With all the heart-breaking and anxiety-inducing events happening around the world I’m always amazed by the resilience of the human spirit and the way we can come together. We need the mutual support of our friends more than ever right now. Don’t forget to check on your “strong” friends – they might seem to have it all together but they’re the ones who often struggle to ask for help.
Did you know that before the 20th-century friendships were often the center of our lives? The focus has since shifted to our romantic relationship and that can be problematic because expecting ONE person to fulfill all our emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and sexual needs can lead to trouble. But not so long ago intimate same-sex friendships were the norm and no one assumed you were dating. I’m certain for some, these friendships were a cover for romantic feelings in a time when it was dangerous to be anything other than heterosexual. But for many, the passion and devotion that characterized these relationships were platonic and seen as completely normal.
I’m excited to rekindle some of the friendships that have felt the strain of separation over the last few years. Some friends and I are sending memes, articles, and Instagram posts back and forth in anticipation of my return to the city and I love this one so much I want to share it with you, too.
Marriage of Friends@Hannahrowrites
My life is filled with the souls of women I love. The ones who make my belly ache from laughter, who catch my tears, who show up on my doorstep to celebrate and grieve, who defend me when I’m unkind to myself. These women will love my children, dance as we age, protect my secrets, share in my joy, sing even when we’re sinking in sorrow. They walk close, promising their lives to me – a marriage without a wedding; a commitment without a ring. If you have these women too remember: the soulmate is a wonderful thought but look how beautiful these love stories are. Look how they make you full.”
We don’t have the language to describe these close friendships that bring so much richness and joy to our lives. Some call them, “best soul friend”, “platonic life partner” or “queerplatonic partner” while others prefer “ride or die”, “Big Friendship” or simply “my person.” Whatever you call it, these friendships are their own sort of love story.
Sometimes we feel like our friendships should be the easy, effortless relationships in our lives. We expect marriage to take work but our friends are just supposed to be there no matter what, right? But this kind of close, connected friendship takes work too.
One of the ways we can nurture our friendships is to understand each other’s Love Languages. Do you know your love language? Do you know your friend’s love language?
Gary Chapman created the 5 Love Languages originally for romantic relationships but the work has expanded a lot since then. Let’s discuss what each of the love languages looks like within the context of friendship.
WORDS OF AFFIRMATION
If words of affirmation are your friend’s top love language then what you SAY matters. Encouragement, reassurance, and kind words go a long way. It doesn’t have to be paragraphs of heartfelt sentiment. Something as simple as, “I’m thinking of you” can make your friend feel loved.
Other ideas include…
I love you.
I 100% support you.
I’ve got your back, babe.
Just checking in. Tell me what’s happening in your world.
You’ve got this.
I’m proud of you.
I’m so grateful for you.
ACTS OF SERVICE
Next up are acts of service. If this is your friend’s top love language then what matters most is what you DO. When we talk about “showing up” for our friends we’re usually talking about acts of service.
That could look like…
Driving them to an important medical appointment.
Ordering take-out for them when you know their week has been overwhelming.
Walking their dog if they’re away for the day.
Watching their kids so they can have a break.
Going to see a play they’re in.
The next love language is giving/receiving gifts. If this is your friend’s top love language what matters most is what you GIVE. Receiving gifts makes them feel seen and appreciated. It doesn’t have to be expensive or big. It’s about knowing what your friend likes – which shows you care enough to pay attention. And that when you’re out shopping or going about your day you think of them. It could be a trinket that symbolizes an inside joke or a fridge magnet that says “thinking about you is like remembering I have ice cream in the freezer”- Emily McDowell
If your friend’s top love language is quality time, what matters most is setting aside time to BE together. It could be weekly pizza nights or grabbing a coffee or going for a walk. It’s not about the activity or what you do together – it’s about connection. Put your phone away. Be a heart with ears. And share what’s going on with you.
The final love language is physical touch. I’d say both friends need to be comfortable with physical touch. And talking about whether or not you’re a hugger or personal space boundaries is always important. Some people would love for you to rub their back or even a simple hand on their arm when they’re upset while others might find it irritating.
We naturally demonstrate our love the way WE want to be loved. And it’s important to recognize that our friends might need something different to know that we care. Understanding our love languages and those of our friends is a great way to open up the discussion about our needs. And we all know that communication is the foundation of ANY relationship.
The people we surround ourselves with become a constellation of support in our lives. Romantic partners, friends, and family each become a star that lights up our life. And when we learn to express our love and gratitude for these people in a way that’s meaningful to them we strengthen our bonds and we all shine a little brighter. ✨
Whether we call them our ride or die besties or platonic life partners these close-knit relationships take work and communication just like any other. AND it’s worth it. To surround yourself with people who see you, accept you and care about you – that’s what makes our lives rich and beautiful no matter what is happening in the world.
If you want to learn your top love languages take the quiz here. Do it with your bestie and compare notes.