Doing life with a few good friends by your side is the best way to deal with the normal stresses and ups and downs life brings.
Some people always seem to have a bevy of best friends to spend time with and to be there with them during challenging times. But not everyone has that go-to group of buddies or even a single close companion to turn to for advice, camaraderie or to just hang out with from time to time.
Furthermore, figuring out how to make friends when you have none is hard. And even worse, crippling shyness and social anxiety keep many people from reaching out or even attempting to socialize, meet new people or make friends.
So how do you make friends as an introvert? Or if you are dealing with an introvert friend, how can you help? How introverts make friends sometimes may look a little different than the way extroverts do but with an honest discussion about how to socialize as an introvert or with one, creating a solid friendship or friend group is possible for almost everyone.
What is an Introvert?
Let’s talk about introvert vs extrovert characteristics. You might think that anyone who is shy is an introvert but that is just a small part of the overall social and emotional description of someone who is truly an introvert or has introvert qualities. You might be surprised to know that some extroverts even share some of the same qualities as introverts, too.
And for an introvert looking to make new friends, knowing that even the boisterous person you know at work or the neighbor who always seems to be chatting with everyone on the block might feel some of the same introvert-related anxiety as you do, can help you feel more comfortable and confident in seeking out new friendships with even the unlikeliest of people.
Introverts are Comfortable Being Alone
One of the biggest misconceptions is that introverts just want to be alone. And that may very well be true some of the time because introverts are typically comfortable in their own skin, being a lone wolf.
But introverts draw energy from being alone whereas extroverts need others around them to feel energized. This inner comfort in being alone is actually a strength for an introvert.
Someone who knows they need that alone time to rest, recharge their batteries and recover from social interactions will intentionally build quiet, restorative time into their day.
Building Relationships is Challenging
Being comfortable alone can be a positive character trait for an introvert but introverts are not solitary all the time by choice.
Making close relationships simply is a little bit more challenging when you are shyer than an extrovert, a quality that can make it uncomfortable to strike up conversations with new people or even say hello to a familiar face.
Introverts Prefer Spending Time with Small Groups or Individuals
Large groups and crowded places can be overwhelming and overstimulating for an introvert. While extroverts thrive in boisterous, busy situations, an introvert with social anxiety may want to skip the group activity in favor of spending time with a smaller group or even one or two close friends.
An extrovert may not understand why an introvert is so mentally or emotionally exhausted from large group interactions in the same way that an extrovert may not see how meaningful social interactions with one person is more desirable when a whole group of people could be invited to an activity instead.
But how introverts make friends depends on finding others who are just as confident and comfortable in a small group or with one on one interactions.
Introverts Are Reserved
Introverts are often quiet and reserved in social situations and this behavior often leads to others misjudging them. When someone appears stand-offish, that behavior can be misconstrued as rude, disinterested or even unkind.
But introverts simply tend to be less impulsive and prefer to not speak or act on something until they have had time to decide how they feel about it.
Introverts Experience Anxiety
While not every introvert experiences problematic anxiety, many do struggle with anxious thoughts or overthinking. Worrying about past or present situations can get in the way of enjoying social situations or making friends for some introverted people.
So You’re an Introvert — Now What?
You may have identified one or more characteristic that defines an introvert and thought, “hey, that’s me!” Or maybe you are sure that the whole description was written just about you.
But the reality is that even though introverts come in all varieties and with varying degrees of each of the distinguishing traits, most struggle with forming easy, comfortable relationships. And as a result, learning how to make friends as an introvert is usually high on the list of priorities for an introvert at some time in their lives.
So let’s take a look at different situations that introverts find themselves in, how to deal with them and how to make new friends in the process. We will look at:
- Developing socialization strategies that work
- Strategies for coping with college as an introvert
- How to be a successful introvert at work
- Dealing with social anxiety as an introvert
- Special considerations for the introverted teen
- How to cope with moving to a new city as an introvert
Socializing as an Introvert
One of the most dreaded aspects of being an introvert can be attending social functions or simply spending time with others. One of the strengths of being an introvert — and there are many — is the ability to be comfortable in your own company.
