After discovering that I’m an introvert, I looked back at my life and a lot of things started to make 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 chosen paths in our lives — I simply don’t maintain contact with them.
And 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, then I click. If not, that’s okay.
As I grow older and work takes over more than half of my waking hours, making friends becomes less and less a priority. 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 special connection 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 Some Introverts Are Bad at Staying in Touch
The thing about staying in touch is there’s just too much small talk involved. And I think by now, enough has been said about how introverts and small talk are not exactly the best of friends.
Introverts prefer deep, meaningful conversations with one (or two) people at a time, and we’d rather discuss a subject near and dear to our hearts than talk about the weather. Small talk drains us because it means we have to get through the facade of being “nice” and “polite” before getting into the meat of the story.
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. Many introverts like me draw strict lines between work and play, and we tend to (at least I do) give it our all during our working hours. Combine that with our tendency to deeply anticipate, nay, fear losing our train of thought, and we exert so much energy during work that by the end of the day or week, we’d rather spend time alone recharging.
Bottom line? Many introverts simply don’t have enough energy left to maintain a social life and/or constant contact — not only with our close friends, but much less with 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 Introverts Can Make New Friends
Many introverts are quiet in social settings, especially ones that involve meeting new people or networking — again, because of the exhausting small talk. By default, small talk consists of surface-level questions and answers, rehearsed smiles, and sometimes feigned interest. With our penchant for genuine, meaningful conversations, we introverts just can’t stand to fabricate interest for too 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.
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.
And I’ll be honest, I like that touch of validation. Being introverts, we’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 you 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 time with, we immediately back off and prefer to shift our energy somewhere else more fulfilling.
But Do We Really Need More Friends?
If I had to give an honest answer, no. We 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 the select few into our 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.
You might like:
- Introverts Don’t Hate People, They Hate Shallow Socializing
- Why Introverts Absolutely Loathe Talking on the Phone
- 7 Tips for Introverts to Make More High-Quality Friendships
- Why Introverts Absolutely Loathe Small Talk
- 13 Rules for Being Friends With an Introvert
Did you enjoy this article? Sign up for our newsletters to get more stories like this.