5 Qualities Introverts Want in a Friend

An introvert with a friend

Introverts need people around them who understand their vibe, which is why they look for quality in friends, not quantity. 

“You’re my person.” 

In an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, character Cristina Yang expresses this thought to her soulmate, Meredith Grey. And I can relate. As introverts, we think, feel, and love deeply while striving to find our “person” and those who “get” us — but let’s face it, we introverts are very selective about who we let into our inner circle. It’s not that we don’t want friends or don’t need them, but we desire friends who will let us, well… be us

Often, we don’t openly reveal ourselves or share personal details with just anyone, so it can be difficult for us introverts to connect with others. We can inadvertently shut people out; occasionally, without even ever letting them in. Other times, we try to mesh with people who just aren’t the right fit, so then there’s nothing to sustain the friendship. Because our alone time is crucial and we want people around us who understand our vibe, introverts look for quality in friends, not quantity. When looking for our “people,” there are certain characteristics that we seek. Here are five traits introverts look for in a friend.

5 Qualities Introverts Want in a Friend

1. They’re a good listener — they actively listen.

Introverts are naturally good listeners because we process our thoughts before we speak and our quiet nature draws people in because they know we will listen. However, it can be frustrating when someone spills their guts to us on a regular basis, only to have our own thoughts and feelings fall on deaf ears. Good friends reciprocate on the listening end and don’t take their introverted friends strictly for emotional support dumpsters. We introverts want to be heard and understood just as much as anyone, and hearing crickets after a rant doesn’t sit well with us.

My introverted self always fairs better with friends who take the time to really concentrate on what I have to say because, hello, my in-tune friends know I don’t talk up a storm, so what I have to say must be truly important. Therefore, they always let me have center stage when I need it! After all, friends who take the time to lend their ears to us introverts are “ear-iplaceable.”

2. They see you and “get” you. 

Ah, I’m out with that group of “so-called” friends again. They are laughing and having a great time, and I have even tried to interject a joke here and there… but no one heard me (again). I really want to step away, but I hear the dreaded question coming at me: How come you never talk? I want to scream, “Seriously, did you not just hear my last joke?” 

But then a friend who “gets” me — and senses my frustration about not being heard — will save me and seamlessly pull me into the conversation. (And she’ll do so without drawing attention to the fact I was awkward or that she noticed no one heard me.)

Have you been with that group of people where you felt invisible? Introverts don’t want to be the center of attention, but we want to feel included and valued even though our quiet nature might make things challenging. Thankfully, our true friends “see” us and effortlessly make us feel wanted and part of the group because they aren’t afraid of the sound of silence. After all, “speech is silver and silence is golden,” right? 

Our good friends also accept our need for alone time and never interrogate us when we are simply taking a moment of silence for ourselves (especially in a big group) by asking the dreaded question: Are you mad at me? (Come on, you’ve heard that before, right?) They get our tranquil existence and don’t draw attention to the fact we are quiet beings. There’s no need to remind them à la Hey, I’m right here! We don’t have to speak for them to know this.

3. They initiate plans (because it’s not always easy for us to do so). 

It’s Friday and I have the itch to go out (a rare occurrence, I know, but it happens) and I’m passing the phone between my hands, anxiously awaiting contact. Well, it has been five whole minutes, so I guess no one wants to hang out because a text hasn’t come through. I’ll just put my comfy clothes on and grab that book

Sometimes we feel the need to just hang with a friend or two, but we introverts don’t want to seem like we are bothering anyone, so we hesitate to send that text. So we appreciate when our friends initiate contact with us or do the inviting so we don’t have to. 

Feeling like a friendship isn’t genuine because no one is reaching out to us can trigger anxiety and may cause us to question our existence in the lives of our friends. Sure, we are capable of touching base — and we will when absolutely necessary (with a bit of hesitancy, of course). However, our awesome friends know that we are most comfortable accepting (or in most cases, comfortably declining) an invite and responding to, not sending, a Hey, what’s up? text. Ummm, you go first.

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4. They’re a deep thinker and equally deep conversationalist.

When it comes to that chat in the middle of the night about the song lyrics from the music group we both love or the new art exhibit we’ve been planning to see for months, forget the shallow small talk: We introverts look for friends who can get into a discussion in depth. You know, really digging into the content and not just skimming the surface. 

We find it interesting to rant about stuff we like with friends so we can, well, “geek out” together and connect over things we like (or maybe even don’t like). Talking about the weather is fun and all (okay, not really), but meaningful conversation is bliss. 

I find my mind is always turning over ideas and having great discussions with, um, well itself… so I enjoy a passionate conversation with someone other than my own brain. It feels good to have a dialogue exchange with someone who is knowledgeable in the same areas. We introverts are deep thinkers and tend to speak only when we have something worthy to say, so naturally we seek out friends who also think before they speak. I think, therefore I am… er, something like that.

5. They respectfully push your boundaries, yet also know your limits.

My introverted self is pretty cautious, and my inner monologue tries to talk me out of things all the time (perfectly safe but interesting activities, I might add, like going on a group hike with people I don’t know or driving into an unfamiliar city for a concert). So I actually appreciate it when my friends spark my interest in new things that I would not normally consider doing, from using a dating app to merging into different friend groups. 

As introverts, we select friends who want us around, so naturally they will try to get us to actively participate in life. But, that said, they know how many times to ask us to join in and also when to ask. Forcing us into situations they know will make us uncomfortable — like handing us the mic at karaoke (or taking us to karaoke in the first place!) — is not our friends’ style because they understand our limits and know how to respectfully push them. The key word here is respectfully.

Our good friends will entice us with things we may not normally consider — such as traveling to unchartered territories (thank you GPS) — and encourage us when they feel it is something we will love or benefit from — like sharing our heartfelt poetry on their blog because they believe in our work. But, most importantly, they won’t judge us when we politely refuse. (Although we introverts may need to be prepared to hear an: I told you so every now and then!)

All People Need Other People — We Introverts Are Just Selective About the Ones We Invite Into Our Worlds

To a certain degree, I believe all people need other people in their lives; it’s just a matter of discovering the ones who “get” us. Overall, we introverts thrive with truly genuine friendships and are selective when it comes to inviting people into our world. Because we keep our domain closely guarded, we may look for certain attributes when finding our “people” — those who complement our own quiet, and often solitary, existence. It may take some trial and error, but take it from me: It is possible and well worth it. You’ll see.

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I am a graduate of the University of Mary Washington, where I received a degree in Studio Art and a Masters of Education in diverse student populations. I hail from Virginia and am a member of the James River Writers. When I am not writing or teaching art, you can find me photographing various things. You can learn more at Manfrejl.com.