Want to know how to make friends as an adult introvert? The trick is to engineer your circumstances and environment so you’re getting to know people with whom you share either common interests or values.
When you’re in school, be it elementary or college, making friends is relatively easy. After all, all day every day you’re surrounded by people. Within those potentially thousands of people, you’ll find YOUR one or two people. These people might not be the same people on the first day of school as they are on the last, but circumstance helps bring you together, and your shared environment helps keep you together.
Then you have kids, and again it’s reasonably easy to make friends, because now your children create that world of circumstance and environment. You talk to the other parents at drop offs, pick-ups and school events, this turns into pop in for a coffee. When your child’s new friend drops them at home, you ask the parent if they’d like to come in, and eventually you find your people again.
And then your kids start high school, and they banish you from being within 100 feet of the gates. Your child certainly doesn’t need to be picked up and dropped off anymore. So there goes that option. You change jobs, maybe even change towns, and suddenly you find yourself alone.
As an introvert, this may not feel too bad for a while. I mean, I don’t know about you, but episodes of Friends, where they lived in each other’s pockets, always seemed to me like an exquisite form of torture rather than an aspirational goal.
But then things change. Even though your husband is your best friend and the person you enjoy spending time with the most, you miss that female friendship. Heck, sometimes you just want a different perspective on a problem, someone to go to that chick-flick with you, or just a regular good gossip. You have gone from feeling alone to a little lonely.
But how do you make friends now?
Before I offer my five ways to make friends as an adult introvert, I’m going to tell you one way to NOT make friends – and that’s through pure social events like dinners, parties and weddings.
Getting out there and getting social is common advice, and of course there’s always an exception to the rule, but for most of you this is going to be a large waste of time. Why? Because as an introvert, you’re going to gravitate to those people you already know and spend most of the night sitting in a corner talking to them until it’s safe for you to say you’re going home.
You need a different approach.
For you, making friends comes down to knowing yourself.
Firstly, as an introvert, you’ll be best suited to having a friend who is another introvert. Otherwise, it’s going to cause issues with expectations. So don’t even bother looking at the woman surrounded by five others, talking about the party she went to in the weekend. She might be fun, but she’s not a good fit for you.
Secondly, your time and energy are precious and you see friendships as addition to your life rather than fundamental to it. You want your time to be purposefully spent, and that includes time spent -with friends. The best way to achieve this is to double down: focus first on activities you either have to or want to do, and focus second on finding friends through those activities.
Because how you make friends as an adult introvert is by leveraging those things I talked about before – circumstances and environment. Your future friends are people who already share your values and interests so it’s a matter of you putting yourself in the position to encounter them
Make friends as an adult introvert through work
Because it has both circumstance and environment in spades, work is the easiest and most obvious place in which to make friends as an adult introvert. You can help yourself make friends by doing the following:
- Taking the time to get to know people, rather than panic and try to make friends straight away. Working out who those people are who are similar to us isn’t the job of a day or even a week. In addition, people may not be like they first appear, so you want to observe them in a range of situations. You want to avoid making friends with the office gossip, for example, unless you’re comfortable watching everything that comes out of your mouth.
- Eating your food in the shared kitchen space, even though your instinct it to eat at your desk. Don’t worry if you have to sit by yourself to start with. That’s why we have cell phones. People will come sit with you, and when they do, put the phone down and ask them how their day is going.
- Asking for advice. You may think that asking for any form of help may make people think you don’t know what you’re doing, but research shows that asking people for advice actually makes them like you more. So if there’s someone who you think you could be a good fit with, go ask them about something they can help you with – even if it’s the best thing to order for lunch from the local café.
One tricky thing with workplace friendships- remember that if your workplace has a formal, or even informal hierarchy, that your friendships can have an effect, and in some cases a negative one, on this. Your friendships will work best when they are with people at the same level as you, working in a super-close proximity, or are in another department altogether. For example, when I was a Head of Department, one of my good friends was another Head of Department. Another good friend was my assistant. While I was friendly with all my staff, my out-of -work friendships were restricted in this way.
There’s some really good reasons for this. How is it going to work if you suddenly have to call your bestie into your office to reprimand them? Will you be able to do it and what effect will it have on the friendship? In addition, how will other members of your team feel if they are aware of your close relationship with your work subordinate? Will this have implications on how approachable they find you? Will you inadvertently be creating cliques?
