You’re having a lovely day when you get a text from a friend: “Are you mad at me?” You’re confused. You’re absolutely not mad at her, and you tell her exactly that. “OK, cool.” She responds. “Wasn’t sure when you bailed on happy hour the other night.” Ughhhhh. The complexities of introversion strike again. As an introvert, it can be tough to get your extroverted friends to understand that the reason you duck out of parties without saying goodbye and occasionally turn down invites isn’t because you love them any less. Read on for three ways introverts can strengthen their friendships.
1. Be Open About Your Needs
Put yourself in your friends’ shoes: If you had a pal who turned down invites or wasn’t always responsive over text, you might get annoyed or offended. With no context, some normal introverted behavior can come across as standoffish, disinterested or worse—rude. That’s why it’s crucial to be honest with your friends about your introverted tendencies. Explain that introverts usually prefer to be alone or in small groups, they think (a lot) before they speak and just because they’re being quiet doesn’t mean something is wrong. When you decline an invite, let them know that it’s not a personal thing. Promise. For introverts, social interaction can be draining, and once our social energy is depleted, it’s not only hard to fake it, but it takes time to replenish. In this case, it really isn’t them—it’s you. The more that your friends understand your social interaction-related quirks, the more understanding they’ll be.
2. Make the First Move
Initiating plans might not be your favorite thing to do, but it puts the ball in your court. When you’re the person to reach out to a friend (or couple of friends), you can set the tone of the type of gathering you’re comfortable with. If you wait for an invitation, there’s no telling whether it’s a small group hang or a big party. Reach out to your closest pals and invite them to do something together instead of being on the receiving end of every invite. You’ll be way less likely to bail on dinner if you’re the person who organized it. Plus, spending time with friends on your own terms means fewer introvert hangovers.
3. Find Other Ways to Show You Care
You know how everyone has a different love language? A similar principal applies to friendships. Some people show their love for their friends by being around them all the time. Others, like introverts, would sometimes rather admire their closest confidantes from afar. If you’re drained by constant in-person interactions, find other ways to let your people know how much they mean to you. This could mean sending your best friend flowers just because, organizing an email book club or, every once in a while, saying yes to an invitation that your old college roommate knows you’d typically decline. The point is to make sure they know you love them without having to put yourself through a stressful situation.