ADHD ABC| F is for Friendship

cher-quotes_17325-5ADHD Friendship FAQ

Since I’m on an FAQ kick now, I thought I’d whip one up about ADHD friendship.

Q: What’s the big deal with friendship and ADHD?

It’s full of oxymorons and paradoxes. Many ADHD adults have a tough time maintaining friendships. Even though ADHDers tend to be friendly folk, some forget to maintain consistent contact with friends.  Or they’ll forget anniversaries and birthday parties. Others of us may have a hard time reading social cues. Or you weird people out with your intensity and enthusiasm. ADHD adults may offend others with an impulsive comment, and at the same time are sensitive and easily hurt by others’ comments.

Q: Were you always so friendly?

When I was in college and running around undiagnosed with ADHD, I saw myself as an introvert. I didn’t have many friends and was about as socially suave as an isosceles triangle.  All I did was go to class, hang out with my boyfriend, study, workout too much, and drink periodically.  When I was little I was so shy that I would grab my mom’s legs and hide under the folds of her mu mu.

After a couple decades of personal development and an extreme spiritual makeover, I now know that I am definitely NOT AN INTROVERT! Friends are an integral part of my life. I enjoy spending time with friends I’ve known for years, as well as making new friends.

Q: I’m lonely and want to make friends this minute. Where can I start?

  • First of all, don’t tell people you’re lonely, especially if you’re a woman. You’ll attract freaks and predators.
  • I recommend reading How to Win Friends & Influence PeopleADHD and friendship by Dale Carnegie.  We ADHDers don’t think and act like other people. Carnegie’s book THE guide for learning how to deal with neurotypical Earthlings.
  • Go to and find a group that has to do with your interests.  Not all meetups are created equal. You may need to attend a few different ones before you find one that works well for you.
  • Avoid bars and drowning your sorrows in beer, especially if you have a hard time controlling how much you drink. Bars are a great place to meet your future ex and fairweather friends who only hang out with you when you’re drunk.
  • Remember–making good, true friends takes time. (I’ve got to admit…patience is a virtue, and it sure isn’t mine!)

Q: What qualities should I look for when making friends?

It’s super important to surround yourself with HIPsters.

1. Humor- They have a sense of humor. They’ll laugh with you, not at you.  They won’t make fun of your foibles, but they’ll laugh when you have your ADHD moments.

2. Integrity- Friends with integrity aren’t just honest. When they say that they’ll be there, they’re there. They don’t flake on you, say yes when they mean no. They don’t take advantage of your spaciness.

3. Positive- Hang out with positive people, those who encourage you, lift you up, even help you with strategies to succeed. If you’re a person of faith, find friends who will pray with you and share a common spiritual bond.

The adage, “The best way to make friends is to be one” remains true. The best way to attract more HIPster friends is to be one!  And don’t take your friends for granted.

I can trust my friends. These people force me to examine myself, encourage me to grow.-Cher

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  1. Hey! I have ADHD too (I was diagnosed as a child, and have been medicated for it ever since, but it is a big part of my personality, because medicine doesn’t actually cancel it out… which is, I think, not entirely a bad thing), and I related to many of your points here. Keeping in touch is something I am very very bad at… I can have a great conversation with a stranger who is next to me in line, but deepening interactions into friendship is harder. I do weird people out with my enthusiasm and the interest I take in them. I ask millions of questions, partially because I am interested in everything, partially because I have to do something active in conversation or I will stop paying attention. I have learned to hold back the impulsive comment thing, for the most part… sometimes they still break through, though, and Awkward Silence happens.
    Great post! Thanks!
    Melanie Atherton Allen

    • April 9, 2014

      How did you get diagnosed as a child? It seems that up ’til a few years ago it was rare for girls to get diagnosed as kiddos.

  2. Nancy: Well, my memory is hazy, but, from anecdotal evidence, my behavior was pretty extreme. Also, my mom was really aware of various neurological oddities (she was a neurobiologist before she had me and my sister; she didn’t go back to researching after b/c the field had moved on a lot while she was away); she thought that I was autistic at first, apparently, but when that did not turn out to be correct, she kept probing. I am now 32 years old, by the way.
    I believe that I was not labelled ADHD originally, the diagnosis was ADD. I think.
    Oh, and a big part of the diagnosis was that I had massive amounts of trouble learning to read; I am not sure whether I was dyslexic (it was a long time ago), but mom certainly thought that I was. I apparently kept saying that “the letters kept swimming around on the page” or something.
    I still have trouble with left and right (I don’t know if that is actually a dyslexic thing or not, but I mention it because it seems likely that it is), BUT I have a biological and built-in way to check; my right thumb is double-jointed; my left isn’t. So, if I am unsure, I roll my thumbs around and see which comes out of the socket. It is a good, kinesthetic way to check. And I suspect that nowadays I “know” which thumb to check, and it is more of a reassurance than anything else.

    • April 10, 2014

      Interesting! Love the way how you differentiate left from right.

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