– by Wes Colton, Introvert Unbound
Let’s face it: as an introvert guy it can be tough to make friends. In many ways it’s easier to go out and find women to date than it is to meet a dude friend to hang out with. Sadly, there’s even a bit of a stigma around doing so (“no homo,” etc.)
Most people make friends through school (elementary, high school, college), work, or social circle. In college, everyone is around the same age and living a similar life, so friendships are made pretty organically. But once you graduate and enter the “real world,” it’s not so easy.
Work can be a decent place to make friends, but that’s largely dependent on how many people work there. If it’s just a few of you, you travel a lot, or you work from home, you might not find anyone you resonate with. Friends of friends is perhaps the simplest way, but if you don’t have many friends to begin with, it’s not too helpful.
So what should an introvert guy do to make friends?
As an introvert who has moved almost a half dozen times in my life, I’ve had a lot of practice building my social circle from scratch. What usually happens is I find an acquaintance within a few weeks (who may or may not turn into a friend), a friend within a few months, another friend or two over that year, and then an additional friend or two each year. So after three years, I’ve got a decent group of friends (some of whom hang out with one another, some of whom do not).
Here’s how I do it.
If you’re not already familiar, Meetup.com is a website devoted specifically to getting people together socially. Even a large town has several options while a big city has tons. You can join groups ranging from drinking microbrews to going on wilderness excursion.
You end up meeting both guys and women in a “warm approach” environment where you’re encouraged to speak to one another. What’s more, many of the groups are constantly refreshed by new people, so it’s not like you’re intruding on a private group of well-established friends.
If you don’t like any of the existing groups, you can even start your own—though be aware that hosting involves a whole other level of social engagement.
One of the best ways to bond with men is, ironically, around women. You can create a Facebook or Meetup group for “wingmen,” where guys go out together to talk to women. Even though meeting women is the goal, you end up getting to know guys pretty well this way.
It’s a great way to kill two social birds with one stone: dating and friends.
3) Open Mics
If you play music, sing, write poetry, or do standup comedy, you can find a local Open Mic and mingle with lots of open, creative types. At first, you can just go to scope out the scene and perform later. Even if you don’t ever intend to perform, you can still show up and meet people.
One of the best things about Open Mics is that the whole point is to put yourself out there and there are always new people cycling through.
If you do end up performing, that’s also great for building social courage. If you can sing a song on stage, talking to people becomes less of a challenge.
4) Improv Classes
Improv classes are usually pretty cheap ($10) and they’re a great way to meet people in a more structured environment. Unlike Open Mics, the whole format is that you will be interacting with people, who you may end up bonding with and can strike up friendships later.
Improv is also great for introverts because it puts you out of your comfort zone and makes you more adept at speaking on the fly. While it may seem intimidating at first, most Improv classes are actually pretty low key. Instead of being expected to come up with hilarious material, it’s mostly just simple, fun drills that involve clapping in unison or throwing around imaginary balls.
There is no audience in classes, so you don’t need to get stage fright. However, if you do enjoy it, you can continue to the point where you’re performing for others.
5) Throw a Party
Once you’ve made a few friends, invite them over for a small get together. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it can just be a board game, some snacks, and drinks (if you want). It’s a great opportunity to have your friends meet one another or just facilitate an existing group of friends. Most people don’t take the initiative, and everyone likes being invited to parties, so your efforts will be appreciated.
Of course, the tricky thing is that people are flaky these days. What might happen is you invite people and only a few show up (or no one at all). But even if that happens, don’t take it personally: you can always try again and most of the time people will show up.
I’ve just run through a few things that have worked for me, but I also wanted to mention some options that are often suggested, yet I haven’t found that useful for making friends, personally. Which isn’t to say they won’t work for you, so, if you’re inclined, by all means, try them.
Bars are obviously social hot spots, and while they can be OK to meet women, it’s a bit tougher to make guy friends. If you’re looking to meet people who share common interests, the bar definitely isn’t the best place and it’s certainly not the easiest environment for an introvert to strike up a conversation.
Also, if you try too hard to make friends with a guy at a bar, he might think you’re hitting on him. Which, of course, isn’t the end of the world, but something that guys always have their defenses up about.
If you’re a sports fan, sports bars might be an option, as it’s an easy way to talk about something. However, because it’s so broad and accessible, it’s also pretty superficial, and is no indication that just because you root for the same local team that you’d be compatible as friends.
2) Social Sports Teams
Over the years, I’ve joined both an adult softball and kickball team and had similar lukewarm experiences. While the people were generally friendly, I’ve found it’s typically a group of already established friends, which makes you the outsider. Which isn’t to say they won’t welcome you, but unless you want to insert yourself into an already established group dynamic, you might feel a bit left out.
The other limitation is that you are assigned to about 10 random people for a period of months. Any other social event, if you don’t get along with the people, you can just go to the next one. With sports teams, it’s almost as if you’re signing up for an arranged marriage with people you’ve never even met.
The most frustrating part is that, even though you play a bunch of other teams, the whole semi-competitive sports atmosphere makes it so you don’t really affiliate with anyone outside your own team. It’s almost this psychological thing because the other team happens to wear another color and even if it’s just a beer league, the other team automatically becomes the “out” group that you’re basically forbidden to associate with.
So even though you may pass through the lives of 100 other people on other teams, there are almost no events where you’d all get together socially. There might be possible friends on the other teams, but you’ll never get to find out.
All in all, making friends as an adult guy is tough, and extra tough if you’re an introvert. But it’s not impossible. If you’re not already making friends organically, you might want to try some of the suggestions I’ve offered and let me know how they work for you.
Or if you have any other suggestions that might help other introvert guys make friends, please share them in the comments.