Everyone has some introverted tendencies. Everyone likes to spend time alone and away from the constant interactions with others sometimes. For introverts, however, that need is a lot more frequent. If you’re friends with an introvert, it’s important to understand their needs. It’s about respecting the space they need to recharge and understanding that needing that space is not a reflection on you or how much they love you.
One of those boundaries has to do with having a controlled environment that they can escape to if they need to. Another is understanding that for an introvert, parties are not always going to be their thing. They may require more information about your social event in order to prepare. Being friends with an introvert has a lot to do with making some time that works for them — not just for you.
The Importance of a Controlled Environment
There are a lot of misunderstandings about introversion. Introverts aren’t always shy; they aren’t always anxious; they don’t always detest social situations. However, one thing that is true for introverts is that they feel the most comfortable and content in their own space to recharge from the rest of the world. This is why it’s important for them to have some control over their environment. This might mean a door they can close, a car available to leave, or a phone in their pocket when they need an unbothered minute in a social situation.
As a friend of someone who is introverted, it’s important to respect that need for a controlled environment. All that means is allowing them to get away, not bothering them when they need space, and understanding that the pop-in isn’t a great option when you want to see them. All it takes is a little communication and understanding on your part.
Parties Aren’t for Everyone
For an introvert, a party is like an emotional marathon. Even in a room full of their closest friends, an introvert may look at a big social gathering as something that will deplete them for days. There’s a lot of people, a lot of talking, and a lot of emotions tied into a social event of this magnitude. Though many introverts enjoy these social settings, that doesn’t mean it won’t still be draining on them. If they also battle social anxiety, they may worry about the proper etiquette in certain social situations. They may feel anxious about the people they don’t know, the games that they will be expected to play, or the draining small-talk discussions.
In order to respect the space your introverted friend needs, you’ll have to be understanding about the fact that parties aren’t for everyone. Your introverted friend may not want to come, may leave early, or may need you to stick close to them if you bring them into an unknown social circle.
Understand the Need for Information
Your introverted friend flourishes in their own environment. For this reason, a new environment can be stressful. This is why your introverted friend may have a lot of questions for you if they agree to join you in an activity, a social event, or even just a trip to your house. The reason for this is that more information helps them feel comfortable in a new setting. A controlled environment is comforting, so be sure to understand your introverted friend’s need for information. They need times, names of people, a heads-up if you’re going to be late or if any changes are happening, whose name the reservation is under, etc.
Even something as simple as eating at another home can be a source of discomfort for an introvert — especially an introvert who may also have anxiety. They may overthink sitting in the wrong spot or worry about not liking the food. There’s a whole psychology to food that everyone has, but for someone who is introverted, it can be really overwhelming to worry about offending someone or working through the social cues of a dinner party. Give your friend all the information they request, and don’t feel offended if they decide a social interaction will be too much for them.
Making the Right Kind of Time
Being friends with an introvert really means understanding the right kind of space your friend needs. It means understanding that they may not be at your parties or stay long at social functions, but they feel right at home having a movie night or coffee date with just the two of you. It means making the right kind of time for them. Introverts love deep conversations and relationships, not shallow ones. They love using their social time to make meaningful connections as opposed to top-level conversations they’d have at a party or large social event.
Introverts can be social people, but they also need solitude to recharge. This means finding the balance as their friend to give them the space they need while also spending time with them on mutually agreeable terms. Friendship is all about compromise and understanding, and being friends with an introvert is no different in that respect.
Introverts create energy on their own and in their solitude. Being social expends that energy, and being alone allows it to recharge. Extroverts, on the other hand, tend to get energy from the outside world. They expend that energy in their solitude. Being with others and interacting with the world allows them to recharge. Ambiverts do a little of both. If you’re friends with an introvert, it’s important to understand just how depleting the outside world can be for them. Introverts need you to respect the space they need while understanding that the space they need doesn’t mean they don’t adore time with you — it just means they need that time to recharge.
Chelsy is a writer/blogger from Montana who graduated with her journalism degree in 2012. She is now a freelance writer in the beautiful city of Boise, Idaho. She is an animal lover, an advocate for mental health, and her hair is always a mess. Follow her on Twitter @chelsy5.