Friendship As An Introvert

I’m not a great friend.  Or at least that’s what I used to think. The truth is… at heart, I’m an introvert. I love love LOVE being alone or with just my family.  My life and work have put me in  a place where connection, relationships and a fairly public existence require me to get outside myself and learn how to make friendship work successfully for an introvert like myself. So here are some things that help me do friendship as an introvert.

Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments afterward. I still have much to learn.

1.  Using “introvert skills” can actually HELP introverts connect with people in unique ways. For instance, praying for the people you care about and sending them an encouraging note to let them know they’ve been on your heart is much less draining for an introvert than hosting a dinner party or organizing an outing.

2. Create boundaries you can live with.  For me, this involves admitting that I will never be the kind of friend who can get together with people every day and night of the week.  I open up certain times for socializing and protect other times for recharging my introverted soul. “I can’t get together at that time, but I can do _____,” is a line you need to learn if you’re an introvert.

3.  Everyone has something to learn… and something to teach.  Not only are we wiser when we learn from other people, they might even gain something from us.  Consider that you are a gift to be shared, not locked away in solitude. This will, at moments, involve putting on your big-kid pants and expending some well-guarded energy into valuable relationships so you aren’t keeping all the good stuff to yourself.

4.  Define your friendships. If you like someone, but not enough to confide in them, that is okay. If someone is an energy drainer, do yourself a favor and proceed with caution. There are lots of kinds of friends and not all of them have earned your trust. That’s doesn’t make either of you bad or wrong.  Spend your friendship energy on relationships that are reciprocal and positive on both sides of the equation.

5.  Admit your need for privacy. Many extroverted folks among us genuinely love to be surrounded by people at all times, and those friends might never dream that being alone is actually a treat for an introvert.  So tell them, if necessary.  Let them know when you’re “peopled out” and they’ll most likely respect that, if they’re the kind of friend you want to hang onto.

I heard once that people are like Legos when it comes to relationships… some have lots of space for lots of connections like those big, wide Legos with all the round clicky-things. Others have less capacity.  Both kinds of people are essential for the big picture to work.  It’s a wonderful thing to find a good “click” but that only happens when you haven’t exceeded your capacity.

9 thoughts on “Friendship As An Introvert

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  1. I sure wish I had known earlier in my life that being an introvert was OK. I have come to love that part of me….but I do have to balance it with pushing myself to be with people. Great thoughts; great insights. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I especially like #4. “Spend your friendship energy on relationships that are reciprocal and positive on both sides of the equation.” This sort of releases me in regards to relationships that are only onesided. Instead of feeling like I am failing in some way, I need to focus on those relationships that are reciprocal. Thanks for the reminder.

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  3. As a fellow introvert, who has many times wished I was the opposite, I really enjoyed this blog. If you’re an introvert, then I consider myself in good company.

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  4. Thank you for this Emily! I bet most people can guess that I’m one. I read a book about personalities a while back and always remembered the part that said introverts are energized by alone time, and extroverts are energized by being around others, but agree that at times we introverts need to put on “big-kid pants” to nurish friendships. By the way, I appreciated you saying hello at BCC last Sunday!

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  5. I’m an introvert who grew up alongside an extrovert big brother. We used to look at the way each other behaved in complete bewilderment! When we spoke about it as adults, I admitted how much I used to envy his ability to walk in a room and make friends instantly while I was feeling uncomfortable, wishing I was at home. He then surprised me by telling me that he envied my ability to make lasting, deep friendships over a longer period of time.

    I have learned to be less shy and can quite happily lead a bible study or speak in a formal setting. I love spending time with real friends. However, the thought of attending a party with large numbers of acquaintances and total strangers still fills me with dread. If I need to go, I can cope but it is genuinely hard work. I also not only like being alone, I sometimes need it.

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  6. Thanks, Em! I love what you have to say here; I live it with you.:) I struggle to live ‘open-handedly’ with my time for exactly these reasons; sometimes it’s hard to follow God’s nudge when I just want to stay home with my hot drink & blanket.:) I know that God built me in such a way that I need time to reenergize, but I have to work to not ostracize myself. It’s a tricky balance! I’ve discovered recently that it’s important to communicate these things to extroverted friends who operate differently and may not understand at first. Thanks for being a fellow introverted friend!

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  7. I have suffered from a mental “problem” for years called Borderline Personality Disorder, part of which makes socializing difficult – in both directions! Sometimes I chatter, sometimes, I can’t get the words out.
    To be honest, I can’t really call myself an introvert or an extrovert. A lot of times, I don’t feel social, but I feel the need to be around people, even if we don’t talk.
    It can be scarey to be alone.
    So, I go to an online chat, where I can speak, or not, and still feel as if I am not alone. Or, depending on the people around, I can act like a total goofball, too.
    It works for me. It helps me be whoever I feel like being at the moment.
    Also? Online chats can be a good source of info – depending on the chat.

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  8. Wow! Strangely I feel a bit better about my introverted way of life just hearing everyone else opening up about it.
    I know I have done about every trick in the book to hang onto my time alone. “Not really happy to admit that”. true as it is.
    The strange thing about me is that I get charged and run at top speed while on stage singing.
    It’s like all the energy I have stored from my excessive reclusiveness has been unlocked from the depths of my very soul and I give every drop of love, and passion I have with in the time I am giving to the audience. “And I love it like a drug addict loves drugs” I love that high I get from the release.
    Then after I leave the stage and go home, or to where ever I am staying at. I am once more inward, reclusive, satisfied completely with my family and solitude.
    Thank you for sharing. It feels good to share sometimes.
    I will try some of your suggestions.
    God bless, Lisa

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