The Complexities of Introverted Friendships

The Complexities of Introverted Friendships

Podcast Description

How does friendship affect introverts? 

This is a topic I’ve been wanting to bring to the podcast for a long time, and since I’m an extrovert who is constantly energized by having people around me, I’m bringing in Becky Mollenkamp, a self-proclaimed “hardcore introvert” who likes to be alone a lot of the time.

Becky and I drop into the real, raw behind the scenes of how being an introvert has affected her friendships and how she’s created the experiences she desires. We also cover how to balance introverted and extroverted friendships, how to protect your friends’ time and boundaries, and why we often mix up what it truly means to be an introvert.

If you’ve ever told yourself “I’m a bad friend,” or “I am just not good at this,” or “I’m never going to make new friends,” those thoughts are VALID, and a lot of people are experiencing something similar. 

I hope this conversation makes you feel a lot less alone. So much energy is spent comparing what we “think” friendship should look like, when in reality, we should take that energy and think about how to build relationships that feel good for us.

In this episode you’ll hear about:

  • The limiting beliefs Becky has held on to about friendship, and why it’s sometimes easier for her to forgo investing time and energy into friendships in favor of being alone
  • Becky recaps her experiences with friendship through childhood and beyond college. Most of her friends were only there for a season since she moved around so much
  • Attachment styles, and how your given attachment style can affect how you form close relationships (and potentially sabotage them)
  • “The Liking Gap” and why most people actually underestimate how much another person likes them
  • Most of what we see in society is an extroverted vision of friendship. We talk about what it looks like to have a friendship amongst introverts, or where one person in the friendship is an introvert
  • Spending time together will look differently for introverts than it will for extroverts. As such, some friends will spend more time together as they have similar energies, but there are ways to make introverted friendships even more fulfilling

Reflection Questions:

Do you identify as an introvert or an extrovert? How has that label played out in your friendships? Are they certain friends that you feel are a better match for you, energetically?

Notable Quotes from Becky

“How many people are just waiting for someone else to make the first move? And I’m sure this transfers well beyond the online business space, but everyone else just wants someone else to do it. Everyone’s looking for friends, but they just don’t want to be the one to ask, probably because of that fear of rejection. I have created so many mastermind groups for myself and I’ve always been the one to create them. And as soon as I ask people, I never have a shortage of people saying like, “Oh my God, yes, I would love that. I’ve always wanted to do that.””

“What complicates it even more for me, is I’m an introvert, and I’m a hardcore introvert. I like to be alone. I need to be alone. And so when I add that in, it sort of feels like, well, then I’ll just be alone, because it feels good. I’m not even gonna invest my time and energy, because I’m “bad” at this, and I don’t really need it. And it’s okay that I don’t need it, because I don’t really even like the model that I’ve seen for friendship. And if that’s what friendship has to look like, it doesn’t feel good to me, because I’d rather just be alone then. And so all of that, like, “stuff”, gets thrown into the pot, into that recipe of why I was feeling like a bad friend all those years.”

Resources & Links

Connect with Becky on Instagram at @beckymollenkamp, LinkedIn, Twitter, or on her website.

Leave Alex a voicemail!

Lean Into Connections With Your Introvert Friends

@itsalexalexander We aren’t taught we can impact our social wellness – friendships, family relationships, community — BUT WE CAN. How do I know? I built my support system from the ground up. It’s possible. #loneliness #socialwellness #makenewfriends #estrangementadultchildren ♬ original sound – Layde_Shy

Think of your “closest friends.” Memories of friends in HS and college might appear. Want to know how you got so close? YOU LIVED LIFE TOGETHER. Grocery store, laundry, cooking. FYI- You can still do that.

♬ Sweet Disposition FeelingBlew – Feelingblew

Until next time…

Take the conversation beyond the new podcast on friendship! Follow Alex on Instagram (@itsalexalexander) or Tiktok (@itsalexalexander), or send her a voice message directly with all your friendship thoughts, problems, and triumphs by heading to AlexAlex.chat and hitting record. 

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Episode Transcript

Podcast Intro/Outro  00:02

Alrighty, gang. Here’s to nights that turn into mornings and friends that turn in family. Cheers!

Podcast Intro/Outro   00:18

Hello, Hello, and welcome to the Friendship IRL podcast. I’m your host, Alex Alexander. My friends… They would tell you; I like to ask the hard questions. You know who I am in the group? I’m the person that’s saying, “Okay, I’m going to ask this question, but don’t feel like you have to answer it.” And now, I can be that friend for you, too. 

Alex Alexander [Narration]  00:51

When Becky contacted me and said, I want to talk about introverted friendships, I could not get her on the schedule fast enough. Because this is a topic of conversation that so many of you tell me you want to hear more about. The question of oh, how does friendship affect introverts is constant. It comes up in all sorts of episodes and all sorts of conversations I have. So I’m very, very excited that we’re dedicating one of I’m sure many, sure there will be more episodes about introverted friendship in the future. But this is our first one. And we get to the very end of this episode, you’ll hear and Becky realizes we maybe should have started the episode by talking about what is an introvert versus an extrovert. So I’m gonna give you a quick little overview before we get started, and you’ll hear her summarize it at the end. Being an introvert versus an extrovert, a lot of people get confused. They think it’s how shy someone is. And it’s not. It is all about your energy. What energizes you versus depletes your energy. So, as you’ll hear in this episode, and you’re probably not shocked by this, I’m a very extroverted person. I am very energized by being around other people. And I cannot comprehend the fact that other people are drained. But I do know that that’s the reality. An introvert is somebody who, when they are around other people, it depletes their energy, it takes their battery down, and they have to go home and have some solo time to recharge. This isn’t black or white, it’s not a binary, it’s a spectrum. And there’s all sorts of other nuances to it, too. You can be, as Becky calls it, an outgoing introvert or you very talkative, you love making connections. But you’re still depleted at the end of the day and need to make time for yourself to self-care and recharge your batteries. So with that being said, I’m gonna drop you into this episode, we’re gonna listen to my conversation with Becky. It is so good. It was one of those ones where I got to the end and as I was saying goodbye to her on the call after the recording ended, I just was like, so many people are gonna feel seen by this episode. And you’ll know what I’m talking about in like the first three minutes, because we just drop into the real, raw behind the scenes, candid answer of I have always felt like a bad friend, because my friendships don’t look the way that if I feel like society says they should. So with that, let’s get to today’s episode. 

Alex Alexander  03:44

You know, I had somebody message me today and say that they listen to these podcast episodes and all the mind tricks you play on yourself, all these scripts that run around in your head that tell you I’m a bad friend, or I am just not good at this, or I’m never going to make new friends. Those are valid, and a lot of people are experiencing something similar, but we can rewrite those and they don’t need to be there if we just think about things differently. And I think today’s episode is really going to help a lot of people do that.

Becky Mollenkamp  04:19

I hope so. And it helps me to hear that. It always helps me hearing that other people have that internal dialogue, which is why I think we need to speak these things. Because so often we’re thinking that we’re the only one feeling whatever it is, and you just never are. But we have to be brave enough to speak it so other people can say, “Yeah, I feel that way too.”

