As an introvert, and someone who attended a total of 10 (!) schools growing up, I know a lot about the struggle to meet new people. As a child, my environment and friend group changed nearly every year. More and more, I started to notice that the people around me seemed to know exactly where they fit in, while I drifted through acquaintances and temporary friendships.
Not only that, but I realized as a teenager that I was the epitome of an introvert: I enjoyed reflecting quietly by myself, felt overwhelmed in groups, and was extremely uncomfortable opening up to people quickly.
However, through these experiences and challenges, I’ve now learned a lot about how to make friends as an introvert with relative ease.
5 Tips for How to Make Friends as an Introvert
Making friends can be stressful for us introverts, but there are a few strategies and mindset shifts that can help you to start meeting people and forming real connections with others.
1. Embrace a Small Circle of Friends
First, be aware of your expectations when making friends. Do you dream of having a packed social life, with friends everywhere you go? Are you wanting to make a dozen or so new friends? Instead, consider embracing meeting a few new people and forming a smaller, stronger circle of friends.
It’s okay to be selective about who you hang out with. It’s okay to only make time for those who you feel comfortable leaving your introvert shell for. Start small, and take your time getting to know each individual person you meet. And similarly…
2. It’s Okay if Big Crowds Aren’t Your Thing
First let me say that there’s nothing wrong with being introverted. It just means that your social needs are a bit different than those who are more extroverted. And when making friends as an introvert, it’s important to get familiar with those needs!
For most introverts, socializing and meeting people in a large group setting only triggers our shy, quiet tendencies even more. Most introverts are very familiar with the feeling of being the silent listener at a group dinner, for example. While being an observer can be fun sometimes, it doesn’t allow others to get to know you. You may find, then, that avoiding big crowds and group hangs is best when trying to make new friends. Meet people one-on-one or in small groups, where everyone has an equal chance to speak and be heard.
3. Meet Your New Bestie Online
It’s common for people to have hesitation towards meeting people online – you likely know at least a few people who refuse to use dating apps. Just as dating apps can help connect people who would have never met otherwise, friendship apps can serve the same purpose.
Bumble BFF is one such app, where users can swipe left or right on potential friends’ profiles. You can read a short description about each person, look at their photos, and if you match, you can send private messages to get to know each other more.
There are also apps like Meetup, where groups meet and bond over a shared interest or hobby. You can find groups in your geographic area and RSVP to organized meet-up events. However, you may want to stick to small groups and groups that offer ample opportunity to interact with each other intimately – for many introverts, it can be overwhelming to go to big parties and chaotic events.
Even Facebook groups can be a great place to find like-minded people. Facebook groups can be especially helpful for those who are trying to meet others in their specific city. As an expat living in Japan, I’ve met roughly half of my friends from Facebook groups, such as a group for women living in Tokyo and a group for employees of a Japan-based company I used to work for.
4. Give Yourself a Break
When trying to make friends as an introvert, be aware of burnout. Socializing can be draining on introverts. Figuring out how to hold a conversation with a stranger and wondering what impression you might be making can take a lot of energy. This is why it’s so important to be gentle with yourself, give yourself breaks, and take days off.
I’ve made a personal rule for myself to not book more than one social plan each day. In the past, when I was desperate to make friends (and maintain the new friendships I was building), I would sometimes book two friends back-to-back in the same day. But this often resulted in me cancelling the second scheduled plan because I was too mentally and physically exhausted from the first plan that day!
Do yourself a favor, and expect that you will need time off. Make sure to give yourself time to relax after a new friend date, and consider scheduling entire days of solitude to yourself when needed.
5. Choose Your Friends Wisely
As an introvert, you likely realize that there are people who you can easily feel comfortable and authentic with, and others who you don’t. A myth about introversion is that introverts don’t open up easily to anyone. In reality, introverts are selective about who they show themselves to. If you feel uncomfortable with certain people, or if a new friend’s personality seems to overpower your quiet introverted energy, it’s okay to end the friendship.
Choose your friends wisely, and prioritize those who you feel most comfortable, authentic, and energized with.
Introversion is a Strength
Making friends as an introvert is different from non-introverts. But this introversion can be a strength and asset. For introverts, friendships are not typically formed spontaneously. They may require additional effort and time, but that’s okay! Remember to be intentional about what kind of new friends you want, and don’t rush the process. Making new friends may take more time for introverts, but the friendships formed are often much deeper and rewarding as a result.