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Debunking Popular Myths About Love

Recent studies conducted regarding infamous myths about love—from The 5 Love Languages to the old adage “Happy Wife, Happy Life”—show that there’s actually not much scientific data to back these concepts.

Amy Muise, Faculty of Health Assistant Professor and Research Chair in Relationships and Sexuality at York University, explored various related subjects in recent collaborations with researchers from the University of Toronto as well as international researchers. York University PhD student, Katarina Kovacevic, also explored popular beliefs around sex.

Their findings: many pop culture concepts of “love” aren’t as sound as we may believe.

The 5 Love Languages Are Pseudoscience at Best.

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Gary Chapman, a Baptist minister who specialized in marriage counseling, originally conceived the idea of the 5 Love Languages and wrote a book on the topic. He theorized that all humans have a primary love language—words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, or physical touch. He claimed that relationship issues happen due to partners speaking different languages.

Today, some 50 million people worldwide have taken the test to determine their Love Languages and the concept is deeply ingrained into our culture surrounding love and relationships.

Muise and her team discovered in their study that there are major flaws with the concept of the 5 Love Languages. Read on to learn about their findings.

No One Truly Has a Primary Love Language.

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Many people widely accept that the 5 Love Languages are a significant and reliable way of expressing or receiving love. However, Muise and her team found that there is no consistent correlation between an individual's test results on the 5 Love Languages test and their primary love language.

It is especially unreliable when determined by a forced-choice assessment, which is the current structure of the test. The findings essentially say: love is not an exact language. The theory of the 5 Love Languages is merely anecdotal, based on religious, monogamous, heterosexual cisgendered couples. Most couples, in turn, experience a spectrum of love languages rather than one specific quality over another. 

If Love Languages Exist, There Are Not Only Five of Them.

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The researchers looked at the individual structures of each love language and determined that they are inconsistent. Most results, in fact, did not correlate with the original 5 Love Languages at all. Their research reveals that deeper expressions of love, which may not be commonly accepted as a “love language,” can provide a better comprehension of the variety of ways in which individuals experience or express love.

No one can claim to operate by a single love language—there are far more than five manifestations of love out there.

Speaking the Same Love Language Does Not Lead to Relationship Satisfaction.

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Muise’s study failed to find any significant association between sharing a love language and experiencing a higher rate of relationship satisfaction. Their research instead discovered that all expressions of all love languages positively impact relationship satisfaction regardless of personal preference.

There is little to no data to support that partners who match or mismatch on the 5 Love Languages test will experience any change in the quality of their relationship.

The Idea of “Happy Wife, Happy Life” Holds No Merit.

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Muise also investigated other pop culture ideologies of love in an international study, “Women and Men are the Barometers of Relationships: Testing the Predictive Power of Women’s and Men’s Relationship Satisfaction.” The study analyzed mixed-gender partnerships and posed the question of whose satisfaction is more important.

The findings: The idea that women carry the weight of a relationship, the assumption made by the phrase “Happy Wife, Happy Life”, doesn’t hold up and can be damaging to our perception of love. The perceptions of relationship satisfaction were found to be equally balanced between men and women, debunking the idea that women’s satisfaction does not hold higher value than men’s. The team ultimately proposed a new phrase: “Happy Spouse, Happy House.”

Unplanned Sex Is Not Necessarily “Hotter.”

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Findings in a study examining long-held Western perceptions of sexual standards showed that spontaneous sex is not better or more enjoyable than scheduled sex. The study was conducted by both Dr. Muise and Katarina Kovacevic, a registered psychotherapist specializing in romantic relationships and sexual issues, and PhD student at York’s Sexual Health and Relationship Laboratory.

They found that, while many people believe spur-of-the-moment is “hotter,” levels of satisfaction are not impacted by this theory. This means that whether a couple engages in impromptu love-making or marks it down on their calendars, the quality of fulfillment is equal. Essentially, as Muise stated, the key is “intention over expectation.” 

A Balance of Closeness and Otherness Is Vital to Maintaining Desire.

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Another study that Dr. Muise conducted evaluated whether or not closeness negatively impacts the level of desire in a relationship. Researchers found that couples who are very close do have more desire for each other, but individual distinctiveness is also necessary for maintaining that long-term desire.

In order to keep the spark alive in a relationship, couples need to find ways to have fresh experiences while also investing in their closeness. A sense of self and emotional autonomy is needed as a way to separate one partner from another and prevent both people from becoming stagnant in a relationship. 

Ultimately, the Ideas of Love Ingrained in Our Society Are More Fiction Than Fact.

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The results of the studies Dr. Muise and her teams conducted clearly show that what people popularly believe about love isn’t necessarily concrete. Peer-reviewed research proves that these long-held theories simply don’t have much merit and expose numerous flaws in our preconceived notions of “love.”

However, this doesn’t mean you have to write them off entirely. For some of us, it’s fun to find out our Love Language or fancy a spontaneous session in the bedroom, and that’s totally okay. Love is subjective, so just get out there and enjoy it.

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Take a look at these ‘green flags' to see signs that you are in a healthy relationship.

Author: Jorie Logan

Title: Writer

Expertise: Travel, Wellness, Advocacy

Jorie Logan is a copywriter, brand strategist, and traveler with extensive solo travel experience. She's passionate about sharing stories that empower women to explore their world and discover their authentic joyful selves.