Can ADHD Affect Friendships? Explore The Surprising Link Between ADHD And Friendships
“Friendship is the comfort that comes from knowing that even when you feel all alone, you aren’t.” – Unknown
One of the best things that ever happened to me can be defined in one word; friends! Having a few wonderful and caring friends has made me feel like I deserve all the good that’s in the world. Knowing that I have my friends when I feel low and down cheers me up like no other. And this goes for everyone, regardless of their status, health, age, or other factors. However, not everyone can find it easy to make and keep friends, especially if ADHD and Autism are added to the equation.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects thousands of people around the globe. While we’ve come to understand how ADHD can influence various aspects of our life, there are still some aspects that are either not understood well or are underexplored. One such aspect is the link between ADHD and friendships.
This unexplored link between ADHD and friendships is quite delicate as this disorder can come with unique challenges that might affect social interactions.
In this article today, we’ll be exploring the link between friendships and ADHD, the challenges faced by ADHD people and their friends, and how you, one with ADHD, can create meaningful and long-lasting friendships.
The Link Between ADHD and Friendships
ADHD can heavily influence your social behavior, which can also extend to your friendships. The primary symptoms of ADHD such as impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention, can all manifest in your social interactions, causing misunderstandings, miscommunication, and even social awkwardness.
Eventually, these symptoms can lead to you unintentionally interrupting conversations, being unable to listen actively, or even coming off as seemingly inattentive, all of these can hinder your ability to make and keep healthy friendships.
In some situations, people with ADHD might even face stigma and rejection. Misconceptions about the disorder can also cause a lot of judgment and exclusion from social settings, making it harder for people with ADHD to make friends.
The impulsivity that comes with ADHD can also cause you to inadvertently cross boundaries, read social cues, and figure out what’s appropriate in a social setting. Another symptom of ADHD such as hyperactivity can also become a barrier in making and keeping friends. Some people may find hyperactivity as a way to cause disruptions and in the end, it can cause social isolation.
Challenges Faced by ADHD Adults in Making Friendships
For a person with ADHD, it is hard to make friends and even more so to keep healthy friendships. Some of the common challenges faced by an ADHD adult can include;
The symptoms of ADHD such as impulsivity might make an ADHD adult speak without thinking and say things that might come off as hurtful or inappropriate. Because of this, there could be misunderstandings and strained friendships.
2. Social awkwardness and anxiety:
It’s not easy for an ADHD adult to keep social interactions well because of the social anxiety they might develop due to negative experiences in the past.
3. Fluctuating behavior:
People with ADHD also experience fluctuations in their attention and interest levels. This can also make it harder for their friends to keep up with them and in the end, it may even result in strained friendships.
4. Time management:
If you have ADHD or have a loved one with ADHD, then you know that it’s hard for an ADHD adult to keep track of time and keep themselves organized. Because of their poor time management and forgetfulness, there could be missed social events and unreliability, causing their friends to feel frustrated.
ADHD can also make it harder for one to maintain their focus on some areas and interests. Because of this intense focus, it can make ADHD adults alienate from friends who might not share the same interests.
6. Overwhelming emotions:
ADHD adults might oftentimes feel overwhelmed with the friendships they have in their lives. In the middle of managing various appointments, tasks, deadlines, and other relationships, they might feel too overwhelmed, causing them to not pay attention to their friends, leaving the friends to feel frustrated and unimportant.
Tips for Making and Keeping Friends with ADHD
If you are an adult with ADHD and are facing trouble making and keeping friends, then here are some tips for you to improve your friendships and make sure that your actions are not misunderstood by your friends;
1. Communication is a Must
Make sure you communicate with your friends about your ADHD and the challenges you face constantly. Make them aware of your disorder so that there is no misunderstanding between you and your friends.
2. Practice Active Listening
Try to listen to the people around you with an active ear. You can try active listening techniques such as keeping eye contact, nodding, and paraphrasing the conversation to show that you’re listening to your friends and understanding their intentions. This will also help prevent any miscommunication.
3. Use Effective Coping Skills
Identify the coping mechanisms that you can use to manage your ADHD symptoms such as impulsivity, anxiety, and poor time management. You can try practices such as mindfulness, deep breathing, and even keeping a schedule to make sure you don’t miss out on any social interactions.
4. Be Honest
Let your friends know that you are struggling with maintaining friendships. Do not seek pity but understanding. When you’re honest, you can assure trust and allow your friends to offer understanding and support when you need it.
5. Avoid Losing Yourself to Hyperfocus
Instead of getting stuck in hyperfocus, seek out interests and activities that align with your friends’ interests as well. You can find clubs or groups of shared interests and hobbies so that you can find camaraderie with your friends. You can also try to find new friends by joining clubs that interest you. This way, you’ll have some friends who share your interests and with whom you can find acceptance.
6. Be Realistic with Your Expectations
Acknowledge that keeping meaningful friendships when you have ADHD needs time and effort and that not every social interaction will end up in long-lasting bonds. Be patient with yourself and your friends – potential or existing – when you’re improving your connections.
ADHD can present a great challenge when it comes to making and keeping friendships. From communication difficulties to feeling overwhelmed – there are many challenges that adults with ADHD might face and there are not many people who are understanding and supportive of these challenges. Fortunately, with some self-awareness, supportive people, and an understanding of the disorder – adults with ADHD can work on improving their friendship bonds and create more meaningful connections.
I hope this article will help you understand the surprising link between ADHD and friendships, the various challenges faced by ADHD adults, and how someone with ADHD can make and keep friends.
Know that friendship is a two-way path and it’s on both – you and your friend – to make equal efforts to nurture and maintain this wonderful relationship.
Let me know what you think about this article in the comments below and remember; “Friendship is not just about being there for each other but also about growing together.”