Have Love Languages been a hoax this entire time? TikTok seems to think so.

Everyone remembers sitting around in a circle with their friends while they went down the list of love languages and decided which one suited them best.

There might be close to 10 billion people in the world, but there are, quite literally, only five love languages that define the type of affection we want to receive. 

People express love in different ways, which have long been broken down into these categories: Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, Quality Time and Gifts. 

Watch: Mia Freedman on Love Languages. Post continues after video. 

Video via Mamamia.

Christian pastor and counsellor Gary Chapman created the theory in the 1990s with his book The 5 Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate

It's been over 30 years since the book's publication, but it maintains a strong foothold on modern romance as it promises to solve the mystery that is love. 

It's a straightforward guide, that only explores relationships through the lens of married, straight and probably Christian couples. And while most of us have relied on it to tell us a little bit more about ourselves, it has garnered denunciation from those who think it is not all that accurate. 

On social media like Tiktok, critics have argued Love Languages are more of a hoax than truth. It might be tempting to classify the theory into that other box, but the frameworks have been, for the most part, unproblematic. 


Mamamia asked Relationship Coach Katie O'Donoghue if she believes Love Languages is a good guide to follow for relationships. But it's not quite that simple.

"Starting off in a relationship, it can definitely help to create conversations around your emotional needs which will lead to a deeper understanding between two people, a sense of appreciation and less guesswork around how to make someone feel loved," she explains. 

"However, there can be a dark side to Love Languages where there might be unrealistic expectations created such as wanting to receive frequent elaborate 'Gifts', where there are elements of manipulation where one person might demand to spend [all the time] with their partner because 'Quality Time' is their top love language

"Or where it could lead to complacency if you're focusing too heavily on one or two ways of showing love."

Critics have reduced Love Languages down to pseudoscience, and because Chapman's work is not grounded in data-driven psychological findings, it means they're, well, not wrong.

"It’s not necessarily a bad thing because a lot of people tend to trust things if there is enough empirical evidence or research to support the theory," O'Donoghue shares, adding that she believes there is still more research to be done. 

"The feedback I've had from clients who have read the book is that it is quite religious which has turned a lot of them off. Plus, there isn't a whole lot of empirical evidence to show that Love Languages do impact people in relationships in a positive way... Humans are complex and saying that there are only five ways to give and receive love is quite limiting to people in relationships."

It's easy to dismiss the groundwork Love Languages do in relationships, but it can come in handy. Especially if you are new to dating, making new friends or expanding your social circle. 


"If you have no idea about where to start when it comes to giving and receiving love in any kind of relationship then using Love Languages to cover the basics could be a good idea," O'Donoghue reasons.

"However, when it comes to relationships — familial, platonic or romantic — and compatibility, you do need to consider shared values, communication styles, life goals, mutual support and being able to talk about your feelings openly.

"There's no point in maintaining a relationship that's based on giving or receiving love alone because the reality is that love is not enough in a relationship. People need more than love to feel connected to someone, to feel understood, to feel seen and to feel like they are valued."

Listen to this episode of Mamamia Daily, read by Shannen Findlay. Post continues after audio. 

For those who want to learn how to explore their own relationships more, O'Donoghue says self-reflecting is a good place to start.

"When you spend time reflecting on your emotions and experiences, on what makes you feel good, feel appreciated, feel seen, feel heard and understood, then you are in a position of power where you can have conversations with other people around what you need to feel deeply loved in the relationship with them," she says. 

"On the other side of this, you might find it easier to pinpoint what makes you feel negative, ignored, unheard or misunderstood and you can still use that knowledge to help you gain clarity on what it is that you do need to feel loved beyond love languages."

Katie O'Donoghue is a Relationship Coach and the host of the Self Explained podcast. You can find more about her on Instagram or her website.

Feature Image: Mamamia/Getty.

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