When you have friends who are introverts, accept them as they are rather than how you hope they will be.
I recently moved into a new place, and my new neighbors are in awe of me. Why, you wonder? They say the only time they see me outside is either when I’m getting back from work or when I need to get something from the store. (Speaking of which, the store owner always tries to engage in small talk, but the introvert in me won’t have it.) Yep, that’s just who I am — an introvert. And, as such, I am fueled more by alone time than by socializing of any sort.
Growing up, I was more social — I’d play with other kids in the neighborhood until it was too dark to see whatever it was we were doing. Maybe my comfort level with them was due to that fact that we grew up together and knew each other well. But school was another story. I only befriended people I knew, especially those who’d be seated next to me. Otherwise, if someone tried to become my friend, it usually wouldn’t work.
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We’re All Wired Differently, And That’s Fine
If you’re an extrovert, you may wonder why some introverts don’t go out at all, especially if they’re your close friend and you actually want to see them. Well, just as one person’s should is another person’s shouldn’t, some of us get stimulated by being around others while some of us get exhausted by it (and exhausted at the very thought of it!).
For me, when things get too overwhelming, I’ll reflexively run home to my personal “introvert zen zone” to hibernate and recharge. I’ll either collapse on my bed, pick up my phone, read a book, listen to music, or watch a movie. It’s not about being unfriendly; it’s about spending time with myself. If I’m not connected to my own needs first and foremost, my connection with others will be limited or non-existent.
So how does anyone become friends with an introvert like me, you may wonder? Keep reading to find out — because an introvert may be the best friend you will ever have.
4 Ways to Become Great Friends With an Introvert
1. Accept them for who they are — when they want to stay in, it has everything to do with them, not you.
Often when people call me out for being “too quiet” or “too introverted,” I subtly tell them to accept me for who I am. I let them understand that whenever I opt to stay indoors rather than go out with them, it’s about me not them. I’ll let them know that it’s nothing personal — I’m not rejecting them (even though it may seem like it).
I’ll also try to get them to not view my introversion as something bad. Likewise, if you have friends who are introverts, you need to learn to accept them as they are rather than how you hope they will be.
Also be cautious about what you say to them. While your comments about their introversion may be well-intentioned, they may come off as being offensive, like asking why they never want to go out (and that type of thing).
Instead get curious about your introverted friend. What’s their favorite way to recharge? How many hours a day do they need me-time? What are their favorite introvert-friendly things to do when they do want to go out? When you know these things, it’s easier for you both to foster an honest and healthy friendship.
2. Understand their needs, like seeing you one-on-one versus seeing you at a party.
When introverts want to socialize, they will do so — you don’t have to push it. If you ask your introverted friend to join you at a party and they decline, respect their choice. Wouldn’t you prefer to enjoy the party by yourself, or with others, rather than take a friend along whose primary mission would be to leave?
Moreso, some introverts prefer one-on-one outings when they want to be social. That way, they can have a meaningful conversation with you instead of vie for everyone’s attention (which is not fun for most of us introverts).
Do you ever struggle to know what to say?
As an introvert, you actually have the ability to be an amazing conversationalist — even if you’re quiet and hate small talk. To learn how, we recommend this online course from our partner Michaela Chung. Click here to check out the Introvert Conversation Genius course.
3. Know their preferred communication styles, like meaningful conversations and scheduled phone calls (if any phone calls).
You may think it’s easy to keep an introvert as a friend… but I’m here to tell you it’s not that simple. The majority of introverts aren’t fond of small talk, so I hope you’re ready for some deep conversations! Plus, introverts don’t consider everyone their friend — we have to feel a connection with you first before we get comfortable having those deep talks with you.
Know that if you call us, we might not answer the phone. We don’t like being caught off-guard, so texting you back, or scheduling a call, may be more our thing (if we’re even a phone person). But even if you text, we may take our time to respond, as we like to think before we speak. Knowing how we like to communicate and being friends with us will be a whole lot easier.
4. Respect their boundaries, like taking things slow.
While we introverts do like to have meaningful, one-on-one talks with our friends, like those who “get” us, it can still take time for us to warm up to a new person. Maybe they’re an introvert, too, and we have 101 things in common… but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a learning curve when it comes to feeling comfortable.
Initially, you may think I’m “quiet.” Yet the more I get to know you, the more I’ll open – please respect my boundaries in the meantime. I swear, it’ll be worth it (and we’ll be very good friends in no time!).
You might like:
- Why Introverts Don’t Consider Everyone Their Friend
- Why an Introvert May Be the Best Friend You Will Ever Have
- The Introvert’s Complete Guide to Making Friends Who ‘Get’ You
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