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Tips for Being a Supportive Friend based on the 5 love languages

Some of us may find it difficult to show affection towards their friends, especially when they are happy for their achievements or proud of them. This may be because some of us are not used to expressing our feelings and emotions. How we are raised or parenting styles can also impact emotional expression, for instance, if you rarely received praise from your parents as a child, you might find it difficult to compliment your friends.

Being unsure of how to show support for your friends in a culturally appropriate or comfortable way can create communication barriers, and can make your friends feel under-appreciated. Therefore, it can be helpful to brainstorm ways to show your love and appreciation for your friends.

The framework established by Dr. Gary Chapman’s ‘5 Love Languages’ can be helpful in assessing which ways you can be supportive towards your friends without putting extra stress on yourself or creating an uncomfortable situation. The ‘5 Love Languages’ include: words of affirmation, quality time, gift giving, acts of service, and physical touch.

Words of affirmation

Words of affirmation include any spoken or written words that validate, empower, and support your friends in a positive way.

Examples of this can include either telling or texting your friends: 

  • “I admire how hard you work”
  • “Your dedication to your job/studies inspires me”
  • “I’m proud of you”
  • “You’re doing a great job”

By acknowledging your friend’s hard work, you are giving them positive reinforcement and telling them that you support them. 

Quality Time

If you are not comfortable verbalising your emotions, setting time aside for your friend is a great way to show your support and love for them.  Quality Time includes giving your friends undivided attention while doing something they enjoy together. For example, listening to their favourite song, watching their favourite movie or playing their favourite game. You can use Quality Time as a way to congratulate them for their achievements without needing to show your emotions. 

Gift Giving

Another way to show support for your friends, that does not require a public display of emotion, includes the act of Gift Giving. By either choosing or making a thoughtful gift, your friend will be able to see how much you support and appreciate them. For example, after hearing your friend received a promotion at work you could bake them their favourite cookies or buy their favourite scented candle.

Acts of Service 

Acts of Service include anything you can do that eases the burden of responsibility your friend may be feeling, for example collecting their dry cleaning or walking their dog. This Love Language is ideal if your friend is also your roommate and shows them that you are noticing how hard they are working and you are there to support them.

Physical Touch

Physical Touch can involve high fiving, pats on the back, fist bumps, and hugging. Physical Touch can show your friends that you are there to support them, you care, and you are happy for them. However, if you or your friend are not comfortable with physical depictions of support or affection, it’s perfectly fine to avoid this love language.

If you would like to find out which Love Language is suitable for you or your friend, this quiz may be helpful!