Is it important to know your friends’ love language?

A few years ago, my friend sent me a message saying something along the lines of “we really need to chat and define this friendship and what we expect from each other”

I must have looked at the phone for a good two minutes. What did that mean? Weren’t we just friends who caught up with each other, shared concerns, celebrated and supported each other. 

friends love language

I knew that our friendship wasn’t the most solid. Although we had been acquaintances for the longest time, we hadn’t been friends for that long. However in the couple of years prior, similar circumstances, interests and a couple more mutual friends had brought us together and so the friendship bloomed — or so I hoped. 

But clearly one person didn’t have their expectations met and so thought this chat necessary. 

After my two minutes stare, I needed a third party opinion. So I sent a screenshot to a couple of people — not disclosing the sender. They thought it was weird. 

In retrospect though, I’ve been thinking that perhaps we are the weird ones. What’s so wrong in defining your expectations in friendships?

On the one hand, we push for an advocate express knowledge of love languages in romantic relationships. But while some arguably note that your solid tribe of girl friends may be more important than your romantic partner, we think it’s childish, weird or unnecessary to define expectations in a friendship? 

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I’ve never been the one with a massive gathering of friends. And if my friends expect me to leave comments like “absolutely gorgeous”, “ohhh you’re such a super star”, “you incredible ray of sunshine”, on all of their Instagram posts, they’re most likely going to be in for a surprise as it’s just not my personality. That’s not to say I won’t let you know your photo is beautiful or that I absolutely loved your caption.

But if this was fundamentally important to them and their preferred way of receiving love and support,which was communicated expressly to me, then perhaps I might consciously do so and even come through with the “lovestruck” and “fire” emojis behind every comment? 

I think back to my first very conscious friendship. We were about 9 and in secondary school. I received a note from a girl who I’d met at the entrance examination and we ended up in the same class. In her note, she asked to be my best friend. I accepted, and we spent a couple more hours defining how this friendship was going to proceed.

We laid out ground rules like going to the tuck shop at break times together, not having other best friends and a few other things our 9 year old selves must have thought cute.

But I also recall a couple of rows we had that led to the demise of the “best friendship”. I hadn’t turned up for her birthday (I’d given my mum the wrong address and then couldn’t locate the house!). But not only that, I’d made fairly elaborate promises of birthday gifts which I never delivered on. This birthday gaffe was a huge deal breaker for her. Those gifts and quality time mattered to her. Amidst several other events, she wrote to me shortly saying she had a new best friend.

If 9-year olds could somewhat define their friendships, why not us? 

I’ve mostly had friends who I think are on the same wavelength as I am. Or so I think. And so we’ve navigated years of friendships with a fair understanding of what each other appreciates and expects.

But, what if we’re wrong and we haven’t just bothered to know and act on each other’s love language?

If you’re not familiar with the 5 love languages, it’s a concept designed by Gary Chapman in his worldwide best selling book “The Five Love Languages“, and you can take his quiz here to find out yours.

So, what if your friends really appreciate birthday gifts and surprises — but you think it’s silly, especially as you’re halfway around the world.

What if your friends value touch as their love language as so want to be hugged ever so often? Or perhaps they appreciate words of affirmation and you must learn to say “I love you!”

What if they want you to jump in and help in every situation? In other words you must learn how to speak their “acts of service” language.

Is quality time important to them? Do they expect a daily check in, weekly video calls and the occasional brunch date? Or are they one of those “we catch up when we can and nothing has changed”.

Speaking your friend’s love language doesn’t have to be extra-ordinary or grand gestures. This post shares a few practical and day-to-day things you can do.

There are so many things I kind of suck at when it comes to friendship. But each day is a learning curve and so I want to do better. Consciously asking about my friends’ love language and expectations would definitely lead to a smoother process. While some friend’s expect a comment on every new hair style, for another a key expectation is remembering all her child’s birthday.

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I’m curious to know. Have you had these conversations with your friends or do you believe they’re not necessary? As a friend, what is your love language? Please share your thoughts!

Read too: From Dating to Parenting: How My Love Language has Changed in 12 years, Can Weddings and Bridesmaid Expectations Ruin Friendships? and 5 Different Support Networks Every Woman Should Have.


14 COMMENTS

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14 Comments

  1. Onyi

    April 22, 2020 at 12:42

    Hmm….very very interesting read. need to share with my friends

    Reply
    • Kachi Tila-Adesina

      April 30, 2020 at 10:53

      It’s def worth getting them to read it and have a conversation.

      Reply
  2. Adaora Nwajiaku

    April 22, 2020 at 13:22

    This was interesting to read. Can I have all 5 love languages? LOL

    I think conversations between friends are relevant. I have expectations from friendships and family relationships and I’d imagine my people have the same expectations but they’re expectations that are basic and typical of such relationships- check on each other, offer support/be there as much as you’re able, etc.
    We should both be confident that we matter to each other…visibly. Patronising friends’ businesses on social media, sharing, tagging, commenting, liking- these are social media ways of offering support. But beyond all that display, I’d also expect a meaningful private bond. I don’t expect to speak to my friends every day or week but communication better not be so far along that reconnecting becomes awkward. And I can’t even overstate how important it is to be open and share when one is offended. I’m particularly annoyed by friends who stop talking to you when you do something wrong without ever telling you what, or hearing you out. Ugh. I always conclude that you kuku didn’t value the friendship if you’re tossing me aside that fast.

