Article by Georgina Berbari

For introverts, making new friends can feel like the most daunting of tasks. It’s a lot easier to stay in the sanctuary of your own company, a well-established comfort zone. Plus, socializing can feel downright draining at times.

But there might be times where you crave interpersonal connection, and want a change from your standard solitude. There are indeed ways to build meaningful connections without sacrificing the precious rejuvenation that solitary time brings.

Embrace Your Introversion
It’s important to remember that there’s nothing wrong with being introverted. A Yale study found that introverts may not enjoy people as much as extroverts, but they understand them better. People on the shyer more secluded side have a much more accurate understanding of the psychology of others than those who spend more time socializing, the study found.

So, even though social connection is imperative for wellbeing and longevity, it’s also totally fine to value your solitude. It might even strengthen the qualities of the relationships you do form.

Reflect on Your Interests
When making new connections, it’s important to reflect on your own interests first. Think about your hobbies, passions, and deep interests. For example, if you’re a total bookworm, you might consider visiting a local book club to form connections. If you adore photography, or sculpting, or dancing, there are definitely spaces of people ready to embrace you. Knowing thyself is an important first step to forming meaningful connections.

Initiate Conversation
Once you’re in a space of like-minded people, then comes the time to initiate conversation. This can be an intimidating or nerve-wracking thing for the introverted one. However, if you go into the scenario with a few opening questions already in the back of your head, it might take some of the pressure off. Once you open up the conversation, you can practice active listening. Of course, not everyone will be an instant match. But as you become more confident in talking to others, eventually you’ll hit it off with a new friend. And remember: quality over quantity.

Form Online Friendships
If you’re feeling especially shy, start by forming online connections. The power of the internet is that it connects people from all areas of the world, instantly. So, use technology to your advantage! Perhaps you’ll enjoy your online conversation so much that it’ll lead you to desire in-person connection.

Set Boundaries
When making new friends, be sure to be clear about your boundaries. After all, your new friend might not be as introverted as you are. So, you’ll want to be straightforward about how much social battery you have. Learning to say “no” is a great skill that requires a good amount of emotional self-awareness. Notice when you have the energy to commit to plans and when you need the space to recharge. This will take practice, but you will get better and better through trial and error.

Be Patient
If you’re an introvert craving a deep, meaningful relationship, it’s also important to be patient. The best connections aren’t formed overnight and will often need time to gestate into a more trusting and long lasting bond.

But, as you put yourself out there–and as you deepen your relationship with yourself–you’re bound to find loving connections that draw you out of your shell. When you intentionally devote your time and energy to these friendships, the balance of solitude and connection can prove to be deeply nourishing.

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