Learning how to make friends is a lonely undertaking that might leave you feeling awkward and tongue-tied. Exploring how to make friends when you’re an adult introvert is even worse. Even so, friendship is just three steps away.
Examine Your Need for Friendship: Why Do You Want To Learn How To Make Friends?
As an introvert adult, you enjoy solitary activities by choice. Nevertheless, friendship is a desirable element in your social makeup. Discern if you are looking for a best friend, with whom you share a large number of common interests and – in due time – a strong bond; conversely, do you miss having more lighthearted interactions that do not have the same intensity of close friendships?
Examples would be the coworker with whom you enjoy afternoon lunch, the neighbor whose backyard barbeque invites you occasionally accept or the deli clerk with her quirky stories of “the old country.” The desired intensity of the friendship determines where to start when learning how to make friends as an adult introvert. For example, a deep, intense friendship may be easiest to find when joining a spiritual community. Conversely, an acquaintance or pal is someone you can find just by attending lectures or events in your neighborhood.
Advertising Your Need: The Mortifying Part of Learning How to Make Friends
In her book entitled “The Friendship Crisis,” author Marla Paul points out that loneliness is far more widespread than you might want to imagine. For every person you see paired with a buddy or enjoying a lunch with a group, there are countless others you do not see, in part, because they are alone and see no reason to leave the home because of their loneliness.
Sure, you don’t want to wear a sign around the neck or come on too strong when proposing friendship; at the same time, it is perfectly acceptable to say “I’ve been looking for a workout buddy; do you want to time your exercise so we can do it together?” Recognize that the awkwardness is usually just in your head. Even if you are learning how to make friends for the first time when you’re an adult, the nuts and bolts of putting yourself out there are similar for those recently uprooted from home and transplanted to another, or anyone who went through the trauma of divorce and is rebuilding a life.
Approaching another human being and just starting a conversation might be your biggest challenge. In his book “How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends,” author Don Gabor encourages the use of the S-O-F-T-E-N technique. This essentially is an adjustment of your body language before you ever open your mouth.
Smile (as opposed to your regular facial impression of perhaps guarded interest), open your arms (rather than crossing them over your chest), lean forward (slightly and without imposing on anyone’s personal space), touch (such as via a firm handshake), make eye contact (keep it natural!), and nod to show you are listening and interested to hear more.
Committing to the Task: Learning How to Make Friends When you’re an Adult Requires Time Management
An introvert in need of friendship is likely just as busy as an extrovert; you may have a family to look after, a job to perform, a home to maintain and thousand other little odds and ends that keep you busy. It is tempting to shelve your desire for friendship under the guise of being too busy. If you are serious about learning how to make friends, you must commit to pursuing this task without letting your calendar offer you convenient excuses for quitting.
Get creative and take an adult education class in needlepoint, horticulture or chess to meet likeminded people and make friends; time Rover’s walk to coincide with your neighbor’s dog walking exercise in the morning; extend invitations for morning coffee at the local Starbucks or Coffee Bean. Additionally, broaden your commitment to making friends by involving technology. Is your ballet aficionado buddy on Facebook? Friend her! Does your racing pal have email? Keep in touch by occasionally forwarding a photo or article of mutual interest.
The Friendship Crisis: Finding, Making and Keeping Friends, Marla Paul, pp. 7, 17
How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends, Don Gabor, p. 22, ff.