Making friends as an adult is one of the most challenging endeavors, but what is even more difficult is making friends as an adult and introverted. The struggle can be too real. Although naturally, introverts enjoy their alone time, spending most of it doing one-person things, for example, binge-watching a show, reading a book, traveling solo, going to the movies alone, playing video games, and while these are some of the ways we feel the most comfortable, I mostly though do have a deep-seated desire to connect with people on a deep level. Still, unfortunately, I find myself backing out of potentially deep relationships because of the fear and the thought that it will take too much energy to sustain these relationships, let alone build them in the first place.
Why is it Essential to Have Deep Connections with Others?
Human beings are naturally wired to desire deep connections with each other. Throughout history, forming relationships has always been one of the critical elements to man and woman’s survival, showing how meaningful friendships are. To me, meaningful connections make me feel alive, it’s healthy, and it feels right on all accounts. Having relationships is essential for us humans because they come with many benefits that help our self-development. Knowing that you have people in your corner can lower anxiety and depression and make you a happier person. Several studies have shown that people with genuine relationships have higher self-esteem, are more empathic and generally have a better immune system than people without connections. Neglecting relationships can eventually put your health at risk. Okay, okay, taking a break from these studies. They are getting too deep. However, this next part is vital;
It’s not the number of connections you have that brings all these benefits, but rather the quality of these connections.
You can be in contact with so many people without having genuine relationships with any of them. The thought of that is disturbing. Quality connections are the aim here, the kind of connections you’re yourself around, the ones that will provide you with emotional support in seasons of your life where you are down. You feel alone, the ones that will give you honest feedback when you need it, the people that aren’t afraid to tell you when you’re wrong, cheer you on when you’re winning, and have your best interests at heart. You should enjoy each other’s company. In a nutshell, these connections should help you improve the quality of your life and make you a happier person overall, not stress you out and drain all of your energy.
How to Make Connections
In making new connections, you need to know why you want more relationships with others. Set an intention. Do you want more connections because you feel you have to have them? Or do you want more connections because you genuinely need them? Another thing to remember is that you don’t need to make a dozen connections at a go or all at once (I mean, the thought of this by itself is overwhelming); all you need is one connection at a time. Oh, wait, one meaningful connection at a time. Let’s consider some things that can help us establish meaningful relationships with people.
Knowing yourself and being confident in who you are is key to creating new connections with people. This knowledge helps you understand your strengths, exceptionally proficient skills, peculiar behaviors, boundaries, etc. Knowing these details about yourself puts you in an excellent position to know what kind of people you will be inclined to form connections with the most and others you won’t be able to tolerate (yes, we are still allowed to be picky). For example, I can’t handle people who do not respect boundaries, but we will discuss this in another post. You can quickly identify people with similar interests, giving you something to break the ice with. Identifying people with similar interests opens you up to having meaningful conversations and enjoying activities together.
This statement may sound contradictory to what you expect to hear, but reaching out and initiating conversations is one of the best ways to build a connection with someone. Taking the initiative is vital. I struggle with this to the point that I set times and reminders during the day to reach out to someone, respond to someone, or make plans to hang out. I have found out that if I don’t do this, a day becomes a week and a week turns into a month, and after that, I don’t know what to tell you. Again, intention plays a huge part in all of this.
I can hear the inner introvert self that I am slowly working on, begging me to STOP! But no, apart from reaching out, another helpful thing is to follow up with new people you have met or are forming a meaningful connection with. Following up means contacting them after the initial meeting to check upon them. For example, you could call or text to say hi, ask about something they mentioned in the initial meet-up (showing that you were paying attention), or set up another get-together (letting them know that you enjoyed their company). It’s work people, you have to put in the work.
Ask open-ended questions
What are these, you ask? Practice asking questions that will keep others talking. Try as much as possible to ask few yes or no questions. For example, you saw on social media that your new friend took a trip to Egypt for the summer. The question,” Did you go to Egypt for the summer?” will give you a yes or no answer? Whereas something like, “How did you spend your summer? Can you share some of your best experiences with me?” will allow the other person to express themself fully and keep the conversation going. It may be challenging to come up with these questions on the spot, but think about things that might keep a conversation going, talk about their interests, keep it genuine, and don’t overthink it.
To establish deep connections, you must be ready to put yourself out there. However, being vulnerable doesn’t mean you have to reveal all your deepest and darkest secrets to the person with whom you’re trying to establish a connection. There are other ways you can be vulnerable with someone. For example, you can share some success stories or personal victories, try something you’ve never done before or get personal. Being vulnerable gives the other person a glimpse into who you are and increases the chances of establishing a deeper bond. It’s not a sign of weakness. I would love to add too that I am a recovering avoidant (as an attachment style), and being vulnerable was not anywhere in my very being. Still, I have learned that it’s a superpower to be towards others, especially people you care about.
Give your undivided attention.
Your attention is one of the most valuable things you have, and people appreciate it when they know someone is paying attention to them. And they will know it’s easy to spot. In a world filled with distractions everywhere, people’s undivided attention is one of the most important things you can get from an individual. It speaks volumes. So don’t be on your phone texting or scrolling through things that can wait when you are out with someone. Remember the conversations you are having, so you avoid asking several of the same questions about things you already talked about, but you forgot because you weren’t paying attention.
In conclusion, forming connections as adults and introverts is scary, but ensuring our overall self-development and survival is necessary and healthy. And in the words of John C. Maxwell, “Make connecting with others a daily priority.” Make an effort and get out there. Remember, all you need is one connection at a time! And quality over quantity.
Let’s do this again soon. Thanks for reading!