New Research Shows There Are Actually Seven Love Styles, Not Five

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on February 08, 2022

Truity’s original research with over 500,000 volunteers drives the creation of a new 7 Love Styles test, showing how we give and receive love in modern relationships

Think of a time when someone made you feel really loved. What did they do? Was it an amazingly personalized compliment? A sympathetic ear when you were going through a rough patch? Or maybe just a perfectly hot cup of coffee in bed?

Thanks to the work of marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, most of us understand that each of these acts of devotion is an expression of our unique love language, Chapman’s name for the unique ways we express love to each other—and seek to be loved. 

Dr. Chapman’s original theory was borne out of his work with married Christian couples in the 1980’s and formalized in his 1992 book. Chapman’s work changed the way we think about relationships and has become part of the language that couples and counselors depend on to talk about relationship dynamics. But the theory is also the product of a very different time, and a very limited and homogenous sample. 

Would the concept of love languages look the same if it were developed today? What if it included nonreligious or unmarried couples, or couples from countries outside the US? The team at Truity set out to find out. 

Truity surveyed over 500,000 people, of all ages and from all around the world, to see what made them feel most loved. The results showed that while some ideas about expressing love have stayed the same, others have shifted significantly in the four decades following the development of Chapman’s original theory. 

“We suspected that updated research across a more diverse sample might yield results that were more applicable and helpful for modern couples,” said Truity’s founder and CEO Molly Owens, who led the study. “In our research, we saw clearly that what people value most is a partner who listens to them, values their opinions and feelings and provides them with empathy and respect. These factors weren’t adequately addressed in the original 5 Love Languages—possibly because our expectations of relationships have simply shifted with the times.”

Truity’s research showed that in modern relationships, there was a new emphasis on deeper intellectual and emotional connections among many. We developed the new 7 Love Styles test to reflect these new ideas and provide guidance on how to use them for more satisfying connections. 

“Seeing that Truity is expanding the original work to keep up with the many ways that relationships have changed over the last 30 years is encouraging,” said Dr. Pauline Yeghnazar Peck, PhD and licensed psychologist and marriage and family therapist who works with couple clients. “Working with lots of folks on the LGBTIQIA+ continuum, I often have to adjust my language and the context of the Love Languages to fit couple's diverse identities and needs. An update to the Love Languages is so important and timely as it can help couples find a more inclusive framework for connection and support — things everyone is desperately needing in these times.”

Chapman’s Five Languages of Love

Dr. Chapman observed that there was often a disconnect between what spouses did to show love, and how their partners received those actions. What one person thought was a display of love could fall totally flat for a spouse who “spoke” a different love language. He identified five love languages, which he explained in depth in order to help couples better understand each others’ needs.

The original love language types laid out by Chapman are:

  • Words of affirmation
  • Physical touch
  • Receiving gifts
  • Acts of service, and 
  • Quality time

Each love language entails a very different expression of love and devotion, and problems arise when one half of a couple expresses love in a way that falls flat for their partner. A person who prefers Physical Touch may offer a hug to a partner in distress, while their Acts-of-Service focused sweetie just wants them to wash the dishes. 

While it might be tempting to interpret love languages as a compatibility issue, rarely do couples speak the same love language—even happy ones. The key to working successfully with differences in love languages is learning to understand and speak your partner’s. 

“In my counseling and coaching practices, the Love Language framework has been helpful for clients to develop their listening skills and help them come back to the most important aspects of their love and life together," said Christa Hardin (MA), who has worked for close to two decades as a relationship coach and counselor. "It is exciting to have another tool that better reflects the needs and styles of diverse, modern couples -- and which can be used to help them deepen and grow their relationship together."

It is important to note that previous research into the love languages shows that the theory is not a cure-all. As with all things in relationships, the key is putting in the time and effort: a 2020 research survey showed that people who reported that their partners used their love language well had stronger feelings of love and relationship satisfaction than others. 