Alex Alexander  04:39

Exactly. And then think about it and be like, is that really true? If we’re all thinking that, is that really what’s happening here? Or is there something else that’s leading us to have these beliefs? And that’s where we’re going today. So, do you want to tell us a little bit about you and your experiences of friendship? And maybe some of those like thoughts you’ve had about yourself as a friend.

Becky Mollenkamp  05:03

Well, I’ve definitely thought I was a bad friend, and that I don’t have friends, that I don’t know how to make friends, I don’t know how to keep friends. I mean, any thought you can have that is about being a bad friend I’ve had, I moved around a lot as a child. And so I had to sort of learn how to adapt with that and make new friends. But it also sort of made me learn that, like, friendships are temporary. I got this belief system, I think, that I wasn’t going to have long-term friendships, that friendships kind of come and go. Because I was moving schools every year, every other year. And so I didn’t have that long-term friend. And that’s what I always saw as like the role model of friendship, especially for women, but maybe for men too. But just this idea that you’re supposed to have that best girlfriend that you tell everything to and you talk to her all the time, and you grew up together, and then you’re gonna have your kids together and you know, the whole thing. And like, I didn’t have that. I don’t have any friends really, that I had from my childhood. I’m still barely in touch with a couple of people from like, later in my young adulthood. But I’ve not had those long-term friendships, and I definitely judged myself for that for a really long time.

PODCAST EPISODE! How to Make Friends as a Grown-Up. Give it a listen!

Alex Alexander  06:14

My DMs are like a confessional on Instagram. The things that people send me are vast and wild. And I get so many messages from people telling me that they’ve always thought they were someone is wrong with them. Because they don’t have that one friend. Like that one person that, you’re right, society says you should find this friend when you’re young, and it’s rare to find another one. And then you’re supposed to do literally everything to hold on to that friend. But if you never found that person in the first place, there’s kind of this window. It tells you like, oh, well, you’ve passed your opportunity to meet that person. And you’ll just miss out on having that person forever, which is crap. That is so not true. 

Becky Mollenkamp  07:13

But it feels like it. 

Alex Alexander  07:14

Yeah. And society, like mass media and things like that really reinforce it. If we think about the shows, the way that friendship is depicted in TV and movies, that’s a common narrative of like having that friend forever. The one that comes to mind, I haven’t watched New Girl in a really long time. But I recently was letting it run again. And it’s gotten a lot of things. It has like that idea of living with all your best friends. But also, Jess and Cece, I kind of forgot this, but it was like they’ve been best friends since they were like 10. So, they had all the factors mixed in there.

Becky Mollenkamp  08:00

Makes me think of friends too, right? Because I had that idea. Like you’re supposed to want to spend all of your time with these people, and so much so that you’d want to be their roommate and like, I never wanted a roommate, I didn’t want to spend and still don’t want to spend all of my time with a friend. But it really felt like that meant that I… either I was doing it wrong, or I just wasn’t cut out for friendships, and I was just gonna be like alone. And that’s really the belief that I held for a really long time. And I would see other people who did have these really long term friendships. So it wasn’t just mass media, like I thought, like in the wild and real life of people who have that model of friendship. And that just would reinforce to and make me feel bad. And then you’re right, as you get older and into adulthood and the longer you go into adulthood, the more you feel like well, it’s too late to forge a friendship because everyone already has their friends, right? They’ve already all paired up. And I’m the like one who was left and didn’t get called at… you know, didn’t get picked for the game. And so I’m still left standing on the sidelines. And that’s sort of how you start to feel and then it feels very isolating. And like, you’re just… yeah, you’re no good at it.

Alex Alexander [Narration]  09:04

If you are somebody that believes that everyone else has all the friends they need, no, they don’t. No, they don’t. No, they don’t. No, they don’t. No, no, no, no. I can scream this. I could record an entire hour of me saying they do not. On the surface, people might be putting that out there. But let me tell you, I talk to people about their friends all the time. When people hear that I talked about friendship, there is always something they want to confess, admit, get off their back, see if it’s normal. People are looking for more connections. Now, they may not have the space or capacity at the moment for some all-encompassing friendship, but I am yet to meet a single person who can’t think of some area of their life that could use more connection in even if it’s just a work friend or somebody to chat with at the park, or they would love to travel, they want to go to baseball games, but they don’t know anybody who likes baseball, whatever it is. I have yet to meet a single person who can’t very quickly identify some area of their life they wish they had more connection. So stop letting your mind play this trick on you. 

Alex Alexander  10:30

And then you kind of get to this spot where you get these messages also of like, well, it’s lonely at the top, or we should be able to do it ourselves, or just go at it alone. And there’s nothing wrong per se, with like, deciding you’re going to do something on your own. But then I think you start to see this like being alone as celebrated. So you have both playing at you. It’s like, oh, well, I’m better because I can do it alone.

Becky Mollenkamp  11:00

Yeah, there’s that superwoman sort of thing, right? We do it all and do it all by herself. And that’s our sign of strength and resilience. And I think a lot of what we’re gonna talk about, so I don’t wanna get too far ahead of us, but then what complicates it even more for me, is I’m an introvert, and I’m a hardcore introvert. I like to be alone. I need to be alone. And so when I add that in, it sort of feels like, well, then I’ll just be alone, because it feels good anyway, so who cares? I’m not even gonna invest my time and energy, because I’m bad at this, and I don’t really need it. And it’s okay that I don’t need it. Because I don’t really even like the model that I’ve seen for friendship. And if that’s what friendship has to look like, it doesn’t feel good to me, because I’d rather just be alone then. And so all of that, like, stuff gets thrown into the pot, you know, into that recipe of why I was feeling like a bad friend all those years.

Alex Alexander  11:49

And when you put all those beliefs together, why would you ever invest energy or time or your attention into making connections? You wouldn’t, because you’ve already believed that you’re bad at it. You don’t need it. You actually feel better alone. And then we end up in this, like, never-ending cycle of anytime you walk in to a new connection, you kind of shut it down before it even starts because you don’t need it. Why even go to that gathering? Why even talk to that person? I’m good. 

Becky Mollenkamp  12:26

Or if I do, I just go into it making the assumption this won’t be friendship, right? Like, this is just gonna be another acquaintance. And that’s why I’ve always thought I’ve had in life, it’s just a lot of acquaintances. Right? And so okay, fine, here comes another acquaintance, but it won’t have any, like, what I thought friendship had to look like. It’s never going to become that. So, I’ll just leave it at that.

Alex Alexander  12:46

Okay, so let’s back it up. Now we’ve kind of given a people are going to be in their car, on their walk, and they’re going to like, yes. Yeah. I can already see it, I can already see all the people who are going to feel very seen by putting these beliefs out into the open. Why don’t we go back and kind of start with like, when you were younger? And I don’t know what age if there’s any that stands out as like really young or high school or college, when you kind of saw other people having these models and it just didn’t feel right to you. What that was like? 

