Maintaining friendships in today’s society

If I’m honest, I don’t feel qualified to discuss relationships with you. If I’m extra honest, it’s because I really suck at maintaining healthy relationships with anyone, whether it be family, friends, or significant others. I’m introverted, independent, and have a nasty habit of isolating myself from anyone and everyone just on a whim. Wounds from the past still bite, and I tend to let the lies push me away from those I love most.

In a day in age with so much technology, communication with friends can be easily pushed aside with ‘likes’, ‘comments’, or sending snapchats (I am guilty of this) instead of sending an actual text message or picking up the phone. We may stare at our phones while at dinner with our friends or just casually hanging out. Instead, try making a rule of no phones when hanging out so you are able to truly have that quality time spent together. You may just learn about something your friend is going through that they wouldn’t have spoken up about otherwise.

I think what many people overlook, including myself, is that friendships are no different than relationships with our significant others – in the sense that each of us have a specific love language. For those of you who don’t know what a love language is, it is either: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Correct me if I’m wrong, but from my perspective I know that many outgoing (extroverted) people whose have a love language of quality time. They love being around their friends, socializing, and doing all the things – on a regular basis. If you’re anything like me, an introvert, it can be especially difficult since we get most of our energy from being alone. Don’t get me wrong, I love to be around my friends, socializing, and doing all the things – but not on a regular basis. This may include not speaking to your friends for longer periods of time than they would consider normal – if they are more extroverted or have a different love language.

If you were to be more on the introverted side and had a friend who was also introverted, I’ve noticed that they seem to be more understanding if they haven’t heard from you in X amount of days because they are the same way. But, if you were to be on more of the introverted side and had a friend who was more extroverted and had a love language of quality time, they may assume “something is up” if you haven’t talked to or seen them in X amount of days – while the introverted friend wouldn’t think anything of it at all. It really is interesting to observe the differences.

For me personally, and I don’t know if this is how other introverts are, but my love language is words of affirmation. I don’t necessarily need to see or talk to a friend every day, but by just having them tell me something they appreciate about me or simply just reaching out with no expectation of a response is what I can appreciate the most. I’ve also heard the saying that what you show as a love language towards others, is what  you seek in return. All of my close friends know that I’m a gift giver as well as someone who shows appreciation through words. According to the study I read, receiving gifts and words of affirmation would be my two love languages. It’s so interesting understanding this concept because if you were to ask me if I needed gifts to be felt appreciated, I would tell you no.

A good example of open communication between an introverted and extroverted friend who have different love languages: I personally do not prefer to talk on the phone. I’m not exactly sure why, and it’s hard to explain to others when I don’t even understand it myself – but I just do not prefer it. My extroverted friend on the other hand likes to talk on the phone. Our conversations can get to be an hour long at times – which can be exhausting for me. BUT, I know how much it means to them, so it’s something I am willing to do to meet that need… and in return they are aware that I may not answer every single time because I may not be up for talking on the phone that particular day. Because we can both have that open communication, my extroverted friend doesn’t get upset when I don’t answer, and I don’t get upset when the conversation ends up being an hour or longer at times. You see, if the both of us wouldn’t have been clear about our needs, there would have been miscommunication  which would have led to misunderstanding which would have led to one or the other being upset or disappointed without the other even knowing it. It’s all about making compromises and knowing what your friend needs in order to feel appreciated.

I think the most important thing about this topic is just being open with your friends, having good communication, & taking that step to ASK them what their love language is if you don’t already know it – and telling them yours in return. Not everybody is a mind reader. 

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