How Introverts Make Friends

books introversion Nov 03, 2022

Seriously though...

Three years ago I wrote in my journal, "How do you make friends as an adult and introvert?"

I've been pondering that question ever since.

I work from home and love being home so much that I really have to make an effort to even leave my house. So when I heard about the book, Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make - and Keep - Friends, I knew I had to read it. And it deeply resonated.

Marisa Franco, author and psychologist, explains that there are 3 types of attachment: secure, anxious, and avoidant. These attachment styles show up in all relationships, not just romantic ones. If friendship is hard, this is enlightening information.

There's a quiz in the book you can take to determine which type you are. I love any sort of assessment that can tell me more about my personality! Turns out, I'm the avoidant type. Avoidant attachment means you think you don't need anyone and keep others at a distance. You subconsciously push others away and aren't vulnerable. It's pretty hard to make friends when you do those things. (Sigh)

Here's an example of how this showed up for me. I purposely went to a university where I didn't know anyone. My freshman year I happened to sit next to Kristi in Chemistry class and managed to have conversation at 8am. We clicked and became friends.

We spent a lot of time together until Kristi started dating a guy. She started spending more time with him and less with me. I was mad and decided I didn't need her to be my friend. I stopped answering her calls and sat elsewhere in class.

Immature? Yes. Avoidant attachment? Definitely! Ruined the one friendship I had? Absolutely.

As introverts we tend to think that going out and being social drains us...and it does. But we often use this as an excuse to not socialize and then wonder why we don't have deep friendships. We say "I only need a couple close friends" and justify it as what introverts do. But consider this: maybe we avoid socializing not because we're introverts, but because we're afraid of rejection.

To quote the book, "[The] tendency to entertain only a tight circle, rather than a sprawling network, [the] cliquishness in friendship, masks feelings of unsafety and fears of rejection around more casual connections."

In my case, I wasn't allowing friends to get close to me. I feared Kristi was rejecting me and defaulted into avoidance.

Now if you're wondering how your attachment came to be avoidant or anxious, it's from how you were raised. I've read a lot of psychology on personality and your upbringing shapes who you are. To explore that aspect of yourself, I recommend reading this blog and the book, How To Do The Work by Nicole LePera.

Steps for Making Friends as An Introvert

1) Take Initiative
We all want to sit back and let friends come to us the easy way. But unfortunately, friendship doesn't work in a one-sided way. From the book, "Here's a simple, sometimes surprising truth: making friends as an adult requires initiative. We have to put ourselves out there and try. It's a process of reaching out over and over again."

You can reach out to old friends to reconnect or an acquaintance you've been wanting to get to know better. Meet for coffee or lunch or my personal favorite, a walk. Join a sports team or volunteer and keep showing up!

2) Express Vulnerability
"There's a group of people known for being masters at suppressing: the avoidantly attached." Avoidant people are "strong" and "independent" and don't show emotion. That explains why vulnerability has been so damn hard for me to learn over the years. I've had to actively rewire the limiting belief that expressing emotion makes you weak.

When you practice sharing your shame, you take your power back as well as deepen a friendship. Start sharing with someone you trust.

3) Handling Conflict
Conflict is normal in friendship and issues should be addressed. The book devotes a chapter to this and how it can be handled calmly and productively. And even says that in some cases, friendships do need to end.

The author points out that a response such as, "this is how I am" is dismissive to our friends feelings and shows an unwillingness to meet a friends needs. This phrase irks me. Again, as an avid reader of psychology, I've learned we can do so much to change our personality. If you say mean or blunt things then defend your statements by saying this is how I am, you're not admitting your role in the conflict.

4) Be Generous
Be intentional and show generosity when you truly care about a friend. You still get to keep your boundaries. Here are some suggestions from the book:

  • bake or cook something for your friend
  • send a card
  • teach a skill
  • connect a friend with someone you know who could help them
  • spend more time together
  • Venmo money for coffee so they can treat themselves
  • drive your friend to the airport

5) Give Affection
This is the habit that I've decided to work on after reading the book. It's helping this avoidant suppressor get more in touch with my feelings. Here's an example.

I recently started a walking group to connect with new people. My neighbor came to one the walks and I was so glad she was there because she's easy to talk to. I told her at the end of the walk how great she is at conversation and making people feel comfortable. It was a heartfelt compliment.

Using affection makes people feel safe. So praise your friend's hard work, send a text to say you were thinking of them, be excited about their good news.


I learned so much about friendship from reading the book, Platonic. It explained so much and offered practical ideas. I highly recommend it! And I plan to read it again because there was just so much information to digest.

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