The 5 Love Languages Summary: A “Manly,” No-Fluff Explanation

This 5 Love Languages summary was featured in Vol. 3, Relationship Sh*t of The Unconventional Monthly, a newsletter that gives you fresh ways to live a little more extraordinarily on a new topic every month.

The 5 Love Languages in Regular Words


Do you think “Keeping the Love Tank Full” and “Love Makes a Difference” sound more like cheesy songs from Barney & Friends than anything they’d ever want to read? Then this summary of The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman is for you.

Book cover or poster for the worst movie ever?

Because while the book’s lovey-dovey language isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, the ideas are. Or they should be. Over 10 million people have read the book for good reason.

But you don’t have to struggle through reading The 5 Love Languages to get the gist. Save yourself from “love buckets,” “affirmations,” and “love dialects.”

Here’s a 5 Love Languages summary and explanation in less-corny terms.

100-Word 5 Love Languages Summary

Your partner has a bitchy beast inside them. It will grow and wreak havoc on your relationship unless you follow one of five strategies (“love languages”) to tame it:

1. Say nice stuff.

2. Hang out.

3. Get Physical.

4. Give nice stuff.

5. Do nice stuff.

One will work best. You have to figure out which it is by observing your partner, asking them, and experimenting. Once you find the right strategy, use it over and over to keep the bitchy beast at bay and have a happy relationship.
Kim looks nice but, like everyone, she’s got a bitchy beast inside her.

Tame the Beast

Everyone has a bitchy beast inside of them.

This beast is responsible for all the things that make you and your partner miserable: Stuff like passive aggressiveness, stonewalling, complaining, tears, and even cheating.

In relationships, the beast takes a couple of years to grow its fangs. Until then, everything seems perfect. But it eventually emerges. It always does.

And it’s like the final boss of a video game. It seems invincible. Nothing you throw at it seems to kill it.

But there’s one secret strategy that works. Once you figure it out, neutralizing the beast becomes straightforward.

That strategy is one of the so-called “5 Love Languages.”

The Five Strategies

None of these five strategies (a.k.a. “The 5 Love Languages”) for taming your partner’s bitchy beast are that complicated.

1. Say Nice Stuff


This has got to be the easiest of the 5 Love Languages. Count yourself lucky if it does the trick for taming your partner’s bitchy beast.

Examples

All you have to do is:

  • Give compliments: “That new haircut looks amazing!”
  • Offer encouraging words: “Thanks for taking the garbage out. That was nice of you.”
  • Leave a nice note: “I had a blast last night. You’re so fun to hang out with.”
  • Say, “I love you.”
Kim and Chris at a wine tasting even in Cape Town
Hanging out’s even easier when wine’s involved.

2. Hang Out


Another easy strategy for taming the beast. If you don’t like hanging out with your partner you should probably find a new one.

Examples

Doing stuff your partner enjoys with them while not looking at your phone, like:

  • Going for walks just the two of you.
  • Have “quality conversations.” Consider these 36 questions and TableTopics to get these conversations started.
  • Play games or sports together.
  • Learn new skills together.
Chris hugging Kim as she tries to break free
Unfortunately for me, getting physical isn’t the best strategy for Kim.

3. Get Physical


Yes, having sex is part of this strategy. If you’re super lucky, that’s what your partner really needs to tame their bitchy beast. But, more than likely, getting physical means more than that.

Examples

  • Give them a hug when they’re feeling down.
  • Massage their feet while watching TV together.
  • Simple PDA (public displays of affection) like putting your hand on their shoulder or around their waist while waiting in line.
  • Hold their hand when walking together.
  • Screw their brains out.
Kim shopping in Seville Spain
Kim’s super picky, so I’m grateful that giving her nice stuff isn’t the strategy I need to keep her happy.

4. Give Nice Stuff


This beast-taming strategy, regularly giving nice things to your partner, is not as easy as the previous three, but still not too difficult.

And if you’re like me and don’t like “wasting money” on objects, reframe these gifts as investments in your sanity and the sanctity of your relationship. They’re cheaper than counseling.

Examples

  • Visual symbols of love like a framed photo of the two of you.
  • Make something like some cookies they can bring to work.
  • Find something, like wildflowers, that you can give to them.
  • Buy something, like chocolate, socks, or, well, anything you know they want.
Organizing day trips to small towns in Spain is part of my love language to do nice things.
I just paralyzed Kim’s bitchy beast by fixing the faulty chain on her bike.

5. Do Nice Stuff


Too bad for you if this is the strategy that works to tame your partner’s bitchy beast. But it’s still not that bad.

