4 Counterintuitive Ways to Befriend an Introvert

A woman befriends an introvert

The #1 way to befriend an introvert? Never call them.

While introverts might dart around in the shadows and seem shy, quiet, or even mysterious (let’s make this the new stereotype, shall we?), it turns out they’re actually perfectly normal. Yes, we have different ways of communicating and expressing ourselves than extroverts do — or we can say that extroverts have different ways of communicating and expressing themselves than we introverts do.      

So how do the two worlds meet? How do extroverts “get” introverts better and become friends with them? May I present the only introvert guide you’ll ever need to befriend one of our rare, mystical members. Print this out, shove it in your pocket, reference it often (and thank me later). 

Now, without further ado, here are some counterintuitive ways to befriend an introvert.

4 Counterintuitive Ways to Befriend an Introvert

1. Don’t call them on the phone.

I know, not calling may not make sense to extroverts. But, please, if you want to befriend an introvert, don’t call them. We absolutely cherish our alone time and the last thing we want is a call to interrupt it: “Hey, wanna grab some lunch in 30 minutes?” Plus, we’re generally not phone people, and we don’t love surprises (the ringing phone) or spontaneous plans. Texting or emailing is a much safer bet.

The thing is, when we’re home, it’s our safe space — we can lock our doors, hole up in our introvert sanctuary, and tune out the rest of the world.

We’ll come out from hiding eventually, but you’ll be a lot closer to friendship if you don’t ask us to an impromptu lunch or outing. Usually, we’ll be more than happy to go once the idea has sunk in, can be scheduled on our terms, and we have time to prepare for it: Will it be introvert-friendly? Who will be there? What’s my escape plan? And so forth…

2. Extroverts, feel free to take an introvert under your wing.

Is there a more awkward moment than a pregnant pause during small talk with someone you’ve just met? No, no, there is not. It’s grisly. It’s gruesome. Fight, flight, or a full-on panic attack kicks in

In order to comfortably navigate the people-y space we’re in, we’d love a brave, confident, preferably well-humored extrovert to blaze the way for us, and swing the proverbial machete through the people-filled jungle. We thrive in the ever-widening wake of the machete — especially if a topic comes up that we’re passionate about.

An extrovert taking us under their wing works well for us introverts because you have effectively put to rest all the perceived barriers to perform in public. You have expressed interest in us as fellow human beings, without making us prove our “worth” to you. And you have displayed your ability to add conversational grace to an interaction, and by doing so, relieved our anxiety about having to fill in silences where we might feel obligated to disclose more personal details about ourselves. (To absolute strangers? And in a big group of people? No thank you!)

Extroverts, you are also happy to make decisions, taking the pressure off of me to think of a decision that appeases everyone. (And this would also draw unwanted attention toward me, so…)

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3. Don’t try to have an in-depth conversation with them away.

You probably know that introverts hate small talk — we’d much rather have an in-depth conversation with you (preferably one-on-one). But that doesn’t mean we’ll open up immediately, especially if there are several people in the circle we’re all standing in. Or maybe the topic’s something we’re not familiar with or interested in. So if we were already quiet, this will cause us to be even more quiet.

If your future introvert buddy is a solid clamshell that you can’t crack, but your interest has been piqued and you know they’re worth it (we are!) – maybe we briefly bonded over a book we both just read — glob onto a mutual friend of ours. If you can’t crack a clam, it’s probably because you met them in a big group setting like the above, and you’ve just gotta put in a little more quality time. 

Snag a buddy of ours and get our contact info (Instagram or LinkedIn work well). Time and space are the real keys here — and it gives us time to appropriately craft a heartfelt and sincere response that might otherwise have left our mouths as pure gibberish (if we’re lucky to squeak anything out at all). 

Or, try to talk to us in a less-pressure setting, like in line for the restroom or at the bar. That way, any small talk can lead to “deep” talk way more organically. 

And finally…

4. Give them time to decompress and recover.

I can’t stress this one enough. The best way to stay on good terms with an introvert is to give us time to decompress and recover from social situations. We may have an “introvert hangover” and really need time to recoup (trust me!). 

And if you’re tempted to ask us to hang out again soon — don’t! Even if it seemed like we had a great time — and we probably did — let me explain…

The big marker of an introvert is not that we hate people — it’s that spending time with people (whether we love them or not) is draining. On a very basic level, interacting and communicating with people, especially in person, can be exhausting, and simply takes energy. We need to quietly recharge and replenish that energy in order to see you again.

We’re not broken, and certainly don’t need to be fixed. What we do need is just a small dose of understanding that being around people sucks up our energy, and our time alone gives us energy. 

You clearly already know that introverts are the best kind of friends to have, so hang in there! Keep us in your thoughts, maybe invite us to things via email, but for goodness sake, please stop calling. (I say that with love, of course!)

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