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All the extroverts make it seem so easy to make and have friends. I’m sure you, my fellow introvert, have noticed. An extrovert seems to be like a lighted candle, and all the moths (aka many friends) are just attracted to the candle and dance and flutter about.
And then there’s you. It seems impossible to make friends because you aren’t a people-person, you are too comfortable with only yourself for company, and you just have limited social energy. I mean, being around people is draining, but having a few quality friends sounds like heaven.
So how to make friends as an introvert? Is it even possible to find “your people” – those who just “get” you, don’t leave you feeling exhausted after a short interaction, and make you want to be around them?
Yes! It is. And you, my introverted friend, can make friends. Here’s everything you need to know to get started.
What Is an Introvert?
A person who identifies as an introvert exhibits introversion characteristics. What essentially defines an introvert (and distinguishes these people from extroverts) is how they get and spend energy (or process the world).
Extroverts feel energized when they are around people, and that’s why they thrive in social settings. On the other hand, introverts need time by themselves to recharge because being around others is mentally taxing. As such, if you are an introvert, you know how wonderful it is to be in a quiet and more intimate environment – by yourself or with a small group of your inner circle.
Introverts also prefer to focus inward toward their feelings, thoughts, and ideas than what’s happening outside of them. They live in their mind.
Here are some typical characteristics of introverts (but note, not all introverts are exactly identical, and we all slide on the introvert-ambivert-extrovert continuum). Introverts:
Ways Introverts Differ from Extroverts
The other end of the spectrum from introverts are extroverts – you know, the gregarious and fun-loving people who love being the center of attention and can’t survive an hour without their support team to interact with. This may be an extreme example of what an extrovert is like, but there are some fundamental differences between an introvert and an extrovert.
Introverts vs extroverts:
Common Misconceptions People Have About Introverts
People are quick to think they know or understand introversion, and this is how misconceptions form.
Here are the most common myths about introverts (that could be true but aren’t always):
1. Introverts are shy.
Sure, an introvert may come across as being shy because they are more reflective, they check out a situation before taking action, and they are usually quieter. But that doesn’t mean all introverts are shy or are always shy. Some are; some aren’t.
2. Introverts are unfriendly and rude.
Someone has probably called you rude and unfriendly because you were quiet and didn’t mingle like a pro.
And guess what? Extroverts can be just as rude and unfriendly. But that doesn’t mean that your introverted or extroverted personality affects how kind and friendly you are.
3. Only extroverts can be leaders (or make good leaders).
The work environment is made to suit extroverts (#OpenPlanOffices), and that’s why extroverted personality types are usually promoted and make it in management positions. But I’ve got news for you.
Some of the best leaders in the world were and are introverts. Think of Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, and Barack Obama.
Introverts can be leaders and good ones too because they listen to people, focus on long-term goals, and are more receptive to suggestions.
4. Introverts don’t make friends easily or at all because it’s hard for people to get to know them.
Introverts do have friends, and they can make friends – relatively easily. In general, introverts prefer to have a few people in their inner circle and they’ll open up to the right people. They aren’t the closed books that many people think they are.
Why Do Introverts Make Great Friends
Introverts make excellent friends – with other fellow introverts or extroverts (who take the time to understand us).
So why exactly is an introvert a great friend when they aren’t as social as their extrovert counterparts?
After all, introverts tend to embody these 17 qualities that make a great friend.
11 Ways for How to Make Friends as an Introvert
When it comes to making a friend or two as an introvert, you’re going to have to roll up your mental sleeves and start connecting with real people who refill your calm and rejuvenate your spirit.
1. Ask Yourself: Do You Want Friends, or Do You Believe You Should Have Some?
Nobody wants to feel lonely, and we all desire some form of connection and friendship. Plus, society and mass media (movies, TV shows, and more) have made it the norm to have a bestie or two (or tons of friends). You are made to feel left out (and like something is wrong with you) if you are more of a loner (though not necessarily for a lack of trying to have friends).