Becky Mollenkamp  13:26

Well, I remember being very young, like second, third grade, and all of my memories from being really young or being alone, playing alone. I remember vivid times of like play. And every time I remember that, I was by myself. I loved to read. I was kind of that nerdy girl who liked to read. I told my husband I used to like make dioramas just for fun. Like that’s the level of nerdiness I was at that age. And I read like nonfiction biographies of like American pioneers and stuff. I was kind of nerdy in that way. Anyway, and when I played, I remember playing in my backyard, on my swing set, and in my tree house and… but it was always by myself. And I don’t remember that being a bad thing. I just remember that’s kind of how it was. We had already moved a lot though by then. And then you know, as I moved again and again, each new place I would remember that feeling of like trying to find friends and collecting a friend or two. Like I… wasn’t like I didn’t have people to play with especially as I got older. So fourth, fifth, sixth seventh grade moving into junior high in high school. I had friends, most of them… it was four. I’ve always had friends for a season, right? Like it’s never felt like this long-term thing. I can like think of each age group or each year of school and tell you who I was friends with that year. And rarely do they go beyond that year other than high school where I had a little stint where I lived in one place. I went to one high school and I did have friends that… for most of that were the same. But then guess what? We went to college and those friendships ended. They didn’t last beyond that. It always seemed to be like this year of your of your life or these couple of years of your life, this very isolated time. And these are the people who will be your friends in that time. It’s not going to continue beyond that, right? And then I got married young. So then that became my friend, you know? And then we would sometimes have some friends, but a lot of the friendships were more family that served as that sort of role. And we had each other. So like, that’s sort of what my track record has looked like. It’s always been very few people that would get really deep quickly perhaps, but then it only lasted for so long.

Alex Alexander  15:34

I mean, there are so many people that are gonna listen to this and be like, yeah, very similar experience. When you maybe like found your partner and went and like leaned back into family relationships and things like that, dd you ever get a sense that that was maybe celebrated or encouraged? Or like, yeah, this is what you’re supposed to do. You don’t need all that other stuff. Or… 

Becky Mollenkamp  16:02

I’d say more the opposite. 

Alex Alexander  16:04

The opposite. So interesting.

Becky Mollenkamp  16:07

With the space and time from that, I can’t tell you how much of that was real or internal. But I know I’ve always internally felt like I was doing it wrong. Like I should have more friends. And there’s something wrong with me that I don’t… I don’t know that I can remember anyone explicitly saying it, but I feel like they did. Is that true? I don’t know. But that might just be my recollection because of my own feelings at the time. But it always felt like there’s something wrong with me. I’m honestly still to this day, even though I’ve done a lot of work around this that I know we’ll talk about, I still have that feeling of like, is there something wrong with me? Am I doing this all wrong? Because I don’t have all of those friends or, you know, friends that I’m seeing all the time. And definitely, then it felt the same way. It was not like, I didn’t feel like people are saying like, cool, you don’t have a lot of friends. That’s normal. But like, I didn’t feel that at all. 

PODCAST EPISODE! I let you in behind the scenes in my life for this podcast episode! I talk about how I built a life where I fell “very-not-alone.” Give it a listen!

Alex Alexander  16:53

So then the older you got as an adult, what was it like to continue, I guess to have these beliefs of a bad friend, I’m not good at this? Like do you have any memories of maybe wanting to connect with someone, but then like holding yourself back? Maybe you were fine with it and you were like, I’m good?

Becky Mollenkamp  17:17

Well, I would sometimes… I don’t know, I think internally I mostly felt good. But there was this feeling of like, I’m… like, I should have more friends. Like there’s just something wrong with me that I don’t know and I should have more. And I felt like there were lots of times where I would think like, that’d be a cool person to be friends with. But I don’t know, like, they’re not gonna want to be friends with me. It really turned that whole experience throughout all of my youth and up turned around into this belief that no one wants to be my friend anymore, right? Now, who wants to be my friend? Because clearly they don’t. Or I would have lots of friends by now. Like, I really felt that way. Like, I would have all sorts of friends if I was like a cool chick that people really wanted to be friends with. So I must not be, right? And so that would always hold me back in those situations of not being willing to get vulnerable, not willing to make the first move, as you know, because I have learned that creating friendships is a lot like dating and I never wanted to do that. And I do recognize in addition to being an introvert, there’s also an added layer of having some abandonment issues from my childhood too that factor into this as well. Because there is that. I don’t know if you know attachments style theory, but I’ve done a lot of research on that lately. And that more than any other… Myers Briggs or Enneagram, or anything else, attachment style has really helped me understand myself better in the ways I show up. I have this fearful avoidant, is what it’s called an anxious-avoidant. And so there’s a part of me, the anxious part, that can be clingy, right? So like with friendships in the past, I could go all in. I can, like, you know, you’re my best friend. Okay, and you’re gonna be the one I cling to, and you’re gonna have to be my everything for friendship. And then the avoidant part is as soon as maybe we have a fight, as soon as it’s difficult, I’m out of there. Because I don’t want to get hurt. I’m not gonna let you hurt me, so I’ll be gone. And so I have that track record of these, like short bursts of deep, best friend. I can tell you my best friend for a… but they weren’t long term or anything. And so that kind of left me with that feeling of… and I may very well have been the one who sabotaged the friendships because of that avoidant piece, but I think I left it feeling like, well, they didn’t fight for me, that person didn’t really want to be my friend, right? They didn’t really… I wasn’t worth it. So that is the feeling, that pervasive feeling that runs through all of that of this, like, I’m not worth it, they don’t want to be my friend. No one really wants to be friends with me. After a while, that keeps you from trying. Very much. Right? And so definitely like I have lots of… I can’t tell you specific people, but I had that feeling throughout my adulthood of like, that person is really cool. That’d be cool to be friends with but they probably would want to be friends with me and I’m not going to push that. I’m not going to try that.

Alex Alexander  19:49

Have you ever heard of something called the liking gap? 

Alex Alexander [Narration]  19:54

I am going to spare you my very conversational description of a liking gap that I gave to Becky in this episode. And instead, I’m gonna pop in here and tell you what the liking gap is. So the liking gap is the disparity between how much a person believes that another person likes them, and that other person’s actual opinion. So it’s the disparity between how much I think you liked me, versus your actual opinion. And studies have found that most people underestimate how much another person likes them. So, we think they like us less. And what’s happening here is, it could be the entire interaction. It could just be a phrase or a question you asked in the interaction. But you might be having this conversation and feeling like, oh, this is going really well, this is great. And then when you leave, you don’t get to do an exit survey. Man, if only we could do that. A little notification doesn’t pop up on the other person’s phone that says, “Please rate this interaction 1 through 10.” And you suddenly get, you know, an 8 that pops up on your phone. You don’t get that. So instead, when you leave, you are left to evaluate your own conversation. And we are incredibly critical of ourselves. Think of all the negative things we say to ourselves all day. So, we’re harsh. If we had to rate ourselves in this interaction on the little iPhone app, then we would give ourselves maybe a 5. And they would give us an 8. And then we would have this instant confirmation that says, oh, well, seems like they enjoyed it. And we would probably move on. Maybe we’d have some notes for ourselves. But for the most part, we probably think, oh, well, okay. I was a little hard on myself. So hard that there was a disparity of three here. Wow, wow. But we don’t have an exit survey. So instead, we just have ourselves and our own self-criticism, and our own uncertainty, rating ourselves a 5. But because we do that, and we never get the notification that says it’s an 8 on the other side, every interaction we have in the days after that, in the weeks, we think to ourselves, ughh, they’re probably not going to like me. So, what’s the point? And it’s holding us back.