Examples

  • Wash their car.
  • Rake the lawn, clean the gutters, and take out the trash.
  • Make a nice meal for them.
Chris and Kim unsure which of the 5 love languages to use on each other.
Both of us look uncertain about which “love language” strategy to use on the other.

How to Choose the Right Strategy

“Why didn’t somebody tell me this thirty years ago? I could have been sitting on the couch talking to her fifteen minutes every night instead of doing all this stuff.”

Norm, a poor guy from The 5 Love Languages

This quote was the funniest thing I read in the 5 Love Languages.

Poor Norm assumed the Do Nice Stuff strategy would tame his wife’s bitchy beast, so he cooked, cleaned, and chored like crazy.

For thirty years! And it didn’t work! All she wanted was to hang out.

Here’s how to avoid Norm’s mistake.

1. Use Their Strategy Against Them

Pay attention to which of the five strategies your partner’s using on you. Odds are they’re doing to you what they want you to reciprocate with.

For instance, Norm used the Do Nice Stuff strategy on his wife because that’s what he wanted from her. And she used the Hang Out strategy on him. They had it backward.

2. Listen

What does your partner complain about most that you don’t do? (Or request, if they’re in a good mood.)

That’s probably linked to the strategy you need to use.

3. Ask

Whittle down to the right strategy by asking questions like this:

Would you be happier with me if I,

A) Met you at work to go to lunch together, just the two of us.

Or

B) Brought you a surprise small gift home from work.

If you get desperate, you can try to get them to do the official 5 Love Languages quiz. But it’s pretty crappy.

4. Experiment

Try each strategy one at a time and see which seems to tame the beast the most. Since there are only five, it won’t take long.

And doing the “wrong” strategies doesn’t hurt.

How to Deploy Your Strategy

Using your secret strategy is like being locked in a cell with a rabid bear and nothing but a taser to defend yourself. You have to regularly zap the beast to keep it from awakening and tearing you to shreds.

It might not feel natural at first. And the beast is invisible, so it can be easy to forget until it’s too late. So set a reminder in your calendar to keep doing it until it becomes a habit.

Advanced Strategies

If the beast continues to emerge and bite your head off even after you’ve deployed the right strategy, try these two advanced strategies.

A Secondary Strategy

Sometimes the beast needs a combo of two strategies: a primary one and a secondary one.

You won’t need to use the secondary strategy as much, and it won’t work on its own, but doing it every now and again will help.

Narrow Down Your Strategy

Not all actions within a single strategy will have equal effect. Narrow down the strategy within a strategy that gives you the most bang for your buck.

For example, if your partner needs the Give Nice Stuff strategy, regular handwritten letters may work better than boxes of chocolates. (Plus, they’re healthier.)

Kim pretending to hit Chris in Cape Town, which is the antithesis of using his love language.
If Kim wasn’t joking around here, she’d be feeding the bitchy beast inside me.

Final Warning: Never Feed the Beast

The worst thing you can do is the reverse of your beast-taming strategy. That means:

  • Saying mean stuff to someone who needs the Say Nice Stuff strategy.
  • Stealing or destroying the stuff of someone who needs to Give Nice Stuff strategy.
  • Making them do unpleasant stuff if they need the Do Nice Stuff strategy.
  • Physically hurting them if they need the Get Physical strategy.
  • Standing them up if they need the Hang Out strategy.

These are obviously horrible things to do in general, but they’re even worse when it’s the antithesis of the strategy your partner needs. It makes the beast stronger than ever.

5 Love Languages Cheat Sheet

In case someone starts using terms from the 5 Love Languages book on you, here’s how to translate that gibberish into regular words.

Love Language LanguageTranslation
5 Love languagesThe strategies for taming the bitchy beast
Words of affirmationSay nice stuff
Receive giftsGive nice stuff
Acts of serviceDo nice stuff
Physical touchGet physical
Quality timeHang out
Filling their emotional love bucketKeeping the bitchy beast down with continuous use of your strategy
In love experienceThe early days of your relationship before the bitchy beast emerges to make things difficult

Good Luck

Good luck figuring out which of the five strategies will tame your partner’s bitchy beast. And hopefully, you get lucky in that it’s one of the easier ones.

Once you’ve figured it out and started deploying it, you shouldn’t need any luck anymore. Enjoy a happy relationship.

And if worst comes to worst and something’s not clear or not working, suck it up and read The 5 Love Languages.

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Chris and Kim

Kim and Chris are on a mission to eradicate boringness by feeding their curiosity and fighting complacency. Discover the extraordinary and join thousands of others every month with The Unconventional Monthly.

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