“I have an introverted friend who seems to like spending time with me, but he’s pretty quiet. Sometimes I’m not sure whether I’m making him uncomfortable because I can be quite extroverted. How can I make our friendship work?”
Unlike extroverts, who are often portrayed as people magnets, introverts tend to be more quiet, shy and reserved. This can make them harder to read, approach, and befriend. If you need help understanding and dealing with an introvert friend at work, in school, or in your existing friend group, this article can help. It includes tips and strategies for being friends with an introvert and will provide information to help you better understand people with this personality trait.
Making friends with an introvert may take a little more time and effort than it would with an extrovert, but in the end, it may be a richer relationship. Being in the small inner circle of an introvert’s world means you have earned a special place in their life. Below are some tips on making and keeping friends who are introverts.
Introverts really value their personal space and privacy, so it’s important to respect their boundaries. This means not showing up unannounced at their home and not bringing surprise guests along without letting them know in advance.
Introverts often need time both before and after social events to prepare and decompress. This means you should avoid making any pop-up visits or throwing a surprise party for them, as they may feel overwhelmed by these last-minute plans.
Introverts spend a lot of time in their own inner world of thoughts and feelings and may be quiet in groups of people. This can lead them to be misunderstood by others, who may be offended by their silence.
Instead of asking, “why are you so quiet?” or assuming they are upset, try assuming your introverted friends are just naturally quiet. Being quiet is normal for them and doesn’t mean they aren’t listening or engaged.
Introverts tend to feel less overwhelmed when they interact with people 1:1 or in small groups. Consider asking your introverted friend to hang out in a quiet setting where you can talk, like at an uncrowded cafe or at a local park. These low-key settings are often just their speed and also offer opportunities for deeper conversations.
When an introverted person feels overwhelmed in a social situation, they may leave early, decline an invitation, or even back out of existing plans. While this can feel personal, it is more likely to be a sign that they are feeling nervous, overwhelmed, or just need some alone time to recharge. Try not to take it personally when this happens, as they are probably just taking some needed personal space.
Introverts can be quiet and reserved and often need someone a little more extroverted to draw them out by asking questions or initiating conversations with them. Because they may not speak up unless asked, opening the door to a conversation can help move your friendship forward. It’s usually best to start with more superficial topics and work up to deeper or more personal topics as trust develops.
Some questions to get to know an introvert include:
- What do you like to do in your free time?
- Do you have a lot of family around here?
- What kinds of shows and movies do you like?
- Tell me more about what you do for work.
Not taking time to make new friends is one of the top reasons adults make fewer friends than younger people. Spending quality time together is important for developing and maintaining friendships.
Here are some ideas of how to spend quality time together:
- Have deeper conversations rather than sticking to the surface
- Share meaningful or memorable experiences together
- Show up when it matters or when they need your help
It can be healthy for introverts to expand their comfort zone and learn to act in more extroverted ways. In research, extroversion has been linked to higher levels of social status and success, proving that this is a valued trait in our culture.
Here are some ways to help an introvert expand their comfort zone:
- Invite them to try new things or go new places with you
- Ask them to help you co-host a small gathering
- Encourage them to participate more in social events or group conversations
- Introduce them to some of your other friends
If you are a person who is naturally more extroverted, it will be important for you and your introverted friend to find a balance in your relationship. This may mean making some compromises to find ways to spend time together doing the things you each enjoy.
Some examples of ways to find this balance include:
- Taking turns choosing activities
- Both of you agreeing to try things the other likes
- Spending 1:1 time as well as time with groups of friends
While you may need to make some changes to accommodate your introverted friend, it’s also important for them to meet you in the middle. If you are naturally more extroverted, you may need to be clear about your expectations in friendships with an introvert. Otherwise, you may not get your emotional needs met, and the relationship can become balanced and unhealthy.
Some examples of things you may need to ask your introverted friend for include:
- Letting them know it’s really important to you that they show up for a specific social event, celebration, or party
- Asking them to make more of an effort to call and reach out to you, instead of you always being the one to call
- Asking them to make a speech or to play an active role in your wedding
Introversion is a personality trait that develops in childhood and remains more or less fixed throughout a person’s life. Most of us need close relationships to be happy, but introverted people tend to meet their social needs differently than extroverts, with extroverts seeking out more social contact. Extroverts feel energized when spending time with others, whereas introverts often find social situations draining.
Some of the traits, habits, and qualities of an introvert include:
- Disliking small talk or superficial interactions
- Becoming fatigued or drained by social activities and interactions
- Disliking a lot of stimulation
- Needing alone time to recharge after social occasions
- Preferring solo, low-key, or quiet activities away from noisy or very stimulating environments
- Liking to connect 1:1 with people or in small groups vs. large groups
- Often engaging in deep, reflective thinking and introspection
- Disliking being the center of attention, preferring to observe
- Prioritizing quality over quantity when it comes to friends
- Being slow to warm or open up with new people or in groups
It’s important to know that being introverted is not the same as having social anxiety. Social anxiety is not related to temperament and is instead a common, treatable mental health condition that some people overlook. People with this condition tend to have an extreme fear of social interactions, rejection, or public embarrassment and may go to great lengths to avoid interactions.
Introverts sometimes get a bad reputation for being stand-offish or antisocial, but this is often untrue. In reality, introverts deeply value their friendships but also need quiet and alone time to recharge after being social. Being friends with an introvert can be difficult, especially for people who are naturally more outgoing, but it can still be deeply rewarding.
As long as both people are willing to work a little harder to relate and connect, introverts and extroverts can become great friends and can even help to keep each other balanced.
Introverts tend to prefer deeper connections over superficial relationships, which sometimes results in a higher quality friendship. Introverts make great friends because they are careful in selecting their companions and highly value the people they choose to spend time with.
Opposites can attract, and introverts and extroverts can actually help to balance each other out. Quiet friends can help an extrovert find ways to slow down and relax, and outgoing friends can challenge an introvert to expand their comfort zone.
How do I get along with introverts?
Getting along with introverts is the same as getting along with anyone. Show them kindness, respect, and curiosity. It may just take a little more time and patience to get an introvert to warm up to you than it would take for someone more outgoing.
Why is it so hard for introverts to make friends?
Some introverts may prefer to be alone because it takes more energy and effort for them to be social, which can put them at a disadvantage when it comes to making friends. Because they often have solitary habits, they may even feel more content being alone.
Can two introverts be friends?
Introverts can be great friends to each other as long as one or both people push themselves to reach out and connect in the beginning. If they can get through this initial phase, they often have an innate understanding of the other’s need for space, privacy, and alone time.