So ask yourself: Do you genuinely want friends where you can share and connect, or do you believe you should have friends because of outside influences (and you are actually more than okay with yourself for company)?
Remember: Being alone doesn’t mean you are lonely.
When you know you want a friend or two for the right reasons, you can set out to make yourself some besties. Armed with the right reasons for wanting a friendship with someone, you’re more likely to succeed because you’ll want to invest your time and energy, and not because you feel like you have to.
There are also different kinds of friendships: acquaintances, social friends, intimate (or best) friends, and transactional friends. Know which kind you are looking for so you can foster that type of relationship with the right person.
Become more self-aware with these 11 steps so you can become mindful about whether you actually want friends versus feeling like you should have some and what type of friendships will suit your life.
2. Find Your Strengths and Embrace Them
Playing to your strengths will also help you win. I know you probably don’t excel in group settings or wearing your heart on your sleeve (neither do I), but you are enough and you have strengths you can embrace and offer in a friendship.
So, start by finding your strengths. Journal each day about what went well and how you shone. Soon you’ll find a pattern and your strengths will stand out. A few strengths that introverts usually share are that they:
Do any of these strengths resonate with you? Then that’s a good place to start.
Fully embody those strengths you’ve identified, and kindred spirited introverts will find you. Or perhaps an extrovert will adopt you since your valuable personality traits complement theirs.
3. Go for Quality, Not Quantity
One thing introverts usually have in common is that they know the value of quality versus quantity. It’s better to have one or two friends in your inner circle than having many friends. Too many friendships will tire you out, but you’ll have energy and time to invest in a quality friendship (or two).
Remember, you need time to recharge too, and that means me-time. If you are running around trying to make too many friendships work, me-time flies out the window and soon you’ll hit social burnout (#NotFun). Plus, you’ll probably feel guilty that you aren’t spending enough time with all your “too many” friends.
So don’t stretch yourself thin; you need time for yourself too. And high-quality friendships offer more benefits than going for quantity. It:
Learn how to focus on quality versus quantity in this comprehensive guide.
4. Make the First Move
Because of your introverted nature, you likely expect others to come to you, and from there, you’ll make friends. I get it. Rejection hurts, so if someone else makes the first move, you know they probably like you enough to want to reach out and be friends.
Friendships don’t just happen, and there’s no Friendship Instruction Manual that shows you the exact steps to making great friends as an introvert. This guide does, however, show you the way, but you’ve got to put in the work.
So you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone and make the first move too. Use your perception strength (aka your powers of observation) to see who’s likely to be a good match, and then reach out. It’s time to act.
Enter your “growth zone” by following these steps on leaving your comfort zone.
5. Seek out Friends with Similar Interests
It’s easier to make friends when you have something in common with the person (or already know you have).
That’s how you bond, and shared interests give you something to chat about. My best friend and I share a love of learning, teaching, writing, and horses, so we always have something to talk and giggle about.
So it’s time to identify your hobbies, and find people who have the same hobby as you do.
If you are into hiking, join a hiking club and make friends there. If you love art, find a local or virtual class and connect with like-minded people. Or perhaps you like mixology, so attend an event or class to create lasting bonds with your kind of people.
6. Branch out and Try New Things
Everyone and anyone has probably told you to “expand your horizons,” “branch out,” or “break out of your shell” because that’s how you’ll meet new people and form a friendship. They aren’t wrong …
There are benefits to trying new things and getting out of your comfort zone, even though I know this doesn’t come easily for us introverts. You need to especially think about branching out to make friends if your current interests don't give you many opportunities to connect with others.
So when branching out, start small. Identify a hobby or activity that’s always fascinated you and start with that. It could be volunteering at a local soup kitchen, joining some archery or fencing lessons, becoming a galanthophile (someone who collects and identifies snowdrops), or starting beekeeping, forest bathing, nature writing, or geocaching.
