All About Loving Your Friends Through Their Love Languages

In 1992, counselor Gary Chapman introduced a theory that has completely shaped how we view our interpersonal relationships: love languages. According to his ideas, each person has a dominant way that they prefer to give and receive the love that falls into one of five love languages — words of affirmation, receiving gifts, quality time, acts of service, and physical touch. If someone's partner doesn't know or honor the way their love language is, it can lead to disconnects and a general feeling that they're not appreciated, even if their partner is expressing love in their own way.


While this theory is widely utilized in romantic relationships, it's become more popular between friends as well. Knowing exactly how your friends relate to and enjoy receiving affection can allow you to show better that you appreciate them during your time together. However, because so many traditional examples lean into romance, it can be difficult to determine how to incorporate this knowledge into your platonic relationships.

Words of affirmation

Now that just about everyone has taken a quiz or otherwise determined their love language, relating to and showing your friends you appreciate them has never been easier. When it comes to those that prioritize words of affirmation, it's also pretty straightforward. The words of affirmation love language are essentially about giving your partner or friend direct, positive feedback through what you say.


For example, a friend with words of affirmation love language might feel especially appreciated when you compliment them on their outfit for the day, tell them directly that you appreciate their company, or thank them for their help on a task. This is the most direct of all the love languages, but for friends that don't frequently verbalize affection, it can feel a bit awkward at first. To avoid this, keep it simple and quick. Something as brief as a straightforward text or verbal reminder that they're a good friend goes a long way.

Receiving gifts

Instead of showing your love directly with statements like the words of affirmation love language, many people prefer a more physical reminder that you value them. The gift-giving love language has received a bit of a negative association throughout the years, with many believing that this method of giving and receiving affection is all about money or extravagance, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Instead, it's about the thought and feeling behind a physical object. Yes, this can be as major as gifting your beloved a massive diamond ring, but it can also translate into something as simple as a handmade card or picking up a bag of their favorite chips on the way home.


When it comes to gift-giving in friendships, it's all about finding things that the other person loves or has a connection with. This obviously applies on birthdays and major holidays, but valuing this love language throughout the year is important. Consider dropping off your friend's go-to coffee order, giving them a physical copy of a photo from your last get-together, or making them a scarf when you suddenly decide to get creative and take up crocheting. It's more about the fact that they were on your mind, even when you weren't together than material value.

Quality time

If your friend has a quality time love language, it's all about giving them your undivided attention when you're together. This doesn't mean that the conversation is one-sided or they need to see you every single day — it's more about the fact that the time you spend together is focused, which helps improve your bond. Inviting them to a group hangout where your attention is split among everyone will likely still be enjoyable, but they'll feel extra special if you ask them to grab a coffee to chat one-on-one the following day.


For friends with this love language, ensuring you're avoiding unnecessary distractions during your time together is important. Silence your phone or put it away to focus on the conversation. It can be tempting to keep an eye on your notifications or scroll through social media during a lull in the chat, but they're sure to feel more cared for if it's clear that your head is in the moment.

Acts of service

Despite its relative popularity, the acts of service love language are often forgotten or underrepresented because it's less direct than some other methods of showing that you care. It can be splashy and romantic to give gifts or verbalize how you feel about another person, but taking out the trash when you realize it's getting full isn't exactly rom-com material. This love language is about making someone's life easier or more comfortable, so it often concerns the more mundane parts of someone's daily routine.


If your friend prefers acts of service, all you need to do is pinpoint the things that bring additional stress to their life, even minor ones. If they hosted a dinner party, offer to take care of the dishes and stay later to help clean up. Is it chilly in your apartment? Bring them a blanket or a sweater when you go to sit down. These might seem like minor choices, but they can go a long way in making your friend feel like you value them.

Physical touch

Finally, there's physical touch. This love language is pretty easy to understand — and rather obvious to pick up on if someone in your life falls into this category — but it's primarily talked about in the context of romantic relationships. Most people are more touchy with their partners than their friends, and it can be more difficult to navigate physical touch and boundaries in a platonic relationship. As a result, people with a physical touch love language might feel underappreciated but not vocalize this in their friendships.


To counter this, make a mental note to hug them when you're leaving or try to incorporate more hands-on activities, like helping to style their hair or do their makeup. Physical touch isn't inherently romantic, so there are plenty of ways to show your friends you care about them within your boundaries. By making more of an effort to honor their love language, your friend will feel more loved and appreciated, even if it's just a simple switch.