But it’s healthy to socialize with others and being around one or more people is commonly required in life in plenty of situations that can’t (and perhaps shouldn’t be) avoided. And many social opportunities are excellent chances to meet other introverts and ultimately become friends, too.
So how can an introvert handle socializing with others when they just may not feel up to it? Let’s look at a few strategies that will help you cope with being around others, make you more comfortable in social situations and help you meet other like-minded people that you might initiate a friendship with as well.
1. Hang out with the smaller group
When the opportunity arises, choose to mingle with a smaller group of people, friends or even strangers instead of a larger crowd.
While it may feel like it would just be easier to get lost in a big group, having meaningful conversations while in a larger crowd is not only difficult for anyone regardless of if they know themselves to be an introvert vs extrovert.
Set yourself up for successful choosing social situations with fewer people to give yourself the best possible chance to make a new friend.
It’s also possible that other introverted individuals are also in that smaller group, too, so you might find right off the bat that you have something in common when you interact with them by recognizing your own behaviors or social cues in another person, making it easier to befriend someone.
2. Build in downtime
This is key for any introvert, since most of us need that recharging time after (or between) social engagements with other people.
Instead of ambitiously planning to attend a long event or activity, an important aspect of how to socialize as an introvert is to recognize that your social batteries need recharging so allow yourself time to get away from the crowd, take a quiet walk or find a way to feel a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of a social event for a few minutes.
For some introverts, this might look like finding a peaceful spot to dash away to during a hectic evening event where your presence is required and leaving is not an option.
For others, it might mean excusing yourself for a longer period of time, coming home from work or school and retreating to your personal space for a time before interacting with family or friends or even just slipping on your headphones for a few uninterrupted moments.
3. Choose a reduced time frame
Socializing is ideal in smaller chunks. Meeting new people doesn’t feel overwhelming when you decide ahead of time that you will designate a set time frame to attend an event, or before you take a break or between conversations.
Your mindset will be more positive and your introverted feelings will be stressed less if you plan ahead to reduce the time you are spending in a social situation.
4. Schedule socializing opportunities ahead of time
Not only will you have time to plan ahead for an event or activity, but you will also feel less anxiety about mingling with others when you can anticipate your participation. It is also easier to plan downtime beforehand, as well, so you will be in the right frame of mind to meet new people and potentially make new friends.
Top Tips for Socializing as an Introvert
Attempt to connect with people like you. Forming friendships for an introvert is easier with another like-minded person. When you are in a social situation with unfamiliar faces, choose icebreaker statements that will help you focus on talking with others who feel the same way you do.
- “I’m not a fan of big parties/events. It’s so hard to talk to people.”
- “I’m not good at small talk.”
- “I feel really awkward right now, to be honest.”
- “Can I be honest? This is all really overwhelming.”
The Introverted Teenager
Being a teen is hard for just about everyone but being an introverted teen can be scary and make teenagers feel really alone. But if there is one thing teenagers seem to naturally know how to do it is to say how they feel.
Intimacy is created and friendships develop when feelings are expressed so encouraging those teens with shyness and introverts to say how they feel is a big step towards making new friends.
Introverted teens often retreat into their heads, imagining that being alone is preferable to interacting with others. But teens often mistakenly think that they are the only ones who feel the social anxiety and shyness that often comes with being an introvert.
So it is important that introverted teens who struggle to make friends understand that their own awkwardness will eventually go away once they spend time with others and let others get to know them.
Their own unique, quirky and fun personalities will emerge as they allow themselves to spend time with others and find other teens who are quiet or introverted as well.
Top Tips for Introverted Teens
To break the ice with a potential friend, ask them questions to get the conversation going. Having a few solid topics to use when your shyness or social anxiety kicks in is an easy way to test out the waters with someone, get to know them a little better and potentially begin building the bonds of friendship quicker.
