ome people are just good at making friends. The social butterfly flits from group to group making an impression with every person they pass by, these extroverts seem to have no problem socializing. But it’s not so easy for everyone to do.
The introverts of the world would much rather be at home, cuddled up in bed with a cup of tea, the cat, and a Netflix binge marathon on the horizon. Or maybe an early evening jog by yourself to calm the nerves after a long day. Their idea of relaxation is sans company.
But that doesn’t mean that introverts can’t get lonely, or that they don’t treasure the friendships they have and the time spent cultivating them. Often, the small group of friends that introverts, their relationships can be even stronger than the menagerie of friends an extrovert might have.
However, not everyone has such a friend to rely on, or you need some new ones. As an introvert, you can have an extra hurdle in front of you when it comes to making friends. It’s understandable, but there are ways to get around these roadblocks.
Follow these five steps when you’re looking to expand your social circle, and kick that introverted awkwardness to the curb.
- Look closely at your social circle
- Awkwardness doesn’t last forever
- Try group activities for things you love
- Schedule some downtime for yourself
- Try to keep an open mind about new people
Look closely at your social circle
For an introvert making friends completely sticking your arm out there for new people can be terrifying, and at first, you might not be ready to take that step. So instead, maybe reach out to people you already know by proxy. Someone you’ve met before but never hung around too much.
Often you can find a friend in somebody you already know, you just have to talk to them more. Try extending an invitation to hang out somewhere, outside of the group setting you usually find yourselves in.
If you talk to them one on one, without the blaring bass of the club in your ears, then you might find that you get along better than you originally had thought. You don’t need to dance or drink to be friends with them.
Here are some suggestions for when you’re looking to strengthen your relationships in your social circle.
- Limit your initial hangouts to one or two people. If there’s someone you want to talk to more one-on-one, but you’re not exactly friends with them yet invite someone else along. The friend that you know them through perhaps, and it’s a great stepping stone to a deeper friendship.
- Do a coffee date. Something very casual and no stakes, if this hangout goes wrong you never have to talk to this person again. But if it goes right then you could have a standing date every week, something to lift your spirits.
- Try interacting more with them on social media. If this is somebody you follow on Instagram or Twitter, and you’ve never interacted with them there much beyond the occasional like, try leaving a comment. Not only will they appreciate hearing your thoughts, but it's a segway into further conversation.
Awkwardness doesn’t last forever
Listen, every friendship is going to have its ups and downs. We’re all human here, we make mistakes, we say the wrong things in moments of panic or passion.
You need to accept this. The friendship you’re seeking out might not be initially smooth sailing. There might be some miscommunication on your part or theirs, which leads to some lingering awkwardness. Try not to beat yourself up about it.
If this is a true friend that you’re seeking out you’ll get over it and so will they. Time passes and we forget all of the weird and awkward things we once did, after all, if we remembered everything we’d never be able to leave the house.
Nothing is perfect, you’re not and your friend is not. So don’t expect the relationship to be either. Friendships often need just as much work put into them as romantic relationships do, so don’t shy away when things are getting hard. It will turn out okay in the end.
Try group activities for things you love
Things were easier in high school and college when you were forced into classes with people you didn’t know. Forced to interact, even when things didn’t turn out well. But at least then you had set-up opportunities to meet new people, whether it was in class or a club.
Nowadays, the only opportunity you have is work maybe, but you’ve exhausted that option and not everyone at your job is going to be someone you click with for life-long friend material anyway.
So instead, try looking for group-centered activities elsewhere, and make sure that this is an activity you’ll enjoy. If it’s something you don’t like chances are you’re not going to come back to participate, let alone talk to any of the people there.
Here are a couple of easy-to-find group activities to try that are available in almost every place.
- If you’re a book lover, start frequenting your local bookstore. Not only are you supporting a local business, but chances are that this store hosts events throughout the weeks. Whether it’s a book signing, a book club, or a coffee and reading date with friends you’ll be sure to find someone of similar interests there.
- Join a hiking club. There is nobody more passionate about what they do than lovers of the great outdoors, and there are countless clubs to sift through, each particular to the area. Facebook and MeetUp are great online resources to find a group and make it easy to get in contact with them.
- Try your local library for community events. This doesn’t just have to be book-oriented, lots of libraries hold all kinds of community gatherings. From knitting, photography classes, computer classes, there are plenty of interesting get-togethers to hold your interest.
Schedule some downtime for yourself
The all too common downfall for introverts when trying to make new friends is that they can get overstimulated very fast. You’re trying your best to hang out with new people, accepting as many invitations as you can, and spending a lot of your free time around endless chatter.
This can be too much for you. And you get burnt out. You stop accepting invitations all together to huddle back down into your alone time, and you don’t explain why. People’s feelings can get hurt, and honestly, you’re not feeling too great either.
The solution to this is to set up some time for yourself beforehand when you’re hanging out with new friends for the week. Make sure you have enough days for yourself to recharge.
Introverts are introverts for a reason. You like your time alone, it’s not a shameful thing it’s just another facet of who you are. Where extroverts need to be around people to recharge you need to be alone.
This is a health care thing and making sure you have enough days in the week to take care of your affairs and your mental health, doesn’t mean you’re weird. The friends you’re making need to understand this, and if they don’t, well they’re not the kind of friends you need to hold on to.
Try to keep an open mind about new people
For an introvert, it’s very easy to dismiss people out of hand when you first meet them. You’re not one inclined to making friends anyway, so why bother when this person has already said something you don’t like.
Well, as the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover. When it comes to meeting new people you should keep an open mind and not pass judgment on someone so quickly.
It isn’t just introverts who are bad at making first impressions, everyone has made a faux-pas before in their life at an introduction. It’s a part of life, these things happen, you shouldn’t be ashamed of it and neither should they.
So instead of dismissing someone out of hand when they say something strange or act in a way you’re not used to, give them the benefit of the doubt and stick around for another ten minutes.
Often, this new friend will try to make up for their misstep and you’ll find yourself in the company of someone whose presence you never expected in your life, but you will gladly say are happy for it now.
It’s so easy for introverts to get disconnected from the world, losing friends is so much easier than making them. But it doesn’t have to be this way, you can nourish your friendships into something great and still retain the needs you have for yourself.
Being an introvert isn’t something you should be ashamed of either. Different people need different things, and you just happen to need time for yourself. Make sure that you have it, as well as someone to lean on for when the going gets hard.
Do you have any tips for introverted adults? Make sure to comment, like, and share!