“Make Time for Close Friends Every Week”

Busy schedules and competing priorities keep us from our friends. Add ADHD to the mix and it’s a wonder we still have any. Learn how a quick breakfast date or walk in the park can cement lasting connections.

Making friends with adult ADHD

Adults with attention deficit disorder (ADHD) could sometimes use a little help making and keeping friends.

Managing the stress of life with ADHD — helping a child study for a test, organizing a week’s worth of meals, making sure medication is taken —- often take precedence over a social life. Plus it’s a lot of work to make certain you don’t accidentally say or do something offensive, forget to send a thank you card, or lose concentration during a conversation.

But friends are important. And every adult with ADHD could use a sympathetic ear or a reassuring smile from time to time.

So don’t throw in the towel! Socializing may never be second nature to you, but you can learn ways to develop meaningful friendships:

Engage in the social activities you enjoy the most (or dislike the least).
Movies, concerts, and other outings that require little conversation are less draining than parties, dinners, and other conversation-heavy activities. Vigorous sports, including tennis, racquetball, basketball, and aerobics classes, allow for even less talk, and also give you the opportunity to get some exercise. Next time you’re headed to a step aerobics class, invite a friend!

When you do go out to dinner, an informal, buffet-style arrangement may be a better choice than a sit-down meal, where sustained conversation is expected. A buffet setting gives hyperactive types a chance to get up frequently and lets inattentive types take breaks to “regroup” before rejoining the conversation.

Keep Things Simple

Social events don’t have to be elaborate affairs. How about hosting a potluck dinner? Or meeting friends at a coffee shop, taking a walk around the neighborhood together, or simply inviting them over to watch TV with you?

There’s also nothing wrong with asking a friend to come along when you have to go to the grocery store or car repair shop. Doing two things at once is an ADHD strength — if you’re short on time, call a friend while attending to something else on your to-do list like doing dishes, walking to an errand, or even commuting on a bus or train to work.

Plan a breakfast or lunch with friends. You need to eat anyway, so why not invite an old friend along to the restaurant?

Make a List of Friends

Comb through your address book, cell phone directory, and e-mail inbox to pull together a list of friends and acquaintances. Look over the list once a week or so to see if there is anyone you want to call or have lunch with.

Some ADDers use such a list as a “friend journal,” noting each time they see or talk to a particular person. Knowing when you were last in touch helps you avoid going too long before your next contact. If you want, you can even set up a structured “tickler” system on your computer using planning software that alerts you when it’s time to contact people at set intervals.