A list of stress-free tips to maintain a friendship as an introvert without draining yourself
Quick questions, have you ever:
- Let the call from a friend slipped to the voicemail?
- Made up an excuse when your friends asked you out at a party?
- Feared being left behind by your friends?
If your answers to them are mostly “yes”, you are experiencing the social dilemma most introverts are facing.
You want to keep your friendship strong without draining yourself. You crave me-time but sometimes feel lonely.
You make up your mind to do extroverting. But when you are in a crowded swirl and EDM playing in the background, your inner voice screamed, “BAD IDEA!”
Why introverts need closed relationships?
As an INTJ, this is a question I ask myself a lot.
If introverts thrive when being alone, can we be happy staying by ourselves? Why do we need friends at all?
If you have the same doubts, here are 3 reasons why introverts need friends as well.
- New ideas
As Ray Dalio said in his book Principle, open-mindedness transformed his perspectives from black-and-white to colorful.
As an introvert, you will do excellent working solo. But your coworkers, friends or family may be able to see things differently and bring in fresh perspectives. Whether you are solving a problem or working on any form of art, new ideas can spike creativity.
- Lower stress and better mood
One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night.
– Margeret Mead
Yes, you are introvert, but you are also a human being in the first place. And us humans are wired for connection. A shoulder to cry on can somehow turn a bad day around.
Just because introverts prefer thinking, it doesn’t mean we don’t need to express our ideas. Introverts love to share our observations and thoughts.
Maybe it will take a while for introverts to get ready, but it’s always good to have a sympathetic ear when the time comes.
If a close circle is so important, how can introverts cultivate a friendship without stressing out?
9 tips to keep a friendship strong as an introvert
Downsize your circle
More is not always the best. And if you need to keep up with 348 Facebook friends, it’s impossible not to freak out. As introverts, our social battery is limited. Don’t blame yourself for being selective.
Here are some questions to determine which friendship is worth the effort:
- Whose company do you enjoy the most?
- Who brings out the best in you?
- What qualities do you want from a friend?
- Among your friends, who match the qualities you value?
- Who is there when you have a hard time?
These questions may help to narrow down the friendship you want to cultivate. And don’t feel guilty setting aside the less meaningful ones. You don’t need all the people. You need your people.
Create casual occasions
Parties are great for meeting new people, but not necessarily helpful to strengthen friendships. The good news is, introverts don’t need a formal gathering to maintain a friendship.
Instead, suggest some activities that fit in both of your schedules. They can be:
- Having lunch together on a weekday at your favorite taco place
- Go grocery shopping together on the weekend
- Give them a ride to the airport for a trip
Try to find things in each other’s schedules that you can finish together. These get-togethers are usually short. But they provide just enough time to talk and keep up with one another.
A goal is merely a dream until you put a time and place on them.
Make a plan to talk to your friends for a certain amount of time each week. If it’s hard to make time for a call or a meetup, text them good morning, send a “wyd”. Let them know you care about them, and small efforts add up for significant results.
The following table may be able to help.
Share fun things
If you are introverted to the core, I bet that you have a collection of funny introvert memes and cat videos.
Don’t keep them to yourself! Share with your friend or Significant Other. People who laugh together stay together.
Be alone together
My best friend and I love hanging out in Starbucks.
I would be reading and writing while she plays mine crafts. We are together but not overwhelmed by each other’s presence.
As Laurie Helgoe mentioned in her book, these solitary activities help to maintain a relationship while keeping your stress level to the minimum. If parties and theme-parks are not your type, suggest these date ideas instead:
- Visiting a museum
- Watching a movie
- Going to the bookstore
- Working in the coffeeshop
One of the biggest misconceptions of introverts is that we are cold, distant and uncaring. And that’s far from the truth. We are just not comfortable with expressing our feelings.
Friendship thrives on trust. And being able to show vulnerability is a symbol of trust.
Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. If you struggle to be vulnerable in a conversation, here are a few starters you can use:
- Do you think I should…?
- I am not sure if I should…, what do you think?
- I am so stressed with…
Help your friends to understand your introversion
In the perfect universe, extroverts and introverts understand how each other functions. But in the real world, they don’t. Just like you don’t know why your extroverted friends love hanging out with strangers at 1 am, they don’t understand why you prefer books to beer.
To maintain a friendship or a relationship, it’s important to help your loved ones to learn about you.
Now take out a piece of paper and a pen. Write down the things you want your friends to know.
My list looks like this:
I want Lisa to know:
- Going to your birthday party is stressful for me. I know nobody there.
- Just because I want to be by myself some time, it doesn’t mean I am angry at you.
- I am not mad. I am tired.
Schedule a time to talk about your feelings or write them a note. When they make changes for you, be thankful and acknowledge their efforts.
Most introverts can pick up hints from words, micro-expressions and gestures. Overanalysing is something we have to deal with constantly.
“Ann peeked at me in the kitchen. Should I be there to help her out?”
“Josh didn’t say goodbye when I left the house. Was he low-key mad at me for leaving early?”
Introverts need to know that sometimes people get distracted. They may be thinking about their dogs at home or the call from the babysitter. And it’s not always about you.
Over-analysing only drains your energy and increase your anxiety for the next outing.
Say no but not saying no
Introverts turn down invitations, like a lot of them. When introverts are on their downtime, they want to be alone, even from close friends or their partners. But constant rejections do drive people away.
This format may help to say no to people softly:
“I can’t make it because I have to ________.
How about _______ next week?”
Instead of shutting down the invitation completely, leave the door open by suggesting another get-together. Use the “solitary activity” list in #5 and play to your advantage.
Did I miss anything?
When it comes to friendships and intimate relationships, introverts value quality over quantity.
A meaningful and close social circle is the support system. Pick one or two of these strategies at a time to cultivate your connections.
Leave a comment down below to share your tips on maintaining friendships as an introvert!