Friendships take work. They are never easy, and require both people to put in time and effort to grow the friendship. As an introvert, I value the friendships I do have very much. Currently, I have three close friends. Throughout my life,though, I’ve had my share of friendships that turned toxic. As a kid, I had a best friend of 7 years, who suddenly decided we shouldn’t be friends anymore. There were a lot of things that contributed to that friendship’s demise, but a big factor was our clashing personalities. She was an extrovert, and valued having many casual friendships, while I am an introvert and value cultivating a few close friendships. I value quality time and she valued large group outings. Another friend I had in college made very little effort into spending time with me, and was a poor listener. And another friend I had didn’t accept my introverted personality. Needless to say, that friendship didn’t work out. All these negative friendship experiences, though, led me to realize what I need in a friendship as an introvert. Here are 7 things an introvert needs in a friendship.
One of the most important things introverts value in their relationships is quality time. Having a sit down with a friend to catch up is often an introvert’s preferred method of hangout. Personally, I enjoy meeting a friend for dinner or coffee and having plenty of quality conversation time rather than attending an event like a concert or movie, where the opportunity to have in-depth conversations is limited. I want to know my friends, and for them to know me. That is why having quality time together is so important to me as an introvert.
Someone Who Listens
I learned in some of my past toxic friendships how important having a friend that listens is. Introverts are often great listeners. This makes us an appealing friend choice. Everyone loves to feel listened to. As an introvert, I enjoy listening, but that doesn’t mean I don't need the action to be reciprocated. I have things to share and contribute to a conversation, too. It can be easy for an introvert who listens, but isn’t listened to, to feel taken advantage of. That is exactly what happened in some of my past friendships. Never settle for being someone’s sounding board if they are not willing to be the same for you.
Doesn’t Judge Us for Being Quiet
One of the most frustrating things I get as an introvert is the whole “why are you so quiet?” question. When my quietness is pointed out, as if it is a negative thing or a problem, I start to feel insecure and uncomfortable. The reality is sometimes I like to just take things in without constantly talking. I’m comfortable just being. Introverts, unlike extroverts, don’t need to always be loud. We often have our best thoughts and ideas in silence. A good friend, though, won’t make us feel insecure about that silence. They will understand our lack of speaking isn’t a problem, it is simply what makes us happy.
Makes You Feel Valued
One of the best things you can do for a person is make them feel valued. Making someone feel like what they say matters and that you appreciate all the things they do is something we all desire. Introverts are typically good about showing others that they are valued. We are often highly empathetic, and this can help us recognize a friend’s valuable traits, and let them know what those are.
Someone Who Puts in Effort
Friendships should never just be one sided. If one person is putting in more of an effort than the other, the friendship is doomed to fail. Since introverts value quality time, they often put in the effort necessary to strengthen a friendship. I make a point to reach out to my friends if I haven’t heard from them in awhile. Even if it’s simply a check in text, I make sure to put in the effort to keep a friendship strong, and I notice and appreciate when my friend does the same for me.
Respects Need for Alone Time
Introverts love their alone time. This is no secret. In order to have a successful friendship with an introvert, though, this needs to be understood and accepted. Sometimes an introvert might need time to recharge, so they’ll pass on going out for drinks or attending a party. If their friends don’t respect their need for alone time, this could lead to arguments and misunderstandings. An introvert should also never feel they need to apologize for needing alone time. So finding friends that get this part of our personality is key.
Introverts don’t like feeling pressured. We are thoughtful and introspective. We know what makes us happy and what doesn’t. Therefore, pressuring us to attend an event we would feel uncomfortable at, or to be a part of a large group is never a great idea. It will only lead to us being unhappy, which is not the way we want to feel when spending time with our friends. Friends should never pressure one another to do things that make them uncomfortable.
Accepts You for You
Finally, the most important thing an introvert needs in a friend is to be accepted for who they are. We live in a very extroverted world, and this can be challenging for introverts. The pressure to be more extroverted is a constant message we get. As an introvert, I have struggled my whole life with feeling accepted for my personality. The message to “speak up” and “participate” was constantly communicated to me as a kid and teen. Even as an adult, I am pushed to be more extroverted in my job as a librarian when dealing with patrons and running programs. That’s why it is vital I have friends that accept me as I am. This helps build my confidence as an introvert. It is the meaning of a good friend. A friendship has no value if one friend doesn’t accept the other.
Bottom line is friendship takes work. It’s important, though, to know what you want and deserve in a friend. Introverts have the qualities that make a great friend, but they deserve great friends themselves.