Truity’s Seven Love Styles

The modern landscape of love is complex, and what people need from their partners to feel happy and secure has evolved as our societies have evolved. As gender norms flex, career opportunities for women open and the dual-earner household has become the norm, the expectations we have for our romantic relationships have become very different. 

As psychologist Eli Finkel has pointed out, "Marriage has evolved, from a mostly practical partnership based on efficient division of labor, to a spiritual and personal connection that we expect to help us achieve our best selves." 

For heterosexual couples, in particular, the division of labor across gender lines is no longer neatly circumscribed, leading to an expansion of what we expect from our partners. Of note in Chapman’s book is the way he consistently frames a man doing housework as him “helping out” his wife—not to mention multiple anecdotes from husbands who have succeeded in bringing home a paycheck and are baffled by their wives asking them to do anything further. While these attitudes aren’t totally behind us, in an era when a full half of women earn as much or more as their male partners, most couples expect to bring more of themselves to a partnership. 

Truity’s new 7 Love Styles framework addresses these changes, updating Chapman’s original five love languages and incorporating two ways of expressing love that are entirely new, based on what modern couples report needing in their relationships. 

The first new love style is Emotional, which reflects a need to have one’s partner treat them with empathy and compassion. People who use this love style say they want a partner who “supports me when I’m down” or “was there for me when I went through something difficult.” 

The second novel love style, Intellectual, reflects a meeting of the minds. People who value this style want to share opinions and ideas with their partner and have their intellect appreciated. They want to listen thoughtfully to one another and give and receive useful advice, input, and feedback.

“Updating the love languages from 5 to 7 provides a more comprehensive look at the needs of the modern couple,” said Omar Ruiz, a licensed marriage and family therapist who has used love languages theory with clients for over a decade. “For instance, emotional as an added love language is very key – as there has been an overall shift in promoting for all genders to express themselves in ways that could not have been acceptable in previous generations.” 

In addition to discovering two entirely new love styles, the new 7 Love Styles test also clarifies aspects of Chapman’s original ideas. For instance, although the validity of Chapman’s “Receiving Gifts” love language was borne out by Truity’s research, its description in the original model is too narrow. In fact, people who enjoyed receiving gifts also appreciated other kinds of financial support, and having a partner who is a good financial provider and generous with money as a rule. Truity’s new description of the Financial love style reflects this broader understanding.

“We hope our new assessment updates and expands the concept of love styles to put emphasis on what really matters in modern relationships,” added Owens.

Seven Love Styles Overview

Truity’s new 7 Love Styles test measures your preferences in regards to the newly identified seven styles. Here’s the breakdown:

Activity

People who focus on the Activity love style feel special and valued when their partner takes an interest in their hobbies and activities and makes an effort to enjoy hobbies and interests together.

Appreciation

People who focus on the Appreciation love style feel loved when their partner gives them compliments, praise and thanks. They appreciate hearing explicitly what their partner likes and admires about them.

Emotional

Those who focus on the Emotional love style feel loved when their partner connects with them and supports them through difficult and scary emotions. Being present for the highs and lows is very important to those with the Emotional love style.

Financial

People with the Financial love style feel loved when their partner is generous with resources and sees value in spending money to bring their partner pleasure and joy. This love style may be expressed through gifts or just making space in the family budget for your partner's enjoyment.

Intellectual

People with the Intellectual love style like to connect through the mind. They feel loved when their partner values their intelligence, respects their opinion and thoughtfully discusses important issues.

Physical

People with the Physical love style feel loved when they receive physical affection—hugs, holding hands and snuggles. They want their partners to show they're attracted to them and initiate loving touch.

Practical

People with the Practical love style feel loved when their partners chip in with everyday duties and responsibilities. They feel cared for when their loved ones do chores and offer help.

What’s Your Modern Love Style? 

