An Introvert’s Rules for Better Social Interactions

Setting helpful boundaries to prevent burnout, without resorting to hermitage

My Rules

Go along, but only if two out of the following three conditions are met:

  1. It’s an activity or theme you find inherently interesting.
  2. It has a good chance of broadening your circle.

Breaking It Down…

“Two people you enjoy spending time with are going along”

I think the most reassuring way to meet new people is alongside people whose friendship you want to cultivate. Not because I’m not able to or I’m afraid to go it alone — I have done plenty of that, given I moved halfway across the world on my own at age 20, and have moved cities several times since. However, I’m aware that I have a hard limit with my own ‘socialness’ — I aim not to burn out on this front. So it might be worth really pushing for a cool new event with total unknowns, if the event sounds really incredible and is likely to expose me to unique new people. But for the majority of events out there, that’s a bit too high of a bar and costs me a lot. So knowing that some people I find interesting and cool are there is a great intermediary. I have the chance to meet interesting new people, or if I don’t, I can deepen some friendships I already have. That’s perfect for a low-social bandwidth individual, like myself.

“It’s an activity or theme you find inherently interesting”

For example, I am much happier going along to an event that’s about, say, Independent Publishing (a topic I find interesting and don’t know a lot about) than I am a generic ‘Women in London’ meet (because that’s really general, as much as I love talking to other women and living in London!). Chances are I’ll find more specific people who are interested in the things I’m interested in at the first event. At the second, the only thing that connects us is that we are women living in a city of 9 million people. Pretty small odds there that we will hit it off.

“It has a good chance of broadening your circle”

The third rule is a more nuanced one. I want to go to things I genuinely think could mean I meet interesting new people — but therein lies another little calculation. If my options are the ones I mentioned above, I have to make the choice between a group who might have more interests in common with me (i.e. Independent Publishing event), versus a group who are likely to be more diverse in their interests (i.e. Women in London).

A few conclusions…

Many people will look at this kind of pros and cons balancing act and think, “Good grief. Just pick a thing!” But, if you’re like me, and you find social interactions quite taxing, but have a plethora of things you know you probably ‘should’ go and do, it pays to come up with your own boundaries — your own necessary and sufficient conditions for saying ‘yes’ to an event.

Written by

Trying to live better. Writing on Mental Health, Relationships, and Living Ethically. Editor/Podcaster.

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