introvert

How to be Friends with an Introvert

Is there an introvert in your life who you just don’t “get”? Then on behalf of introverts everywhere, I’d like to thank you for making an effort to understand us better. We know we can be a little quirky.

First of all, let’s dispel a few common myths about introverts:
Being introverted does NOT mean being shy. It does NOT mean disliking people. What it does mean is that we refuel by spending time alone, and we also spend a great deal of time just thinking — which is wonderful for creativity and such, but can lead us far too much time worrying. {If you ever want to know a worst-case scenario, ask an introvert and they’ll probably be able to come up with a doozy!}

how to be friends with an introvert

All of that means friendships with extraverts can prove challenging for us — but they can also be quite rewarding! My husband is an extravert, and he’s also my best friend.ย  We both agree our personalities complement each other, but it’s taken a few years to learn what makes the other tick. I believe it’s the same with friendships.

How to be friends with an introvert:

We’re really not that difficult, once you get the hang of how we think. Consider these 10 tips your primer on navigating friendships with your favorite introverts.

1 – Coffee date vs dinner party

We like meaningful conversation but hate small talk. This means we’d much rather catch up one-on-one, than go out in a group. There are exceptions, of course — especially if we already know everyone else in the group.

2 – Parties are fun. Sometimes.

We like it when you to invite us to parties. If we do come, we’ll probably enjoy ourselves, but we’re going to need serious decompressing time afterwards. However, it’s also quite likely we’ll opt to stay home; please don’t be offended!

3 – How are you? No, really!

If we ask how you’re doing, we really want to know; we’re not just making conversation. Remember, we hate small talk so we don’t ask just for the sake of saying something.

introvert friends talking*photo via unsplash

4 – Voicemail rocks.

We probably won’t answer the phone when you call unless we’re expecting it. It doesn’t mean we don’t want to talk to you; we’re just not mentally prepared for a conversation and want to give you the attention you deserve when we do talk to you. {And pretty-please, leave a message that says more than “Call me.”}

5 – Drop-in visitors.

No matter how much we adore you, we might not like it if you drop by unannounced. It’s just because we like to plan ahead, to know what’s expected. Personally, I love entertaining — but only if I’ve had a chance to prepare. It’s for the same reasons as #4: if I’m not expecting you, my mind will be a thousand places at once, and that’s not fair to you as my friend.

If you have a genuine crisis, disregard numbers 4 and 5 above; we will drop everything to listen or help.

6 – Quiet? Ha!

People think introverts are quiet, but once you get us talking about something we care about deeply, we might not shut up. Consider yourself warned. ๐Ÿ˜‰

7 – Conversations on repeat.

We will rehash every conversation we’ve ever had and beat ourselves up if we feel we may have said something foolish. Please let us know (nicely, if possible) if we’ve offended you so we can work it out before it festers.

8 – Give us time to think.

Whether it’s a dilemma you’d like input on, or something you’d like us to do, we need time to think. Most of us don’t do well coming up with things well on the fly, which is why we often write better than we talk.

9 – We can be silly.

Many of us have a silly side that few people ever see. Know that if you’ve seen this side of us, you must be very special indeed.

10 – Trust is to be treasured.

We rarely open up emotionally; we work hard to protect our inner selves. If we ever feel we can trust enough to be vulnerable with you, we will hold you to a high standard in regards to how you treat the private self we share with you.

Does that help, extravert friends?
Fellow introverts, what would you add?

Quick added note, since many have commented about it:
Both “extravert” and “extrovert” are correct spellings; I just used the less common, somewhat antiquated version. Because I’m quirky, remember? ๐Ÿ˜‰

. . . . . .
**You may also like How to Parent Your Introvert Child.

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Chris

Perfect. Yes.

Sharon

And do NOT put me on speaker phone!

Rachel

Amen.

Jim

READ MY MIND! I loathe speakerphone and when I find out I’m being announced on one, the conversation ends. Period.

C

This.

Elle

Also do NOT, without warning, shove the phone at my face and demand that I “say hello” to someone! (Yes, even if I know the person on the other end.)

C

Hate that. Truly.

Jaya

I know! My husband did that to me the other day and I was so shocked!

Judi

Me too!

Dez

Yes!! I hate being put on the spot. Also, I’m horrible about checking my voicemail, it gives me nearly as much anxiety as calling someone (eekk). If you send me a message saying “I’m going to call you about Kevin’s party.” Ill probably answer.

