Making Friends If You Are an Introvert

Introvert Friends and Their Relationships

Introverts have deep and fulfilling friendships.
Introverts have deep and fulfilling friendships. HeroImages/Getty Images

Did you know that introverts make great friends? If you're an introvert, embrace this fact and use it give you confidence as you build your inner circle. Many introverts have been brought up to believe there is something wrong with them, or that they "aren't good" at friendship. 

Another myth is that introversion is rare, so if you're an introvert you must be odd or different. Not so. One recent statistic showed that "a-third to a half of all Americans are introverts." One reason introverts were thought to be rare in the past was that people (kids, especially) were encouraged to pretend they were more gregarious or outgoing.

In other words, more extroverted. 

But you can't pretend to be something you're not. That never works when it comes to friendship. 

People often think of introverts as extremely shy people, but that is misleading. While shyness can occur in introverts, the true definition has to do with the energy someone gets from being alone versus being in a group. Extroverts get energized by being around people, while social activity, on the other hand, can exhaust introverts. Introverts are introspective by nature and like to process the world through their own thoughts.

Introverts can have fulfilling social lives that include meaningful friendships. This doesn't mean the introvert's social calendar will look the same as that of the extrovert, but that's okay. Here are some ways introverts can make friends.

Plan for Alone Time After an Outing

Too often, introverts try hard to act like extroverts when it comes to managing their schedule.

But since introverts relate to the world differently, that's a bad strategy that doesn't build genuine friendships. 

For instance, extroverts thrive on social interaction, and the more of it the better. They may meet friends out for drinks, then a movie, then dancing, and when they get home they filled happy and fulfilled.

In spending the night with other people, the extrovert has recharged his energy level. 

But this type of night would exhaust an introvert. They need time to process, and too much activity and people time can send their senses into overload. This is why they crave alone time. To combat this, introverts should schedule a limited amount of time with friends that is comfortable to them. Then, after the activity, allow for alone time to recharge their batteries.

If you're going on a retreat or other full-day event, for example, let people know that you'll meet up with them later. If you feel that people will judge you for leaving early, don't be afraid to tell them you are an introvert and just need some quiet time for a while. Assure people that you are enjoying yourself, because sometimes people can take it the wrong way when you leave to be on your own.

Go Out of Your Comfort Zone - But Not Too Far Out

It should be obvious that you'll meet people more easily when you do something you enjoy. However, introverts are often criticized for sticking with activities that seem "boring" to others, such as lectures, book groups, or quiet dinners. These activities are actually great for meeting people, but it's okay to go out of your comfort zone, also, both with the types of events you attend and the way you engage.

If you find yourself at a large event, for example, the natural tendency is to hang back and listen to conversations rather than be a part of them. When you're out, realize that you'll need to go beyond that so you can be a part of the bigger conversation. If you do this just one or two times during a night, you'll connect with many more people you would have otherwise.

Learn the Art of Small Talk

Introverts can sometimes find small talk incredibly useless and even tiring. Their minds and emotions work differently, and very often they enjoy "big talk" (about concepts and ideas), and that's okay. But small talk is a part of making friends.

In order to meet new people, you have to be able to chat about the mundane things in life in order to connect. More than that, launching into deep conversations with someone you've just met can put them off.

As you get to know them, you can have the kinds of conversations you enjoy.

Quality Versus Quantity

So often people judge introverts by the number of friends they have, but an introvert can have a fun and fulfilling life by having one or two close friends. Their friendships are different in nature than extroverted people. Again, there is no right or wrong, it's simply an individual preference. Too often people try and get introverted people "out more" or push them to increase their social circle, thereby making them feel bad that they don't have a large group of friends.

If you're an introvert and you feel okay with the number of friends you have, ignore the well-meaning people who try to increase your social circle. However, be open to the occasional new experience, because you may meet a great new friend who has a lot in common with you.

 

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