Despite all this, work friends can make for happier days, and depending on your needs, might be all you need – someone to chat with over lunch and sit with through meetings.
Make friends as an adult introvert through wellbeing
Regular exercise goes a long way toward alleviating the symptoms of anxiety and even depression. One way you can make friends is through participating in wellness activities, thus killing two birds with one stone. If you’ve tended to do your exercise by yourself, or currently do no exercise at all, the first step is to decide how you’ll put yourself out there. The most obvious way is to attend a program at the gym, or a structured dance, yoga or Pilates class.
Alternatively, your town might have weekly runs that people participate in either later in the evening or in the weekend, or a local hiking group that meets once a month. Sports are also a great way to make friends if you’re that way inclined, and they don’t have to be at a competitive level. Our local high school hosts a table tennis meet-up once a week that has high community involvement that both my son and husband enjoy attending.
Make friends as an adult introvert through hobbies
Now might be the time to really get into that hobby you’ve been thinking about, and this is a perfect way to make friends. Some of my best adult friendships came from when I was heavily into romance writing and belonged to a national association of romance writers that had local chapters. Once a month we would meet to critique our work and talk about all things writing. The meeting was two hours from my home. A new woman to the group lived in the same town as me and offered to drive us there. We still laugh at how I brought a book in the car in case we had nothing to talk about. However, we clicked straight away and discovered a shared love of movies, which was something her husband hated. I was single at the time and my children spent one week living with me and one with their father, so on the “off” weeks, my friend and I would go to the cheap Tuesday session of the movies. This friendship helped me through some of the hardest times of my life, including cancer and divorce, and it all came about because I had a desire to write about love!
Other hobbies such as cooking, craft-work, even gardening, often have clubs associated with them that you can join and put you into the perfect position to meet future friends. In addition, once you have connected with people, you have the perfect buddy with whom to further explore that hobby. For example, your friend from garden club can go with you on a garden tour and so on.
Make friends as an adult introvert through Facebook groups
Facebook groups are perfect ways for introverts to make friends as there are groups on anything and everything you can think of. Finding a group can be as simple as searching for one in Facebook’s search bar for topics you are interested in such as home organization or marriage.
Other ways are to look at the pages you like and see if there are groups associated with them. There are often Facebook groups associated with podcasts and many bloggers also have Facebook groups. If you’re all fans of the same person, chances are you will share some common values and ideas.
I also belong to are private groups that come from paid courses. These are often focused and supportive, and often understand what unique struggles you are facing.
Once you’ve found some groups, you still need to be discerning. In For better and forever: A marriage resource for wives, I talk about the criteria I assign to group membership, which is basically that they should be encouraging, motivating, inspiring, and also drama-free. In addition, I recommend that you limit your group membership to between two and five where you’re an active contributor, as they can truly become a time suck. Turn the notifications off the others and check in only when you need to.
Make sure you follow the group etiquette by obeying any rules of the group. It’s common practice to introduce yourself when you first join (there’s often a thread for this purpose), so do that and then sit back and watch. You’ll get to know people through their comments. If something strikes a chord then like their posts and comment on them. Once you feel comfortable you can ask questions yourself. It takes longer than in real life, but genuine friendships can be made from these groups, and many will suggest local meet-ups too, so again, if that happens, tell yourself
Make friends as an adult introvert through creating your own tribe
The final way you can make friends is through creating your own tribe. This is a way in which you can get to know acquaintances and then potentially go to real friendship. Create your own tribe by inviting a group of women to a specific, structured activity that meets at a regular time. Some ideas are:
- A self-improvement bookclub that you host in your home
- A movie club, where you attend a movie once a month
- A lunch club, where one person takes turns providing lunch for the others
- A high-tea club, with lace tablecloths and fine china that you take turns hosting
- A craft club, where you work on your crafts and get help and ideas from each other.
When you’re an adult introvert, it can be really hard to make new friends. The trick is to engineer your circumstances and environment so you’re getting to know people with whom you share either common interests or values. When you can meet people when you’re engaged in activities that have intrinsic benefit all by themselves, it will satisfy the need you have to spend your time purposefully. What’s more, the regular schedule of many of these activities also appeals to your desire to plan things in advance.
Have you got any other ideas for making friends as an adult introvert?