They always say to treat others the way you want to be treated, but is that really the best solution? Early in my high school years I remember learning about love languages. They didn’t mean much to me then but since have become a vital aspect of communication in all of my relationships. There are five main love languages, the first being words of affirmation. This means that an individuals communication and sense of love is rooted in words and compliments. The second, physical touch, is easy to understand. A simple hug, kiss or touch of the hand can speak louder than words. The next language is receiving gifts. A meaningful gift can mean everything to individual if this is their love language. It lets them know you’re thinking about them even when you aren’t around. Quality time is about giving the other person your undivided attention. It’s important to set aside time for one-on-one conversations. Lastly, my personal love language: acts of service. Always having a busy schedule, I respond well when my partner does simple tasks to my life easier, such as the dishes, laundry or running an errand.

In every romantic relationship I’ve ever had, I’ve always strived to understand my partner’s love language. I would work tirelessly at our communication and we were always attempting to develop the best method to understand each other’s emotions. My partner responds to words of affirmation and I’ve always taken to acts of service. Aside from our love languages, we regularly practice open communication. Whenever there is an issue we encourage each other to speak direct and honest. Once we established these guidelines for our communication, our relationship blossomed.

It wasn’t until later in my sophomore year of college that I realized I neglected to work as hard at communication within my friendships. The effort I put into my relationship with my partner should also be applied into all of my friendships. It’s important to regularly check in with your friends, encourage open communications and have a good understanding of each other’s love language.

A dear friend of mine, Hailey, and I have worked on our communication these past few weeks. I can confidently say that I have never felt closer to her. When we finally took the time out of our lives to sit down and talk, really talk, we had so many revelations. Not only did we discover the importance we hold within each other’s lives, but we realized some misunderstandings we both held onto. It was difficult to realize that for years of our lives we miscommunicated in a way that kept us from growing even closer. Hailey didn’t always realize the true intentions behind my decisions, and I wasn’t always speaking her love language. I found myself reacting to her decisions in the way I would want others to react toward me. However, we are not the same person and we perceive the world differently. When Hailey is going through a difficult time, I tend to become a problem-solver when what she really needs is a listening ear and sympathy. It’s not always my job to problem-solve. Instead, it’s my job to listen to what my friend has to say and offer comfort in the way she likes best. Having this newfound understanding of each other’s preferences has allowed our friendship to thrive. I have always felt close to Hailey, but now I feel even more like her family.

Having an understanding of your own love language and the love languages of your friends is such a rewarding experience. It’s important to communicate in a way that your friends and family members feel most valued. Since working on my friendship with Hailey, I’ve made a conscious effort to recognize the love languages of everyone involved in my life and I encourage them to do the same.

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