Friendships

What Type of Friend Are You? How ADHD Influences Friendships

”I’m a social chameleon who adapts to the people around me, hiding the ‘unacceptable’ parts of myself depending on the company. As a result, I’m not sure who the unvarnished, unmasked me is — I’d like to find that person. It probably would be less stressful and not so freaking isolating.”

Whether you collect new friends easily or lean on a few, long-term friendships dating back to kindergarten, there’s no wrong way to build relationships. This is true especially for people with ADHD, who often report that their symptoms complicate, challenge, and color friendships. The ones that work are the ones that accept and celebrate their ADHD.

Here, ADDitude readers describe the types of friendships they gravitate toward and how their ADHD influences those relationships. Share your friendship style and relationship stories in the Comments section below.

What Type of Friend Are You?

“I fall in the Selectively Acquisitive Friendship Style category; I am very careful and particular about who I label a ‘friend.’ Anybody who I don’t refer to as a friend is my ‘acquaintance.’ My ex used to laugh at this distinction, but it’s super important because it helps me decide how much time I spend with these people, and if I make an emotional investment in them. Yes, I help everyone when in need, but I will do it much more for my designated ‘friends.’” — BAT

“I’ve always migrated toward long-term friendships that can tolerate long gaps in communication, as well as friendships where we can talk for hours about things we’ve read or learned, or be just as happy sitting on the same couch each immersed in our own hyperfocuses.” — Anonymous

“My husband says I’m like a semi-truck with an engine that’s too small. I genuinely want to be friends with everyone, but I have difficulty keeping up with the logistics of maintaining friendships (due to my executive function weaknesses and anxiety). So, I have a long to-do list of people I need to text, call, email, etc.” — Anonymous

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“Since I graduated from college, I have had trouble establishing friendships. I feel anxious about reaching out to potential friends outside of work or other organized activities; I worry that they will be too busy or uninterested in doing things with me. I once invited a co-worker and her husband over for dinner with me and my family. She accepted the invitation, but a few days later told me, ‘My life is too busy — I don’t have time for any more friends.’ That really stung!” — Anonymous

“I prefer intimate hangouts because boisterous get-togethers often overwhelm me. I tend to focus on a few long-term friendships, but being a military spouse means I have to be able to pick up new friends easily whenever we move.” — Anonymous

“I typically gravitate toward people who excite me. I’m also a bit co-dependent and find I search for long-term, meaningful relationships.” — Anonymous

“I’m extremely nervous around quiet people. I start to do nervous chatter, and they don’t reciprocate so I move on. I dread being around them! But I also get overstimulated in noisy environments. I like intimate hangouts with a few good friends who like to talk. I was the one who got moved in elementary school for talking too much. But then I’d make friends with the new table.” — Anonymous

[Take This Self-Test: Do I Have ADHD?]

“I would say I’m an ambivert. I can be really social for a few hours and then I’m socially spent. I have lots of lifelong friendships but also make spontaneous new friendships. However, I often don’t have the energy to maintain new relationships.” — Anonymous

“When I’m in good social form, I love talking with everyone. I’m a little afraid to put all of my friends together in one room because I’m not sure how well they’d get along. I love my ADHD friends because they are a less judgmental bunch. If I’m late or crazy-spontaneous or any of the other quirks that come with the territory, they get it. And they like me, for me. Recently, I realized that I’m a social chameleon who adapts to the people around me, hiding the ‘unacceptable’ parts of myself depending on the company. As a result, I’m not sure who the unvarnished, unmasked me is — I’d like to find that person. It probably would be less stressful and not so freaking isolating.” — Anonymous

“I really need friends who don’t need me to call every day or plan things regularly, but when we get together there seems like no gap in our friendship. We trust that we are always there for each other. My best friend and I could talk forever (we’re both time blind), and the subject can change mid-sentence or at least every two minutes. I am sure she has undiagnosed ADHD; we understand each other far too well!” — Glenda

“I have two different groups of friends that share a common interest or work on projects with me. One group plays board games together and everyone’s a little odd, so I don’t stick out when I fidget, space out, or blurt out my thoughts. The other group is my band. They seem to enjoy my energy and hyperfocus, and the discipline that comes with writing your own music.” — Anonymous

“Growing up, I had several good friends. But after turning 22, I slowly lost touch with them. Now at age 50, I talk to just two to three people daily or weekly. I prefer to avoid people’s drama since it can overwhelm me. I want to ‘help’ and ‘fix’ their situations. I know that I can’t, so I just keep to myself and concentrate on my own life and family. It means less anxiety, less worry, and fewer gifts to buy!” — Anonymous

ADHD and Friendships: Next Steps


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