Making friends as an introvert can be complicated. On the one hand, we sincerely do want to connect with people. On the other hand, we get really frustrated with all the obstacles standing in the way of true friendship.
We want the kind of friends you have when you’re a kid, when you can talk about everything or nothing and never bother with small talk. But as adults, it can be hard to make these kinds of friendships.
I hear from a lot of introverts who tend to attract loud, overbearing personalities. Even though they don’t really like spending time with such people, they tolerate the friendship. At times they feel like it’s impossible to find friends they actually like. I know exactly how they feel.
When I was younger, I spent a lot of time hanging out with loud, extremely talkative extroverts who didn’t know how to listen. These friends left me feeling drained and annoyed. Not only that.
It was really hard on my self-esteem. Being with big personalities made me feel small. I felt overshadowed and unheard. And yet, I honestly believed that was the best I could do. I thought I was too strange and quiet to make the deep and meaningful friendships I truly longed for.
As I learned to embrace my introversion and build confidence in my own quiet way, I realized my big mistake.
The biggest mistake introverts make
My biggest mistake when it came to making friends was taking on the martyr role. For some reason, I believed that being able to endure abrasive personalities made me a better person. If I got fed up, it was a sign of my own weakness, rather than an indication that we simply weren’t compatible.
I believed that walking away from unfulfilling friendships made me a jerk. I wasted so much energy on painful friendships that I couldn’t even imagine finding and nourishing true friendships. Nowadays, things are much different thanks to a few key steps I took to turn things around.
4 ways to make friends you actually like
Go from desperate to deserving
As Stephen Chbosky put it, “We accept the love we think we deserve.” This applies to all forms of love, including friendship. If you find yourself repeatedly settling for friendships that don’t feel good, consider why this might be.
Do you believe that you can’t do any better? Is there some small part of you that thinks you don’t deserve to have meaningful friendships, because you don’t think that you’re interesting or fun enough?
Maybe you feel like you don’t deserve a loving friendship because you are a bad friend sometimes. You wander off, need lots of space, and sometimes forget to call. When I did some digging, I realized that I used to believe all of the above. But then I started to shift my mindset by asking myself one question:
Ask yourself this one question
One of the questions that comes up again and again from introverts is, “why would anyone want to be friends with me?” Usually, introverts put a negative spin on the question, assuming that the only answer is “they wouldn’t”. They believe they have nothing of value to offer as a friend, but this is absolutely untrue.
Take a moment to ask yourself the same question, and then answer it from the perspective of someone who loves or has loved you. What would your best friend say that you bring to the friendship? More importantly …
What do you value in a friend? Chances are that you don’t love your dearest friends based on how witty and gregarious they are. You appreciate that they understand and accept you. You can trust them to listen to your problems without judgement. As an introvert, you likely embody all of these qualities and more.
Come out from the shadows
Did you know that big bright personalities can leave introverts in the shadows…for our whole lives? And the saddest thing is that many introverts choose to let overbearing personalities outshine us because we don’t know any other way to live.
But constantly spending time with people who drain and irritate you will only make it harder for you to find friends you actually like. It’s not selfish to come out from the shadows of overwhelming people. You deserve to shine, too.
Make the most of social connectors
All of this isn’t to say that outgoing extroverts are the bad guys. Introverts and extroverts can make wonderful friends if both people feel like their needs are being met. One of the advantages of having the right kind of extroverted friends is that they can connect you with others.
A social connector puts you in touch with people who share your interests. If you mention that you’re looking for a hiking buddy, they’ll go out of their way to connect you with their outdoorsy friends. If you are a foodie, they will mention so-and-so who is always game to try a new restaurant. The key is to find a social connector who has similar values and interests to you so they can connect you with the right people.
For more tips on how to make meaningful friendships. Download my Introvert Connection Guide — it’s free!
Over to you, innie friend
Can you relate to what I shared today? What do you find challenging about making friends, and what has helped you to connect? Please do share your thoughts in the comments below.
Lots of love,