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Love languages in friendship

The holidays are wrapping up for another year and for me this has been an interesting past 8 weeks. Eight weeks? Yes, for me my holidays started with a girls weekend in early -November where a group of 6 friends rented a house for 2 nights in York, Maine. Six women, none related by blood, from 50-61, with differences and similarities that make these weekends interesting, but so far in 2 years of doing this, relatively drama free.

Two weeks later was Thanksgiving and a special birthday party for one of the "girls", a catered affair at a local winery. Caterer, time, place and guest list were all in the control of the guest of honor. Menu, theme of party, colors, decorations, and music were by the hosts. The number of guests was limited to 20 by the venue.

Two weeks later my husband and 3 of us girls went to Iceland for a vacation. When we got back one of us found out they had shingles, and another came down with covid, so we haven't been together since we got home until earlier this week when one of us needed girl time.

Our girl time did not go as I had anticipated. I had thought that we were going to have a beverage and maybe an appetizer, and I would be home before 7 to make dinner for my husband and I. The discussion as we walked into the restaurant made me realize my original expectation of the evening needed adjusting, but it would be all right. While we waited for our entrees the conversation went to Christmas and what we exchanged with our families and partners. We also talked about how our families were doing, and other catching up conversation.

Now everything seems normal, right? Well, I found myself agitated, even though I had accepted we were having dinner at the restaurant, and had ordered a to go meal for my husband. I acknowledge that I missed having girl time as it used to be something that was done several times a month and some in the previous group had met weekly, this was how I had met one of my current close circle friends. But for some reason I didn't allow myself to relax and it put a damper on this particular evenings experience.

Driving home after dropping off one friend I immediately called my husband and told him about feeling off. When I arrived home a few minutes later, he was just starting a text conversation with a "sister" he had growing up with that turned into a 45 minute facetime conversation with both of us. All of this conversation gave me time to think about the relationship he had continued for the past 20+ years and the ones I was currently in, which lead to me thinking about love languages. Yes, this is a leap, but how my brain often works.

The conclusion I came to was that knowing what makes your friendships function and last is as important as the knowing yourself and the person you may want to spend your life with. And what makes all of these relationships work out is knowing what is everyone's love language. Is it all really that simple? Perhaps. Why? Because understanding yourself and others often prevents misunderstandings and in my own experience, relationships stop working when small things build up and become uncrossable chasms. Do we sometimes drift apart due to lack of time or distance? Yes, but we all know people who have lifetime relationships (with partners or friends) with little time spent together or living on opposite sides of the country.

My love language is acts of service, followed closely by quality time and touch. Words of affimation and receiving gifts are the others, but don't rate as highly. Fortunately my husband is a time and acts person, with touch being very close. Now, this hasn't always been my language, or maybe I just didn't recognize it earlier in my life. I though it was touch, which when I was first introduced to this idea, seemed to be about sexual connection, now I to get my needs met from handholding and sleeping closely at night. But in an observation of my friends one of them is a gifts person. For a person that receiving gifts isn't their language, waiting for a friend to pick out souveniers for everyone they know becomes almost torture. But on the flip side, the planning done for the trip isn't recognized by that person the same way someone else would, because it isn't tangible. Acknowledging that the friend has a different language really puts things into perspective.

But is this all there is to making friendships function? What about the other 4 women who participated in our weekend, what are their languages? Or their partners ? Is this all interconnected? And is my assumption on the friend above, their actual language, or is mine? What else is necessary to make these relationships last for a lifetime? Honesty, compassion, similar beliefs, shared interests, being a good listener, the ability to laugh together and I'm sure there are more.

We have all loved and lost, whether it was a romantic relationship, friendships that once were deep and meaningful, or family members that we no longer speak to intentionally or unintentionally. Those losses may have made us stronger, or they may given us valuable lessons we passed along. Those losses also may have made us bitter, resentful, or scared of being hurt again. The loss may also be a slow fade, not noticed for months or years. Perhaps how we handle these losses is related to our personal love language, and the depth of these relationships how it was all connected in the first place.

Today, I am thankful for the relationships in my life, the deep ones, the friendships newer and older, the acquaintances, and the family members near and far. I am grateful that the losses in my life didn't cause irreparable damage to my heart. In the future, I hope that the controllable losses are fewer then in the past, and that trying to understand where other people are coming from will help with this.

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