And being a good listener is a great way to engender a relationship, too (which is even better for an introvert who may not want to talk too much about themself.)
- “What’s going on with you right now?”
- “How did you get involved with XYZ activity?”
- “What is your favorite character/movie/band/activity?”
The Introvert in College
Attending university or even community college while still living at home with your family both bring up specific challenges for introverts who are looking to make some new friends.
But collegiates have a unique situation that most other introverts don’t: they are among a group that generally all arrive solo to college and most are looking to form fast friendships to make the college experience more enjoyable. One of the best ways for the introvert in college to meet new friends is to make the first move.
Even if your high school experiences may have left you with a fear of rejection from awkward interactions with others, you are in a unique position to meet a lot of people regularly with new classes, the chance to join social clubs and activities, or just frequenting student-heavy locations like coffee shops or the library.
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Top Tips for Introverts in College
To make friends in college, do some of the activities you enjoyed before college on campus or in university-sponsored groups or locations. Others will frequent places they are familiar with, and you will have something in common right away.
While trying a new activity can be a great way to meet new people, the shy introvert who needs just one new friend doesn’t also need to be figuring out how to play pickleball at the same time as making awkward conversation with a potential new friend.
- If you liked gaming before college, hit up communal areas of your dorm for game nights or attend a gaming club event on campus.
- If coffee shops were your thing before college, try hanging out at the student union’s coffee shop sans earbuds and sitting at a communal table to invite conversations.
- For introverted collegians who had a friend group who played sports, join an intramural team to play alongside other students many of which are likely also joining the team solo.
- Collegians who want to make friends with others that make academics their priority might ask a classmate to study together before a big test or make conversations with classmates who are attending the same professor-led study sessions or lab class.
The Introvert at Work
Finding a close friend at your job makes going into the office, virtual or otherwise, much more enjoyable for an introverted person.
But developing a friendship at an office takes into consideration office social order rules as well as personalities that may not be interested in maintaining meaningful friendships where they work.
So introverts who want to make friends with coworkers need to think about strategies that are specific to the workplace.
1. Approach those you already know
If you have a connection to a coworker, have a surface friendship with someone you work with or simply have a little more familiarity with one person over others at your job, then begin reaching out to that person.
Simply attempting to get to know one person more deeply will either spawn new friendship potential or at least clarify that you are too different to develop a deep friendship.
2. Make a friendly gesture to initiate a discussion
Do something in the office or shared workspace that leads to a brief discussion or leaves the door open for later talks.
Top Tips for Introverts at Work
Some ways to break the ice with a coworker to get the conversation rolling might be to:
- Ask for a coworker’s opinion about a work-related topic in their area of expertise
- Offer to bring a fellow coffee-drinker a latte when you make your regular coffeehouse visit
- Let a coworker know you have a suggestion for a common concern to spark a discussion
- Offer to lend a helping hand in something that is normally not your responsibility but would be appreciated
- Give a sincere compliment and follow up with a question about the related skills, interests or abilities of that coworker
- Share your own feelings about a common workplace experience like “I always get so nervous on these video calls.”
Introverts and Social Anxiety
Feeling anxious or nervous when you have to be in a social situation is normal for many introverts but it doesn’t have to paralyze you and keep you from making friends.
But making new friends that are also introverts is a great way to create pals that understand the apprehension caused by an overly-stimulating environment, too little downtime or any situation where introverted personalities might feel anxiety. So seeking out others like you in stressful social environments can reduce your own anxiety.
And once you begin to make connections with others, your social anxiety can be better managed by planning out social engagements, scheduling downtime to recharge and renew your social batteries and anticipating specific plans for spending time out with others or with a new friend.
Top Tips for Introverts with Social Anxiety
Remember that friendships take time. Don’t put pressure on yourself to cultivate a new friend quickly or that your social anxieties would pass if only this one person would become a friend.
