Ask Your Friends How They Want to Be Loved

because guessing just isn’t enough sometimes

It is said that everyone has friends for every stage of their life, but only lucky ones have the same friends in all stages of their lives.

But lifelong friendships are built with give — and — take interactions, and fortified with shared values and interests.

There are certain novels and shows that romanticize the ins and outs of friendship. If like me, you’ve watched Girlfriends, Friends, Moesha, Grace & Frankie, or even Firefly Lane, you will find that the most prevalent friendship conversations are in regards to unconditional love and vows along the lines of “sisters before misters”.

They are usually centered on what not to do in order to maintain a friendship. But what about what to do to grow a friendship?

One running theme is that these friends often fail to meet each other where they are at. In girlfriends, you have Toni buying gifts for Joan when all she wanted was a listening ear. It’s all a matter of misplaced displays of affection.

However, somehow I was surprised when I recently realized I had never approached my best friend using her love language.

The truth is, like romantic relationships, friendships require lots of self-reflection and check-ins with the other party.

After 10 years of friendship, the talk of love languages finally came up in one of our conversations. It was unplanned, but now I wonder why it took us over a decade to finally have that conversation. You see, she and I have always been very close, since seventh grade we’ve been attached at the hip.

It was a very intense friendship, undoubtedly unhealthy at times. But one thing everyone knew, from our teachers to classmates, to family members, and even Dave, the owner of the famous Blue Sky Bar & Grill, where all the kids would gather on our lunch break for some (in)authentic poutine, was that Clarissa and I were BFFLs. BEST FRIENDS FOR LIFE!!!

Dave only accepted cash payments, so it was extremely satisfying gathering coins from the crevices of our couches. Hell… at times we stole that $3.50 from our moms’ purses…at least I did, for a chance to be part of the lunch crew, walking in our blue polos and grey dress pants, ordering our poutine, and dressing it with all the works…vinegar, hot sauce, bbq sauce, and of course, Clarissa would put an ungodly amount of Ketchup on hers. The running joke between her, Dave, and I was “would you like some poutine with your ketchup?”. And the joke, or dare I say fantasy of the highschool boys wasn’t well hidden, as we were always asked if we were perhaps more than friends. That’s just how close we were.

So it would strike anyone as odd that we have never discussed the topic of love languages, which ones we yearned most for, and the ones that were easy for us to share. But perhaps not — we don’t always ask people what they need from us. We give them what we want.

We had gone over three thousand, six hundred- and fifty days, talking about boys, crying about our families, and our greatest dreams, without once discussing the common theme within all of it. It is unsurprising that once we started on the topic, I relived the times where I felt empty by her lack of words, her inability to pluck a grocery of words from the dictionary and perfect the recipe of sentences which I craved so dearly. Which I took personally.

It was also no surprise that she admitted she had at times felt unloved, even shunned, by my inability to accept her hugs, I was simply not a hugger. You see, growing up in Ghana, hugging, and physical touch in general, were not the top priorities. And she didn’t grow up in an environment where affirmations were a priority.

Here are the 5 love languages: Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, Quality Time, and Gift- Giving.

One of the biggest problems in relationships is communication. That’s a well-known fact. Another issue is not knowing what exactly to communicate.

Having the vocabulary — “love languages”, can catapult the communication to a new level.

So naturally, the next stage was discovering how we can meet each other halfway, how can I be more receptive to hugs without being gawky?

And how can she, after a decade of friendship, begin saying the words I so dearly need to hear?

It is not without question that it won’t be an easy feat. This, however, is the first step towards building a more meaningful relationship. One that is less sustained by the comfort of a decade of familiarity, but one fueled with intentionality and an active attempt to make friendships about delivery and less about intent.

Why?

Because the intent is not always good enough.

10 years later, I finally know-how. And it’s got me wondering who is dying for a hug from me occasionally.

Want to find out yours or your best friend’s love language? Ask them to take the test here, at http://bitzz.me/cb1BEwL25

What’s yours?

Storyteller of Life

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