Becky Mollenkamp  22:35

I haven’t heard of that. I’ll have to look into it because it’s very interesting and totally resonates of… yeah, that’s it. And I am very lucky that in the last decade or so, of being self employed in the online space. I’ve had some experience that have helped me really radically shift my thinking around that. We can get to that if you want but… so I totally understand that and relate to that.

Alex Alexander  22:57

Well, I mean, we should probably go there because that’s kind of the next thing, right? As you’ve had this feeling as a kid, through your adult life of keeping everybody at arm’s reach, never wanting to get hurt, like there must have been either some big catalyst moment, or maybe some slow shift where you started to see things were different. Like how did you start to change and see that you can make connections, and they don’t have to look like what society tells us they have to look like?

Becky Mollenkamp  23:28

Well, I learned a lot more about introversion over the years. I can’t say this was like… it was overnight, or there’s a specific thing. But I’ve done a lot of personal development work, I’m a coach. So we tend to be people who have done that. And part of that was Myers Briggs and understanding more about introversion. And I always kind of knew I was an INFJ. Okay, I kind of get that I’m an introvert, but more and more research and understanding of really getting what it means to be an introvert, and just how introverted I was, and having my son seven years ago is what really, I think, now that I think about it might be the thing that helped me the most with that. Because that experience really showed me what an introvert I am. I always knew I was introverted. But having this little person who depends on you entirely, and needs you all the time and is always there and like just losing all sort of this bodily autonomy and… and connection with your body and space, not being able to go to the bathroom without someone coming in to check on you, and I love my son dearly. He’s an extrovert, though, which is a very interesting experience too. Having him as a baby, the neediness was part of it realizing like, why is it so hard? And part of that is because it’s hard for anyone. But also it’s hard because I’m an introvert and I need more space and I’m not getting any. And then when I started to realize that my son was a hardcore extrovert, like at the other end of the spectrum, that really started to open my eyes even more about like, what introversion looks like and what it really means to be introverted. Because I was just being so challenged in that. And so having to learn to claim more space for myself and everything. But through that process, I started to realize that my vision, the version of friendship that I had like created in my head, and that I often saw portrayed was a very extroverted vision or version of friendship. That friendship had to look like wanting to spend all your time with someone. Well, that’s a very extroverted thing to do. Extroverts get energy off of being together. That drains me, I don’t want to spend all my time with anyone. Not my son, who I love more than anything in the world, not my husband who I’m very much in love with, but like no one. And certainly not a friend. I don’t wanna spend all my time. That’s not because there’s something wrong with me. It’s because that’s just the way that I function in this world. And by the way, also helpful for me to know is, that’s the way more people function than don’t. There are more introverts and extroverts. And yet most of what we see is a very extroverted vision of friendship, but also leadership and all sorts of things, right? Because extroverts tend to be the ones who are more willing to be vocal and…

Alex Alexander  26:04

The extroverted version of friendship, we’ll talk about this a little bit, but like it’s more interesting for TV and movies and radio and like whatever ratings, keeping people intrigued by quiet dependability, sometimes it’s like an introverted friendship, the simplicity. That’s not poppy. That’s not like keys that people engage…

Becky Mollenkamp  26:25

… two people sitting in the same room reading a book independently. That’s not a very exciting thing.

Alex Alexander  26:29

Exactly. That’s not going to get ratings. So like, no wonder it’s not portrayed. But that’s not fair, because it’s only getting one side.

Becky Mollenkamp  26:38

Yeah. And so I started to realize that of like, wait a minute, maybe what I think friendship is is just what extroverted friendship is. And that’s wonderful, like that model is great for people who show up that way in the world. But what about all the rest of us that don’t show up that way in the world? What does it look like to have a friendship amongst introverts? Or where one person at least is an introvert? What does that do to friendship? And that was an issue I started to explore a few years ago, where I started to think like, I’m not the problem. Like that is a big moment of thinking, like, oh, my God, maybe it’s not me. And that’s not really freeing and liberating. And then I started to think about what does it look like because for me, I recognized that even though I said to myself I don’t have friends, or I don’t have really good friends, like I would allow myself to say, like, I have these friends, but they’re not like good friends. Because we don’t see each other that often, we could go months without texting. But that’s what it looks like for me. What friendship looks like is somebody that I know that I can have that kind of relationship with that I don’t have to see them any more than… that feels good. There’s no obligation, the communication is what works for each of us. And we don’t judge each other or hold each other back because of that, or feel, you know, judge each other because of it. And so that is the kind of friendship I do have. And those friendship feel nice. And then when we get together, those friendships often look like just sitting and talking and like not doing exciting, fun things like we’re not necessarily those people, you see where you’re like, I gotta go to the vacation spot and like, be at the beach with all the other people like, it doesn’t have to be all that it can be like, we’re just going to sit together in our bedroom and like, read or watch a TV show or whatever. And that stuff fills us both up. When I started to allow myself to redefine what friendship meant, I realized I had friends. I actually had a few friends. And now I realize I do have a nice little network of friends. And they are dear friends. And I realized that I am able to make friendships with other people. Now, it doesn’t have to be what I thought I had to be and it can still “qualify” quote unquote “count” as a friendship. These acquaintances I thought I had often, they are friendships. They just look like I thought they were supposed to. So that process has only been you know, in the last few years really… understand these last seven years. I mean, truly, probably since I had my son of really understanding myself and I always knew as an introvert, but what did it really mean? What do I actually need? And then how does that affect the way I need a friendship to look and allowing myself to say, my needs for a friendship are valid. That was huge. Because I never did that. I never allowed myself to say that my version of friendship, my needs for friendship are valid. They’re okay. And it can look the way that I needed to look and that doesn’t mean I’m a bad friend. There may be people for whom that vision of friendship doesn’t work. But then we’re probably not going to be friends and that’s okay too. Like an extrovert who can’t understand the way I show up and sympathize with that and… and allow for that, we probably can’t be friends. It doesn’t mean I can’t have extroverted friends. It just says that we both have to understand what the other needs in a friendship and how do you meet in the middle on that.

PODCAST EPISODE! Do you know the definition of loneliness? What about the 3 types of loneliness? In order to solve a problem we need to know what we are battling. Listen Here.

