Love Languages and your friendships
If you've ever been in a romantic relationship, you may be familiar with the concept of "love languages." It's a theory that suggests we all express and receive love differently. For example, one person might feel best loved when they get flowers, while another might feel loved by words of affirmation—either way is totally normal! And after having many conversations about this with friends, I realized that it's also important to understand what our friends' "language" or way of showing affection is. So here are all six types:
mine is words of affirmation and acts of service
One of the first steps in improving your friendships is knowing what your own love language is, and how it can help you understand your friends.
In addition to helping you figure out what makes others feel loved through these five categories—and figuring out which category(ies) best suit your own needs—the concept has implications for improving relationships with family members as well. Knowing that my father’s primary love language is acts of service means that I know he would appreciate being asked if there are any tasks around the house that need doing or projects that would benefit from his expertise instead of showing up with a gift. It also gives me insight into why some gifts seem more meaningful than others: handwritten notes from friends saying they were thinking about me when they got me something endearingly specific are much more likely to make me happy than an expensive piece of jewelry.
Physical touch is a powerful way to show love and affection. It can be a hug, a pat on the back, or even just holding hands with someone you care about.
You can also use physical touch to show someone that you're listening to them. For example, if your friend is telling you about their day and they're getting upset, rest your hand gently on theirs while they talk. This will let them know that you're there for them and willing to listen without interrupting or making judgments about what they say.
Quality time is about being together. It's about giving your friend your undivided attention and making them feel important. Sometimes that means going to the park, or playing board games together, or just watching a movie on the couch—whatever it takes to make sure that you are giving your friend 100% of your focus. When you're spending quality time with someone else, it's important to be fully present with them and not get distracted by other things going on in your life or outside world. Quality time isn't just about the activity; it's about creating memories that will last for years down the road.
Receiving gifts is a great way for people to show their love for each other. It’s not about the value of the gift, it’s about the thought that went into it. Pick up your friend a cup of coffee or gift them a book you loved reading. If gift giving is a bit stressful for you, start a list of possible birthday or Christmas gifts for them months in advance. That way when they mention something they like or want you can jot it down. So when it comes time to get a gift you don't have to think about it.
Acts of service
Acts of service are actions that you do for others. These can be anything from helping your friend prepare for an interview to helping them move their furniture or taking the trash out for them.
This is one of the easiest love languages to speak and understand, so it's a great place to start. If you're struggling with how to show your loved ones they matter, this could be a good place to start. It's also easy for your friends and family members to reciprocate acts of service by doing something nice for you in return!
Words of affirmation
Words of affirmation are words of praise, encouragement and appreciation. These can be words of approval or appreciation for an achievement or task, a job well done or even just a general thank you. If this isn't your chosen love language, but it's your friend's it might feel a bit unnatural. But you can start by sitting down and writing a gratitude list. Why are you glad to have this person in your life? Try to come up with 10 things. Now you have a bank of compliments! It's a wonderful feeling to get a text randomly from your friend that says "I'm just so glad to have you in my life! You always make me feel heard." It takes intention to be that friend but it's such a wonderful way to show you care.
It's good to know what you like and what your friends like. You can use this knowledge to strengthen your friendships, by making sure you spend time together doing activities that both of you enjoy, and making sure you and your friends feel loved