You don’t have to make friends the first time you start with your new activity; just breathe, have fun, and check things out. When you feel a bit more comfortable, connect with someone.
Check out these unique hobbies for introverts to get you started and try something new!
7. Find a Friend Online
Online friends are underrated. You can make really awesome best friends online, and best of all, you don’t need to worry about real-life meet-ups (until you want to meet) since most interaction is virtual, whether you exchange messages and only later do voice notes, voice calls, and video calls. I actually met my besties online, and it’s the best thing that’s happened to me.
You can find a friend online via various groups and apps. There are online dating sites (and even those that cater to making friends as opposed to finding a romantic partner), Facebook groups (when you join one about something that inspires you), special interest forums, and more.
To start making virtual but genuine friends, start with these 15 friend-making apps.
8. Learn More about Body Language and Cues
While introverts are generally very aware, they may also overthink things and not pick up on someone’s body language and other cues that indicate a person wants to make friends with them. Or perhaps you are so caught up in observing the situation that you don’t realize your body language could be putting people off from connecting with you.
So start learning more about body language and what a person is trying to communicate with you (or you with them) via their posture, facial expressions, and more. Look out for subtle cues that are meaningful and indicate you or the other person wants to socialize and get to know each other.
To brush up on your non-verbal skills, check out this handy guide on understanding body language and facial expressions.
9. Be Authentic and Don’t People-Please
You probably spend quite a lot of time worrying about not being liked, and as such, we introverts tend to people-please, thinking this is how we make and keep friends. But this isn’t healthy, nor is it sustainable.
I’ll share the best kept secret with you: You can be authentic AND an introvert AND make friends.
You just need to find people who resonate with you. Being authentic in a friendship lets the other person know they can be their authentic self too, and that makes a really special bond where you hold space for each other with no judgment. Just love and kindness.
Plus, you can only have real, deep friendships when you are unequivocally yourself.
So start developing authenticity with these 20 ways to be a more authentic person so you can attract other authentic types.
10. Start Asking Questions
This step may be combined with step #4 on how you should make the first move, but the step can stand on its own. It’s typical for introverts to follow the lead of others – usually extroverts because it removes the spotlight from you.
This falls under the people-pleasing umbrella and makes any friendship one-sided, which isn’t fair on your extroverted friend or person.
It’s time to start asking questions and taking the lead now and again, instead of always answering and following (#Sheeple). Direct the conversation to topics you find interesting – it can be as simple as your new friend’s day or more soul-searching and philosophical like dreams, hopes, and life.
Being an active participant (asking AND answering questions) in the conversation leads to more meaningful friendships.
Start asking your friends (or soon-to-be friends) easy questions like these fun this or that questions for adults.
11. Get into the Friendship Routine
Introverts desperately need me-time to recharge and relax, and thus, it’s no surprise that we may become too focused on alone time and make no time for making friends or maintaining friendships, both new and old. I know that it’s not easy to always have energy for everything and keeping in touch and I’ve lost more than one friendship because I became too introverted.
I don’t want that to happen to you, so my advice is to get into the friendship routine. You can make time to hang with your besties once a week – go for drinks on Friday night, do brunch on Sunday, or have a chilled spa evening after art class.
When you know what to expect and have established clear friendship routines, you’ll feel more comfortable and you won’t feel so drained.
Follow these steps for maintaining friendships to help you establish your friendship habits and routines.
Final Thoughts on How to Make Friends as an Introvert
It’s challenging to make friends when you are an introvert… but when you meet, connect with, and build lasting and meaningful friendships with the right people for you, it’s super rewarding (and not draining as usual social interactions are).
Genuine friends will understand and accept your introverted nature and want to wholly support and love you. And you’ll do the same for them. And remember, introverts can make wonderful friends. You just have to get out there and try. Follow this 8-step process to make sure you’ll be a good friend. Good luck!
Finally, if you want to identify YOUR personality type, then take one of these 11 personality tests to better understand what makes you tick.
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