ADHD Friendship

Navigating Friendships with ADHD

Friendships can be uniquely affected by ADHD, presenting both challenges and strengths. ADHD may impact social skills, leading to difficulties in maintaining long-term relationships due to impulsivity, forgetfulness, and misinterpreting social cues. However, many with ADHD also exhibit traits like spontaneity, creativity, and empathy, which can enrich friendships. To overcome challenges, it's essential to work on communication skills, be open about ADHD-related struggles, and actively listen to friends' perspectives. Embracing and understanding these dynamics is key to fostering strong, lasting friendships for those with ADHD.

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Written by

Alice Gendron

Founder of The Mini ADHD Coach

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The ADHD Friendship Paradox

Humans are naturally social creatures, seeking genuine connections with others whenever we get the chance. Friends make life easier because we have someone to share our ups and downs with, inspiring us to reach for more and be the best versions of ourselves. Making friends is an important part of being a child, but it’s also essential during adulthood. But for many people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), developing friendships can be a bit more complicated. 😥

As adults with ADHD, we face our fair share of struggles. Our lives can get messy, and things may feel disorganized at times. Our hyperactivity and occasional clumsiness can make us more prone to making mistakes, making it harder to build close relationships. Let's face it, who wants to befriend someone that constantly turns up late, forgets to reply to important messages or zones out during important conversations? 😭

But here's the thing: despite the challenges, we have so much to offer our friends. ♥️ Our unique perspectives and energy can make us fascinating and fun people to be around. Yes, our lives may be a bit chaotic, but that doesn't mean we can't be there for others and build meaningful connections with people that love us for our unique little quirks.

So, while building friendships with ADHD may involve overcoming some extra hurdles, let's approach it with empathy and a better understanding of what’s going on behind the scenes. There are ways to navigate these challenges and cultivate genuine friendships. 

In this article, we will explore some of the symptoms that can present challenges when forming friendships with ADHD. However, we will also discuss how these symptoms can make us great friends. By embracing both perspectives, we can nurture long-lasting friendships that enrich our lives. After all, surrounding ourselves with people who accept and love us for who we are allows us to be our authentic selves without fear of judgment. So, let's dive in and discover the power of genuine connections! 🥰

The ADHD Symptoms That Can Make It Hard To Make  & Keep Long Term Friendships

When you have ADHD, making friends can sometimes feel impossible. For people unfamiliar with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, understanding our behavior can be a bit of a challenge. They might be a little thrown by our symptoms or think we avoid taking accountability when we make mistakes. It can be pretty lonely to feel this way, especially if it results in feelings of rejection. 😕

As a result, individuals with ADHD often struggle to maintain deep connections and friendships. Our ADHD symptoms can create obstacles that both us and our friends need to overcome. 

Let's take a closer look at some of the traits associated with ADHD that can affect how we navigate friendships.


Due to our impulsive and hyperactive nature, social interactions can be a little complicated. For example, we may miss subtle social cues from others and unintentionally overshare information that makes people feel uneasy or bored. Sometimes, we don't realize when we've crossed the line and keep talking without noticing that the other person has lost interest. 😬This can really impact our ability to make new friends. It's important to remember that not everyone with ADHD experiences this symptom in the same way, as ADHD is a complex condition that varies from person to person.

ADHD Friendship

We may also have the habit of talking very fast. Whilst this often feels normal for us, it can result in words spilling out before we've fully processed them or even decided whether we want to disclose this information. Understanding the motivations behind this is essential. For example, oversharing personal information can sometimes stem from a desire for validation and attention from others.

Trouble Listening to Your Friends

Good communication is a cornerstone of strong social skills. However, as we know, many people with ADHD can struggle in this area, often talking excessively and oversharing information. This can inadvertently prevent their friends from having a chance to speak 😅. Our excitement or anxiety about forgetting our train of thought can lead us to blurt out whatever comes to mind without considering its impact. We may tend to interrupt others and unintentionally steal the spotlight when being part of a group. 💡

ADHD Friendship

I have to admit that there are moments when I'm not the best listener, which can make others feel unimportant and ignored. But I try my best to handle the situation by staying calm and trying to sit on what I have to say, allowing them to finish sharing the important parts of their story. I focus on them, listen to their words, and appreciate their perspective. 😊 Of course, this is often easier said than done when you have ADHD. But I find that showing them I really am trying can make them feel more acknowledged and appreciated.

Social Anxiety

Have you ever experienced a situation where it feels like everyone's eyes are on you, and you're overwhelmed with the fear of being judged? 😱 That's what social anxiety can feel like. 

