November 4


Reasons Why It Can Be Tough to Keep Friends When You Have ADHD

By NeuroHealth Arlington Heights

November 4, 2022

adhd, friendships, relationships

ADHD can make it difficult to navigate the challenges of daily life. This is especially true where personal relationships are concerned. If those around you don’t understand what you’re struggling with, they may perceive some of the symptoms of ADHD as personal slights or intentional insults. Here are some of the issues that you may run into in your friendships if you have ADHD.

You Struggle To Balance Your Time

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ADHD makes it difficult to focus on any one thing. Your attention constantly flits between pending tasks and responsibilities. It’s easiest for you to address what’s right in front of you, even though this may be one of the lowest items on your priority list. When you’re not mindfully managing your time, it’s easy for things to fall through the cracks. You might not realize how long it’s been since you connected with someone until you’re already suffering from the effects of distance in your relationships.

Though you may have the best of intentions, it’s very easy for you to get distracted. You might find that a phone call, email, or other sudden communication can knock you off course when you’re on the way to see friends. If you can’t redirect yourself quickly and efficiently, you might miss that dinner date, movie, or sporting event entirely. Worse, you could leave your friends waiting for you, uncertain of how to react. You need to find effective strategies for time management to help you avoid these disappointments, which can result in lost friendships.

You’re Inconsistent in Your Actions

Consistency is an elusive creature for someone with ADHD. You’re incredibly impulsive and tend to react in the moment with little to no forethought or planning. Friends may not know how to handle this. Relationships are often built on predictability and comfort. People enjoy being around their friends because they know what to expect when they’re together, and they can rely on certain things, such as a great sense of humor, an interest in adventure, or a keen mind for tackling strategic games.

You may have all of these things, but your ADHD makes it difficult to showcase any one trait consistently. You’re derailed quickly by changes in your daily schedule or environment, which can make it difficult or even impossible for friends to predict how their interactions with you will play out. Think ahead when you’re going to a social engagement and focus on a few goals for the event so that you can reliably deliver a good time for your friends.

You’re Overwhelmed by Others’ Needs

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by even simple schedules when you’re struggling with ADHD. Adding the needs of others to your plate may feel like too much when you’re already having trouble addressing your own. This may leave your friends feeling hurt and neglected. Considering what you can do for others is a vital part of developing and maintaining friendships. You must make the time to serve the needs of your friends if you want to build and maintain strong relationships.

Since you probably know that it’s difficult for you to assess your friends’ needs in the moment, make it a priority to consider their needs in advance. Mark birthdays and anniversaries on your calendar and consult it regularly to make sure you don’t miss special occasions. Set aside time to ask yourself what you can do for your friends, whether it’s sending a kind message, bringing a cup of coffee to their desk, or delivering a care package after surgery. Though it may take extra effort for you to remember and address these things, it’s worth it.

You Have Poor Memory

Individuals with ADHD often have trouble remembering things. This can range from your friend’s lunch order to the date and time you’re supposed to meet at the park. Friends may take offense to your forgetfulness, interpreting it as a reflection of how much you care about them. Work on developing memory tricks to help you cope with your ADHD.

Fortunately, today’s smartphones provide access to a seemingly endless range of apps that can help you remember important tasks. Let your friends know that you need a little extra help sometimes, and they may encourage you to make a note, set an alarm, or put an event on your calendar while they’re with you. This will help them know you’re more likely to remember your commitments in the future. Lists, calendars, and sticky notes can all help as well. Keep these in a single place, so you know where to look when you get that feeling that you’re forgetting something.

You Miss Social Cues

It’s difficult to pick up on subtle social cues when you’re struggling with ADHD. While others use these hints to subtly mimic the tone of a conversation and determine how to best act in different environments, you may stumble into conversations more haphazardly. This can make it difficult to make new friendships, as people may not know how to interpret your actions.

If you can, find a close friend that you can be honest with, and enlist them to help give you quiet nudges and tips on how to best approach certain social situations. Having even one partner at your side during parties and other social events can make a big difference. Lacking this, you might try practicing how to work through certain situations with a parent or other family member.

You Struggle With Low Self-Esteem

The struggles of ADHD often leave individuals with low self-esteem. You may feel like you simply can’t overcome the challenges of this condition and attempt to isolate yourself instead. It’s important to avoid this type of response. Seek counseling from a trained professional to help you find an effective way to manage your ADHD and your friendships at the same time.

Whether you’re looking for ADHD testing or long-term treatment plans, we can help. Our team at NeuroHealth Arlington Heights can address your concerns and help you develop an actionable plan for managing and maintaining strong friendships no matter what your condition. Contact us to learn more.

NeuroHealth Arlington Heights

About the author

For over 20 years, NeuroHealth Arlington Heights has been offering neuropsychological and psychological assessments and treatments for people of all ages. These assessments and treatments address Behavioral, Emotional, & Social Issues, Neurocognitive Functions, and Neurodevelopmental Growth.