Love Languages, Friendships, & Boundaries

I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes a friend, a close friend, or a best friend. While I think this thought process mostly stems from my naturally curious and fascinated mind when it comes to all things Psychology, I would be ignoring a large chunk of evidence if I did not acknowledge that some of it probably comes from my own childhood self-esteem issues.

For how outgoing I can be, I have struggled with relationships my entire life. Maybe it stems from growing up as mostly the only child. Maybe it’s because of my anxiety. Maybe it’s because I was previously bullied. Maybe I just…don’t trust people.

Honestly, I’m not sure where it originates from. Yet, the older I get, the more I see how it exists.

I can distinctly remember being in about 6th or 7th grade and asking a new acquaintance, “are we friends?”

Their face contorted into a look of pure confusion, and a little off-put, they responded, “…yes?”

Pre-teen Mollie needed to be specifically told she had a friend. She needed the reassurance. She needed to hear that she had moved past, “just someone to hang out with,” and into a true friend, in every sense of the word.

Adult Mollie still has quite a bit of that living within her.

I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes a friend, a close friend, or a best friend. While I think this thought process mostly stems from my naturally curious and fascinated mind when it comes to all things Psychology, I would be ignoring a large chunk of evidence if I did not acknowledge that some of it probably comes from my own childhood self-esteem issues.

That being said, there are friends that I am comfortable with. I know where I stand, and I don’t stress about it. This level of comfortability often comes after a long period of time, and invites to hang out together that reach the double digits. It comes after some sort of clue–one only my subconscious mind seems to be able to read and latch onto–that we are, in fact, friends. However, even the most secure relationships come with some issues and feelings of insecurity.

While it clearly is not all of the time, I do wonder–even in these long-term friendships with the utmost security–if the feelings I have are mutual. I may think of them as a close friend, but would they describe me in the same way? Are we friends, close friends, acquaintances, friends that only do certain activities together, or strictly work friends?

This thought process seems juvenile, and it is. It’s a thought process that pre-teen Mollie developed, and adult Mollie is still trying to shake away the remnants of.

Before you judge, ask yourself: have I ever felt insecure in a friendship? Have I ever wondered if I was coming on too strong?

In my last post, When You’re “A Lot”, I talk about being worried that I am too much, too fast, and some of this applies to the type of friend someone may view me as. But what kind of friend do I think I am?

My love languages are quality time, receiving gifts, (both 9/12), and words of affirmation (8/12). (You can learn more about Love Languages or find your own here.)

It is only after learning my own love languages that I realized that while it is meant to showcase the type of display of love you need, it is also the type of friend I am. I express my care for someone else through invites for time together, gifts of crafts I have worked on for hours, and text messages or cards full of my appreciation for their presence.

You would think that knowing this and having the realization that it is what I seek has answered the questions I have had since that conversation in 6th or 7th grade: why do I analyze friendships I have as if they each must be put into a box? Yet, the mystery continues.

While I do recognize that I may simply be too empathetic for my own good–constantly trying to recognize how someone else is feeling, hear what they’re thinking, or the opinions that they hold–it seems that a lot of my issue stems simply from the worry of rejection.

Many will only utter the words, “love language” in the context of romantic relationships, but both it and rejection are facets of platonic relationships, too. 

Much like romantic relationships, I cannot spend my time worrying that every platonic affection must be mutual. People either care about you, or they don’t, and while this is a simplistic view, it is what helps me to make sense of the feelings I have.

If I spend my time allowing myself to analyze if I am in a friendship that requires us to strictly only go out to eat, one that offers mutual emotional support during tough times, one that includes sitting in our PJ’s watching TV and simply existing together, or a mixture of them all, I will only feed into pre-teen Mollie’s insecurities and the adult difficulties I have navigating the care I possess for others.

This isn’t really a post or a topic that offers a conclusion, but I do strongly urge you to think about how you can be a good friend to those around you. Ask yourself what they might need, what you’re comfortable offering, and how those things can come together.

Psychologically, we form friendships because we get something from them. It is a mutual give-and-take, so ask yourself what you need, too. Maybe even find out your own love language(s).

While I still feel a bit awkward about where I may stand with being too much of a gift giver, quality-time offerer, or kind words sayer, I do now realize that I have been spending my time apologizing for these behaviors in platonic relationships, but treating them as a simple fact about me in regards to romantic ones. 

(That needs to stop.)

I suppose I even only write this and share my own thoughts because as a happy single female, it feels as though emphasis is only put on romantic connections (and clearly I am guilty of this). There doesn’t seem to be a lot of attention given to the process of platonic relationships and how they are formed, categorized, and taken care of. Yet, I would argue that these connections are just as important–if not more important–than romantic ones.

With that being said, take a moment. Analyze enough to figure out what you might need and why you might be the way that you areIt can’t hurt, and if your results are anything like mine, it might open your eyes to a bit more understanding.

I, for one, will not continue to apologize for the potential possibility that I have annoyed someone with my friendship and care for them.

Know your love language(s)? Do you agree with the results? Tell me about it!

 

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