Hey sis. It’s me. I’m that introverted friend. I’m that introverted friend who enjoys deep, meaningful connections but also enjoys my time alone. Lots of it.
Some of us thrive in social settings and some of us do not. The ones that prefer their alone time still have a (small) desire for human interaction, but they tend to want it in small doses. So, the next time your introverted friend rejects an invitation out, instead of taking it personally, consider these reasons for their decline.
1. Your Friend Already Met Their Activity Quota for the Week
Unless you’re OCD about planning and time management, you probably don’t keep a running list of all the activities you plan to do with your friends each month (but, if you do, that’s fine too). Oftentimes, friends will spontaneously think of an outing or a new restaurant to try. However, some introverts like me space out their social activities at least a few days to a week apart. This allows ample time to recharge and return to their own space, physically and mentally. Personally, if I link up with a friend on a weeknight, I am probably not going to want to attend anything social on the weekend. Alternatively, if I hang out with friends on a weekend, I’m more than likely not going to accept any weekend invitations for another two weeks. While “activity quotas” vary from person to person, it is important to know that your introverted friend probably needs time and space before the next brunch or club night.
2. Your Friend is Running Low on Energy
As adults, we have all responsibilities. Some of us attend school, care for children, or work full-time jobs. As such, many of us manage our time in ways that are different from the next person. Introverts who still manage to maintain a social life outside of these perimeters deserve some kudos. Some of us (who are also empathic) struggle to be around large groups of people at once, making even simple trips to the grocery store horrendous. Add on mandatory interactions with co-workers, children, and the cashier who takes your Chipotle order and you now have a recipe for a nervous breakdown. So, your introverted friend still values your relationship, but just may not have enough “gas” in their social tank to get through that movie night or karaoke shindig.
3. Your Friend Just Does Not Want to Go
This reason doesn’t need an explanation since “No, thank you” is a complete sentence. Of course, when it comes to friends, declining an invite without an explanation can be complicated and tricky. It does not have to be though. While we all want to make sure our friends feel loved and supported by us, we must also realize that saying yes to every opportunity to socialize is not a prerequisite for a good friendship, especially if saying yes sets back your introverted friend in some way physically, emotionally, or mentally. True friendships stand the test of time, regardless of how many social events one can participate in. As long as your friend is being kind, respectful, and appreciative, their decline does not need an explanation each time.
4. Your Friend’s Gut Feeling is Saying No
Let’s admit it. We’ve all experienced times when our intuition is speaking to us loud and clear. You can’t quite put your finger on it and explain why something is not a good idea, but you (should) pay attention to that feeling, nonetheless. Being an introvert means I spend lots of time with myself. Spending meaningful time alone sharpens self-awareness and causes one to be more in-tuned with their body, mind, and thoughts. Naturally, if you’ve tapped into this kind of energy, your body will alert you when things are a little off, or if danger is present somewhere near. Thus, your introverted friend may not know exactly why a certain party or get-together is off-limits. It could be the time of day the event occurs or the location of the activity. Whatever the case, trust that your friend is listening to their inner guidance and making the best decision for themselves.
5. Your Friend Has Personal Commitments Unbeknownst to You
Aside from everyday life obligations, some of us have passion projects, fitness goals, and side hustles that take up the bulk of our time. Depending on the level of friendship you have with your introverted friend, you may or may not be privy to this information. This doesn’t mean she, he, or they are keeping secrets from you, it could mean that your friend on personal goals that feel more comfortable sharing at a later time. Outside of these endeavors, consider this: Have they recently mentioned a child or family member going through a tough time? They made need the space to process and care for that loved one. Did they recently share that they enrolled in school? They most definitely will need time to study and meet assignment deadlines. While making time for friends and cultivating platonic relationships are vital to our well-being, we must make room for others to grow and develop in ways independently from us as well.
6. Your Friend is Prioritizing Their Mental Health Needs
Mental health is such a buzzword now in the social media space and for good reason. As we use technology to connect more and share our experiences, many of us are realizing we also share some of the same struggles. While some mental health challenges are made evident in changing behavior patterns, others are not. Your introverted friend may not be comfortable in expressing their feelings initially but may do so after they have taken time to process. Although mental health is not exclusive to introverted people, it can impact their ability to be social, particularly if social interactions are a challenge under normal conditions. It is ok to check on your introverted and support them but be mindful of their need for space. Alternative ways of connecting such as mailing a greeting card or sending a care package may be the way to go.
7. Your Friend is…Introverted
When all is said and done, your introverted friend is just that – introverted, but a friend, nonetheless. As in any relationship, compromises must occur to keep it going. Instead of viewing a declined invitation as a rejection of quality time, think of it as an essential component of your friend’s self-care and preservation. Everyone has their unique way of caring for themselves and doing that properly ensures we can care for others as well.