When you’re an introvert by nature, trying to make new friends can feel hopeless. All the things you have to do to make new friends—attending social events, approaching new people, talking to strangers—might sound nightmarish to you. But the good news is it’s totally possible to widen your social circle even if you generally keep more to yourself. Here are a few tips to help you out.
Find like-minded people. Making friends when you’re introverted can definitely be daunting. But the process can seem a little easier if you aim to make friends with people who share similar interests to you or are like-minded. If you share common ground with someone, it’s naturally easier to find things to talk about and bond over. So how do you find like-minded people to be friends with? You could try joining a club or organization. If you like sports, join a social sports team. Or if you like reading, join a book club. It’s easier to approach and get to know someone new if you already have a few things in common.
Try something new. To find friends as an introvert, Healthline recommends pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and trying something new. You never know what interesting people (and potentially great friends!) you’ll meet by putting yourself in a brand new environment. It might be signing up for classes to learn a new skill. Or volunteering with a charity. The more people you meet and connect with, the better chance you’ll have of making new friends.
Manage your anxiety in healthy ways. Making new friends can cause anxiety. That’s even more true for introverts, who tend to feel more comfortable keeping to themselves. If social anxiety or generalized anxiety is an issue for you, try to manage it in healthy ways. Adopt a deep-breathing routine you can use in highly stressful moments. Or talk about your anxiety with a licensed therapist. By addressing the anxiety element, you’ll have one less obstacle in your way to making new friends.
Stay charged with lots of alone time. Society tends to be geared towards extroverts, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with being introverted. It’s totally okay to prioritize your alone time. In fact, it’s especially important to keep up that me-time when you’re trying to make friends as an introvert. Having quiet alone time is likely to leave you feeling re-charged. So when you do socialize or put effort into meeting new friends, you’ll be your best self.
Accept invitations to parties and gatherings. Meeting new people as an adult can be really hard. But there are also times when opportunities to make new connections just fall into your lap. In the past, your first instinct after getting invited to a party might have been to decline. See what happens if you start accepting more invitations. Obviously, you never have to attend an event that you’re really uncomfortable with. But making more of an effort to socialize and put yourself out there will give you more opportunities to meet new people.
Engage in small talk. As an introvert, you probably hate small talk. Sorry to say it, but small talk can be the first stepping stone in making a new friend. While some people will be comfortable enough to jump right into pouring out the intricate details of their life to a stranger, most want to start with small talk. It helps if you have a list of topics up your sleeve that you can bring up with a co-worker, a classmate, or even the person who makes your coffee.
Remember that you’re likable. A huge part of being able to make friends, no matter who you are, is knowing that you have something to offer. Despite what’s happened in the past, you are likable and worthy of friendships. People aren’t obsessed with your flaws the way you think they are. And we’re all flawed! Remember that there are millions of people out there who would love to be your friend if they could. So don’t approach people with the attitude that you’re not good enough to be their friend. You are!
Aim for a few great friends, not infinite average ones. If you’re actively trying to make friends, you might feel like you have to try and form a friendship with every stranger you meet. Remember, though, that friendship is about quality, not quantity. It’s better to have a few great friends than infinite crappy ones. Meet some new people, engage in some small talk, and see which conversations naturally progress. A budding friendship will feel right with some people and wrong with others. Don’t push it with the people who won’t make good friends. But do keep spending time with the people who are easy to spend time with until a true friendship grows.
Make an effort to build your new friendships. Once you’ve met someone new and gotten past the initial conversation, the next natural step is to start spending time together. It might be inconvenient or anxiety-inducing, but try to make the effort to see the person you’re trying to build a friendship with. Go for walks, out for dinner, or out for drinks. The more time you spend with them, the quicker the friendship will naturally bloom.