Making friends. It was pretty simple growing up. College was full of friends. What about now? What about when you have trouble finding a friend? Is it even possible to make friends as an adult? Real, honest, friends who feel like family? Yes! There’s hope for extraverts and introverts—our ways of getting there just look a little different.
From Jess for Introverts
I’d like to start off by clarifying two important characteristics of introverts: we’re not all afraid of people or socially awkward. In fact, we can find people incredibly fascinating. Airports? I can’t get enough! It’s like Christmas with all the people-watching. But holiday parties? Like ones where you just “circulate and mingle?” Hard pass.
The best part of being an introvert (for me) is getting to someone’s core. I can’t stand surface-level conversation. Seriously, can’t stand it. This explains my aversion to holiday shindigs. I prefer to scoot right past the weather and dig into all the experiences, travels, and feelings that make you tick. Details, stories, all of it. Give it to me.
That’s one of the reasons it can be difficult for introverts to connect and make deep, meaningful friendships. You have to find your tribe—people who can babble on for hours with you about travel, life, or whatever you’re into. It can be overwhelming to others when you skip the small talk and go for the jugular on a story they were technically telling someone else when you started interviewing them—I mean, asking questions. Intensely.
Sound familiar? If so, you’re probably wondering how you can make friends more easily. Pastor Craig says, “Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.” Our friends lead us straight where they’re headed. People who love and pursue God will push you to do the same.
Here are four tips from one introvert to another (and yes, I really use these).
- Prepare small talk ideas ahead of time. You know you’re gonna run into this. Have a few ideas in your back pocket you’re comfortable with to ease initial conversation.
- Share wisely. Don’t give away stories or experiences to someone who doesn’t value them.
- Rest up. Social stuff is fun, but it zaps your energy. Rest beforehand so you have energy and feel great before meeting new people.
- You decide the how and when. Listen. You’re an adult. You can eat dessert for breakfast & you can decide how and when you want to hang. But introversion can’t become an excuse to be a recluse. Sure, you might prefer fewer people at a party, but you’re still responsible for pouring into and participating in the lives of others.
And at the end of the day, it’s not about you. It’s about how investing in others honors God. That’s because of the example Jesus set for us. Did you know Jesus calls us His friends? “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15 NIV In other words, He’s shared his heart—the core of who He is with us.
From Jon for Extraverts
There’s a social myth about extraverts I’d like to clear up before we get started: we don’t all have tons of friends. Sure, we’re comfortable striking up a conversation with just about anybody, about just about anything, but that doesn’t mean we’re making long-lasting relationships. In fact, it’s often the opposite.
The best part of being an extravert for me is how I can make other people feel in a social setting. Bringing others into the conversation, turning innocent bystanders into a main character in this scene in our lives, and including others in this adventure we call life is so much fun!
However, there’s a downside to being an extravert. As extraverts, we’ve got to be careful not to exchange the short-lived buzz from casual social engagement, for the deeper, more meaningful relationships. Social situations come easily—deep-rooted, intentional relationships don’t. Introvert or extravert, real friendships take time and intentionality.
So how do you take your favorite relationships from skimming-the-surface to ocean-deep? Here are four practical ideas you might find helpful.
- Make it a priority. As an extravert, you can get your social fix by standing in line at the coffee shop, but you’re not looking for a social fix. You’re looking to create meaningful relationships. Take the time to do it. Put meeting with people in your calendar and commit.
- Spend more time with fewer people. You don’t foster a lifelong friendship in a couple of hours. It’s hours of simply doing life together that bring us closer together. Don’t fall into the temptation to spend all your social time in a huge pack. Pick a few friends, and be intentional about getting together frequently.
- Take off the mask. What’s the point in creating a lasting relationship if the person you’re connecting with doesn’t know the real you? Be honest about where you are and what you’re struggling with. Pastor Craig has said, “People respect us for our strengths, but connect to us through our weaknesses.” Join a LifeGroup and get real with them. Friends are born in honesty.
- Ask more questions. Sometimes we can get caught up in talking about life, but it’s mostly our own life we’re talking about. Ask people questions and listen. Their stories are fascinating, and you’ll be better for it.
See? You can do it. It’s not about meeting a hundred people. It’s about learning to connect. Still wondering where to start? One fantastic first step to finding your tribe might be signing up to serve at your campus or Church Online. The people you serve with can become some of your best friends before you know it.