Rebecca

Omg, I hate that! My husband used to do that to me all the time! He’s an extrovert.lol

Yolanda@DelightsOfTheHeart

You nailed it, Elle!

Valerie

I’m so glad I’m not the only one who abhors speaker phones!! If I’m on the phone I want privacy… on both ends of the phone!

Ann

Unless it’s all people you know. My parents put me on speakerphone and I’m okay with it.

Jim Kriz

Amen!!!

Mary Ann

O my goodness, yes! And don’t push me to Skype, facetime or take unexpected photos of me!

Paisley

Totally! It’s funny, INTJ speaking, I have almost no friends but I’m perfectly happy with my life. Don’t expect us to say something on the whim. We have to think it out!

Anne

Holy cow another INTJ girl. I love being me but it can be a challenge.

Kay

INTJ girl too and I can totally relate to this, I love me, but yes, it can be a challenge when attempting to interact with others, I tend to get “you’re not a girl” or “something’s wrong with you”. Thankfully I’ve gotten used to that, no longer bothers me.

Emily

yes! I’m also an INTJ girl and I always get the feeling that strangers think I’m a jerk when I first meet them. But the people close to me know better ๐Ÿ™‚

Laurie

I thought there was something wrong we me for a long time….I’m an INTJ…now I understand

Alyssa

100% accurate to a t. I also have been with an extrovert for a few years, and we’re just now employing statements like, “recharging” and “I’m not mad, I’m honestly just thinking.”

Brent Dowling

Wow…. got it pretty much nailed!

Wendy, A Day in the Life on the Farm

Wow, I never knew I was an introvert until you spelled it out here. It was like you wrote each of those points just about me. I have said that I am shy even though people don’t recognize that in me because of the discomfort I have when in a large group of people I don’t know. I always wondered how others are able to so easily share small talk when I have no desire to talk with my dental hygienist, hair dresser, masseuse, etc. Thanks for naming this for me. I am glad I stopped by from List it… Read more ยป

Elizabeth

I was thinking that same thing! I like the idea of parties, but totally have to prepare for them. If I’m overwhelmed I try to duck out early!

Eli

I almost punched my dentist when he was cleaning my teeth and trying to make small talk with me once… >_>

Barb Cody

Eli…I know! What is that about? Please, just work on my teeth and keep the gas coming, right?

Marianne

I love this Jamie. I’ve read that many writers/bloggers are introverts. I blogging conference should be interesting! I’m an introvert and finishing up a post on surviving homeschooling as an introvert. Quiet time anyone?!

Oh, my goodness, Jamie. If it wasn’t poor form and copyright infringement, I would re-post this word for word on my blog. You described me 100% perfectly. I had to explain #8 to someone just a week or so ago in a “please, please, let me think about this a little bit and email you my answer” kind of way. And, #4? Um, yeah.

Madi

Yes #8!! I constantly have to ask people, during a serious conversation, to just give me time to think about what I’m going to say before I say it and not get offended if I don’t answer their questions right away. I was with this guy who completely did not understand that and got very angry every time.

Jenilee

Yes. This is so me. ๐Ÿ™‚

Claire

I don’t think I have ever read anything in my life which has resonated with me like this. Thank you so much for posting. Sometimes it is useful to have someone show you a clear mirror image of yourself, and that is what you have just done to me. I had to read it to my husband who was shaking his head all the way through and said that you had put me into words I had been trying to find for years. Really, thank you for posting.

Nanci James

I thought I was reading about myself!
I always thought I was weird or socially retarded for not liking to go to parties, or answer the phone, or receive drop-in visitors graciously! It’s good to know that there are many others out there like me! I can totally host a get together at my own house, but I despise block parties and work socials and the like!
Thanks for posting this!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Tricia @ Hodgepodge

Love it – every bit!

Tiffany S

Oh yeah! I resemble this list. Just a bit. ๐Ÿ™‚

I would add…

Don’t be scared of silence.

If there is a long pause between when you ask me to consider something, and my response, it’s not sinister; it’s thoughtful. If I love you, I want to give you my best response, not the first thing that comes into my head. If my extrovert travellers could see the pause as thoughtful care and not sinister silence, it would save some heartache.

Thanks for sharing Jamie. I agree with others that the list resonates with me too. Very much.

