Friendship is one of the joys of life, but making friends doesn’t always come easily. Sure, there might be someone out there who has too many friends – you know, the sort of person who could charm Severus Snape into suggesting a coffee date. But most of us want to know how to make more friends – and that can be especially true for those of us who are Introverts.
According to our research, only 27% of Introverted personalities say they actively seek new friendships, compared to 68% of Extraverted personalities. And here’s the problem with that: making friends doesn’t happen automatically, especially once we’ve passed the age of summer camp and organized sports. So, if we’re looking to find new friendships – and even the most Introverted person in the world needs some social connection – we need to break from our usual routine and do something about it.
Sure, you might be thinking. But if I knew how to do that, I wouldn’t be reading this article. What can I actually do to meet new friends?
Dear reader, we’re so glad you asked. Without further ado, here are our top tips for Introverts on making friends.
Making Friends as an Introvert: 16Personalities’ Top Tips
Tip #1: Step Away from the Internet
Yes, we know it’s pretty rich for a website – especially one with such an awesome Community – to suggest that you put down your smartphone and go out into the world, but bear with us.
When it comes to social interaction, 67% of Introverts say they feel more comfortable talking with people online than in person. While you can totally make friends online, sometimes you just need to talk with someone face-to-face. Nearly half of our readers say that an in-person conversation relieves their loneliness more effectively than chatting online or by phone. That’s why, as convenient as texting or email may be, it’s nice to have friends with whom you can go on a walk or grab a cup of coffee. (Severus Snape, you in?)
So, if you’re looking to make new friends, why not step away from the computer and proceed to tip #2?
Tip #2: Do Your Thing – with Structure
Ready to hear another big difference between Introverted and Extraverted personalities when it comes to making friends? About half (48%) of Extraverts say they consciously seek out friendships with people who are “very different” from themselves, compared to just 29% of Introverts.
Now, you might worry that we’re about to pressure you to befriend people you have nothing in common with, but fear not – that isn’t our advice. Instead, why not lean into your inclination to search for kindred spirits?
One way to do this is to seek out structured versions of activities that you already do and enjoy. You can find such activities through the message board at your local coffee shop, meetup sites, or event pages on social media. At least in my experience, this is a much easier way to actually chat with people you don’t know. For example, I might not approach a random stranger at the bookstore, but if we’re both in line to get our books signed by my favorite author, I feel much more comfortable striking up a conversation.
If you love hiking, look for organizations (like the Appalachian Mountain Club in the eastern United States) that organize small group hikes. If reading is your jam, see if your local library or bookstore hosts book clubs or author events. And if you’re an avid crocheter or knitter, search for crafting groups. (True story: I met my first friends in my new hometown through the weekly “yarn café” at my town’s library.)
Here’s a secret: other people are looking for friends too. If you put yourself out there just a little bit to meet people who share your interests, chances are they’re also looking to make new connections. If you have trouble connecting with people the first time you show up, that’s totally fine. Keep attending regularly, and eventually, you’ll become more comfortable (and familiar) with the other regulars.
Tip #3: Wanna Be Startin’ Something?
But what if there aren’t any local groups for your interests and favorite activities? What if you’re a budding poet and your town doesn’t have any open mics? What if you love gardening, or sculpture, or dog training, or woodworking, or anything else that doesn’t really involve, you know, other humans?
In this case, why not start a group that fills the void you’ve just identified? Sure, this might sound scary, but it doesn’t have to be. After all, if you start the group, you can do it on your terms. Only free on Monday nights? Then you can start a group that meets on Mondays. Feel burned out after spending time in large groups? Why not start something small?
No matter what your favorite activity is (yes, even if it’s dog training), you can create a group for like-minded people. There are two types of groups you should consider:
- A doing group where you meet up to do an activity together, such as painting, hiking, knitting, or filling planters with flowers to place in front of local businesses.
- A discussion group where you meet up to discuss a common interest. This can take many different forms, from a writing workshop where you discuss one another’s work to a “master class” where you invite a master dog trainer to talk about the best and safest ways to teach dogs to jump through a flaming Hula-Hoop.
If you love something, chances are other people in your area do too. Those people will be so excited when they find out about your new group. For what it’s worth, I’ve also used this technique to make friends in my new hometown: I started a super-small writing group that meets once a month on a weeknight that works for me, and I couldn’t enjoy it more.
Tip #4: Time Travel
Chances are you’ve fallen out of touch with at least a few friends over the years because you’ve moved, changed schools, graduated, started a new job, had a baby, or any of a million other reasons.
That’s totally normal – we all get busy or have life changes that make it hard to maintain contact. But Introverted personalities might be more likely than Extraverted personalities to fall out of touch with friends: 41% of Introverts say they keep in regular contact with friends they can’t visit, compared to 58% of Extraverts.
So, just to play devil’s advocate for a moment, maybe you don’t actually need to make new friends. Try a little mental time travel and make a list of former friends you might like to get back in touch with – and then reach out. Something as simple as a text that says, “Miss you. How have things been?” can make all the difference.
Tip #5: Be Real
When we’re trying to make friends, we might think we need to be our absolute best self. Or maybe we worry that even our best self isn’t good enough – not funny or outgoing or attractive or stylish enough. There are a couple of ways to deal with that fear:
- By never ever trying to make friends. (Excuse me while I don’t make eye contact with you, overly friendly person at the coffee shop.)
- By forcing ourselves to be more sociable than we feel. (Excuse me while I transform into the overly friendly person at the coffee shop.)
You probably don’t need me to tell you that neither of these strategies is particularly effective at establishing lasting, meaningful friendships. But Introverted personality types might find it hard to present their real selves – warts and all – to their friends. While just 22% of Extraverts find it difficult to talk about a personal failure with their friends, 41% of Introverts find it difficult.
Think about it, though: What do you look for in a friend? Do you look for someone who’s super perfect and smooth and cool, the sort of person who’s never failed at anything? Or do you look for someone who seems honest and real?
With that in mind, here’s our final tip: remember, you don’t need to change yourself to make new friends. You don’t need to buy cooler workout clothes before you chat with someone at a yoga class, and you don’t need to change your taste in movies before you go to the local film society. And you definitely don’t need to pretend that you’ve succeeded at everything you’ve ever tried. In fact, you might have the best chance of attracting real friends if you let yourself be, well, yourself.
Bonus Tip: Find the Nice People
If you’ve read through the first five tips and still feel at a loss, here’s a final bit of advice: look for group activities that tend to attract nice people. Volunteering, for example, is a great way to meet people who have an interest in helping others. If you’re interested in learning something new, beginner classes tend to attract people who are humble and open.
Want to Grab Coffee Sometime?
So, fellow Introvert, which of these tips would you try? What strategies have you found helpful (or unhelpful!) when it comes to making friends? And do you know anyone who could charm Severus Snape into grabbing coffee sometime? Let us know in the comments!
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Chatting with a Purpose: Introverts and Small Talk
Well, That’s Awkward: Social Clumsiness and Personality Type