Friendships

How to Make Friends As an Adult With ADHD, According to Our Readers

Learning how to make friends as a adult can be particularly difficult when you have ADHD. Readers share their real-world tips for striking up new friendships.

Friends with ADHD have a picnic in Brooklyn Bridge Park with view of NYC skyline behind them
Friends with ADHD have a picnic in Brooklyn Bridge Park with view of NYC skyline behind them

Making and keeping friends requires planning (and remembering!) social commitments, and then staying in touch in between events — all of which can be challenging when you’re an adult with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD). But healthy friendships are important to your mental health, and friends can even help mitigate ADHD symptoms — coaching you through tough symptoms and reassuring you when you’re feeling rejected or discouraged. The key is finding friends who understand, and are accepting of your ADHD. Below, adults with ADHD explain how they make and keep friends.

I let friends know that I have a problem with time. If we plan something, I tell them that they shouldn’t be offended if I don’t remember or need reminding.” — Heidi Roberts, Utah

“I’ve had to learn to use my cell phone, texting people and posting occasionally on Facebook, which are things I don’t like to do. I’ve had to learn how to talk about the weather and sports, which I’m not actually interested in. I hate small talk, but I realize it’s a necessary evil.” — An ADDitude Reader

“Several strategies help me maintain friendships: taking my medication as prescribed, being honest, letting my friends know I have ADHD, and letting others know that I have it when I blurt out or don’t listen when they talk to me. Honesty has proven to be invaluable for keeping friends. I’m proud to say that I have many long-term friends.” — Rose Van Camp, Maryland

“I’ve learned to schedule time to make calls and send texts to friends once a week.” — An ADDitude Reader

[Free Resource: How To Become a Small-Talk Superstar]

Making the effort to take initiative. It’s so easy to not do anything and let time slip by. The other thing that’s important is to make little notes on my phone to refer to in order to ask caring questions next time we speak or get together.” — Liz, Connecticut

“I remind myself that it is never too late to reach out. Even when I feel I have let a relationship drop, when I just reach out to say hi, we are able to pick up where we left off. Even if it has been a while between communications, all you need to do is take that first step.” — Kate, Illinois

“I have to remind myself not to interrupt. I make notes to remember important events and things to ask. I make a lot of lists!” — K.G., Ohio

[5 Ways ADHD Makes Me the Best, Rudest, Most Caring, Totally Frustrating Friend You’ll Ever Have]

Finding ‘my people’ who get me and love me for who I am, flaws and all. I may turn off some people, but I remind myself that those just weren’t the right friends for me. I only need a handful of good friends, and I keep those by staying in touch.” — Kaye Herbert, Texas

Listening rather than speaking all the time, and not judging friends and acquaintances who could become friends.” — Martha McKenzie, Georgia

“I have never had a hard time making and keeping friends because I’m funny. My son is the same way. We blurt out stuff, and people almost always find it humorous.” — Shawn Thompson, Utah

I force myself to go up and introduce myself to people, and then I force myself to follow through on the plans I set up with them, instead of canceling at the last minute.” — An ADDitude Reader

I strike up a conversation with another parent at the playground or school when I notice their child is as ‘spirited’ as mine. People can almost always relate to the one thing we have in common: kids. I also stay active on social media sites. Even if it’s not an in-person friendship, these connections are wonderful.” — An ADDitude Reader

“If I meet someone I’d like to get to know better, I say something like: ‘This is an interesting conversation. We should talk more about it some time – maybe over coffee.’ It’s a statement, not a question. That way the door is open for me to extend an invitation later on.” — Herbert, New Jersey

Sharing experiences is my best tip for making friends. When you are passionate about the same interests, you are bound to make friends.” — Jodi, North Carolina

I compliment acquaintances, and this seems to lead to friendships. It doesn’t matter what the compliment is, just say you like their car, hair, shoes, stroller, and so on.” — Tara, Maine

Showing interest in someone and caring about their particular struggles help a lot. Having lunch out or taking a walk is a good way to talk about the burdens of parenting. We usually laugh more than we complain.” — Joyce, California

“Get involved. Volunteer for and attend school functions and sporting events. Make a note of the faces you see frequently, then introduce yourself. For every one statement the other person makes, be ready to ask two questions. People won’t think you are interested in getting to know them unless you show them you are interested in getting to know them.” — Claire, Connecticut

Texting works best for me. The conversations are short, sweet, and convenient. As far as meeting new people, I do that through group activities at church or work.” — Stephanie, Oregon

I set up gatherings/parties throughout the year for my son, so he can practice his social skills. Halloween, Christmas, Groundhog Day – it doesn’t matter. Remind your child to stay in touch with friends via phone, e-mail, or texting.” — Gordon, Illinois

How To Make Friends As an Adult with ADHD: Next Steps


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Updated on March 2, 2021

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