I came across an article the other day exploring whether it is harder to make friends as one grows older. While I personally find it to be so, and suspect it to be so generally, making friends is never easy for introverts, at any age. If we befriend an extrovert (or, more likely, the extrovert befriends us), the extrovert often wears us out with their endless social energy and then wonders why we never call (any friends of mine reading this, you know a phone call from me is a rare thing). If, on the other hand, we befriend a fellow introvert, we never call each other and hence there’s not really much interaction.
While I cite the extremes, I have found that most of my friendships and relationships over the years have tended to be with extroverts. I understand why this is – I don’t make much effort to be social most of the time, so it has been the extroverts in my life who have done it for me. The invites, the plans, the phone calls. Sure, I have gone through phases where I have been the planner, the inviter, but it is not my normal state. I need an extrovert to prod me. I’m not sure that two introverts are very compatible. My closest friends have been major extroverts who seemed to understand my introverted traits. A rare and precious find. Sure, we annoyed each other at times, but you accept faults in friends just as you expect them to accept yours.
In recent years I have become more reclusive than usual. Yes, a lot of difficult things happened. Also, some of the friends I had moved away. I myself moved away (and came back), circumstances changed, people got married or hitched (or unhitched), social groups disbanded, jobs changed, priorities shifted. Or maybe society is just becoming more isolated? With all the options we have for entertaining ourselves at home, why leave the house? Heck, I can sit here and pull up a wide array of movies and books and music to entertain myself with instantly. It’s an introvert paradise. Is it rubbing off on the extroverts, too?
When you’re young, you’re single and adventurous and not tied down to anything. As you get older, you become more set in your ways, perhaps more picky, more attached to your career and your family, less flexible. So there are some forces at work to make new friendships difficult. But certainly not impossible. As an introvert, I kind of like having people around, so long as I don’t have to interact with them for too much or too long. A few years ago I had the opportunity, for the first time in my adult life, to live with others (five!) when I owned a large house on Cape Cod. There were many things about it I liked – a comfortable level of contact, which is often difficult for me to find.
This is what I’ve always liked about work. It’s structured (which we introverts love), the degree of contact is usually good (brief interactions with customers or coworkers), and you can usually find something to bury yourself in if the interaction gets too overwhelming. Hence, I thrive at work. Always have. On the Cape I actually had the best of both worlds, as my shop was literally attached to my house!
Now, I’m detached (hee hee… a little pun there) and while I love my e-book reader and my Netflix and my Napster and Facebook, it’s not quite enough at times. Time to venture a bit toward the extrovert end of the spectrum, hard as it is at my age…….