Reduce your social anxiety by thinking about the inroads you are making with potential friendships. Genuine relationships are being built when
- They ask you questions and show interest in your answers as well
- Conversations with them move beyond small talk or generalities
- They give you their full attention when you are together (and are not constantly checking their phone, for example)
- They seem interested in exchanging personal information and transitioning conversations into making plans together
When an Introvert Moves to a New City
Any big change, like a new job or moving to a new city, means shifting social opportunities and making new friends. But for an introvert, figuring out how to make friends when you have none when you relocate to a new city is especially hard.
One of the best strategies for finding new friends in a new city is to create patterns and structure for your new life. Explore your new town by making a personal quest to find the best coffee shop, try a burger at every place within one subway stop or hit a new local brunch spot each weekend until you find your favorite.
Not only will you feel more confident, but you will also have a topic of conversation with your new coworkers, neighbors or acquaintances you meet.
In addition, having a regular thing to do or a standing date with yourself will free up your social anxiety. A well-known approach to minimizing anxiety is to develop structure in your life, so creating that structure will help you to relax, have some fun and have a new topic of conversation fresh at hand when the opportunity arises to speak with someone new.
Top Tips for Introverts in a New City
Just like you do, other introverts love knowing what to expect in life, and you can extend this concept to developing budding relationships. The bonus to creating a routine in a relationship is that you don’t have to constantly try to think of something to do together and it takes the pressure off of that part of your friendship.
Instead, you can focus on spending the quality time together that it takes to build a solid friendship foundation.
- Set up a standing coffee date before work once a week with a new friend
- Meet for brunch once a month at your favorite local spot
- Find out which museums in your area hold a free admission day and make a date of it with another art-loving acquaintance
- Combine weekend exercising like walking around the neighborhood park or pathways with a standing date to catch up with a new friend
Can an Introvert Have Extrovert Tendencies?
As surprising as it may sound, the answer is a resounding yes. Most of us have qualities that tend towards one end of the social spectrum, being clearly introverted or extroverted to others.
But an introvert can also have characteristics that are more extroverted in nature than a typical introvert since these two opposing descriptions of how we recharge our social-emotional batteries are more of a sliding scale than a finite description.
- Some actors, for example, are known to be introverted and love solitude and introspection in their private lives but on stage exude an extroverted persona comfortably.
- Even though introverts are characterized by needing alone time to recharge their social batteries and extroverts use socialization to feel energized, sometimes introverts love to be with larger groups of friends than other introverts might. Since the depth of the relationships and the quality and length of time spent with others all contribute to how an introvert feels about a situation, some introverts may seem extroverted in some situations.
- Not all introverts are shy as shyness is a characteristic that can fade with time. Introversion doesn’t fade over time, but instead, introverts may become more comfortable over time.
How to Make Friends as an Introvert According to Reddit
Sometimes the most real and authentic advice comes from advice threads on Reddit. Here is what some contributors suggest that may help an introvert make new friends.
- Develop a social hobby to meet others with the same interest.
- Find an extroverted friend that will introduce you to others and take you to events.
- Go early (to work, class, activity) to chat with others.
- Join a club, organization or religious group.
- Make online friends through dating apps or through online gaming.
In Good Company: Famous Introverts
It’s always great to know that you are not alone as an introvert. In fact, 50% of Americans identify this way along with these famous self-identified introverts:
- Barack Obama
- Christina Aguilera
- Warren Buffett
- Courtney Cox
- Albert Einstein
- Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss)
- Elton John
- Steve Martin
- Rosa Parks
- Eleanor Roosevelt
- JK Rowling
- Steven Spielberg
- Nikola Tesla
- Barbara Walters
Here are some other articles that you may enjoy:
- How to Be Resilient in the Face of Adversity (& 5 Inspirational Stories)
- How to Develop a Growth Mindset (Set Yourself Up for Life Success)
- How to Have Endless Confidence by Harnessing Your Inner-Child
- How to Make a Great First Impression (So You Will Be Remembered)
- How to Be More Present & Have Better Conversations through Mindful Listening
- 100+ Best Hobbies for Men (Unique, Fun, Creative & Manly Ideas)
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