    The embodiments of friendship should come easily but intentionally and still not feel like a job, except there’s something unsaid between parties. Gosh, I’ve written a lot. I’ve clearly had loads of personal experiences to draw from, hehe. Nice photo Kachi!

    Reply
    • Aisha

      April 23, 2020 at 14:27

      Hahaha this feels like something I wrote! Friends that cut you off without saying what you did wrong are the worst and I truly believe they never valued the friendship. Never again!

      Reply
    • Kachi Tila-Adesina

      April 30, 2020 at 10:55

      Thank you Adaora for sharing. I agree with your take on this. Re love language, I think many of us have a bit of all 5, but the top 2 are often the primary ones.

      Reply
  3. Temilade

    April 22, 2020 at 16:39

    Nice photo first. I wish i could like your Instagram post this morning more than once. About work from home tips. Just brushing your hair and lipgloss makes a lot of difference.
    My experience in friendships differs based on the person. Even though i havent asked any of my friends their love language ever, but then i am a communications expert, so I took my time to decipher most of their love languages by the way we relate and how they react to things etc.
    Nonetheless, there are some basic things like showing up for wedding, naming or birthday, supporting their business and whatever they do, lending a helping hand, and listening alot. It also helps that

    Reply
  4. Temilade

    April 22, 2020 at 16:50

    It also helps that I am like always positive and ready to ginger you in whatever area you are lacking.

    Reply
  5. Adaure

    April 22, 2020 at 17:58

    Hmmm……

    I think it is necessary for friends to know what to expect from one another, and it can be from defined conversations or by studying each other as you get along

    I think I have lost quite some people who would have been very awesome friends because I didn’t define what my expectations of them were and just expected them to know.

    I actually realized this when I met this girl during service year, really cool person and we totally vibed. Her love language is acts of service so she was totally in your face, ready to help you , defend you or whatever is needed from the word “go” but I am a bit more subdued and found it annoying sometimes so I would always say Babe calm down.

    I always remember what she told me one day, it was along the lines of you can’t always tell me to “Calm down” I’m not a child. We are still getting to know each other and if something I do offends you, you should just talk to me not try to scold me. I took this to heart and till date I remind myself of this

    Reply
  6. Muna of the most high

    April 22, 2020 at 18:10

    Your 9 year old bestie clearly knows what she wanted early in life, o ga ooo. She must be a motivational speaker now.
    Anyways, my love language is definitely words of affirmation. Gass me up!!! All the way up!. I might keep my face like moi moi ignore it. Continue to wash me.

    For real though, we tend to pay less attention to our friends love languages cos we are not romantically involved with them and you cant also blame us.
    I mean we are constantly trying to make sure we love our partners the way they want to be loved that we forget that our friends need that same energy.
    One of the reason my ex left then was cos he felt I go all out for my friend and hype them on IG, I was not doing same for him and he felt I didnt love him. I mean I rarely call my friends by their names. Anyways, I think we should pay good attention to how our friends want to be loved even though we are not romantically involved with them

    For we girls, like all our pictures, put thunder emoji’s in all our pics on IG, retweet and put exclamation marks on our tweets, I think that one is everyone girls love language.

    Reply
    • Kachi Tila-Adesina

      April 30, 2020 at 10:57

      Lol @ your last sentence and every girl’s love language. I better take lessons in that then!!

      Reply
  7. Muele

    April 22, 2020 at 22:17

    Sometimes you want a friend to speak your love language so badly because you’ve kept them high up there. Meanwhile someone else is readily speaking that language and getting closer to them you feel like you’re “cheating” on your other friendship, oh the complications hahahahah.

    I loved this post Kachi and the 9 year old 💛 I agree your female/male friends also deserve the same level of dedication to understanding and speaking their language as our romantic relationships. Would definitely be asking some questions because I may have guessed some people’s language wrong.

    Reply
  8. Aisha

    April 23, 2020 at 14:25

    Lool I think the 9 year old friendship was cute! Baby girl knew what she wanted from the jump! Thinking about it now, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to define your friendship. As someone whose supposed “best friend” just stopped talking to her for reasons unknown maybe if we had set up expectations it could have been avoided. Although, with time and years of friendship I think you get to understand your friend better and pick up on their love languages and hopefully vice versa. Most times, I give gifts based on their likes and quality time for everyone. If we’re friends, I’m expecting that we check in on each other at least once a week. I don’t do three months apart and claim we are friends. We might be, but that’s not a close friendship to me. My comments on your post will also depend on how I’m feeling tbh, sometimes the 🔥 works just fine. 😅

    Reply
    • Kachi Tila-Adesina

      April 30, 2020 at 11:00

      Uh uh, if my best friend simply stopped talking to me for no reason, a conversation ought to be had! You’re right that with time and years of friendship, you can pick up on each other’s love language. You can also be open from the get go, so you don’t need those years simply trying to figure it out. And yes tbh, sometimes that fire emoji does the job!

      Reply
  9. Desire Uba

    May 3, 2020 at 13:22

    I haven’t had these conversations with friends, but I have thought about it.
    Love languages truly transcend romantic relationships and we need to normalize that.
    On the other hand, do you know where your first best friend is now?

    http://www.desireuba.com.ng

    Reply

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