If you have ever contemplated ways to improve your romantic relationships, you have probably heard about love languages.
Love language, a theory about how people express and receive love, was introduced 30 years ago by Baptist pastor Gary Chapman. The notion that we all speak a love language has become so entrenched in public consciousness that it has spawned memes, satire and even a song by Ariana Grande.
But some scientists are questioning the validity of the concept. And others have suggested, that in some situations, love language thinking can do harm, encouraging adherents to stay in difficult or even abusive relationships. This month, a paper published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science reviewed the scientific literature and concluded that core assumptions about love languages stand upon shaky ground unsupported by empirical evidence.
“I feel like academics haven’t really taken this seriously,” said Emily Impett, a psychologist and director of the Relationships and Well-Being Laboratory at the University of Toronto who was a co-author of the paper.