How do we communicate our appreciation for the friends in our lives? As life gets busy and schedules no longer match up, we don’t always have the opportunity in person to show we care, but we have to find new ways to prioritize these relationships in times of stress.
We’ve been thinking a lot recently about the subtle ways in which we show love, our “love language,” as described by Gary Chapman, author of “The Five Love Languages.” While this concept was originally meant more for intimate and romantic relationships, almost all these languages translate to platonic friendships as well.
Quality time is probably the most straightforward out of all of them. Making the time to get coffee, call, or even just text shows that you’re thinking about them and want to spend time with them. One of our best friends lives a state over, and we take a couple minutes on our busy days to leave a voicemail about how things are and that we’ll talk more soon.
Surprisingly, you may find it even harder to get in touch with those that live close when you’re working every day and taking care of things at home. Getting together to do work can be a great way to spend quality time with each other without falling behind on other responsibilities, but if you don’t have matching free time on your respective schedules, let them know you wish you did! Just leave a text to say you’re thinking about them, or maybe that something reminded you of them today. It means more than you might think.
A bit more on the subtle side is gift giving. These don’t have to be planned, amazing gifts that blow each other away, but just small things to show you’re grateful for them. This can be as small as grabbing an extra coffee for a friend from work, picking up the tab for your weekly lunch date, or buying that kitschy trinket they mentioned while you were in Savers.
Similar to gift giving is probably the subtlest yet most important (in my opinion) language, acts of service. Sometimes, this can intertwine with gift giving, like in the case of paying for meals. But this can also just mean anticipating needs, like offering a ride from the train station. A small favor with good intentions can mean the world.
Prioritizing friendships doesn’t necessarily mean dropping your other responsibilities to hang out, and it shouldn’t mean that. Through good communication, your friends will understand that you have many important factors in your life, while knowing that they are one of them.