I’m a 22-year-old woman, my brother is a 25-year-old man. We were close growing up, but around high school we drifted apart. As of now I wouldn’t say there’s much friendship between us at all—though to be clear, there is also no animosity. I’ve come to realize that it’s very important to me to have a closer relationship with my brother, and I think the roadblock is our differing communication styles.
For me, friendships are definitely about talking. When my friends and I hang out whatever we end up doing is really just a backdrop for our conversation. I know I’m close to someone because we talk often, I enjoy hearing their perspective, and I feel like I can tell them anything.
My brother is very different. He very rarely initiates conversation-- I cant' think of a single instance-- and usually responds non-verbally or with very few words when people speak to him. I don’t think he’s shy or uncomfortable in social situations—he actually has a very large circle of friends, and goes out to bars and parties several nights a week. I also don’t think it’s only around me that he becomes quiet, because even his best friends joke that they’ve never heard his voice. This is also not a matter of shallow vs. deep friendships, as I am certain that there are strong emotional bonds between my brother and his closest friends.
I want to clarify that I never get unfriendly or disinterested vibes from him. He’s a perfectly nice guy, but also a very quiet guy.
What I’ve tried:
My normal approach when I want to make friends is to ask leading questions until I hit on something they love to talk about. That approach emphatically does not work here. I’ll say something, he’ll smile and say about two words (or none at all), then the conversation goes dead until I say something else.
Because my brother has formed close friendships that don't seem to involve much talking, I don't believe that talking is his primary method of relating to others. I think I need a new way of befriending my brother that doesn’t rely on having a conversation.
How do I become friends with someone who doesn’t like to talk? Or, more generally, what besides conversation can be the basis of a friendship?
I’m not looking for other ways to initiate conversation. I really want to reach out to him in a way that gels with his communication style, not in a way that gels with mine.
I am especially interested in hearing from other people who don’t like to talk, or who have friends that don’t like to talk.