Maintaining friendships is hard work for most adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD). It means making commitments and following through, neither of which are big strengths of ours. If we wind up canceling or, worse, forgetting about a coffee date or movie night altogether, we feel guilty, frustrated, and worse than if we hadn’t agreed to meet.
Then there’s the fact that ADDers need more time alone than others do, to give their busy brains a rest, which can come across as being antisocial. Sometimes I think that Attention Deficit Disorder should be called Attention Surplus Disorder. After a stimulating day at work, sorting through to-do lists and reminding ourselves to stay on task, deciding whether to see a friend or indulge in some personal time is tough. Some clients tell me that they often force themselves to go out with friends, but at a cost: They wind up feeling resentful and exhausted, because they sacrificed the quiet time that they need.
One way to make socializing more enjoyable is to forge friendships with those who share common interests and are OK with making tentative plans or doing something on the spur of the moment. Having friends is key to living a happy life, but what works for most people may not work well for someone with ADD/ADHD. Three ADDitude readers told us about their friendship challenges, and I devised strategies to meet them:
Friendship Problem: "I Worry I Don't Have Enough Friends"
I stopped making plans with friends, because I hate having to break dates. Going out to dinner sounds great when I’m setting it up, but I don’t feel the same way in five minutes, not to mention after five days. Besides, my best friends are my husband and next-door neighbor, whom I talk with over the fence. I don’t have to make plans to see them. The same goes for my coworkers. We get along great at the office. How many friends do I need?
The quality of our friendships is more important than their quantity. Acceptance and understanding are what make friendships strong and valuable.
Not everyone is spontaneous enough to go out on the spur of the moment or understands our hesitancy to commit to social engagements. One close friend who accepts us without harboring resentment, because we don’t like to plan things in advance, is worth more than a dozen who don’t.
This article appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of ADDitude. SUBSCRIBE TODAY to ensure you don't miss a single issue.