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Guest Post: Why introverts have (even more) trouble making friends

January 18, 2013 | By | 4 Replies Continue Reading

By Sophia Dembling*

Making new friends is difficult, especially for introverts. It’s not that we don’t like people or people don’t like us, it’s just that introverts are solitary by nature, and it can be difficult for us to break out and reach out to other people.

I was feeling lonely the other day and it puzzled me. I get a lot of invitations to stuff, especially on Facebook. I get invited to parties and club events, to art happenings and networking events and all sorts of more-the-merrier gatherings. Some I attend, many I don’t.

With all those invitations, I wondered, why do I feel so lonely?

And then it hit me: I get invited to a lot of extrovert events. These can be a good time when I’m in the mood, and sometimes I go to stuff just to stave off isolation. But an introvert’s dilemma is that we might not get a lot of invitations for the kind of socializing we like to do, which is the kind of socializing other introverts like to do. Because, let’s face it: we’re introverts. We’re probably all at home waiting to be invited to do introvert things. Which means of course, that none of us are getting the invitations we crave.

After all, which people are most likely to extend invitations? Extroverts. And those invitations are very likely to be for extrovert-friendly doings.

If you don’t have any introverted besties with whom casual get-togethers are easy – or even not-so casual get-togethers finding introvertish people to do introvertish things with isn’t all that easy. Do you see the Catch 22? The kind of people you want to hang out with are the kind of people who are perfectly happy hanging out alone.

Except after a while, even introverts are ready to get a little quality face time. And so there we all sit, in our rooms, waiting for an invitation that sounds just right to drift over the transom.

Except, bummer…it doesn’t happen like that. Unless you put some effort into nurturing specific relationships—relationships that might not be the easiest ones to develop with people who might not be easy to find—the invitations most likely to materialize are from people who invite everyone to the party.

It’s a predicament, one that only we can solve for ourselves. And that means putting on our big girl (or boy) pants and reaching out to likely suspects. Shooting an email to someone you might not know that well yet but would like to. Or the person whom you always enjoy but never seem to get together with. You know how every time you see each other you promise that you’ll get together for lunch soon? Soon is now.

I’m not suggesting this is easy. First it requires motivation. Then it requires gumption. Then it requires getting over any self-consciousness. Then it requires actually sending an email. (Because, after all, this is an introvert you’re inviting. The telephone wouldn’t be appropriate.)

Here are some tips: Don’t just suggest that the two of you “get together sometime.” You know that never works. Suggest something specific. Something introvertish. Lunch or drinks or dinner. The theater. A museum exhibit you’ve been wanting to see. In my experience, it’s a lot easier to say “yes” to a specific activity than to an ambiguous “let’s make a plan.”

The trouble with introvertish invitations as opposed to extroverted invitations is that they are a lot more intimate. They are not broadcast far and wide via Facebook. This makes them scary. They make me feel vulnerable. They have the potential to go all awkward on you.

But if they do work, then maybe—just maybe—the next invitation that comes your way will be for something you actually want to do.


*Sophia Dembling is a widely published author (and friend) who pens a popular blog on Psychology Today called The Introvert’s Corner (which I highly recommend). Based in Texas, she is also the author of a new book that is an excellent read if you think you have any tendency towards introversion: The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World.

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Category: Shyness and introversion

Comments (4)

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  1. Deidre says:

    Wise to suggest an actual activity rather than a “lets get together”. Or if the other person says “lets get together”, which can either be wanting to test the waters which is fantastic or just saying it but not meaning it, the best way is to ask when. Then suggest some dates and activities. If they happen to be busy advise what’s suitable for you, for example, most nights except Wed nights are good for me what’s good for you. Quickly either gets a firm arrangement or lets you know the person doesn’t mean it and don’t bother wasting your time.

  2. Sheryl says:

    You are so right…and I can so relate to everything you say! It IS a catch-22.

  3. Kristen A. says:

    I know that another problem that I have as an introvert is that it just doesn’t occur to me to issue invitations a lot of the time. I’m perfectly happy to eat out or go to a movie or the theatre alone, so unless a movie or play particularly strikes me as something that a certain friend would like to see, I probably just go. Then I find myself thinking “I haven’t gone out with anybody but my husband in ages,” and realize that I’ve done some things that could have been activities with friends, but I didn’t think about it at the time.

    I’ve already checked out The Introvert’s Way from the library and I’m looking forward to reading it when I finish another book I have that’s due first.

  4. L. Kelly says:

    Great advice in this post! I have another suggestion for meeting fellow introverts. Go to http://Meetup.com and search for what kind of gatherings are happening near you. Nowadays there’s a truly amazing assortment of small groups available–and by definition the people are relative strangers to each other looking to “meet up.” You can sign up for free and they will email you when a new event is scheduled. You can see who is attending the event and you can choose to go or just ignore it.

    I recently joined a “Game night” meetup (for people looking for others to play card and board games with) and a local “indie film fans” meetup. I’ve gone to one Meetup of each of them and guess what–almost everyone else there seemed to be an introvert, looking for ways to meet other nice people like them. Even if nobody there seems likely to become a bosom buddy, at least it introduces you to other folks to do things with (and via Meetup YOU get to pick the activity, not have to make do with some extroverted party planner’s ideas of a good time.)

    I’d be curious to hear what other Meetup groups people have sampled—or started!

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