The five love languages

Ferris professionals talk about love and psychology

Sex and love have been written and talked about for as long as there’s been language.

Sometimes what isn’t said is just as important than what is said, if not more so. Nonverbal ways of expressing love and affection have been around much longer than language, but can also be open to misinterpretation.

According to books like “The Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman, and the multitudes of others describing the facets of the Myers-Briggs personality types, people speak at least five “languages” to communicate their love.

“‘The Five Love Languages’ is a good example of a book which has entered into popular culture in such a way that even if you have never read it, you might have acquired a basic idea of the premise behind the book,” said Ferris Birkam Health Center counselor Mark Van Lent. “You don’t give a gift just because you like buying it, but rather you like to give gifts which you think others will actually like.”

All of the languages tend to be somewhat important to most people, but there are at least one or two that are very important than the others on an individual level.

“At the minimum, these concepts and books could help to increase the communication in your relationships,” said Van Lent. “It could be helpful for students to communicate honestly in their relationships. Also, the concepts could help you learn about others and help others learn more about you.”

Books like “The Five Love Languages” aren’t based on scientific findings in the field of psychology, however. Chapman wrote his book anecdotally based on his own marriage of 45 years. Because it’s not based on objectively collected evidence, this leaves some professionals in the field of psychology skeptical.

“Psychological science is not a collection of autobiographical stories,” said Ferris psychology professor Connie Meinholdt. “A case study is one of many research methods we use to collect data about human behavior. Generally, case studies are about abnormal or unusual behavior—like observing the behavior of retired pro football players with multiple concussions.”

Culture and relationships buried deeper than learning about personality types and how someone wants love also play a role in the background to students on campus. These factors can be the way someone was raised, continued family influence on decisions made while attending college and other loved ones, including past romantic partners. This pressure can be significant and lead to women leaving college and going back home to start families.

“I would look at the different classes and the culture from a broader perspective, because they’re not all the same,” said Ferris sociology professor Carole McKenna. “And you’ll have a young woman coming to the university, for instance, with the goal of she wants a degree and wants a career. Hookups oftentimes fit very well into that framework, if it’s willing to the framework, because she doesn’t want to get serious with someone. She wants to have fun and enjoy her freedom. Not that she doesn’t ever want to get married, just not now.”

Sometimes, the love languages and personality types help people fit into this larger social framework and help to work out relationship problems said Van Lent.

Other times these books and how entrenched they are in society can make breaking something off much harder and cause lasting harm, according to Meinholdt.

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