There’s an old saying that love is friendship lit on fire, and isn’t that the truth? The only real diff between your platonic BFF and your romantic interest basically comes down to sexy time. So when we were recently reading up on the languages of love, a book released in the ’90s that talks about how we all communicate our feelings of affection and acceptance SO DIFFERENTLY, it hit us — these totally apply to our friendships, too!
How you show love to someone or how you know someone loves you back (in a platonic or romantic way) might be so lost in translation that we decided we need to get talking about this.
There are basically 2 steps to making this work wonders for your relationships:
- Ask your friends what their love language is.
- Start delivering.
There are five main styles: gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch.
Of course the communication and delivery of each of these is a bit different between best friends and love interests, we decided to give you a little guide to how to care for your friends in their love languages.
Gifts. The rad thing about giving gifts is that they don’t have to equate to a monetary value. Yes, every gift lover loves a sentimental piece of jewelry, a souvenir from your latest travels, a bouquet of flowers, or when their favorite hot beverage shows up at their doorstep. But a gift can come in the form of a note or running out to pay the meter or bringing a shell home from some distant beach or just down the street. A gift is only a gift because there is a thought behind the token.
Quality time. This is a big one for maintaining and fostering a healthy vibrant friendship. Quality of time not quantity. For us this means be there when you are there most importantly. Put your phone down at the table. Have conversation in the car. Give eye contact, thoughtful questions, and give and take in equal measure. Do you find yourself controlling the conversations? Do you ask questions and actually want to hear the answers? Are you just passing the time in each others company or really making something special out of it?
Words of Affirmation. Say it out loud. We so often times assume the people close to us know why they are close to us. But saying it out loud will surprise you by how good it feels for both of you. Tell them they are awesome, that you are lucky to have this kind of friend, that you admire them and what they are making of their life, that you appreciate what they bring to the table in your friendship. A few words go a long way.
Acts of Service. This one is particular to helpful acts, a chance for you to go out of your way to show that you care. My mother always told me that you will know who your real friends are because they show up to help you move. I’ve noticed over the years this is always true. Other things that come to mind, airport rides, and breakup vigils (when your friend gets dumped and you simply don’t leave their side), and picking up the wine on the way home from work.
Physical Touch. We recommend getting to know your new friend a bit before employing this one because it’s just true that some people do not like to be touched. But a good hug, a real hug, can go a long way. Just sayin’.
Love languages suggest that although everyone is different, a certain degree of each is expected in most relationships. There is a learning curve in every friendship and being aware of how your friends communicate and show their own appreciation will help you understand how to make them feel loved. Because after all that’s what this is all about, the love.
What’s your friendship language? Tell us in the comments!
Illustration by Nicholle Kobi