Rosie

YES! One of my very-extroverted friends keeps saying “Awkward Silence” whenever there is a pause longer than a full 5 seconds in a conversation… In reality, I’m just processing the last comment that she made – not being rude or anything :/
And her saying that makes it more awkward than it actually was. Haha.

And yeah, I’ve never read a list like this that described me so perfectly. Usually only half of the points actually apply to me. But this list was 100% accurate – as well as all the added comments from other readers.

Caroline

Oh, man, I totally agree with all of this. You worded all these points perfectly, too. Awesome. Thank you, Jamie!

Sheri

Your comments are spot on. I read “The Introvert Advantage” a while back for insights regarding my son and found out so much about myself and why sometimes I would rather stay at home than go to a party;-) The book is a fount of wisdom!

Sheri

Yes, I liked Quiet too;-)

Joy

I’m currently reading “The Introvert Advantage” and it is putting my life in perspective. Like many introverts I thought something was wrong with me. I even had myself and my daughter going to psychologists to try to fix what was wrong. I’m so disappointed in both of them for not picking up on the fact that we’re just introverts. Perfectly normal introverts!!!

Harriet Yoder

Well, thank you very much for this lovely article. I feel so much better about myself. My DH is also a total extrovert like yours. He just doesn’t get introverts even though he married one. We do complement each other.

I will say I don’t like going to stores with him. He knows everyone in town and it takes him hours to shop for anything because everyone has to talk to him. Me? I’m a speed shopper. That’s another #IntrovertAdvantage. LOL

Kendra Fletcher

Harriet, are we related? Long lost sisters married to long lost brothers??? My husband knows every. one. in. town. I want to stay in the car and read. ๐Ÿ˜€

Shiloh Barkley

I’m the same with you on the shopping, but if I’m killing time in a store, all the inquisitions by the sales people really fluster me and I just walk about feeling interrupted. They ruin my shopping time with their faux small talk.

Teresa

Wow. Thank you. Being an introvert, it is good to be reminded that doesn’t make me crazy – just different! haha. This encouraged me so much!

Jonathan

11. Now, this does not apply to all introverts, but it IS there. When we’re at the office, and we aren’t participating in the conversation, or even just look upset/uncomfortable/bothered, don’t take offense. It takes a lot of energy to be in an office setting without “closing the door” as it were to stay alone. Some days, we just don’t have enough energy to keep it up. Just give us space, and we’ll come back around in a day or two.

Carol

That is a good #11!! It drives me nuts at work when people say “What’s wrong?” or “Smile, you’re so much prettier when you smile” “Don’t you feel good?” Even though I answer the same every. single. time. “I’m fine” “I’m just concentrating on what I’m doing” “Nothing’s wrong I’m just thinking” etc…You’d think after years of those questions people would just LET IT GO! LOL!!!

Carol

One day I even had a woman say to me “What’s that look for?” I stopped what I was doing, dumbfounded and quickly (which I am not usually very good at, quickly I mean ๐Ÿ˜‰ said, “What look? I didn’t give you any look. I was born this way!”

Katey

Um..#7 and #10….and….#4, but I prefer texting lol So actually pretty much ALL of them lol

Robin

Texting is the introvert’s best friend. I have more contact with people now than I did before texting. If you’re going to call, text me first, so I can be prepared!
Great article, spot on every point!

Barb Cody

I completely agree! My husband is a family/crisis counselor. He’s an extrovert. When the pastor at church says, “Everyone go meet someone you don’t know and shake hands!” I cringe! He can’t wait to go looking! He usually has to be instructed to return to his seat. i shake hands with someone near me and quickly sit down; smiling weakly at everyone else that goes by. I thrive on my time alone! I recharge in my green chair in the corner by my bed; while watching mysteries on TV. LOVE…..

Sandy Reeves

Yes, yes, I do the same at the “meet and greet” time at church, lol! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Robin

I’ve been calling it “the dreaded meet and greet” for years!

Kristi

Great post, and spelling “extravert” in the traditional way gives you so many bonus points that I feel like I’ve found a new best friend! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Natalie Busch

I read “The Introvert Advantage” 10 years ago recommended by a friend and thank goodness I did! I am an extrovert (for the most part), but when I look back through life all of my best friends, including my husband, are hands down introverts. I think opposites do attract. In regards to the planning and not answering the phone until you are prepared, that all makes sense with what I have read and observed personally. Extroverts can respond more quickly, where introverts have to take time to think about it. Obviously there are pros and cons to both sides. Sometimes… Read more ยป

Kim

Wow, just blew my socks off!! I never classified myself in any way however, I feel like you just wrote about me!! I have never really looked into one vs the other! I have always been told I just have controlling issues along with social anxiety. Felt like I was the strange one!! But it all makes sense now!! I am not crazy for wanting my house clean and organized all the time! I have a reason to not enjoy pop up visits when I feel unprepared! Love this and thank you for posting!