Hop over to our 7 Love Styles test to discover how you want to be loved! A free version of the test is available that identifies your preferred Love Style – and you can go deeper by upgrading to our full, 10-page personalized report, which shows not only how you want to receive love, but how you tend to give it—and how to understand whether your styles are working for you. The full report provides deep guidance on improving communication, intimacy and fulfillment in your relationship based on your preferred style.

Megan Malone

Megan is a freelance writer and brand marketing consultant at Truity. She is passionate about helping people improve their relationships, careers, and quality of life using personality psychology. An INFJ and Enneagram 9, Megan lives quietly in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband and two pups. You can chat with her on Twitter @meganmmalone.

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.

Comments

kate powers (not verified) says...

I very much appreciate Truity's updating of the "classic" self awareness tools I began encountering in the 1980's.  However, it consistently ruffles me (like chalk on a blackboard!) when you all use the word "test" rather than the term "inventory" - which I was trained to use and which has none of the shaming potential of the word test.

Would you be kind enough to explain this to me?  From the beginnings of my experience with Truity, the word "test" was used with reference to the Meyers-Briggs, the Kiersey Temperament sorter, etc.  At a time in history when so many people are working to become less judgemental and more appreciative of diversity, using the word "test" grates!!

Conor Cook (not verified) says...

I can't speak for Truity, but I could imagine using the word test in its meaning of "refining," that is, reducing to the purest form. When we test our personality, we are seeking not only to know ourselves, but also therefore to be more true to ourselves, to examine ourselves to know better how we operate and so to act more naturally in circumstances. So, the test is really what happens after the results come in, which I suppose goes to your point that we should call these 'inventories.'

Still, its worth revisiting the meaning of 'test,' so as to temper the gut response to a word so common and useful in our lives. We've let it accrue a negative meaning, but judgemental is how our brain works, though we can't act on that judgement in a hateful, hurtful way.

Conor Cook (not verified) says...

This is a great effort to further deepen our understanding of expressions of love, and even to recognize any deficiencies in the original love language work of Dr. Chapman, as significant and helpful as it clearly has been.

However, it is naive to say that our "modern" expressions of love have changed significantly in 40 years, when humans have been loving for thousands of years. Yes, our modern situation is different from the 80s and 90s, but it isn't that different, considering the scope of human development.

Still, there is great value in refining and modifying the assessment of romantic and filial love, so that we can always better respond to our spouses, family, and friends.

But, don't forget that the ultimate expression of love is to lay down one's life for a friend, perhaps literally, but more often in the many small ways we die to ourselves for the sake of another's good. That is a love beyond any love language we can study.

The WTF Trimester (not verified) says...

This is a great expansion! I'm so happy to see this research emerge and to have some fresh ideas to meet my clients with. Emotional and mental are HUGE areas that were overlooked and has kept many from identifying their true needs. 

Casual Commentary (not verified) says...

Great additions!

I often found myself under-represented in these, because to me love means nothing more or less than knowing a person and wanting to know more.

As thinking, building, social beings, what could be more crucial to our experience than knowledge? (And emotions of course.)

Thomas J. Sodwith says...

     I am surprised that the Emotional was not listed in the first book about love languages. In hindsight it appears to be such an obvious need in the average person's life. Good job for putting it in. Thomas J. Sodwith | jerrysodwith@icloud.com

cyndie (not verified) says...

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ampva302 (not verified) says...

Very informative and interesting blog. I'm going to share this to my wife if she will agree with this opinion while I'm finishing reading an article the "Install Fence". 

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THE FINE PRINT:

Myers-Briggs® and MBTI® are registered trademarks of the MBTI Trust, Inc., which has no affiliation with this site. Truity offers a free personality test based on Myers and Briggs' types, but does not offer the official MBTI® assessment. For more information on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® assessment, please go here.

The Five Love Languages® is a registered trademark of The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, which has no affiliation with this site. You can find more information about the five love languages here.

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