As I’m living the life of an introvert myself, I know from my own experience how hard it can be to make friends. Real friends. Those you can count on whenever something happens, who are there for when you need their help or advice and who would always have your back if you’re in a situation. Not that those situations would happen, since most of us introverts usually live a very calm and settled life but – you know – just in case! Who wouldn’t want to have a reliable friend like that?
Growing up as the introverted kid that I was (and still am), I definitely struggled with finding the right people and becoming friends with them! I used to be a very shy and reserved kind of person which – guess what – wasn’t really the easiest foundation to make any kind of friendships but I eventually figured it out and found a way around it.
So here I am today, explaining to you how to make real friends and connections yourself so you don’t have to read all the self-help books I read to learn the most basic things about how to make friends and maintain the friendships you have!
Initiating a new friendship:
I think this is by far the hardest part for an introvert and luckily enough, many introverts skip this step because we naturally attract extroverts into our lives who then will somehow become your friend without you even noticing it (what a blessing!).
But sometimes things aren’t this easy, especially if you spend most of your time far away from social settings and don’t necessarily interact with people on a daily basis. The good thing is, there are many ways of doing this and I know from my own experience, that I prefer a more subtle way of approaching people and initiating friendships.
My biggest advice though, before you even start to initiate any friendship, is to always look for like-minded people. You as an introvert have a great sense for people you would actually enjoy to build up a friendship with. Use it! What you don’t want to do is approaching people who are the exact opposite of yourself. This will only lead to problems and misunderstandings and make a friendship way more complicated and hard than it needs to be.
But if you do come across someone, for example at school, university or your workplace, that seems to have a nice energy that fits to your own, you don’t want to miss the chance to initiate a first connection.
What can you do?
- Stop by at where the person is sitting or standing and simply start off with saying “Hello”!
Don’t underestimate the power of a simple word like “Hello”or “Hi”. It’s by far the biggest door opener for literally any kind of conversation and can lead to the best friendships you have ever had. Add a little friendly smile and I assure you, next time you stop by, the person will be happy to see you again! Of course, you can always go further and ask things like “how are you doing”, but just go with what you feel comfortable with.
But – as I said previously – always look for people who fit your energy. If you struggle with that and tend to be friends with people that aren’t good for you or even treat you badly, I can recommend to read my blogpost on energy vampires and how to spot them! Click here. (So you always know from who to run away from.)
- Send the person a friendly direct message on whatever platform you desire to make the first step on.
But keep in mind that saying hello to someone in person has a different energy than sending someone a text message and that you have to be real quick with switching up the conversation onto a more personal level. Otherwise you will forever be stuck in this boring small talk chitchat with someone you actually want to be real friends with! My tips to make it more personal: Be interested and ask interesting questions! Show them that you actually care. And if you really want to start a conversation with a simple “what’s up”, be sure that you actually care about it. Same goes for one-on-one conversation.
- Repeat the steps as often as needed. Don’t give up, they won’t become your new friend right away. You first of all have to become visible to them and build a foundation to build a friendship on. Of course, you have to respect if they don’t want to become your friend but often many are just shy towards new people in the beginning (just like you are!), so give it a little time.
Maintaining a friendship:
This is the part which I struggled the most with because let’s be real: as introverts, we want to spend most of our time alone. I don’t want to meet my friends every day and I can assure you, that no self-help book will every get me to a point where I would try to make this a habit, because it won’t do me good! But I have to admit, that meeting your friends in person is actually the baseline for maintaining a healthy and two-sided friendship.
What can you do?
- Establish rituals with your friends.
What made this a lot easier for me was to establish rituals with my friends. For example, with one I would always go to the movies, with another one I would always go dancing and with the third, I would always go and get lunch together. Of course, you can mix things up, but this will help you to get used to meeting your friends regularly and gives you the opportunity to prepare yourself mentally for whatever your ritual looks like. No surprises, no anxiety. 😉
- Experiencing things together – it doesn’t matter what exactly – is really important.
This will create memories that will last forever and form a bond between you and your friend. The stronger and deeper the bond is, the more long-lasting your friendship will be. It’s really that simple! So always be sure to not only meet someone at someone’s house but also to go and be outside and do something together that is memorable, even if you’re only doing it once a year or so.
- Be honest & open with your friends.
Last but not least, I think the importance of being open and honest towards your friends is very underestimated by introverts. I underestimated that for such a long time myself but I can tell you from my own experience that telling your friends how you TRULY feel and what is REALLY going on in your mind is so powerful and deepens your friendships so much, you can’t even imagine!
I mean, with whom would you rather like to hang out with? Someone who never opens up towards you and has built an entire wall around them to keep you away from their private life or someone that just told you that they’re currently going through a very hard time right now and trying their very best to smile today?
Please, don’t be afraid of “burdening” other people with your problems. I assure you, they won’t see it that way and the majority of people really only want to help you. Of course, you don’t have to open up right away. (And please don’t do this in a self-pitying way!) You will know when the time feels right and if it does, don’t hesitate! Your friend will appreciate your honesty and be very grateful for trust. 🙂
I hope this little guide helped you out on your way of finding new friends and maybe even made you reconsider your current friendships and how you could possibly make them even better for you! Don’t be afraid of being the real you with who ever you are connecting with. The depth of your relationship with someone is totally depending on how far you let someone into your life and how much you share about yourself. Never forget that!