ADHD and Friends: I never knew why I... - CHADD's Adult ADH...

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ADHD and Friends

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Wrestlingwithadhd

I never knew why I struggled to make or keep friends over the years, I had no idea a big part of that could have been because of my ADHD. I am 29 years old and have very few friends. I never had a super close best friend like many people I know. Has anyone else noticed difficulty making and keeping friends? Does anyone have any suggestions on how to make friends as an adult? I know Covid has made it even more difficult.

13 Replies

OMG, I never put these two together. I have found that as I get older the more trouble I have. When I was a kid I had a small number of close friends but that changed as I got into adulthood. I was diagnosed 12 years ago (I am in my 50s now) but am just now making the effort to understand ADD and what it has done/ is doing in my life. I wish I had some tips for you but am posting to let you know that you’re not alone!

I couldn’t believe it either! I always thought I was bullied growing up because I was slightly overweight but my psychiatrist told me it was likely related to the ADHD and having difficulty recognizing social cues. I wish people didn’t deal with some of these issues but it is nice to know I’m not alone!

“Recognizing social cues”, yeah that’s been a big one for me through the years. Makes a lot of sense now.

Hi there, thanks for sharing. I totally identify with you. I am 30 and I struggle keeping friendships.

One thing that has helped me is to work on my boundaries with my therapist so I don’t become overwhelmed from people pleasing or doing more than I can cope with.

I don’t have much other experience. It’s harder with the pandemic I agree. X

Thank you sharing!! One of the reasons I finally connected with a psychiatrist and found out I have adhd is because I started becoming extremely anxious about my coworkers liking me and my anxiety meds weren’t cutting it. I didn’t realize how much on impact adhd can have on many aspects of your life.

I to have struggled with making and keeping close friends. Some ways that I've had success finding and making new ones are through social websites. Meetup.com was great for meeting others with similar social if activity interests. For me, rock climbing was my group of choice. It was really a wonderful opportunity to meet lots of new people sand find who I "clicked" with. A lot of dating websites allow you to specify that you're just looking for new friends. You can also search them for things like specific interests.

Thank you for sharing! I will have to give it a try

I’m 31, I’ve struggled with this my whole life as well. I started using MeetUp last year and have made some good friends, but I’m also working with a counselor to learn my boundaries and to find healthy challenges for myself in terms of breaking out of routine to make room for new friends.

I’m also trying to recognize how fun it is when I’m with new friends and how rewarding it is to have people to talk to, so I can stay motivated. Because it is still hard work to make friends, and I could easily give up and go back to dogs and Netflix.

Thank you so much!! I am reconnecting with my therapist on Tuesday. Hopefully he can give me some good tips. I agree, it absolutely takes work to make and keep friends

I too have problems keeping friends. I was waiting for them to reach out but they never did. I realized years later it's up to me to keep in touch and show care. It's hard because with adhd we juggle so many projects at once and people are usually the last priority. However in life I learned the bitter lesson it's the people that get you through things.

That is a really good point that I haven’t considered!! Thank you for sharing. Support through friends and family is definitely so important

I make friends everywhere I go, but it is tough for me to keep it together long term. Do you know of the website Meetup.com?It is a great way to meet friends that are interested in the same stuff you are. I make electric guitars and cigar box guitars and gravitate to others with the same interest.

After you have someone’s attention tell them a little about you and allow them to share themselves with you. If that is difficult for them to know what to share, ask questions. Be interested in them, seek an opportunity to do something with them and that should start a friendship.

I always assume that someone I don’t know will be good to me. That they will be interested in me and that they have a very interesting story of their own to share with me.

According to the results of the European Lifetime Impairment Survey, people with ADHD were about 15% less likely to say they "got along with my friends outside of school" -- see attached image below (source: adhd-institute.com/ADHDacro... [from an older version of webpage]). And according an article in the ADHD Report, the reason for this difference is that "executive dysfunctions, including but not limited to cognitive inflexibility, organization/planning deficits, disinhibition, working memory, and low levels of self-monitoring may interfere with the development and maintenance of healthy friendships among individuals with ADHD." (source: guilfordjournals.com/doi/ab... )

For me personally, I find friendships are hard to form and maintain for a variety of reasons. Part of it is that if interaction with that person isn't part of an established habit for me, then interaction with them becomes another task that is likely to get lost in the mix of things I have to do, but will struggle to follow through on. I think another reason might be that neurotypicals are better at paying attention and feigning interest when others want to talk about stuff they find boring. Conversely, it helps to find someone with a lot of overlap with your interests so interaction is less likely to feel like a chore. I think it can also be helpful if the other person understands your ADHD well enough not to take the various manifestations of your condition too personally, like interrupting them or occasionally being late to meet them somewhere because you got distracted by/were hyperfocused on something.

European Lifetime Impairment Survey: Social Impact of ADHD

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