5 Languages You Should Know to Be a Better Friend

Speaking the same language is key to the success of any relationship. Find out what languages exist in your relationships. 

Updated 19 Aug 2021

5 Languages You Should Know to Be a Better Friend - Feature-Image

The foundation of any great relationship is communication. And to communicate, you have to know and understand each other’s languages.

Now, we’re not talking about languages such as English, Mandarin or French. When it comes to relationships, it’s important that you speak and understand each other’s love languages.

What is a love language?

Popularised by Gary Chapman, a love language is essentially how people communicate their love and affection. Chapman claims that people experience and express love differently — through words of affirmation, quality time, giving and receiving gifts, quality service and physical touch.

Now, don’t be duped into thinking that this only applies to romantic relationships. At its core, this theory outlines the ways in which people express and experience love. So, in theory, you can apply it to any relationship that involves love and affection. In fact, while it started out as an interpretation of romantic love, Chapman has updated it to include different types of dynamics, including between parents and children and between friends and coworkers.

Let’s take a closer look at the 5 love languages.

Disclaimer: This is not a scientific approach to relationships. This concept serves more as a guide to encourage communication and understanding between 2 people, whether it’s a friend, a colleague or your parents.

#1. Words of affirmation

Love Language For Better Friendship-Words of affirmation

To some people, words are indeed louder than actions. If your love language is words of affirmations, then you express and perceive love through verbal and written words. Affirmation of love is important to you and you may feel neglected if you don’t hear it often.

What to do?

The occasional “I appreciate you” and “Thank you” can mean a lot to them and hearing the reasons behind those sentiments can send them soaring. Leave them an encouraging hand-written note, send them a short text just because or compliment them on their new hairstyle. What they want, first and foremost, is to know that you support and appreciate them.

What to avoid?

They thrive on kind and encouraging words. As such, barbs and insults can be especially hurtful and they might even hold on to it for years to come. You should also avoid sarcasm as it can be confusing and taken to heart. Additionally, they are especially sensitive to words and will be more affected by insincerity and lies, so always be truthful and honest.

#2. Quality time

Love Language For Better Friendship-Quality time

For some people, love is in the time you spend with each other. Whether you’re just chilling out or going out for groceries together, this language is all about giving your loved ones your full, undivided attention.

What to do?

People with this love language feel most appreciated when you show willingness to spend time with them. Take the initiative to invite them to hang out, whether it’s having brunch, lounging on the sofa watching a movie on Netflix or playing a game of badminton. Depending on the person, you may not even need to be engaging in conversation the entire time. Spending quality time together is what matters most to these people.

What to avoid?

Checking your notifications on your phone and not paying attention to them is a big no. Nothing hurts more to them than knowing that you’re barely there. If you ever have to cancel on them, do so gently and make sure to offer to meet up on a different day.

#3. Giving and receiving gifts

Love Language For Better Friendship-Giving and receiving gifts

It’s easy to mistake those who love to receive gifts as materialistic but that’s not entirely true. Sure, buying your loved ones a Lamborghini or two doesn’t hurt but the secret is actually behind the thought. To them, the gifts are manifestations of your appreciation of them.

What to do?

Simple, get them a gift. Nothing makes them happier than knowing that you thought about them enough to get them something. And don’t think that it always has to cost you an arm or a leg. Get them a box of chicken nuggets, keep a weird rock from the river for their collection or get them a small souvenir from your travels.

What to avoid?

Forgetting to get them anything can be deadly, so set reminders for special occasions. In addition, a thoughtless gift can be as devastating as being forgotten. Imagine getting them a jersey from a rival team or buying them vouchers to a restaurant they don’t like. Put extra thought into the gifts you get them lest they think you barely know them in the first place.

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#4. Acts of service

Love Language For Better Friendship-Acts of service

Nothing screams love louder than helping to take away some of the burden from the people you love. Those whose love language is acts of service find contentment in knowing that their loved ones care enough about them to set some time aside to help them.

What to do?

Volunteer to run errands, offer to babysit their pets or invite them over for a home-cooked meal. When you set some time aside to help them, you’re telling them that you care enough to sacrifice some of your time and energy for them. Ask around if they need help with anything or if there’s anything you can do to take some burden away from them. As long as you’re helping to make their life easier, it’s more than enough.

What to avoid?

Avoid cancelling and retracting your offer. Broken commitments and laziness sends a signal that you don’t care enough and this will hurt them to a point that they may not ask for your help after this. If you have to cancel, explain the reasons so that they know you’re not doing it because you don’t care.

#5. Physical touch

Love Language For Better Friendship-Physical touch

We all know at least one person who can get very touchy. Chances are, their primary love language is physical touch. People who speak this language thrive on all types of consensual physical contact. Their spirits are rejuvenated when they are in close contact with the people they love.

What to do?

Physical touch doesn’t have to be romantic in nature. Give them a bear hug, a shoulder to lean on or a gentle pat on the back whenever the occasion arises. Show your appreciation by finding ways to be intentionally close to them.

What to avoid?

Make sure to only display physical touch when appropriate. Avoid touching them without their consent as they may feel uncomfortable and taken advantage of.

Love, appreciation and respect aren’t exclusive to romantic relationships. By understanding these appreciation languages, we hope that you will be able to be a better friend and build stronger relationships.

For some people, especially introverts, conversation can be hard. Here are some hacks to get you through it.

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    Dzulfazreena Dzulkefli

    Dzulfazreena Dzulkefli

    Too busy complaining about lemon but I sometimes read.