I Love You, Now Leave Me Alone: What Friendship Means to an Introvert

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Few things in life satisfy me as much as canceling social plans.

As a reporter who regularly covers friendship, I am well-versed in the benefits of platonic connection. I know, for instance, that studies show that people with strong social ties live longer and are better protected against stress. And I am familiar with the evidence showing that a truly robust social circle encompasses different types of friendship, including work pals (who can help you feel more engaged and productive throughout the day) and “weak ties” (casual acquaintances who can help you learn new things and improve your daily sense of well being).

But I am who I am: an introvert who delights in alone time. I admit I seldom feel motivated to make new friends, or even to see the small-but-cherished group I already have. For me, the tension between craving camaraderie, connection and all of the wonderful benefits of friendship, and wanting to be left alone is real. And the advice that’s so often given about making friends in adulthood (including that in my own articles) tends to make me shudder: Put yourself out there? No, thank you.

“Every single person has the fundamental need for connection,” said Kasley Killam, a social scientist and the founder and executive director of Social Health Labs, a nonprofit that works to create solutions for isolation and loneliness. “It’s not like introverts don’t need meaningful relationships. But what varies is how much and what kind of connection.”





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