they believe love to be. Of course, there is science behind oxytocin — the “love hormone” — but love is so multidimensional that it’s hard to settle on one universal meaning for all. Despite that, I personally think that love languages have at least a bit of truth to them. 

I’ve gone ahead and taken the love language quiz and the results came out to be acts of service, followed by quality time. To me, those two are generally true, but that doesn’t mean that the others are not applicable. We get lost in the absolute, and that’s what bugs me on the question of what my love language is. I go in and take the quiz with these hypothetical questions, but I don’t know how I’ll truly answer them in real life. Despite all that, I think we all have a bit of every one of them in us — it might just be that one outshines the others. And even with the lack of science behind love languages, I think there could be factors that contribute to whether we prefer one love language over another.

I think how someone’s childhood went and how their families showed love are factors in developing a preferred love language. For example, if someone had to do everything themselves growing up and rarely the one that was offered help, they might grow up to prefer acts of service. Growing up with a family that displayed love through little gifts and knowing exactly what to get them for a holiday might lead to finding  gift giving as a love language. Society has come up with theories that the love language we prefer might be what we lacked in childhood and I think there could be some truth in that. What do you think?

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