I'm pretty sure that most of you are aware of what the five love languages are all about. We tend to touch on the topic quite a bit over this way (you can read a few articles here, here and here). Chances are, when you think of how to express your love to another person, it's usually as it relates to your romantic situations, not platonic ones. I get it. That's how it is for most folks.
But as I've been striving to be a better friend to the people in my world, I'm learning more and more about just how important it is to be fluent in their love languages too (by the way, author Dr. Gary Chapman wroteThe 5 Love Languages Singles Edition too).
Take one of my closest girlfriends, for example. I'm a words of affirmation person all day long while she's all about quality time. It took us a couple of years to find our groove because she's not big on words (oh, she talks her fair share but she's not big on cards, emailing and stuff like that) and I'm not the biggest fan of trekking out to her house to do nothing but…sit on her couch. But again, because I thrive off of words and she's nurtured by quality time, we make the sacrifices. We value the friendship enough to do so.
I'm pretty sure you love your friends. If other than on their birthday, you've never really thought about how to express your feelings for them but you've got a few minutes, I have a few suggestions for how to incorporate love languages on the totally platonic tip.
Words of Affirmation
As a words of affirmation person myself, sometimes I wonder if folks get off easy with me. I say that because if you just shoot me an email talking about something you like or appreciate as it relates to me, I'm pretty good. No gifts or anything else are really necessary.
If you can totally relate to where I'm coming from, I will share something that I learned the hard way. Even if all you need is a Hallmark card or compliment to feel loved, make sure that the words your friends expressed are backed up with action. Meaning, if they say that they love you or that they have your back, no matter what, it's important that you can come up with examples that their words are true.
Oh, and if you happen to be someone with words of affirmation friends and you're wondering how to speak this language—the examples I've already shared are some good ones. It's also important to remember that, out of all of the love languages, we tend to be the most word and tone-sensitive ones out of the bunch, so it's not just about what you say but how you say it—whether it's good, bad or indifferent.
Like I said, one of my closest friends is a quality time person. If we can get in an hour phone call, a couple of times a week, she's good. However, what I have learned that what she prefers most is being able to get some one-on-one time in person and not really doing anything that distracts us from conversing like the movies or a live event. For her, although "technically" that qualifies as spending time together, she really hones in on time that is truly quality. She'd much rather walk in a park or hang out in a coffee shop; she'd also prefer the time to be without the distraction of a smartphone.
My experience has been that platonic quality time is best expressed when you plan something ahead of time that you and your buddy can do alone. It doesn't have to be pricey. What it should be is semi-quiet and without a ton of pressure to be on the clock too.
Acts of Service
Back in the day, Missouri license plates used to say "The Show Me State" on them. Whenever I think about my acts of service friends, that saying is what immediately comes to mind. These are the friends who are more oftentimes practical than sentimental and are moved by things that will make their lives easier than anything else. Babysitting, helping them with a project for work, bringing them lunch during a week when money is tight or they're on a deadline that prevents them from getting away—these are examples of how to speak this language.
If you're an acts of service individual, feel free to chime in, but my observation is that someone with this love language feels super duper loved when you see something in their world that needs to be handled and you just do it. Asking them a lot of questions or even waiting for them to ask for your help can sometimes be nothing more than more work on their end. Acts of service folks feel like really we see them when we're more proactive than reactive.
When it comes to one of my girlfriends, although I feel extremely loved by her, what I'm not gonna get is much physical affection. Not. At. All. We live in different states, so when I go to see her, I can pretty much bet that I'm gonna get one of those awkward church side hugs when she picks me up at the airport and then maybe (maybe even though it's not guaranteed) when she drops me back off to catch my flight.
But then I have another friend who is super touchy-feely. Whenever I see her, I'm gonna get hugged and maybe even a kiss on the cheek. If we're at the movies, she'll think nothing about putting her head on my shoulder and if we're walking in the mall, she might put her arm through mine. I've learned that when it comes to a lot of physical touch individuals, whether the relationship is platonic or romantic, they just like to be in personal physical space.
So, if you've got a friend who seems to always be a little too close for comfort, try and just brush it off. They don't mean any harm. They just enjoy being around you and in your energy field; as close as possible, if they can.
I really hate that people whose top love language is gifts oftentimes catch such a hard break because they honestly shouldn't. All this really boils down to is they like tangible expressions of love and intimacy. I have a couple of "gifts friends" and what I've learned is the price of a present doesn't really matter. What's important is that their special days—birthdays, anniversaries—are remembered and that I get them something that is specific to their personality. Something that's their favorite color. Something that they've casually mentioned in passing. Or something that lets them know that I see them; that I really and truly see them.
For instance, one of my friends told me one year that she was really into pink all of a sudden. One time, out of nowhere, I gifted her with some pink chandelier earrings. Another time, I bought a dozen pink roses to her job. Another time, I got her some pink sparkling juice that was packed in a pink wine bottle. There was no time when she was less excited than the other. Just so long as she was able to look at and hold something that she was into, she was happy.
When it comes to applying the five love languages to your friendships, I think what it all really boils down to is knowing which love language each person has, then thinking up ways to speak that language exclusively.
With my friends, most of them get major cool points just for caring enough to speak my language at all. Something tells me that when it comes to your true friends, the same bottom line applies.
Featured image by Getty Images
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports