Expanding Your Social Circle

Four tips for making new friends and expanding your social circle with adult attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD).

An ADHD woman happily going through life.

People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD or ADD) feel disconnected or isolated, with limited meaningful friendships and relationships in their lives. And given the ADHD challenges with social skills, time management, planning, and setting priorities, it’s no wonder relationships suffer. But it’s not too late to make new friends and expand your social circle!


If your calendar has more “to do” items than open opportunities to socialize, only you have the power to change it. You are the one who schedules trips to the dentist, the baseball games, work meetings – and you decide how you allocate your time. Just like investment advisors tell us to put money into savings first – because you will always spend what you have – you need to schedule time to socialize. Otherwise you will probably not have “extra” time left over.

Tip: Begin by adding at least two social engagements to your calendar for this month. Try to cultivate one relationship you already have and explore one new situation to try to expand your social circle.

Folks You Know

Take to heart the Girl Scout song, “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold.” Look through your address book, your children’s school directory or those business cards you’ve collected. Call people you haven’t seen in a while. Relationships require tending. Periodic phone calls, emails, notes and visits keep your old friends in your social circle.

Meeting New Folks

Every friend is someone you once didn’t know. Look for opportunities to find others with common beliefs or interests to expand your friendship base. For example, ask folks you know to invite another couple or person along when you get together. If you like your friends, chances are you’ll like their friends.

Joining groups or participating in activities also work. Faith-based organizations can help you connect with others who have similar beliefs. Working out at a gym provides opportunities to meet new people as long as you go at the same time each day. People won’t usually talk with you at first, but if you see them regularly, conversations pop up. Join a club or organization, sign up for a class at night school or a local college or become a volunteer. Local newspapers often list these opportunities.

If you are having difficulty finding a group that interests you, plan your own social outings with your work colleagues or neighbors. Consider pot-luck dinners or activities such as bowling, tennis, movies or just getting together for lunch.

Tip: Go on an outing – a treasure- hunting outing – to expand your social circle. Make a list of the kinds of people you would like to meet. Think creatively of places they may be – the art museum, the jogging path, a lecture or a crafts demonstration.

What Do I Say???

When phoning someone you already know, you could say, “It would be great to catch up. Let’s get together for lunch or breakfast.” Then, choose a relatively quiet place to sit comfortably and talk in a relaxed atmosphere.

If there’s someone you don’t know whom you’d like to know better, introduce yourself and say something about the activity you’re attending – like, “Hi, I’m Jane. This is my first golf class, what about you?” Try to avoid asking, “Haven’t I seen you someplace before?” After September 11th, people seem to be reevaluating what is really important in life. People who weren’t making an effort before may now be more willing to connect. To connect with them, though, requires preparation and thought. Happy planning!

More Ways to Build ADD/ADHD Social Skills

How to Make Time for Friends

Make a Good First Impression

Are You Listening? How to Shine in Social Settings