Maintaining friendships can be a big challenge when you have ADHD. You can have social phases, where your friends hear from you in copious amounts. During these times, you feel inspired to call, text to make plans, email them nuggets of information you think they would enjoy. Then, you can sink into unsocial phases and you just want to be alone. If friends call you, you don’t pick up the phone. Not to be rude, but answering feels like a lot of work and effort. Emails go unanswered and texts get forgotten.
Friendships are more like house plants than camels. They need regular care to flourish.
You can’t give the plant gallons of water and then ignore it for months. It would drown with good intentions or wilt from lack of water. It’s the same with friends.
If you have ADHD friends, they aren’t phased because they are the same. However, your non-ADHD friends interpret this inconsistent behaviour as either you are being unreliable or rude. Good people that you care about can fade out of your life.
Here are 7 ways to be consistently social:
1. Create social habits
Habits are great when you have ADHD because they take away the decision making process. Some habits that take the brain work out of socializing are:
a) Have a regular movie night, either with a group of friends or individuals
b) This couple created a Friday night ritual of inviting friends over for meatballs every Friday.
c) Habits don’t have to be weekly. A friend and me always go out for brunch to celebrate each other’s birthday. This way, we know we will see each other at least twice a year. We even go to the same restaurant, so we don’t even have to decide where to meet.
2. Plan ahead
Planning ahead might seem annoying to you if you like to wing it and see how you feel on the day. However, if some of your close friends are planners, then they are probably already booked up when you invite them to meet that evening. You don’t have to plan everything, but a bit of planning and a bit of impromptu is a nice balance.
Create a standard where you reply to every friend that contacts you. This helps to avoid isolation and puts a stop to that comfortableness of you getting back in touch after months of silence.
Facebook can get a bad rap, but if used a certain way, it can be exceptionally helpful in maintaining closeness with friends. Limit yourself to 20 minutes a day. Scroll down your news feed and see what your friends are up to. Don’t just lurk though. Be active, press the like button, leave a brief notes of congratulations, etc. This does 2 things:
a) It keeps you up-to-date for what your friends are up to and helps you to make small talk (if this is hard for you) when you see each other face-to-face.
b) It shows your friends that you are interested and care about them.
5. Daily communication
If you are someone who could easily go for months without speaking to anyone, make a commitment to speak to one friend every day. Not only does it help you to stay in touch, it also wards off depression.
Make a note of when your friends’ birthdays are and send them a physical birthday card. It does take a little effort and planning, but it’s because of that, which makes it extra special when they receive it.
7. Life Changes
If a friend is going through a hard time, work, divorce, etc. contact them a little more often than usual. They will really appreciate it and it’s a good way to really solidify a friendship.
Do you find it hard to be social? Leave me a note in the comments section!
Very good article, and very helpful! I could use more on tips for social skills and ADHD.
This is my greatest failing. I cannot communicate with friends on a regular basis due to being busy, “being ADHD busy, that is.” Also, I struggle with self-esteem issues and find it difficult to understand that when I am invited out to social engagements that the friend really wants me to attend. I can’t tell you the number of lunches I have missed, because I thought the person wasn’t serious about the invitation, and how surprised I was to hear that they were confused by my non-attendance. As was I!