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Lessons I Learned on Loving my Friends

“Do you ever feel like you’re not friends with some of your friends?”

I saw someone post this on social media and I felt sad for them. Of course, we all want to feel loved by our friends. I wondered why this person would feel this way and I wondered what their friends did – or didn’t do to cause them to say this.

There are certainly crappy people out there. As a result, there are crappy friends too. I can think of many reasons that friends let us down and make us feel that we aren’t loved. But, I got wondering..

What if their friends simply weren’t speaking their love language?”

Love language?? Whatever do you mean, Danielle. I’ve heard of Italian and Mandarin and Cantonese, sign language and even body language, but what is a “Love language?”

For those who do not know I’ll fill you in quick. Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a book years ago outlining 5 different “Love languages” we all speak. You see, there are all certain ways we feel more loved than other ways, and ways we in turn, give our love. During his years as a marriage counsellor, he began to see a pattern with his clients, realizing that spouses did not feel loved by their partner, even though their partner felt that they were giving love. Here’s an example:

Kathy: “Jim doesn’t love me anymore.” Jim: “What!? Of course I do! I did the dishes for you four days in a row last week and picked up the kids toys at the end of the day so you wouldn’t have to!” Kathy: “But, you haven’t hugged me or told me I was beautiful in a really long time.”

Clearly, they were not speaking each other’s Love languages. Here are a list of the 5 languages. You take a stab at what Jim and Kathy’s languages are.

  1. Gifts
  2. Words of Affirmation
  3. Quality Time
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

So, you might have guessed that Jim’s love language is #4 – Acts of service. And, if Kathy were to take the 5 Love Language test (which you can do quickly and easily online) she may have scored high on physical touch and words of affirmation (some of us are a mix).

Have you ever tried to get directions from a local who doesn’t speak your language while you’re vacationing abroad? Usually you wind up turning left at the old church when you should have made a right at the round-a-bout. That’s right – when the right things get lost in translation, they lead you to the wrong place…leaving us circling, frustrated and wanting to quit!

Relationships are like that too. They can leave us going in circles, frustrated and they certainly from time to time make us want to throw in the towel. But, when we speak our loved one’s love language, we may get to our desired destination with them much faster and easier.

Of course all the love languages are great, but some are less effective than others, depending who we are speaking to. We only have so much time and space to show our loved ones how we feel, so we might as well get our biggest bang for our buck.

I know that both me and Dan value words of affirmation, and so we try to be mindful to use our words well. I’m also a quality time type of gal, and he’s a physical touch boy, and so, Dan knows that if he spends some quality time with me (and calls me beautiful), he may just receive some physical touch, and we’re both happy campers. 😉 I had already taken the test with my husband, but this is not just helpful information to have for romantic love, but for everyone you love! So, next I thought about my kids. As for my kids, one is built up, lights up and feels loved by words of affirmation and the other needs quality time and lots of physical touch – be it snuggling up with a book, a belly rub at night or full on wrestling. It’s all love to him.

What about you? Do you know what language you speak? And, are you speaking your loved one’s language, or is it all Greek to you?! I encourage you to find these facts out, so that you can love and be loved well.

I took this a step further while preparing for this blog post. I surveyed about 30 of my girlfriends, asking them their top love language. This did a couple things for me: It helped me see that everyone has varied languages – there were no two people exactly alike. Also, many did not give me the answer I had assumed about them, telling me that it’s important to ask! I did see a pattern from my data that told me that women seem to feel most loved with words of affirmation – something I wasn’t surprised about, seeing as us women are much more verbal than men – but I still had friends who spoke every different language – and some who were bi and tri-lingual. Best of all, and most importantly, I now know how to intentionally and more effectively love them all, and I plan to speak their language to them more often!

Here are a few ideas on how you can give your friend what she needs in the language she understands:

  1. Gifts – leave some flowers on her doorstep, mail her a gag gift or inside joke gift, buy her something in her favorite color, surprise her with her favorite specialty coffee drink
  2. Words of Affirmation: mail her a card expressing your favorite things about her, on her birthday post on social media about how much you appreciate her, tell her your favorite memory about her and why, tell her that you love her and why – don’t assume that she knows that
  3. Quality time: Suggest a walk in the park or a long drive with a warm drink, put your phone away when you are with her, run errands together if you are in a busy season of life, FaceTime with them if they are far away. Ask her what she would like to do together – shop, get a pedicure, binge watch a tv show – and then do it!
  4. Acts of Service – Cook a meal for her and her family, run some errands for her or offer to pick up her kids from school and play with them so she can rest or do something she’s needed to get done, volunteer on a project that is important to her.
  5. Physical Touch – HUG HUG HUG! I have a few friends who are “serial huggers” – they love to find you and give you a good squeeze. Even if this is not your love language, let them hug you! Maybe she’d love to have her hair braided or a scalp massage or shoulder rub – if you do this, she will love you forever!

I challenge you to show some love to your friends in their language. If you intentionally love the ones around you in the way that they understand, I have high hopes that your love will not get lost in translation!

I love you! Je t’aime, Ich liebe dich, Ti amo!

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