You have probably heard of the 5 love languages, often used in reference to romantic relationships. The idea is this: if you know that your partner expresses and receives love in a certain way, then it will help you better demonstrate love to her/him, and receive her/his love in return. And knowing our own love language helps us communicate our needs more clearly and effectively so that our partners can love us better.

But what about friendship? Can knowing someone’s love language help us be a better friend? Absolutely! I’ve learned over the years that it’s not only my husband whom I need to pay attention to and read better; I need to listen to my friends’ needs, desires, and preferred channels of affection. That way, we can offer each other better support, feel more connected, and grow our relationship.

Here are the 5 love languages:

Words of affirmation
Quality time
Acts of service
Physical touch

An example

One of my college room mates used to write little notes for me and stick them on my door. She was an artist, so she drew these amazing doodles along with her words of encouragement. I loved receiving these, especially when I’d had a long day and didn’t get a chance to chat with her. Being reminded that I was cared for was something that got me through some of the most difficult seasons (literally, when it was winter for 6 months).

But it wasn’t a year before it finally dawned on me to return the favor. Seriously. I was cluelessly enjoying her small kind efforts without thinking about whether these words of affirmation were a channel to her heart as well.

Eventually, I started writing little notes to her when I thought of it. I even bought a pretty notepad to remind myself to do it. And I saw our friendship grow that much deeper because of it.

In the meantime, my room mate found out that gift-giving was a huge part of my upbringing. Gifts are still really important to me (almost to a fault), and I sometimes plan out gifts a month in advance so that they are perfect. Over the years, I watched her become more and more creative in the ways she selected gifts for me. And it made me feel special and understood!

My college room mate buttons up my wedding dress!

My college room mate buttons up my wedding dress!

So this is how to be a better friend…

Ask your good friends what their love languages are. When they share with you, it might be quite obvious because they themselves show affection that way. Or, you might be surprised!

Look for little ways to love them in their language if you don’t already. Sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone in how you show love is a great way to grow as a person. I know it sounds corny– but take me for example! While I love to write heartfelt notes and cards, I don’t often affirm people when I speak. It’s something I’m learning to do, and I love to think that it’s making me a more enjoyable person to be around.

Share about the ways you feel most loved. Your friends and loved ones do want you to know that they care for you– and they’ll be happy to learn how best to do it!

What is your love language and how do you use it to love others? I’d like to know!