Introverts Want Friends, Too, But We’re Bad at Staying in Touch

I simply don’t have enough energy to maintain a roaring social life or constant contact through texting and phone calls.

After discovering I’m an introvert, I looked back at my life, and a lot of things finally made sense. In the friendship department, I tend to have one or two close friends at any given point in my life, and even then, once we go our separate ways — different classes, different schools, different life paths — I simply don’t maintain contact with them.

And honestly, I’m fine with that.

I’ve never felt like I had to be friends with everyone. Instead, I prefer to go with the flow, and if I click with someone, I click. If not, that’s okay, too.

As I grow older and work takes over more than half of my waking hours, making friends has become less and less a priority for me. As long as the people around me contribute significantly to the projects or tasks I’m working on, I don’t mind being social with them. But usually, after that project ends, if there’s no further business together or if a special connection never developed, I move on.

Not to say that I shut them out completely — I just don’t bother keeping up. Their lives and mine go in different directions, and different things take turns being priorities.

So… do I have friends? Yes.

Keeping up with them and staying in touch, though? That’s a whole other story.

Why Introverts Don’t Stay in Touch

The thing about staying in touch is there’s just too much small talk involved. I think by now, enough has been said about how introverts and small talk are not exactly the best of friends.

As an introvert, I prefer deep, meaningful conversations with one or two people at a time, and I’d rather discuss a subject near and dear to my heart than my weekend plans. Small talk tends to drain me because it means I have to get through the facade of being “nice” and “polite” before getting to the meat of the story — the real stuff I want to talk about.

With all the mental work it takes for an introvert to do small talk, imagine trying to do it on top of a busy schedule. Like many introverts, I tend to draw a strict line between work and play, and I give it my all during my working hours. Combine that with my tendency to deeply anticipate, nay, fear losing my train of thought, and I exert so much energy during work that by the end of the day or week, I’d rather spend time alone recharging.

Bottom line? I simply don’t have enough energy left over to maintain a roaring social life and constant contact through texting and phone calls. This applies not only to our close friends, but much less to those who we subconsciously categorize as our “work circle” or “that guy I just met.” I guess it’s fair to say that when introverts say “we’re too busy” to stay in touch, it has some truth.

How I Make New Friends

Like many introverts, I’m generally quiet in social settings, especially ones that involve meeting new people or networking, again, because of the exhausting small talk they entail. By default, small talk consists of surface-level questions and answers, rehearsed smiles, and sometimes feigned interest. With my penchant for genuine, meaningful conversations, I just can’t stand to fabricate interest for long.

So how can introverts make new friends? One way is to let someone else, preferably someone who has known you for a while, introduce and describe you to other people so you don’t have to do the chit-chatting yourself.

I’ve found that this actually gives you several advantages.

First, you get to hear another person’s version of you, seeing yourself through someone else’s words. This gives you insight into how well you’ve conveyed yourself and how well they’ve understood you.

I’ll be honest, I like that touch of validation. Being an introvert, I’ll probably always have a need for acknowledgement but won’t be keen on actively getting it out of people. Hearing someone else talk about me fulfills that need in a strange but comforting way.

Second, being introduced via someone else is a way for you to gauge if the new person is actually interested in who you are. If they change the subject, or worse, carry on the surface talk, then they’re probably not very interested. But if they ask questions about you, or turn to you and want you to answer for yourself, then it’s potentially real interest.

I say potential. Because as we all know, introverts only reveal small parts of themselves, one layer at a time, watching others’ reactions. If we sense that they vibe with us, then we may be willing to reveal another layer. But if we get even the slightest hint that they might not be a good person to spend more time with, we back off and shift our energy somewhere more fulfilling.

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But Do We Really Need More Friends?

If I had to give an honest answer, no. Introverts are so comfortable with our own company that we don’t actually need many people around us. In fact, we can be very easily drained if we have too many people around us for too long.

What we need is just a few friends, who, as mentioned before, are willing to put in the time to really get to know us, respect our boundaries and personal space, let us finish our train of thought before answering their questions, listen to us without judgement, and allow us our precious alone time because they know that’s how we recharge.

Let me finish by saying this. Introverts don’t need a lot of friends. We allow only a select few into our inner circle. No offense, nothing personal, that’s just how we’re wired.

So when we welcome you into our world, it means we really want you there. It means you’re that special. It means we want you to be our friend.

But please understand and cut us some slack when we’re not so good at keeping in touch. We love you all the same.

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Danti always knew she was different growing up, and has always wondered why she is so often misunderstood. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that she discovered she was an INFJ personality type. She works as general manager at a coworking space in Jakarta, Indonesia, where she daily faces an introvert’s biggest challenge — interacting and small-talking with people. Recently she started a sideblog at lonewolfsoulnomad.tumblr.com to share snippets of her daily thoughts being an introvert in a world that sometimes misunderstood introverts. Aside from microblogging, she also finds solace in dance, where she teaches jazz ballet and is also a dance student.