Books, alone time, and silence–these are the three things that seem to represent an introverted personality.
Making up from about two-thirds to half of the world population, introverts are becoming more and more recognized nowadays, and researches about this specific personality in a society valuing extroversion have brought up many interesting facts and ideas.
However, let’s delve into a simpler, more personal aspect of introversion: friendship. Being friends with an introvert may be hard to you because they don’t often tell you what’s going on in their mind. They may seem too closed off, or hard to approach. If you are an extrovert, the differences can be surprising and difficult to understand.
To help out you improve your friendship with an introvert, here are 7 tips on for having introverted friends:
1. They like spending time being alone
It all boils down to the brain composition of many introverts. Their brainstems maintain a higher stimulation level than extroverts, and thus, introverts do not need to socialize as much as extroverts to regulate this stimulation level. Moreover, too much socializing can cause introverts to feel stressed and burnt out.
As a result, introverts like doing activities that don’t require the presence of other people–namely, reading, watching television, writing, and more. Of course, not all introverts are alike, but understanding that alone time is something introverts value will allow you to be a better friend to introverts.
2. Silence doesn’t equate to boredom.
Introverts tend to be seen as shy and reserved. While this fact may be true, it does not apply to all introverts. In a conversation, you may wonder why your introvert friend is being so quiet, and your mind starts to guess—are they bored? Are they listening? Why aren’t they talking with me?
Do not fret. Often, introverts need some time to formulate a response in their mind, in contrast to extroverts who can speak what they think instantly. Furthermore, introverts are listeners. They prefer to hear what you want to share. Of course, they would like to contribute to the conversation too, but they usually wait until the right moment.
3. They may refuse your invitation to hang out
There’s a reason why your introvert friend doesn’t often accept your invitations to hang out, especially if it’s a last-minute one. Introvert feels energized from being alone, while excessive socializing saps their energy. Inviting them to go out with you is an offer that introverts appreciate, but usually decline.
Since they need time to mentally prepare themselves for social activities, it’s better if you ask them in advance—at least a day or two.
4. They often are not open about their thoughts and feelings
Introverts guard their personal feelings carefully, more because they prefer to keep things to themselves. They don’t want to burden other people with their problems, because they think that they’re responsible for the solutions. It doesn’t mean that they never express their feelings, however. Sometimes, they will tell you, which signifies that they trust you greatly. Sometimes, they find other outlets to express themselves, such as writing and painting.
Moreover, if your introvert friends seem expressionless when both of you are engaging in a conversation, it may be because they are paying too much attention to you and forget to respond appropriately. Rest assured that it’s unlikely an introvert would ignore you.
5. Cheer them up with an activity that doesn’t require much energy
As said before, introverts ‘recharge’ themselves by being alone, which means that individual or small-group activities benefit them most. If you find that your introvert friend is more drawn in, or more quiet than usual, you can help brighten their day with activities that don’t require them to leave their home. Perhaps you can come over just to read a couple of books, binge-watch a drama series, or just hang out. Your introvert friend will appreciate your presence in in addition to the fact that they won’t have to socialize much.
A tip for doing this is not to surprise your friend: make sure to inform them of you coming over, and do not overwhelm them with too many people. A few close friends should be enough.
6. They like talking too, just a different sort of conversation
In contrast to popular belief, introverts can be talkative when they encounter the right topic. They often dislike small talks and mindless chit chats, preferring to engage in conversations that would allow them to know more about the person they’re talking to. As author Diane Cameron says, “Introverts crave meaning, so party chitchat feels like sandpaper to [their] psyche.” Not to mention, small talks can sap introverts’ energy quickly since they often feel stress about maintaining the conversation.
As a friend of an introvert, you can avoid this problem by asking something more specific, so that your introvert friend can produce something other than one-word answers. Questions such as “What are you looking forward to this weekend?” or “What’s something interesting that happened to you last week?” are better than a simple “What’s up?”
7. Text instead of call
For introverts, an unexpected call feels like a friend suddenly arrives at their doorstep without warning. Often, it surprises them in a negative way because they aren’t mentally prepared to socialize with others at the moment their phone rings. They might pick it up, or they might not–likely the latter option.
To introverts, texting can sufficiently deliver any messages you would like to, so utilize that instead of calling.
All in all, being friends with introverts can be rewarding if one knows how to maintain the relationship and take care of one’s friends. Keep in mind that communication is important in order to reduce misunderstandings and that no introverts are the same. This is just a guide to help you realize certain significances in befriending an introvert, and in the end, you know your friend best.