Even though we’re introverts, we still crave the intimacy of a few deep and timeless relationships.
Have you ever looked across the dinner table, park bench, or break room and thought, “Wow, this person really gets me!”? As introverts, chances are this happens less than we’d care to admit.
Personally, as an introvert and a highly sensitive person, I’ve experienced both that sudden moment of connection and that awful feeling of alienation. However, I still find society’s preconceived notion that introverts do not want friends to be illogical, not to mention the absurd belief that introverts do not need friends.
While it’s true that many introverts don’t have a thriving cohort of people we call “friends,” most of us crave the intimacy of a few deep and timeless relationships. This really should not come as a surprise — and even science has shown that strong social ties result in longer and happier lives, specifically friendships outside your family.
Introverts Want Friends, Too… But It Takes Us More Time
A 2018 study found it takes about 50 hours for an acquaintance to become a casual friend, 90 hours to become a friend, and more than 200 hours to become a close friend. The resounding message is that making friends may not necessarily be hard work, but it does take time. A lot of time. And it may take even more time for those of us who are introverts versus our extroverted counterparts.
Part of this is due to the fact that we simply need more time to rest and recuperate between social engagements. Also, being introverts, we need more time to feel comfortable around others and let our true personalities out. So how do introverts make friends? Unfortunately, the question I recently had to ask myself was: “How do I cultivate meaningful relationships when my favorite thing is to be cuddled up in bed while indulging in my favorite hot beverage and a book?”
Until this point, I’ve been a very lucky introvert. Through my hobbies, school, and work, I’ve had the privilege of connecting with some really amazing people. Yet recently, after a change in employment and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been rather lonely. (That’s right — this quarantine isn’t necessarily an introvert’s paradise.) I’ve found myself missing the long philosophical conversations I once had with a cherished colleague and the ease of working side-by-side with a kindred spirit.
You, too, may be wishing for a friend who shares your interests and understands your introverted quirks. Sadly, I have neither a crystal ball nor the keys to the universe, but I can share some ways I’ve made friends as an introvert — and it boils down to these three questions.
3 Questions to Help You Make Friends as an Introvert
1. “What are you passionate about?”
The deepest relationships I’ve had were with people I connected with over an interest or hobby. Depending on where you are in life, you may be unsure of what you are passionate about at the moment — perhaps, in these crazy times we’re living in, things you once zealously adored no longer excite you, or maybe you have yet to discover your true passions.
Regardless of where you’re at, take a moment to assess what you really care about: What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning, and what do you dream about before you fall asleep at night? Maybe it’s starting your own business, painting watercolors, or writing. If you need help answering, consider my next question.
2. “How do you spend your time?”
Whether you’re at home or out and about, the reality is, we’re presented with opportunities to make friends all the time. All we need to do is evaluate where our time is spent, whether it’s volunteering with animals or going to our favorite bookstore every weekend.
At the moment, however, we’re all experiencing the effects of a global pandemic — whether you use the term “socially distanced” or “physically distanced,” we all feel just a little disconnected. So although the reality is that most of us aren’t out and about much right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t make a new friend from the comfort of your home.
For example, online, we can join conversations on social media or meet others through Facebook groups (the free Introvert, Dear Facebook group connects introverts around the world). Or maybe you like the thrill of leveling-up while playing your favorite video game and bond with someone that way. Or you try an Airbnb Online Experience, like magic lessons, and connect with other participants virtually.
Whatever you choose to do, ways you spend your time — even indoors — can connect you to others with common interests. And each and every activity you participate in sets you up to answer my next question.
3. “Have you looked around you?”
There are almost eight billion people in the world. Eight billion! I know I’m being cliché here, but I cannot refrain from saying, “There are plenty of fish in the sea.” So, chances are, your future friend is right around the corner.
Besides, even as introverts, we are rarely ever completely alone: We have family members, roommates, and fellow commuters and coworkers, not to mention the friendly grocery store clerk you see each week with the humorous buttons on their apron.
We are connected with others in so many forms that it’s likely your next friend is someone you already know. So look around you — you don’t necessarily have to go to an exhausting party or networking event to meet people.
Making Friends Means Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone — But the Payoff Will Be Worth It
Of course, there are no wrong answers to these questions, and hopefully, they will help guide you toward new avenues for making friends. The promising truth is, whether you enjoy connecting with nature, fighting for animal rights, or discussing geo-politics, there are others who enjoy those things, too.
Once you’ve identified some new potential friends, it’s time to take the next step — which probably means stepping out of your comfort zone. If you’re unsure how to do that, here are some tips to initiate and nurture friendships as an introvert:
Just remember that it’s important to start slow, and that friendships take time to develop. Like you, I’m on a journey to make more friends, and admittedly, I do not have all the answers. What I do know is that my life is worth sharing with a few exceptional humans — and your life is worth that, too!