It’s true that as we get older, it gets tougher to make a group of friends. If you’ve recently moved to a new city or just want to find a new social circle, you probably know the challenges of this. This is especially true if you identify as an introvert as I do. The small talk, the awkward silences with people you aren’t comfortable with yet, the loud bars and forced conversations can all feel like too much and make you want to go home and sink into your couch with a book. But the truth is, introverts need people too and no matter how good the book is, it’s not going to satisfy the need for human connection. So here’s a helpful guide you can use if you’re an introvert struggling to find new friends.
1. It’s uncomfortable, but you have to put yourself out there. You don’t have to be loud or the life of the party, but you do have to push past your comfort zone at least a little.
2. You have to treat it like dating. If you don’t put in any effort and don’t pursue someone, they’re going to assume you’re fine with not having them in your life. Follow-up, suggest plans, try not to refuse invitations they extend.
3. Listen. People like to be heard and as an introvert, you probably already have that skill well crafted. Ask them about themselves and let them do most of the talking. Not only will it make them feel liked, but it will also help you get to know if they seem like someone you could have as a friend.
4. Find places/things you like to do and try to meet people there. If you hate drinking wine, then a wine tasting is probably not the place to try to make friends. But if you find something you like, say a spin class, then you already know walking in that you have something in common (aka something to talk about together).
5. There are a lot of sites/apps intended to help you meet people with similar interests – find the ones in your area and use them (meetup.com, citysocializer.com). The worst case scenario is that you walk into an awkward situation and don’t come away with any friends. But you probably won’t see those people again anyway, so remind yourself that it doesn’t really matter.
6. Remember that others may already have a social circle and may not be looking for friends like you are. This doesn’t mean they don’t want to be your friend, it just means that they may seem more disinterested in you than they intend or mean to be. This is where you have to get uncomfortable and do most of the work.
7. Don’t sacrifice yourself in service of finding just anyone to be around. If you’re like me, you prefer friends who you can have deeper conversations with, who you can be silent with, or do nothing with and still have a great time. Just because you need friends doesn’t mean you should be friends with everyone.
8. Use the connections you already have to widen your circle. Know someone at work who seems like they could be cool? Invite them out and encourage them to bring people along. Know someone who used to live where you just moved? Ask them to help connect you to people you might like. It’s easier to meet people through people you already know and like.
9. Use social media. Geotags are a great way to show people what you’re doing and find others in the area too. Start following people who are near you and doing things you like. Maybe an event will pop up and you can attend. Or you can shoot them a DM and connect. It’s social media, it’s intended to be used for socializing.
10. Remember that it’s all only as awkward as you make it. Most people are receptive to an intro like, “Hey, I’m new here and trying to meet people…” I’ve never met anyone who thinks that trying to make new friends is a lame thing to do. People may not be looking to date right now, but have you ever heard someone say that they aren’t in a place in their life for more friends?