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.
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?
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.
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!