Alex Alexander  29:47

Yeah, I have so many things on this. I have so many things. One, how amazing for you to realize and like you said it’s so powerful like my version is valid. Because that’s really what it is. That’s what I want to talk about here is part of the issues, people don’t spend enough time even like thinking about what works for them, what feels good to them. Who cares what it looks like? How does it feel? Build that, and that’s what you ended up going back and intuitively doing. But if we’re so focused externally on other people’s social media and the movies and the books and the shoulds, honestly… so I’m a very extroverted person, we’ll talk about that in a second. I’m a very extroverted person. My friendships don’t even look like the movies. I have the big group, I have multiple big groups, we go on trips, we do all these things. I don’t really post them on social media. But like, if I did, it would look like I’m living the extrovert’s dream. However, what nobody’s discussing is like, a couple years ago, five sets of my friends moved away, right? Or, I have all these really great friends. And when I started my business, I realized I had… like, they all pretty much work in corporate America. I had no friends, I could talk to you about my business. So nobody knows what it looks like. And if we’re all out here comparing our friendships to these, like shoulds, and whatevers, you don’t even know what’s like the layers underneath that, because it’s probably not exactly the dream. And even two extroverts are going to be different. Like, it’s all different. And people need to just, yeah, people need to stop focusing on anybody else but themselves and just allow whatever is right for them, to be right for them. And I love that you talked about the acquaintances and the types of friends that… after this, I’ll have to send you my chart that I developed. But I have this framework. The working title is ‘The Your People Framework’. But I think that quite often there’s just kind of this binary definition of friendship. It’s like black or white, all or nothing, they are my friend, they are not my friend. And that’s really limiting. Also, most people can’t even describe what makes someone their friend. So we’re just like moving around on autopilot, eally having no idea why we’re choosing to invest or not invest with these weird like, I don’t know, are they really my friends? Like, would I really call them for that? So I have these four types of friendship. And it really helps you see how you’re connected to people. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that more connection is any better. Like you could have a friend where you’re just business friends. And that’s like a valuable thing. And I think that’s especially valuable maybe for an introverted person who’s… society tells you you need these like all encompassing friends. You can just build a couple of friendships that support certain areas of your life, and you don’t need to feel like you have to spend all your time with them. That is probably very freeing, I would imagine. It’s freeing to me, even as an extrovert.

Becky Mollenkamp  33:05

Yeah, I definitely realized that I was pretty all or nothing in my friendship idea of what it was. It was either we’re friends or we’re not. And I couldn’t have defined friendship. You know, another thing I was just thinking about too, that really helped in that process for me, was only a couple years ago, like two years ago on TikTok, I just posted a TikTok literally from my bathroom while my kid was taking a bath. I was just sitting on the toilet, watching him take a bath and was like, thinking about how hard it is to make friends as an adult. And I just posted something… like something really simple. Like how come nobody’s talking about how hard it is to make friends as an adult? Because it’s really hard to make friends as an adult.

Becky Mollenkamp  33:41

Alex enters the chat like, “Hi!”

Becky Mollenkamp  33:43

Right? And I had nothing to do with my business or anything else. I just put it out there and it is far and away the thing that has gotten me the most like, comments and likes and everything on there and hearing from like more than 1000 people about how they struggled too. They don’t feel like they have any friends. They’re, you know, too old now to even bother making friends. All of this was like, it was so eye opening for me. Because I think and here’s why I love what you’re doing. Because it’s that validation too of just feeling seen and knowing you’re not alone. Because it’s one thing to feel like you don’t have friends, it’s another to think you’re the only person who doesn’t and that there’s something wrong with you. And so that also really helps in… as I was going through this journey to of being like, it’s not like it’s a me problem. And that I’m not alone in this. And that felt really good also, as I was going through that journey of redefining friendships, so I love what you’re doing. And I think the more people who listen, who have those feelings of I’m a bad friend or no one wants to be my friend or I don’t have any friends, the more you can give voice to that in any way, any place that you have a voice, the more likely you’re going to hear from the other people who feel the same way. And just know that you’re not alone.

Alex Alexander  34:52

And you might be surprised if you start voicing this. People that are your friends might start voicing that they also feel like a bad friend. I’ve had this happened.

Becky Mollenkamp  35:00

Or they’re gonna say… what I had happened to when I started voicing more of this was people going, I thought we were friends or saying, but I think we are friends. And I had to confront that with them and in myself to say, wow, you think of us as friends, it was interesting. There were people who I… they are friends, but I just had in my head because we don’t spend a lot of time together, we don’t go to movies together, we’re not doing a lot together. Maybe we only… like I have this book club that we only meet on Zoom. I’ve never met some of them in person, or a few of them I have but not that often. And in my mind, that meant we couldn’t be friends because we only meet on Zoom even though we meet literally every week for years. I was like I was convinced that they wouldn’t think of me as their friend. And if they don’t think of me as their friend, then I’m certainly not going to think of them as my friend because I don’t again, going back to the rejection, I don’t want to be the… the big loser who’s like, oh, I thought we were friends. And what happened is the opposite of me finding out that they were kind of offended that I didn’t think of them as friends. And I was like, you’re right. We are. And that was really awakening to because sharing that saying like, it’s hard to make friends. I don’t feel like I have any friends. I have acquaintances, but not friends. And having people say, I’m your friend, I think. Aren’t we friends? And me going like, I had enough of those to say like, oh, I guess I do have… I have friends, I have quite a few friends. And so yeah, that was also really eye-opening.

Alex Alexander [Narration]  36:21

When I talk to people about friendship, this happens all the time. Where people tell me they don’t have any friends. Truly people tell me that. I’m shocked. People tell me that all the time. Or that they just have so few people, right? And there’s a lot of messages out there that say that you just need a couple of close circle people that can do everything for you. You’ve already heard me talk about how I think that’s a terrible way to look at it. Yes, yes, you want a few very close people, we all need that. But there’s still value in the other people around you. And what I find is, when I start talking to people about this… my your people framework will link in the show notes, and we stopped looking at Friendship is all or nothing, this binary’ they are my friend’ or ‘not my friend’. And instead, we see that there’s a spectrum of friendship. Suddenly, people realize that they have more people already in their lives, that they don’t necessarily need to go out and cultivate all these new friendships. But where they might start is just appreciating, acknowledging, even just stating, I have these friends in my life, they’re probably already there is what a lot of people find. And you might too. 

Alex Alexander  37:45

We’re so focused on what’s not there, like, what makes them not my friend, that we’re missing all the value that exists in these connections. If you looked at the value, instead of the distance to this, like ideal there, my everything friend, we would feel so much more connected to the people around us. And like this happens when I talk to people all the time. Because suddenly, somebody who thought they had no one gets to the end of the conversation and is like, wow. Okay, so I actually have quite a few people in my life. It’s like, yes, yes. But everybody’s walking around feeling like they don’t have anybody. That’s like, sad if you really think about it on a large level.