Chandra Regan

Great article, Jamie! Whenever I’ve taken personality tests, I’ve come out close to the middle, but still more on the introverted side. I married someone even more introverted than me. I used to feel guilty about not answering the phone, so I would do it and then regret it. So, I’m learning that it really is okay to let the voicemail catch it, so that I’ll be ready to have a more meaningful conversation. I think the reason I hate chatting online (like when I’m on FB) is because it feels like people are invading my quiet little bubble of… Read more ยป

Christa Sterken

What a great and timely piece. I have a daughter who is an introvert and sometimes people struggle to “get” her. After reading this I realize that I border on this too! Thank you so much

Lenca

Like reading myself in every point! Thanks Jamie. You and spouse are very blessed to have each other!

Author, Stephanie Rankin

Oh my goodness…I think I’m an introvert! Going to have to sit quietly and think this one over for a bit. ๐Ÿ™‚

Brittany

Yay! Thank you so much for writing this. It describes me perfectly and makes me feel not so crazy ๐Ÿ™‚ I wish everyone knew we aren’t weird just different!

Kirsten

Jamie- this is SO right on!! My dearest extroverted friend just passed it on to me????. Thanks for helping people understand us and us understand ourselves. I love the one about our silly side. So true!
I loved it so much I shared it on fb- my first post in a Loooooonnnnggg time. And then I proceeded to freak out a lil bc I shared s’thing with all those people!! Thought you may appreciate that, but since you have a blog maybe you are over those freak out moments! Would love to know how you got past that….

Beth Walters

Spot on!
I would add that, in group conversations, just because I don’t give my opinion doesn’t mean I don’t have one or that I am not thinking plenty. I just seldom share it.
Also, if I have to speak to people, I would far prefer to be up front speaking to a group where they have little to no interaction with me than to sit in a group of people talking. (When I’m in front of a large number of people, I can pretend I’m talking to myself instead of other people. LOL!)

Sandy Reeves

Omgosh, I am quite the opposite, ladies! Speaking in front of a large group of people is my biggest fear. I’ve had to do that at work in training a few times and I just clam up and lose all of my thoughts. I must say, I am best one-on-one or in a very small group…

Nancy, from Alberta

I am an introvert as well and when I am with a group of people I find myself thinking over something that I fail to get an opportunity to say it before they go to a new topic. Many years ago when with a group of friends who were discussing something I finally got to say what I was thinking. Everyone stopped talking and a young member of the group said, “Nancy doesn’t always talk alot but when she does it is something very wise.” LOL, what an encouragement that was, and as you can see, I have always remembered… Read more ยป

Cathy

Yeeeesss!!!! This is SO me.
I would add….
Don’t think I’m rude or boring on your first meeting of me just because I don’t talk much!!! See numbers 1, 4, 5 and 8 for reasons why!

Beth

I am definitely going to follow your blog. Great post about introverts and awesome blog in general.

Lisa

My good friend Pam over at everydaysnapshots.com shared this and I love it, because she and I have discussed many of these items often!

I love the list!

Stephen Lawson

So nice to know I am not a lone in this crazy world.

tara

And please don’t change plans or invite more people at the last minute, see # 5. Even though we may know and enjoy these people, we need time to digest changes and prepare to deal with more people

Brittany

My s.o. is also an introvert and we recently had conversations about how we like to spend our time. I LOVE spending lots of quality time with him but I start to feel like I am becoming an introvert as well! What are some of the major things that you and your husband did to get to understand each other better and learn how to fulfill both of your needs as intro/extroverts? Thanks!

Nancy

Please, no offense. I loved this and it confirmed a lot of what has taken me years to learn; however it is “extrovert” not extravert. Thanks!:)

Tiffany

Thanks for helping me understand myself. I’m a preacher, but I’ve always thought I was shy. Now, I know the real meaning of introvert and better understand how I am able to preach. I’ve had time to think and prepare. Once I’m done with a sermon I struggle to do the whole greeting the congregation afterwards. I’m ready to be alone again when it’s over.

