Skip to Content
This Is So Stupid

The Five Love Languages, Ranked

12:01 PM EDT on September 26, 2020

A couple walk toward a Tunnel Of Love with their arms around each other's waists.
Photo: Graphic House/Getty

What follows is a highly scientific ranking of the love languages described by Gary Chapman in his bestselling 1992 self-help book, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Chapman's theory—or, anyway, his helpful if inexact way of reducing humanity's common need to experience love and intimacy to a manageable number of simple categories of expression—is that humans communicate love with all the complexity you would expect of complex creatures, but that each of us has a particular, almost primal, primary way that we express love, and each of us has a primary way that we are tuned to receive it.

For instance, when my wife tells me I am handsome, she is communicating a lie, but also some nice words of affirmation that express her love and appreciation for me. But those words may not make me feel safe, needed, and loved. In fact, if I am feeling particularly like shit about myself and am inclined toward feeling skeptical when people say nice things about me, those words of affirmation will not land as intended. They may even have the opposite effect, and my "love tank," to use Chapman's terminology, will not be refilled the way that it would be if, say, my wife took me out to dinner at my favorite restaurant and invited me to vent whole cumulonimbus clouds of angst and bullshit. I know that she is trying to communicate love with those words of affirmation, and I am sort of distantly grateful for the effort, but in that scenario she's not really speaking my love language.

According to Chapman, the five love languages are acts of service, gift-giving, physical touch, quality time, and words of affirmation. Maybe these love languages are distributed evenly across the human population. Who can say? I am not here to provide a statistical breakdown of love languages. I am here to say which ones are the good ones and which ones are the bad ones.

    Stay in touch

    Sign up for our free newsletter