Becky Mollenkamp  38:32

It is. And when I got confronted on that, I had that feeling like… I had that moment of like, I’m kind of a jerk. How does that make them feel. But also, it felt nice in a way to have people say, like, we are friends. And we realize like, that’s right, I do have friendships, and they just don’t have to look all this other way. And I can claim them as friendships, and it’s okay to do that. I think it goes back to that liking gap, or whatever you were talking about. So, that’s interesting. Because I don’t want to forget, that makes me think of as a solopreneur, or a person who’s working in the online space and running a business, especially since COVID. But even before that, I was doing everything really remotely. And I have learned through my business experience, how many people are just waiting for someone else to make the first move. And I’m sure this transfers well beyond the online business space, but it’s what made me sort of become more aware of what you were talking of like, everyone else just wants someone else to do it. They… everyone’s looking for friends, but they just want to be the one to ask probably because of that fear of rejection. So I have created so many mastermind groups for myself. And I’ve always been the one to create them. And as soon as I ask people, like I never have a shortage of people saying like, “Oh my God, yes, I would love that. I’ve always wanted to do that.” And then when I asked like, “Why didn’t you do that? Why don’t you start it?” Nobody wants to be the one to start it. They’re all afraid to start it. They don’t want to… well, first of all, it might be too much work. But secondly, what if nobody wants to do it, right? And I have that all the time. The more I network, if I’m not the one to ask, “Hey, you want to like have a one on one call? Like, let’s meet and chat”, or “This call was great. Should we have another one?” If I don’t do it, it doesn’t happen. And that can and in the past has fed into this belief of no one likes me. They’re not asking because they don’t like me. But the more and more I have those experiences and talk to people and realize it wasn’t about whether they liked me or not, they just didn’t want to be the one to ask because they were afraid. And so that has helped me so much and understanding what you were talking about with that, it’s like… and I tell people all the time when they’ll ask me about mastermind groups and starting one, I always say like, you have to be willing to sort of put yourself out there and it can be scary. And I get that. But like, ask because I’ve had people say, like, no one’s asked me, and I’m like, no one does me either. I’ve never had it. Only one time, one time out of the, like, 10 masterminds I’ve been in, one person asked me, I’ve always been the one to create it. And I don’t think it’s because people don’t want me in their masterminds. It’s because they’re all afraid to ask.

Alex Alexander  40:53

I think about this a lot. When you talk about groups, like forming groups, or honestly, friendships, too, right? People always talk about how they want to find or join. And the words are really telling, right? Like they want to be invited in because of that fear of rejection. And my statement is always like you realize you could build or create. And then it’s like, well, does anybody want that? And I go, well, you want it, you just said you’re looking to find or join, which is the exact same way everybody else terms these things. So now if you turn around and walk and say I am creating, people will have the opportunity to say I want to join, I’ve been waiting for this opportunity to join. So yeah, for every person, for every time you want to find or join something, you’re not the only one. Dozens, hundreds, thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of people also want that same thing. And you could be the one to create the thing that all these people want to join. Also, every group ever just starts as like one person who wants to create it, they get one person on board, two people as a group, everything has to start somewhere. And there’s this, you know, hidden mind trick, again, that says, well, you know, if 10 people don’t join, it’s not worth it. It might take a little time to get to 10 people, people want to see that something’s like consistent and regular. Because they’re nervous if they go it’ll end kind of thing. So, you just got to stick with it for a little bit when you create those things.

Becky Mollenkamp  42:35

Yeah. And I think some people are like, sitting around waiting for an invitation, not even finding and joining but waiting to be invited in. And I get that. So I’m not in any way mocking it. Because I’ve been there a feeling like, well, if somebody really liked me, they would invite me and do these things, right? People don’t know you want it unless you go and ask, right? And so I totally agree. And the only excuse is your fear at this point. Because it’s so easy. Technology has made it beyond easy to create and invite others into anything you can imagine. There’s a platform, a tool, and usually you can find a free option, or very low cost to be able to do these things if you have access to technology, which I know is a privilege, so… but if you have that access, then there’s almost no excuse other than just you’re afraid. And I get that fear. And I’m not discounting it because it’s very real. But if you truly want something, sometimes we have to feel that fear and do it anyway, as I think Susan Jeffers says. So…

Alex Alexander  43:36

The other carrot, the other perk of doing… just doing it, feeling the fear and doing it is if you create it or build it, you can create it or build it in your vision. If you want to find or join a group and say I’m, you know, an extroverted person, and I’ve felt this really loud in your face space, then you join, you’re like, oh, I feel kind of awkward here. But if you created it, you could create the space you want to exist in and find other people who want to be there. Just saying, just saying. Added perk of taking the initiative.

Becky Mollenkamp  44:13

I love that. And there are other people like you. I know that can be hard to believe. Sometimes we think we are such unique snowflakes. And we are all unique. And yet, there’s not really a feeling you’ve ever had or thought you’ve ever had that someone else hasn’t had to. And the more we speak these things out, the more we recognize, like, oh, I’m not the only one feeling this way. And there is someone else who’s like, I need that same kind of space that you’re envisioning. And I was just waiting for someone to create it.

Alex Alexander  44:39

Okay, this is fantastic, but I want to pivot us, I want to get this into this episode because I think you and I are gonna have a great comvo about it. I want to talk about introverted-extroverted friendships. As someone who is very extroverted, I have thoughts on this and like ways, realizations I have had about how to interact better with my introverted friends. I’d love to also hear anything that you’ve come to realize or how you communicate this or like, you’re not going to offend me, by the way, just lay it out.

Becky Mollenkamp  45:11

Oh, you… I won’t. I don’t think I would offend you. Because I do have a very good friend who is an extrovert, hardcore extrovert, she’s awesome. And she loves having parties with lots of people around. She’s somebody who likes to talk on the phone for hours. This is something I don’t understand at all. Like, why would he want to talk on the phone? Like, I can’t even go there. Like, you could just send me a text. And we can be done in two minutes. Why do we have to talk? So like we’re very polar opposites. And yet, I really love her. She’s a wonderful, wonderful person and a great friend in so many ways. We’ll go to her parties. But often what that looks like is I find space and time where we can talk more intimately even in the big group. Also, I think she has figured out like, if I’m sitting alone and scrolling my phone, or just sitting alone and thinking, it doesn’t mean I think the party is bad. It doesn’t mean I’m being a big sourpuss. Like I just need that. Sometimes I excused myself and go outside. Also, I almost always leave the parties early. We don’t go as long as other people. And maybe there would have been a time where that would have seemed offensive to her, perhaps. But I don’t think so. Because she understands me now. Right? She never… well, she occasionally calls me. But I think she understands why I don’t answer. And she usually texts because I prefer that method of communication. We try to meet in the middle. Like I do go to the party, but maybe I don’t stay as long, right? Maybe I excused myself a little more frequently than other people do to go get some air and be alone. So, I think it’s totally possible. It’s about understanding each other’s needs and trying to find ways that you can manage those together. But I’m very interested to hear as an extrovert, what you think, how hard we are to deal with as introverts. 

Alex Alexander  46:48

No, no, no, no, it’s not… it’s not that at all. Well, one thing you were saying about like sitting at the party, I saw this… I think it was a tick tock video. Somebody was like, every party should be required to have a puzzle table. And I honestly was like, that’s actually genius. And I feel like I need to start offering just like a quiet activity for the people who would go scroll their phone, just like go sit in the space and not have anybody walk up to them. And, you know, say like, “Are you not having fun?” Like, “No, I’m fine. This was an awkward activity, I’m gonna do it anyway. So I’m going to try and offer that up, I’ll let you know how it goes.”

