Keeping and maintaining friends can be a challenge when you have ADHD. One reason is because of the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ factor. When you are seeing friends every day, perhaps at work or in University classes, it’s easy to stay connected and make a plan to hang out.
However, if that regular contact changes, you change jobs or graduate, it is very easy to lose touch. This has nothing to do with the quality of your friendship; instead, it’s due to prospective memory. Dr. Ari Tuckman says prospective memory is ‘remembering to remember’.
When someone who doesn’t have ADHD thinks, ‘I wonder how Max is,’ they remember that thought until there is a convenient time to pick up the phone and call Max.
For someone with ADHD though, they might think of phoning Max but then the thought completely vanishes. It doesn’t stick around long enough for them to take action and pick up the phone. Having visual reminders really helps prospective memory, which is why seeing someone regularly is helpful.
If you have ADHD, other factors can get in the way too, for example social anxiety, anxiety around making phone calls, feeling like you don’t have anything interesting to say etc. This means that even if you could phone Max, the second you think of him, you might talk yourself out of making the call.
Of course, it takes 2 people to keep a friendship alive, so the onus isn’t always on you. However, if your friend has been doing the initiating to keep in touch and pulls back, the friendship could fizzle out.
Having a friend that you genuinely like and you get along with is special. Even though there are millions of people in the world, everyone is different and you can’t form that type of bond with everyone. Plus it can take years to create a shared history and get to know each other well. This is why it is worth finding a way to keep in touch.
The answer is Facebook. I know lots of people have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.
However, if used strategically, it is a very helpful way to support your prospective memory and keep in touch with friends pretty effortlessly.
There are 2 big dangers of Facebook. One that you get a glimpse into other people’s lives and then feel bad about your own. Research shows that the more time you spend on Facebook, the more dissatisfied with your life you can become. The second is that FB can be a huge time suck because of all the links to videos, articles etc.
The ADHD friendly way to use Facebook to keep in touch with your friends.
Create a FB account if you don’t already have one.
If you do have an account, update it a little.
Put a fresh photo up, make sure your basic information is current like the city you live in and so on.
3) 5 friends
Think of 5 friends you would like to stay in touch with or reconnect with. If you aren’t FB friends at the moment, make a friend request.
4) Mark them as ‘a close friend’
Go to their profile, and mark that they are a close friend.
This means you get notifications when they post something.
5) 10 minutes a day
Everyday log into FB for 10 minutes. Set a timer if you have a tendency to get caught up reading articles, taking quizzes and watching memes.
While you are there, do 2 things:
A) If it’s a friend’s birthday, wish them a Happy Birthday.
You don’t need to write a long meaningful message if that feels too overwhelming. A quick ‘Happy Birthday’ message on their wall is perfect.
B) When a friend posts something personal, a photo or status update for example (not an generic quiz), engage a little. Press the “like” or leave a comment. “Like” buttons are great if you are never sure what to say.
Volia! Thats it.
Log out of FB, and come back again in 24 hours.
6) Post photos
About once a week, post a photo of something that is happening in your life. Post more often if you feel inspired. Just a little slice of your life, like your dog or a nice scenic view. This helps your friends to feel connected to you.
When you get into the swing of this, you can increase the number of close Facebook friends.
I’m so happy you wrote this article, which just happens to be right up my alley. I will definitely be using all the tips you suggested. The hardest part for me is to stop when the timer goes off…. (since I know no one is watching……!)
Since I have a lot of artist pals and my co partner is 10 time zones away from me in Finland, I tend to use Messenger a lot….I have pals all over the world and we often send each messages of what is happening in our countries and in each other’s art. Queries are dealt with in Messenger. For images, we use Instagram to see what we are doing and it is very nice to see your mates doing well and progressing in their arts which in turn gives you remainders what they are up to…when you have a full life of maintaining property, your home during the winters we have and still stay in contact with people that suffer with seasonal changes…it is easy to forget about the world. Bringing the world to your doorsteps means you need to be less absorbed and more caring about others and yourself.
Thanks Jacqueline, I think I will benefit from this one, thank you, esp. the ‘close friends’ bit (and 10 mins a day). I use Facebook, and find it of immense value keeping in touch with US family in particular (I live in Ireland) – but not everyone is on Facebook. I have also started using an app called Reminders. It took quite a while to set up initially, and it is for people I want to remember to contact at periodic intervals, but I might otherwise let drift. It also reminds me of birthdays, so I can send a card or text. I have only been using it about 6-8 weeks, but it is an active prod and I have arranged to meet a few people, or phoned them for a chat, when I might otherwise have let things drift..and drift. I am hoping it will take the effort out of remembering to keep in touch.
Good morning Jacqui,
I too have a love/hate with Facebook. I too also have a deep dependence on visual reminders. I waffle back and forth on whether I want to keep up with Facebook or not as I also have an addiction to approval that Facebook makes a lot worse. That being said, I like your suggestions and I like the spin you put on Facebook as a tool to use to help with my prospective memory. If I can do what you suggest maybe I can spin the tool to actually help me feel closer to people. Thanks for a great article!
So happy you liked the article Melissa! Yes give it a whirl and see how you get on using FB as a tool to feel closer to people.
My son attends Bishop’s University! Not too far from you! Anyway, I have never heard of “prospective memory” but wow, I know I have it! I have to keep all my work or notes out in “sight” or I totally forget they exist. I thought that was just a “me thing”! Unfortunately I have major anxiety (treated) and Facebook puts me into a panic. I know that sounds ridiculous but I have tried using it several times over the years with negative results. Sadly, there are people out there – family and friends – who ONLY use FB and will not reply to texts or emails so they are out of my lives. I don’t understand the allure of FB. I know people who spend hours on it and keep track of “friends” from 30 years ago even though they don’t care about each other. Your suggestions on how to efficiently use FB (or any social media) make more sense. It should be used for “good” and it should be used to only contact people you truly care about and want in your life…not just a way to find out who is aging or divorced (ha ha). FB settings allow you to keep your closest or REAL friends available to see your photos and updates while keeping virtual strangers or unwelcome former friends at bay! You mentioned going onto FB for 10 minutes – people with AdD/AdHD have issues with keeping track of time as you have mentioned in other articles so I highly recommend that your readers use a timer (every cell phone has one) with a fun ringtone to remind them to get back to RL (real life!) or they will get sucked into the rabbit hole of cute kitten videos and their friend’s complaints about the weather, the kids or their jobs! I personally only use text and phone calls and keep my true friends limited otherwise communication is overwhelming and guilt sets in. And no one has time for that! Jacqui, thank you for all you do! Your name in my email always makes me happy because I know you have something interesting and positive to say! Keep up the great work and stay warm! Paris in Mass
Hi Paris! Bishop’s University isn’t far away at all! Exactly! using a timer will make sure you stay focused on the task in hand 🙂