Bea

wow! I have just had a whole new revelation about myself! I cant believe how my whole personality is summed up in these 10 points! amazing! I actually feel like I understand myself better now, maybe will help me get along better with my own personality! thanks for sharing!

Marc

Hope I knew that 25 years ago, when I was at school.
I am glad for you all!

angel

Oh goodness! You are so spot on! Thank you for sharing this.

alienhippy

This post is perfect, it’s me in a nutshell. Thank you. xx ๐Ÿ™‚

Margaret Strutherswire

Thank you. Explains so well my need to be on my own, to not answer the phone and my dislike of parties, even though I really do like people. I think it’s why I like fb – lets me control how much interaction I have at any time.

Jill

One thing I’d add to the party thing: Extraverts, go ahead and plan party games like charades and those adult “get to know you” games you’re all so fond of, but respect that I won’t want to actively take part in it, and it’s not because I don’t like you. (although if you keep pushing it…) Extravert social planners with kids whose every minute of the day is planned for them especially – know that your job is to bring the socializers together so they can enjoy themselves and socialize, but it’s NOT your job to dictate HOW we should… Read more ยป

Shelby

yes! This is soo true!

Sheryl

The is me to the “T”….I remember noticing the first time a new friend saw #9 The Silly Me…I even told her we must official be friends now…you saw the silly me ๐Ÿ˜‰

Valerie

Thank you!!! For years people have thought something was wrong with me probably still do. They take quietness for weakness but at times great strength. Next thing you know you’re someone’s therapist and counselor. We are accused of being over thinkers and yes that causes worry and fear. I’m learning and growing with God’s grace to relieve the fear and worry. Thank you for the visual of me in a nutshell. I need this saved to my FB page forever!!!!

Charlotte Mitchell

I am so glad you posted this I’ve always known I was an introvert and what I always tell people that I’m just not a social person and never knew why and I always thought it was kind of strange to spend so much time by myself and other people think there is something wrong with me because I’d rather be at home than anywhere else now I understand me a little better thank you so much for this post it was enlightening!

Adam

Wow I need to show this to my extravert spouse. A point to add is don’t expect the same response to similar situations, the most minor of details effect our response. I for one am more vocal at work but at a party I’m just please can I run away to my quiet place now.

Cara

Maybe if my ex husband would have read this we might still be together. Oh well too late now.

sadie

Thank you for writing this, I new a little about introverts but now I know more. After i found out what a introvert was i knew it sounded like me but didnt look further into it, i dont really like labels or stereotypes on myself or others but these are pretty much spot on for me. I also don’t like when plans and such change at the last minute. And I think lots of introverts come off as rude or grumpy especially with new people

Edie

I also dislike labels. Within this label there is a wide spectrum of these behaviors. Because opposites attract, it seems most of us are married to an extravert. It requires mutual respect and flexibility. Just because “this is the way I am,” it doesn’t mean we can’t grow. I’m a very different person than I was decades ago and can now interact fairly comfortably with strangers and talk in front of a large group if the need arises. I found help with CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome) from Flylady (www.flylady.net). I am comforted to know the other introverts need… Read more ยป

April

This is really good! I could relate to points 1, 4 & 5 the most. Nice to know others feel the same.

Judi

As an extrovert this is very helpful. I find that I am energized by people and conversation and my introvert friends sometimes find me exhausting. Fortunately for me they tell me when they need me to back away. It took a little work but now I can read when I have overwhelmed someone and I to can sit quietly and wait for the answers I need. Thanks for sharing this info for others

Janice

Number 5.. My home seems to be a hotel, there are always people here. I have no place to escape. I’m surrounded by narcissistic people. I think I might post these somewhere.

Chrissy

This is absolutely perfect!

Elgon Williams

Re: #3 If you ask an introvert How he or she is, expect to receive an honest response, not the standard, ‘Fine’. Introverts tend to be brutally honest as well, especially when asked for an opinion and we are also somewhat self-deprecating because we are hardest on ourselves.

Amanda

I can identify with all of these points. I never considered my self an introvert but I really am. It makes working as a nurse in the emergency room very interesting ๐Ÿ™‚

Elizabeth

I am introvert and was an ER nurse. I was very challenging as after every shift and a good part of my days off I just wanted to be alone and not talk to anyone. Some people called me the grumpy nurse because I’m not like my smiley, bubbly extroverted coworkers.