Becky Mollenkamp  47:24

That’s really smart. I love that because I usually would be the person at the puzzle table.

Alex Alexander  47:28

Right? You would just like wander over, maybe you’d have a couple words with somebody else. But you might just happily exist there with some other people who feel overwhelmed by the party. 

Becky Mollenkamp  47:37

I would much prefer that to small talk. 

Alex Alexander  47:39

Yes. And I started doing this for anyone hearing this, I’m going to start offering like, you know, maybe a quieter space that people can be. So you could go talk to somebody for a little bit when you’re feeling like it, and then you can leave. And then you know, if the friend you wanted to talk to is available, you can walk over there. You can like control your own energy a little bit more. But as an extrovert, I sometimes talk about this big… in a very extroverted world, we have a very big group of friends, this one group and I find it really fascinating so I think a lot about it. It’s probably at this point, it’s… others and things I mean, it’s like 25 people. People look at it and think like, whoa, but the thing is not everybody’s best friends with everybody. Some people are more acquaintances. Like it’s just kind of an open invite quite often amongst this group. Everybody gets along, is supportive. Sometimes everybody breaks off and it’s a little bit more like a club or a formal community and feel, than what TV or movies would lead you to assume about this friend group. One time, because my husband’s also an extrovert, I was having this moment where it was like, out of 25 people, how many of us do you think are extroverts? And I started going through the people. And there are three of us that are actually extroverts. Now, these are friends we like to travel with a lot. We hang out and have like chill nights, somebody cooks dinner or things like that. And realizing I’m one of three extroverts made me… really takes stock of what I’m doing. So even though we’re together, that doesn’t mean that everybody wants to be like full force socializing, especially if we’re traveling together. So I really try and pay attention to my introverted friends and their cues. Like if they wander off, I don’t wander over to them and say, “Are you having fun? Are you okay?” Or like strike up a conversation, especially say we’re traveling. If they wander outside with a book, I leave them be. Or I will also get a book and go sit far away from them and read. We have a friend that we travel with quite often. And she always goes on a run every morning. And one time I was like, “Well, I’d love to come around with you, that would be really fun.” And she kind of was like, “Oh, well…” Nervous to say what she needed to say. And finally, she was like, “I need to be honest with you. This run is how I survive these trips. Like, I go on my run, sometimes I don’t even run the whole time, but I have like, one hour by myself. And that’s how I make it through all the socialization the rest of the day.” And now as a friend group, we’re really like, protective over her having that time if we’re, say, doing something where new people that don’t know her as well are there, like a bachelorette party or something. And people say they want to go with her, we’ll be like, “Oh, no, you can’t. That’s her time.” So we really try and like protect whatever people voice as needing for their time. What else do I do as an extrovert? I mean, I really try and take people’s cues on… like I would, sometimes I’m one of those people who would love to call someone. I know. I know, you’re like, that’s my nightmare. Not always. Sometimes we’re texting back and forth on repeat. I’m just like, “Can we just talk about this for 20 minutes?” And I try and offer now. Like, do you just want to talk? I don’t call them. Like, do you want to talk about it? And when they’re like, “No”, I’m not offended, and I just keep texting. Just because it’s my preference doesn’t mean it’s theirs. And that’s okay. It really all comes down to the idea of just paying attention, and trying to have open and honest conversations. And then like respecting these things. And as an extrovert, doing that makes my friends and I feel closer, right? Because we’re doing what the other person needs.

Becky Mollenkamp  52:01

Yeah, you’re feeling seen and tended to, which is important. And that’s part of what a friendship is, right? And I like with this friend that I’m talking about as an extrovert, as an introvert, like, I don’t need to, and I don’t want to do activities together as often as she would probably like. You know, she’ll probably skip together much more often than we do. But there will be times where maybe I don’t really like… I’d be like, I don’t really want to go out tonight. But she asked, and we haven’t seen them in a while. And I know that that’s meaningful to her, so like, there’ll be times when I will try to, you know, push myself outside of my own box a bit too. Because I… it does sound a little bit like it’s the extroverts who have to do all of the reshaping of themselves inside the relationship. And I think introverts can also do things like show up to the party, even if you don’t stay as long or whatever. Maybe hop on that call, but just say right from the start, I can only talk for X amount of time, right? Or sometimes, if you can find the energy to say, okay, I will go… like, would I rather stay home tonight? Maybe. But could I go to this party and be okay? Yeah, okay. Or not even a party. Maybe it’s like suggesting an alternative, something, but still a way to be together. So there are those things that I also try to do. So that it’s not just the one side having to, you know, have all these concessions for the other.

Alex Alexander  53:17

I don’t think I’m always conceding, right? My friends are going on the trips, they are doing the things, even if it means they leave early. They’re offering a third option, right? So if I say, “I just want to get together. Can we go do something today?” And they might say, “Sure, but can we go see a movie?” Because then there’s some like social interaction in the beginning, but then we’re quiet the rest of the time. But we’re together, we talk a little bit at the end, and then we go home. 

Becky Mollenkamp  53:42

Yeah, I think one other thing to think about is, when you have that friend, too, it’s this weird dichotomy that can happen for someone like myself who’s introverted, where I don’t really want to spend a lot of time with you if you’re an extrovert, and you do. And I know you’re gonna have other friendships. And so you go and spend more time with those people. And I have to watch in my own head of this, like, that means they’re better friends, because they’re spending more time together or whatever. And so there’s that internal work to do around like, just because they spend more time if they’re both extroverts, then they’re gonna, they’re getting energy by being together. I’m losing energy by being together, right? And it doesn’t mean I don’t like you, because I lose energy. It’s just people, it takes energy out of me. And for them, that’s how they recharge. And so I have to remember that they’re spending more time together is not about me. And it’s not a reflection on me and me spending less time with people doesn’t mean that I’m a bad friend. Again, you know, it’s just this is the way I show up. But that is some of the stuff to have to think about too inside of that and just remembering that just because they’re not with you all the time… you don’t want it, it’s such a weird thing. Like I don’t want it and yet, when you’re spending all your time with someone else, then I started thinking like you must like them better than me and that I have to watch for that kind of thinking that can come up.

Alex Alexander [Narration]  54:53

This whole statement from Becky about realizing that like the times spent together isn’t always going to be the same if you’re introvert and extrovert, it was like a brain explosion moment. Because I have so many people who come to me and say, you know, feel like they’re picking one friend over another, or they’re always doing these certain things with a friend. How often are we reflecting on the fact that maybe it’s just because two people are recharged by being together versus one person needing more time? Actual brain explosion. I think that some people are gonna listen to that and have a huge aha moment, that they are not a bad friend, that their friends don’t dislike them. But just that the ways that you like to spend time together that aren’t draining are different. And therefore, the ways that you are spending time together, you should cherish them, you should enjoy them, maybe you can even find some new ones that are similar. But other people might just have more things they do together that feel good, that match their energies. I’m excited for people to hear that. I think that this is the kind of conversation I’ve never thought about it this way, Becky totally blew this open for me. And I’m gonna start paying attention to this in my friendships. I hope you do too. Report back, I’ll report back as well. 

