For many of us, making friends isn’t easy. We’re content to stay at home, by ourselves. And we’re happy like that … most of the time. But there can be times when our solitude begins to feel like a cage.
Wanting friends does not mean you aren’t an authentic introvert. Wanting new friends (or a friend) just means you aren’t a misanthrope.
So if you’re out of practice or are out of ideas, here are a few things to keep in mind about making friends as an introvert:
- Realize that you want to make friends. And not just “kind of want.” “Kind of” doesn’t make things happen.
- Ditch a desperation mindset. Turn desperation into hope.
- Make a list of 5 places people with your same interests go (in person or online). If you have no interests make a list of where anyone goes when they leave the house or chat online. You can find a friend at your work’s cafeteria, in line at a grocery store, at a friend’s party, volunteering at the animal shelter, on Facebook in the form of an old classmate, in chat rooms for readers of Sherlock fan fiction, etc.
- What mindsets need to change in order to show up to that place with an open and nonjudgemental (of yourself or others) mind, and with the only expectation being that you will meet people, not that you will make a friend.
- Make sure you factor in enough downtime before and after you get out there.
- Realize that for most people, friendships can take a while to form. Don’t push a possible friendship. Do acknowledge and be interested in other people and they are saying. You may click with a few people the first time, you may click with no one. So start showing up places with no expectations. You don’t have to impress anyone, you don’t even have to talk to anyone. The first step is showing up.
- It’s ok if you’re anxious about going to new places and doing new thing. It’s ok if you’re shy. Just don’t let those things control your life.
- Learn to tolerate smalltalk. I know, it’s the bane of our existence, but conversations have to start somewhere and most of the time it’s with smalltalk.
- Be open to others. If someone smiles, smile back. Sometimes that’s the end of the interaction. Sometimes the smile turns into a conversation. Sometimes it turns into an annoyance (like being hit on or asked for money). But you’ll never know if you don’t smile back.
- Have a plan. What are a few ways to express an interest in the other person? Can you ask them if you can connect on Facebook? What about giving them your email and telling them that you’d love to keep in touch. If the person is likely to be in the same place the next day or the next week (like a store clerk or a fellow volunteer) you can end a conversation with “see you next week!”
- Don’t take rejection personally. Do you want to be friends with everyone. If you’re an introvert, I’m guessing the answer is a big No. The person you’re talking to may have too many friends as it is. They may be a sociopath misanthrope. You have no way of knowing so it’s best not to guess and take it personally.
- Realize that hard things get easier the more you practice. Don’t give up.
Having no friends is nothing to be ashamed about, and wanting a friend (or new friends) is nothing to be ashamed about either. There are friends out there for you, but you may need some patience, luck, and a whole lot of showing up until you find them. It’ll be worth it.
p.s. Did you know I’m collecting signatures to challenge dictionaries which define introvert as shy? Go here to sign: http://introvertology.com/500-petition-signatures/