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Light On Anxiety Expert Perspectives: LOA in the News

Making Friends as an Introvert

By Debra Kissen

Introverts tend to be shy and value their alone time, which can lend itself to the idea that making friends as an introvert is near impossible. Extroverts, on the other hand, enjoy time in social settings and tend to be more open, giving the appearance that it is easier for them to make friends. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, meeting people is always a bit nerve-wracking. Here are a few things that I have done and suggest to my clients when they are having a hard time making friends:

  • Try positive self-talk. We all deal with negative thoughts about ourselves, and question our worth and whether or not what we just said was OK or completely irrelevant. To help build your confidence, start identifying one thing you like about yourself each day. Write it in your notes on your phone, your journal, or send it to a friend you feel safe with. Then every morning, read the things you like about yourself out loud. Yes, it seems silly, but it is truly good for building confidence.
  • Reconnect with old friends. In college, I was surrounded by a lot of friends. After graduation, I found myself feeling incredibly lonely—so many people had moved, gotten married, etc. What I eventually ended up doing was looking through my contacts and reconnecting with old friends. Think of the people you already know and enjoy hanging out with and send them a text asking if they’d like to get together.
  • Get out there. Give these some consideration:
    1. Find a place you’d like to volunteer.
    2. Make the first move and ask a friend—or someone you can imagine being friends with—to go out with you.
    3. Do something like this at least once a week to avoid the urge to remain in your comfort zone/couch.
    4. Try one of those friend-dating apps. Believe it or not, I met one of my best friends on an app called “Hey! Vina” which is for women to make friends with other women.
  • Prepare. Have a mental list of something you can talk about when meeting a new person. Something as simple as “what are your plans for the holidays?” allows you to initiate conversation and then the other person can take the lead. This also allows the other person to talk about themselves, taking the pressure off of you.
  • Quality over quantity. Whether you’re reconnecting with old friends or have made new ones, focus on the quality of the friendship over the quantity of people in your circle. Getting satisfaction and enrichment from the friendship is the priority, and having too many friends, especially for an introvert, can be overwhelming and take away from the ability to build meaningful friendships.
  • Talk to a therapist. Talking to a professional can really help boost your self-esteem and give you new techniques to quiet the negative self-talk, as well as work through any social anxiety you have when thinking about going out and meeting new friends. 

Making lasting friendships can be really hard. Resist the urge to be down on yourself if a friendship doesn’t work out. Keep pushing yourself to meet new people and you will find the friendship and the confidence you are looking for.

Dr. Debra Kissen is CEO of Light On Anxiety CBT Treatment Center. Dr. Kissen specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)...

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