Alex Alexander [Narration]  56:29

We have so many good things for this episode. But something else is that I talk to a lot of people about right, because the idea of, I’m an introvert, therefore, I don’t want to spend time with people, and I am not an introvert. So I cannot pretend to know what that feels like to feel so depleted. But the… I don’t know, the conversations I always have with people are that somehow in friendships, we’ve celebrated this, like deep conversation and intense vulnerability, and like, all of these things in adult friendships. And sometimes, in fact, quite often, I think that actually just doing things together is where we make most of our memories and connections. So something I always suggest introverts to consider when it’s like… two introverted friends hanging out, especially sort of with an extroverted friend to is, instead of that always been like, we need to sit and talk, there’s this concept, mostly it’s around like kids, which is parallel play, you know, where you just… you’re doing your own thing without talking. And this can look like getting together and reading or getting together and working but not talking, it could look like taking a class on something you’re both interested in, where you’re just listening and doing your own thing and not really talking that much. And like that can be really fulfilling for anybody. So sometimes like trying to find space for that kind of connection, that kind of gets downplayed as lesser than. 

Becky Mollenkamp  58:19

And it’s also really important for neurodiverse folks too. That’s another area where… up a lot. And I don’t know, I haven’t seen much, but I’m interested in some of these overlaps of introversion, and like autism or other… and ADHD and all these other sorts of neurodiversity issues, because sometimes the things I hear that feels like there is some overlap or some similarities in some of those areas, because I was thinking the same thing about parallel play or just parallel existence, is really comforting to so absolutely. I also think it’s important to remember that introversion and extraversion exist on a spectrum. And so like, just there are some people who are ambiverts that are very much in the middle or some people who are only you know, maybe they’re slightly more introverted than extroverted. I happen to be very far on the spectrum of introversion, but there’s like a whole range of that. So it’s not like it’s again, that black and white, it’s one or the other.

Alex Alexander  59:08

Yeah. What do you… like an extroverted introvert, right? You love to go out and you’re like, loud and whatever, but you’re really depleted and…

Becky Mollenkamp  59:15

I like to call it like an outgoing introvert. 


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Alex Alexander  59:18

There we go. Okay. 

Becky Mollenkamp  59:19

I am not shy. People confuse those two things, and I’m not a shy person at all. So introversion and shyness are not the same thing. You can be a shy extrovert, you could be… like I am an outgoing introvert. They are very different things. It’s about that energy depletion of do you get your energy being around others and with people or do you get your energy being alone and away from people? That’s the difference between an introvert and an extrovert. We probably should have said that from the start. I always assume people know but the truth is, a lot of people have that misconception that it’s about how outgoing you are, how shy you are, and those are completely unrelated. Because I’ve met shy extroverts and I’ve definitely met a lot of outgoing introverts.

Alex Alexander  59:57

This has been such a great conversation but… we could go on for five more episodes, I think. But nobody wants to spend five hours listening probably to us go on and on about this. There’s so many interesting nuances. And obviously, we could have gone deeper into so many topics. But I really do think so many people are gonna listen to this episode and just be like, oh, my gosh, I’m not alone. 

Becky Mollenkamp  1:00:19

I hope so. That would feel really great. And I don’t know if you’ll include my Instagram, but if you do…

Alex Alexander  1:00:25

Oh, yes. 

Becky Mollenkamp  1:00:26

Okay, great. Then people can DM me. And we don’t ever have to talk on the phone if you don’t want to. And we don’t ever have to meet face to face. But if you want to just say to somebody somewhere in the world, like, I also am like an introvert who struggles with a friendship or I’ve also felt like, I don’t have friends and here like, you’re not alone and I get you and it’s okay, I’m there. I’m all for it. I love making… as much as I am somebody who loves to be alone, I honestly really do love making connections with people. I just like to do it my own way.

Alex Alexander  1:00:58

And what a beautiful example that is to people who are trying to figure out their own way, because that’s the whole hope of this podcast is my way is not right and your way is not right. They’re just examples of ways that people could decide to do these things. And there’s a million other examples in between.

Becky Mollenkamp  1:01:16

Yeah. And I hope that others can start to like, get that freedom that comes with being able to say, I’m not the problem here. And it’s okay. Like, I’m allowed to have friendship look, the way I need it to look like. My needs are as valid and should be met and a friendship too. And if it’s not meeting my needs, it’s not friendship.

Alex Alexander  1:01:35

I love that. And then taking that and just like owning it by putting action into it and starting to put up boundaries or build what you need. All the things like create this support system and connection and friendships that do feel right to you without as much judgment. Becky, thank you so much for being here. 

Becky Mollenkamp  1:01:57

Thanks, Alex, this was great. 

Alex Alexander  1:01:59

We will tag you in all the places and put your website and people can come find you and hopefully send you a DM saying that you made them feel less alone. 

Becky Mollenkamp  1:02:08

I hope so. That would feel amazing. 

Alex Alexander [Narration]  1:02:10

This podcast is only possible, because people like Becky and all the other guests are willing to come on here and talk about the real, the raw. When we opened… if you think back we open to this episode, with Becky admitting she spent so much of her life and she was a bad friend just because this extroverted vision of friendship that is portrayed in the mass media and celebrated in life made her feel like she was never going to have that kind of friendship. And she doesn’t and she won’t. And she doesn’t need to. She has her own best version. When I very first started talking about friendship and community on the internet, and I had to come up with taglines and things like that, I said that we’re looking for friendships that feel good, not look good. And I think that sums up so much of how people are approaching this, right? We’re trying to find friendships that look how they quote unquote, “should”. They’ll look like other people’s models of friendships. So much energy is spent comparing. When in reality, we should take that energy and think about whether we’re building things that feel good for us. So, I hope that this episode inspired you to build something that feels good. And if you listen to this episode, you are somebody who identifies as an introvert and you want to talk about it, send Becky a DM. She’s lovely. You’ll have a lovely conversation with her. 

Podcast Intro/Outro  1:03:50

Thank you for listening to this episode of Friendship IRL. I am so honored to have these conversations with you. But don’t let the chat die here. Send me a voice message. I created a special website just to chat with you. You can find it at alexalex.chat. You can also find me on Instagram. My handle, @itsalexalexander. Or go ahead and leave a review wherever you prefer to listen to podcasts. Now if you want to take this conversation a step further, send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting. And use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out. No need for a teary Goodbye. I’ll be back with a new episode next week.

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Hi! I'm Alex.

I am just a person who has spent an extraordinary amount of time trying to understand some of the relationships that I hold most dear. I invite you to join in on the conversation below in the comments section below.

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Hi. I'm Alex.

I'm just a gal who cares deeply about community + friendship. Why? Well, I didn't have a healthy support system growing up.

So I built one... out of friends. I believe a healthy support system is the ultimate self-care.

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