An Introvert’s Guide to Making Friends as an Adult

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Friends watching sunrise
Author Name: Beth Rush
Date: Thursday September 3, 2020

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If you’re an introvert, you probably didn’t mind the shutdown — at first. However, needing less social interaction than others doesn’t mean you like flying solo all the time. How do you cultivate new adult relationships? 

The bonds you create in adulthood have a depth and complexity your younger relationships lack. However, it does become more challenging to find others who share your vibe. Understand the factors behind the difficulty and learn how to make friends as an adult, no matter how shy you are.

Why Making Friends as an Adult Seems So Difficult 

If you think it’s hard to make friends as an adult, you aren’t alone in that sentiment. By the time folks reach age 21, most become set in their ways, and straying from the daily grind causes discomfort. Plus, those you meet through work may be in completely different life stages, unlike the times when nearly everyone you met was an undergrad.

When it comes to forming adult friendships, you need to make an effort. Maybe you can’t imagine yourself changing diapers — accept the invitation to your colleague’s baby shower, anyway. If you’re struggling to afford rent, discussions of mortgage interest rates probably hold little appeal. Express interest anyway. Who knows? You may learn valuable tips that you’ll need when your finances improve.

Does Being an Introvert Make Making Friends Harder?

You might think you are at a disadvantage for meeting new people if you’re an introvert. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most folks love to talk about themselves, so your active listening skills become an asset. All you have to do is ask questions and react to the replies. 

However, while expressing interest in others can grow your circle, it can leave you feeling like no one genuinely understands you. That’s where social media comes into play. Join groups dedicated to topics and causes that interest you. You can find chats devoted to anything from running a small business to knitting afghans. 

An Introvert’s Guide to Making Friends as an Adult 

If you’re an introvert who wants to expand their circle, the following ten tips can help you form new bonds: 

1. Think About Your Social Circles

If you find it hard to make friends, why not try networking through the folks you know already? You adore your work colleague, but you’ve always turned down her Pampered Chef party requests in the past because you don’t bake. Why not accept the invitation if only for the camaraderie? 

2. Be Open to Others 

As an introvert, you might unintentionally throw off unapproachable vibes without realizing it. Standing with your arms crossed or avoiding eye contact can make it seem like you don’t want to connect when you do. Have an objective third party observe your interactions and provide feedback on your body language and projected attitude. 

3. Find Friends at Places That Promote Similar Interests 

Social media can help you break the ice with others who share your political ideology or love for cats. However, to cement those bonds, you need to meet IRL — in real life. Remember, others feel just as awkward as you do when showing up to rallies or volunteering at the Humane Society. Once you take the first step by making your presence known, the awkwardness eventually abates. 

4. Ask Questions 

When it comes to adult friendships, you can’t rely on a mutual dislike of your 8 a.m. composition class like you did in college. To find out if you and another person “click,” you have to ask questions. Before heading to a networking event or after-work happy hour, prepare a mental list of safe topics to inquire about and start the conversation. 

5. Get Comfortable Talking About Yourself

As an introvert, talking about yourself is probably your least favorite thing to do. You’re acutely aware of how others may judge you. Start with opening up about insignificant things, like the latest TV show you can’t stop binge-watching, before moving on to weightier topics. 

6. Understand That Making New Friends Can Be Awkward 

Even folks who seem confident know that meeting new people involves a degree of awkwardness. When you accept that you will feel clumsy, you can admit it and laugh at yourself. This ability shows others that you don’t take yourself too seriously, which draws them to you. 

7. Check In With Yourself

Sometimes, you get so caught up in the everyday grind that you lose touch with yourself and your interests. Take a weekend to spend some time alone and ask yourself what you genuinely enjoy. Knowing yourself is a crucial step in forming lasting friendships. 

8. Avoid Social Burnout

Introverts often feel drained after social events — honor your need for solitude. If you force yourself to attend a networking session, reward yourself with a Haagen-Dazs and Netflix binge session the following evening. 

9. Establish Routines to Maintain the Friendship

Do you still keep in touch with your high school friends? If you don’t, it’s not because you stopped caring, but due to routines interfering. Create a ritual where you hang out with your new pal. If shutdowns cause separation, there are always Zoom happy hours. 

10. Avoid Rushing the Friendship 

Finally, once you find someone with whom you mesh, avoid the urge to rush the friendship. Doing so can end as poorly as eloping the day after meeting a new partner. Let things unfold naturally — insisting that you spend every weekend hanging out is a sure way to push a potential adult friend away. They have other responsibilities, too. 

Learn How to Make Friends as an Adult With This Guide 

It doesn’t matter how introverted you are. With this guide, you can learn how to make friends as an adult and expand your circle. For more posts on how to grow your social circle and improve your overall well-being, subscribe to the Body + Mind newsletter for wellness tips and advice.

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