Last week I read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I’d heard it mentioned in enough different contexts that I thought it would be interesting. It was.

The basic idea is super simple: people express and receive love in different ways, and it is helpful to think about how the person we wish to express love to receives love. The “five languages” are receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. Chapman posits that one of the “languages” is the primary way in which each of us receives love.

The book is short and to the point, and tells lots of stories to explain the different “languages”. Like lots of self-help/self-development/personal-growth books, it presents what it is saying as some sort of eternal truth, which it is not, but the framework is helpful.

Are there really “five love languages” in some sort of canonical sense? No. But the framework helps me to think about how I can better communicate love to people in my life. It’s also helpful for me to think about how I receive love from other people.

Many frameworks are subjective and arbitrary, but they can still help us do better in a variety of contexts. To stay in the self-help genre, there is Covey’s importance/urgency matrix; perhaps the most famous decision-making framework is battlefield triage.

Frameworks aren’t necessarily true, but they can be helpful.

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