Why Introverts Don’t Consider Everyone Their Friend

an introvert with their friends

To introverts, a “friend” is very special. They are someone whom we have let into our private and deep inner world.

I’ve always considered myself an extroverted introvert. I value my alone time but also enjoy socializing. Unlike many introverts who prefer texting, I have no problem calling a friend to catch up. When I feel rested and recharged, I’m often the one reaching out to make plans with others. This often leads to people mistaking me for an extrovert.

However, I’ve never wanted to be friends with just anybody.

Unlike some people who are content with simply having a group of friends for socializing, I’ve always questioned the depth of my connections. Over the years, I’ve observed that many introverts operate similarly. We prefer friendships where we can engage in meaningful conversations and feel completely comfortable with those around us.

In other words, we introverts value quality over quantity, which might explain why we often struggle to fit into large friend groups.

My fellow introverted friends have told me that they share this sentiment: We can’t automatically form a friendship with someone just because we have a mutual friend or a shared interest. Such connections might lead to acquaintanceship, but not necessarily to friendship.

(Side note: Here are some more signs that you’re an extroverted introvert.)

You can thrive as an introvert or a sensitive person in a loud world. Subscribe to our email newsletter. Once a week, you’ll get empowering tips and insights. Click here to subscribe.

How Introverts Define the Word ‘Friend’

To introverts, the word “friend” is honorable. Someone we call a friend is very special to us, as they are someone whom we have let into our private and deep inner world.

On the other hand, there are people who call almost anyone a friend. They might meet someone once and already refer to them as a friend, frequently mentioning “my friend” who did something or “my friend” who works somewhere. As an introvert, I often find myself wondering: Are all these people genuinely your friends?

Extroverts often have a variety of friends: casual friends, close friends, friends from work, friends from school, and even friends from a show they participated in 10 years ago — embracing the philosophy of “the more, the merrier.”

As an introvert, though, my approach to making friends is different.

I can spend months analyzing particular people I’ve met, wondering if I would consider them as potential close friends. Would they be willing to sit and have a deep conversation with me? Would I want to engage in meaningful conversations with them? Are they someone I can trust to have my back? And would they understand if I sometimes want to be alone?

Only Certain People Will Make the Cut

Because we “quiet ones” often spend considerable time analyzing someone’s potential as a friend, only a few people actually make the cut.

This might give the impression that we are unfriendly or unwilling to make an effort. However, that might not be the case; we may simply have specific criteria for making friends and prefer a small circle of close friends.

As a result, we get to know these inner-circle friends thoroughly, just as they get to know us. For example, if I had a list of 10 important facts about myself, I would expect anyone I call a friend to be aware of them. They would also be adept at discerning my feelings in most situations — they could tell when I’m sad, happy, or just so-so.

Because introverts tend to favor a close, tight-knit friend group, we become extremely comfortable around those friends, able to be ourselves.

For years, I spent much of my life faking it: putting on a smile, forcing a laugh, feigning interest in conversations about the latest TV shows, and so on. I’d be nice to new people while hiding my exhaustion and longing to be alone.

Being in a room full of outgoing people, where I feel obligated to make small talk, is overwhelming for me — it’s like having loud music blaring in my ears, leaving me agitated, anxious, and miserable. It’s not unusual for me to tune out.

However, with my inner-circle friends, there’s a level of trust that makes space for deep and honest conversations.

Over the last few years, as I’ve navigated through some tough times, these friends have been my support system, just as I’ve been there for them. We lean on each other through both good times and bad.

I Was Tired of Faking It

As we grow up, many of us are taught that being social is synonymous with being popular, and that being popular equals success. So, we try to meet society’s expectations: We form large groups of friends and exhaust ourselves with endless social engagements.

For me, alcohol became a social elixir to help me “fake it till I make it” — except all the faking made me realize I was tired of pretending. I didn’t want to be at a party surrounded by acquaintances, forcing a smile through small talk, as I took another desperate sip of my gin and tonic, my brain urging me to leave so I could curl up in bed, utterly exhausted from the pretense of socializing.

It’s not necessarily true that introverts hate parties. We can enjoy them sometimes, especially when we’re in the right mood or have a good reason to attend. However, we’d generally prefer a small gathering with our inner-circle friends, or just one friend, or even no friends — perhaps with a book or our favorite TV show instead.

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.

Now, I Happily Embrace Myself as an Introvert

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve navigated the fine line between not wanting to alienate people in my life and not wanting to invest a lot of time or energy in someone who I can’t see becoming a close friend. My barometer for choosing friends has been refined over the years — I know what kind of person will “get” me.

Now, I happily accept that I will probably always have a small circle of friends, and that’s perfectly okay for me as an introvert. 

You might like:

This article contains affiliate links. We only recommend products we truly believe in.