How to make friends constantly changes throughout our lives. Two factors that heavily impact how we make friends is certainly our environment and age. The further we progress into adulthood the more difficult it becomes to form deep lasting friendships. As we grow and change the people we choose to have in our lives also change.
Despite being more connected than ever before, social isolation has become so prevalent than ever before. There’s is now even a ‘minister for loneliness’ in many countries. Health officials are also warning of a ‘loneliness epidemic’ after 43% of people admitted to feeling closed off from others.
The reason it becomes more difficult to make friends as an adult is because we simply have less time to invest into getting to know someone to form a meaningful friendship. We all have jobs which takes up a lot of our time, depending on where you are in your life some of us have husbands, wives and children all of which take up a majority of our time. Meaning it is more difficult having the time to make new friends and when you do, having the time to really get to know someone to form a deeper connection.
Couple that with our ever-changing world to the online space and things certainly become more difficult. Now imagine for a second you are an adult and introverted – now we have a layered approach to making friends. The simple reality though is that even introverts need friendships, often craving deep and meaningful relationships more than extroverts.
Science has shown the umportantnce of human connection and interaction for our mental and even physical health. So let’s look at some strategies on how to make friends as an adult introvert.
HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS AS AN ADULT
1. Start with the old
The easiest thing to do is to reconnect with old friends. As we all get busier we often tend to lose touch with people so one of the simplest things you can do is to reach out and reconnect with existing friends whom might have gone by the wayside. This can be a simple text to see how they are doing.
The beauty of this is that you already know what to speak to this person about and is already familiar even if it’s been years. It is of course important to evaluate why the relationship has grown distant and that it is in fact a healthy and mutually reciprocated relationship.
2. Invite current friend’s acquaintances.
Another easy way to make new friends is to ask your current friends to invite someone you might not know that is an acquaintance of theirs to your dinner party or coffee catch up. Changes are you will have things in common and there won’t be as much awkwardness as your current friend will be there as a “buffer”.
Group settings can also make it easier, especially if everyone brings someone new to the conversation.
3. Find a hobby
Finding a hobby in a social setting is a great way to meet new people with similar interests. Not only is it a great way to learn a new skill or do something you enjoy, it’s a great way to meet new people.
You are less likely to feel judges since everyone is there for the same thing that everyone enjoys. There is no need to reach for new conversation topics, the hobby itself is a great conversation starter.
4. Say yes
Next time you get invited to a work get-together or your neighbour invites to you a party, say yes. The simple reality is that unless you agree to meet with someone the chances of becoming friends are slim. Certainly don’t force yourself to do something you don’t enjoy, but also don’t hide away.
5. Share a personal story
People connect through stories and when you see the potential of someone becoming a friend, be brave and be the first to share a personal story. This is likely to encourage that person to relate on a personal level and share a story in return. This is how we get to know each other.
So in a work sense, if you are always keeping things professional when you meet up with someone, perhaps try reaching out and sharing something personal. People connect through stories, so if you keep yourself closed off, you’ll prevent those connections from forming.
6. Use an app
Free apps such as Meetup, Bumble and Patook are great ways to connect with people whom you have things in common with. People often find this an easy first step to get to know someone or take interest in a group online first.
– Bumble is an app with features for friends, business and dating. I personally prefer the other apps for finding friends since the way Bumble is set up for finding new friends still feels like a dating app. It feels superficial to me personally and as an INFJ that is never a great place to start, which I think most introverts can relate to. It does make it easy to switch between profiles though so that is good.
– Patook is an app that is strictly platonic, it filters out messages that aren’t platonic. It also offers a lot more information on a profile which can give you more of an idea of who a person is. It has a large diversified database of users so you are bound to find similarly minded people.
– Meetup is all about group activities. It is a great way to meet people with similar interests and in a lot of cases are made up of first-timers and people who also attend the event solo. When you find comfort in small numbers and find it less daunting that one on one meetings, then Meetup would be a good fit for you.
HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS AS AN INTROVERT
As introverts we need plenty of alone time and often get drained by lots of people. The key to note here though is that introverts get energised by the right people and those are the types of relationships we need to focus on cultivating. We have all experienced this I believe, the dread of spending time with people whom you don’t have much in common with, and then the reinvigoration you get from conversation that you are interested in.
I personally experience this all the time, when in conversation with someone you can connect with on a deeper level and engage with on topics of interest to you, I feel motivated and energised after. Which is quite the opposite of the majority of conversation.
So how do we go about cultivating those types of relationships?
1. Have faith that the awkwardness is just the first step, not the constant
The first step is always the hardest, as they say. As an introvert this is painfully true, but unfortunately it is the reality of forming any new relationship. The fear of the awkwardness is what stops most introverts from taking the first step, but there is no way around it. Plain truth – you have to go through it.
During this deliberation with yourself if you need to put yourself out there and get to know new people, hold on to the long term goal and knowledge of the joy you get from forming true friendships.
So be brave, remember the long term joy to be gained and most importantly – take action.
2. Be aware of your body language
A lot of communication is non-verbal so even though crossing your arms might make you feel more protected, this action can also close you off from potential connections.
Simple things you can do is by being aware of your posture, maintaining eye contact and smiling.
3. Come prepared with a strategy
The feeling of control over a situation is likely to make you feel more comfortable. For instance if you are going to a party you can come prepared with an exit strategy. Having this in the back of your mind will make you feel more comfortable knowing that you plan to leave after the cake is cut.
Another strategy you can employ if you often find yourself lost for words is to come prepared with a few talking points such as movies, sports and current affairs.
4. Move from passive to active in cultivating friendships
As introverts we too often take a passive role in meeting new people, half expecting it to just happen. Unfortunately you need to take action in making new friends or you might find yourself alone and isolated. I have experienced this personally, and believe a lot of introverts have as well.
The process of meeting new people can often fill us with self-doubt especially if you have experienced significant rejection, as many introverts have. All of this might have you feeling discouraged to even try, but passively sitting waiting for life to pass you by is not an alternative for rejection.
You must first take care yourself and your relationship with yourself which will then make the nervousness of making new friends less daunting since you don’t need external validation.
As we have established in our article on loneliness, we need other relationships for our physical and mental health.
True friends often become the family we choose. Even though it becomes more difficult as we mature into adulthood, these relationships are essential to our wellbeing. Most introverts will find that there might only be a hand full of people out there that fit the bill for those deep connections and that is okay. You will be glad to know when it comes to these relationships it is definitely quality over quantity.
The key to remember as an introvert however, is that youmust take action in order to cultivate these relationships. There are strategies, as we discussed, to help with this process, but you must take the active steps.
Meaningful relationships are not only needed, but they are scientifically proven to be good for you.
What can you do today to take small steps towards forming new friendships? In fact, if you have any suggestions, share it with our community in the comments below, they would love to know what you have experienced and found to work for you.