Are you fluent in the five love languages for friendships?

Dr. Gary Chapman first introduced the concept of how we like to receive and express our love in his book, The 5 Love Languages

According to him, we each “speak” one of five love language types:

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

Your love language is your unique way of showing others how much you value and appreciate them. It also serves to tell others what you need to feel loved. Combine that intel, and you’ll have healthy, long-lasting relationships.

Unfortunately, we don’t all speak the same love language. Conflicting love languages cause miscommunication, frustration, and resentment over time. This can lead us to feel underappreciated, misunderstood, and unwanted.

To help you avoid this, we’re going to explore what each of the languages looks like between friends and give you pointers on figuring out how to speak your friends’ languages.

So What Is the Importance of Language in Friendship?

How does love language apply to friendships?

Both romantic and platonic relationships are built on communication and respect. 

Speak your friend’s love language, and you’ll be able to give them exactly what they need from you. You’ll be on the same wavelength, each feeling seen, supported, and valued. 

Let’s say you like celebrating a new job with your closest friends, for example. Your love language is Quality Time. So if one of your friends sends a gift instead of toasting your success in person, you may feel let down. 

The same goes for the decisions you make toward your friends.

If your pal’s going through a breakup, they may want you to speak Words of Affirmation instead of having you take on the chores they’ve been ignoring (Acts of Service). Doing the latter won’t make your friend feel better, so no one wins.

Understanding each friendship language and applying them to your relationships can help you avoid this type of miscommunication. Then you can nurture your friendships and deepen your social connections.

friends outside in the snow

How to Use the 5 Love Languages for Friendships That Spark Joy

Now that you know how the five love languages apply to friendships, you may wonder: How do I show the Physical Touch love language to a friend? Or What Acts of Service do my friends expect?

These ideas and tips for each friendship language should help:

If Your Friend’s Love Language is Gifts:

They believe it’s the thought that counts. Friends who value receiving gifts consider these tiny treasures a physical representation of your love and appreciation for them.

You don’t have to spend much to show someone they’re on your mind. You could:

  • Bring them fresh flowers or a small potted plant
  • Grab their favorite drink when you’re at the coffee shop
  • Stash a small souvenir from your travels for them
  • Make or bake something you know they’ll love
  • Frame a photo of you two
  • Cheer them up with a playlist of songs you both like
  • Share content you think they’ll enjoy (like this blog post!)
  • Spring for the Uber or first round of drinks

Think of small gifts like these as a celebration of your friendship.

If Your Friend’s Love Language is Acts of Service:

They believe deeds speak louder than words. We’re all working our way through stacks of to-do lists. So if you take a task off your friend’s shoulders, they’ll see just how much you care to help.

If they’re going through a stressful time, this gesture may cement your bonds of friendship more than any gift or friend date you could plan.

To practice the Acts of Service love language with your friends:

  • Keep your place neat if you live together
  • Ask if they need anything picked up while you’re running errands
  • Join them on a chore or task they’re dreading
  • Offer to babysit, walk their dog, or check on their cat
  • Make dinner one night or take them out
  • Help them move or organize their space
  • Share a professional network connection 
  • Use your skills for their benefit (polish up their resume, take a new headshot, help them apartment hunt, etc.) 

Acts of service are all about showing up for your friend and giving your all for them.

If Your Friend’s Love Language is Words of Affirmation:

They want to hear how you feel about them. These friends prize honest communication and deep discussions, so don’t insult them with small talk.

Sprinkle compliments and words of encouragement, especially before a major life event like a job interview or first date. These small words of praise help build their confidence and leave no doubt in their minds about why you value them.

To speak the Words of Affirmation friend language:

  • Don’t be scared to say I love you.
  • Share what you like about their friendship.
  • Highlight their extraordinary qualities.
  • Write a letter or send a card to offer encouragement, thanks, love, etc.
  • Randomly text them with an inspiring quote you resonate with.
  • Tell them you’ll always be there.
  • Acknowledge their accomplishments and convey your happiness for them.

As your friend’s biggest fan, you can never go wrong with positive feedback here.

If Your Friend’s Love Language is Quality Time:

They want you to be there. Making room in your busy schedule for distraction-free quality time is essential for this friendship to thrive. That means keeping your phone on silent and out of sight when you’re together.

Friends who speak the Quality Time love language find your undivided attention most valuable. Whether you’re meeting for happy hour or watching your favorite show together, there’s nowhere else they’d rather be than with you.

So to boost your quality time, you could:

  • Schedule a weekly or monthly friend date (grab coffee, go for lunch, have a picnic, etc.).
  • Regularly call or FaceTime each other to catch up.
  • Take a class together (yoga, cooking, candle making, etc.).
  • Run errands together (it’ll make everything more fun).
  • Share one of their hobbies or interests. 
  • Show up when they’re going through a hard time.

Being present for your friend reinforces your history and helps create new memories.

If Your Friend’s Love Language is Physical Touch:

They feel most connected to you when physically by your side. They’re usually huggers and people who like to greet you with a kiss on both cheeks. 

But unlike the four love languages we just discussed, things can get tricky with the Physical Touch love language for friendship. 

So as long as it’s consensual and wanted, you could:

  • Randomly give them a bear hug.
  • Always sit together when you meet up.
  • Hold hands or walk arm-in-arm.
  • Celebrate big news with a high-five, kiss on the cheek, pat on the back, etc.
  • Stroke their hair when comforting or reassuring them through a rough patch.
  • Pamper them with gifts for their body, such as a sugar scrub, hand cream, scalp massager, foam roller, etc.
  • Practice self-care rituals together, like doing each other’s nails/hair or giving neck and shoulder massages.

Learn your friends’ boundaries to ensure all your physical touch gestures are welcomed and appreciated (read: not uncomfortable or annoying).

friends reading a book

So What Is Your Friendship Language?

Having a different love language for each of your friends is OK. You may feel more comfortable buying gifts for a new acquaintance, whereas you enjoy snuggling up on the couch for a movie night with your best friend.

The important thing is to communicate your love language to your friends so they can be there for you. Identifying your friendship language also encourages your friends to learn and share theirs with you.

How to Become the Best Love Language Friends

Now that you know each love language meaning in the context of friendships, you might start taking mental notes about which types of actions your friends respond to.

But you can always ask what their friendship love language is to avoid assuming the wrong one. Consider sharing this post to kickstart your conversation or take a love languages for friendship quiz together.

Dr. Chapman’s website offers free love language quizzes for romantic, platonic, family, and workplace relationships. Taking them can help you achieve more fulfilling relationships with way less drama. 

Remember that love languages for friends can evolve, so you’ll need to pay attention to each other’s changing needs. And like any language, the more you practice, the stronger your fluency in friendship languages will become.

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