If you’ve ever heard about the 5 love languages before, there’s a good chance you associate the concept with romantic relationships only. But truth be told, the love languages is a theory that can be extended beyond far romantic partners and can be used to connect and deepen all kinds of healthy relationships in your life- siblings, parent/child relationships, and of course friendships. The 5 ways that people feel loved and show their love includes gifts, physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time and acts of service.
The theory is that each and every person has at least one predominant love language that they prefer over the others. Discovering how yourself and your friends prefer to give and receive love and affection can seriously bring your friendships to new heights. Understanding what makes our closest friends feel loved, cared for and looked after is a way to honor them and show them that we value them in our lives - and vice versa!
So, how do you know your friend’s love language? You might be able to figure it out simply by reflecting on your friendship and how your friend has unconsciously communicated it to you in the past. But honestly? The best way is to simply ask!
You don’t need to speak the same love language as your friend in order to make this work, either - you only need to be willing to accommodate one another.
Tips for Using the 5 Love Languages to Build Stronger Friendships
This love language might center on receiving gifts, but it isn’t rooted in the material possessions themselves so much as the thought behind them. Giving gifts demonstrates to your friend that you were thinking about them, that something reminded you of them or that you remembered something they mentioned they like.
Friendship gifts can include:
- Cut Flowers
- A treat they would enjoy - dessert, candy, specialty coffee, smoothie, etc
- A body care product they’ve been wanting to try
- A cactus, succulent or other potted plant
- Anything that reminds you of them
We may think of physical touch in a romantic context, but there are plenty of ways to honor the love language of physical touch with a friend. It all comes down to ways to show them that you’re listening, that you’re physically present with them and that you care.
Friendly forms of touch include:
- Walking arm in arm
- A special handshake the two of you share
- A simple touch on the arm
- Doing each others hair/nails/makeup etc
- A full-on hug
(Remember if physical touch is not your love language or it makes you uncomfortable, you do not have to cross your own boundaries in order to give love to your friend.)
Words of Affirmation
Some friends prefer a little reminder that you’re there and that their friendship means a lot to you. Words of affirmation can encompass everything from a quick text message checking in or asking about their day all the way to telling them you love them and appreciate them.
Word of Affirmation ideas:
- “I’m thankful for you.”
- “You’re doing great.”
- “I’m proud of you for ____.”
- A written note telling them what their friendship means to you
- An encouraging word before something they are nervous or excited about
The quality time love language is all about connection. It isn’t about the amount of time spent together or even the activity itself but rather how intentional the time is. If a friend speaks the quality time love language, the most important thing to remember is to be completely present in the moment with them. That means that quality time can be anything you do together- even FacetTiming if you live far apart.
Acts of Service
This love language hinges on your actions - the ways you “show up for” your friend. These friends need to see how you care for them and support them by backing up the things you say and following through with your word.
Acts of Service will look different in different friendships but might include:
- A ride somewhere when needed
- An errand completed or the offer to pick something up while you’re out
- Help with childcare, housekeeping, cooking, etc
- Simply showing up when your friend needs you
Incorporating the 5 love languages can be an incredibly powerful way to deepen your friendships and establish life-long connections with the people you care about most.