ADHD Friendship

Social anxiety often stems from low self esteem and can be more prevalent among individuals with ADHD, as we tend to overthink things 😵‍. We might believe that people judge us because of our symptoms. This social anxiety can push potential friends away when trying to establish connections. Sometimes, we unintentionally distance ourselves from others because we feel unworthy of their love and affection or worry that we'll create problems within the friendship. However, as I've grown and matured, I've realized the importance of accepting that nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes.

Canceling Plans at the Last Minute

When we struggle with time blindness (a common ADHD symptom), it can lead to difficulties sticking to plans made weeks in advance. We might unintentionally overlook the conflicting schedules and events in our own life, leaving us to choose which one takes priority. Others may become frustrated when we frequently cancel plans at the last minute, making us look 'flakey' and unreliable. 😵‍

ADHD Friendship

Our impulsive nature can also lead us to make plans we can't fully commit to. We don't want to reject our friends outright and hurt their feelings, so we often take on more than we can handle. As a result, we end up canceling plans just as we're about to leave, giving the impression that we don't care about them.

Forgetting Important Dates

It's natural for people to want to feel loved and appreciated on their special day. However, when you have a friend with ADHD, special occasions can sometimes lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. 

ADHD Friendship

It's not that we don't care about our friend's big day - we've most likely completely forgotten about it. Due to symptoms such as overwhelm and forgetfulness, we might make mistakes and miss birthdays and anniversaries. This can be frustrating and hurtful to our closest friends, making them feel unimportant.

ADHD Friendship

One of the most helpful strategies I've found is using online greeting card services. They enable me to select and schedule cards for all the significant dates in my friends and family members lives. This way, I never miss a birthday or special occasion and can avoid unintentionally hurting their feelings. The added bonus is that when they reach out to thank me for thinking of them, it serves as a helpful reminder of the specific day. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved! 🥳

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How ADHD Can Make Us Good Friends

Now that we've explored the symptoms that can pose a challenge when forming and maintaining friendships, it's essential to recognize how ADHD can provide us with the social skills that actually make us a great friend. Of course, each person with ADHD is different - but from my perspective, I've noticed that many of the neurodiverse people in my life share these qualities that make them exciting and supportive people to be around.  

Unique Perspectives

People with ADHD often possess unique perspectives and a tendency to think outside the box. These qualities can be a real asset to friendships, as they present new opportunities in solving problems and learning and trying new things. 🤾

Hyperfocus and Special Interests

Although ADHD can bring difficulties in maintaining focus, individuals with this condition often experience periods of hyperfocus. Hyperfocus is a state of intense concentration on a subject they find interesting or stimulating. This ability can make them incredibly engaging conversationalists, leading to genuine connections and shared interests with others who have similar passions. 💬 

I have one close friend who got really obsessed with skincare products. She helped me find the perfect routine according to my budget and based on my exact needs. Thanks to this special interest, it was like having a dedicated dermatologist - and I had great skin! 🌟

Sense of Humor and Spontaneity

Many individuals with ADHD have a natural ability to find humor in everyday situations and possess a spontaneous nature that can be refreshing and entertaining for those around them. 😆These qualities can serve as effective icebreakers and help establish rapport and friendships with others who appreciate their sense of fun and adventure.

Empathy and Sensitivity

Contrary to common misconceptions, individuals with ADHD can be highly empathetic and sensitive to the emotions of others. 🤗 This emotional attunement can build deep connections quite quickly, allowing them to offer genuine support and understanding to their friends during difficult times. It can also allow us to tune into emotions and be a good listener, especially if we can talk face to face.

Accepting and Inclusive 

Many people with ADHD tend to be open-minded and inclusive regarding their friendships. Through their firsthand experiences of feeling 'different,' they may develop empathy for others who have faced similar difficulties or issues with mental health. 👩‍❤️‍👨 This personal understanding motivates them to be a good friend by creating a nurturing and accepting environment, forming the unique social skills needed for deep connections.

Maintaining Friendships with People with ADHD

Maintaining close friendships can pose difficulties for those diagnosed with ADHD. However, once you navigate the difficulties and understand individuals with ADHD, you'll realize that we're fundamentally the same as you, with our brains wired differently. 

If you have a friend with ADHD, try to go with the flow and not take things too seriously. Occasionally, they may unintentionally do something that makes them seem like a bad or neglectful friend. But if you know that their behavior isn't in line with who they are, try to give them the benefit of the doubt and remember that they don't intend to hurt you. 

Gently remind them how their words can impact you so they become more mindful in the future and work on their friendship skills. Like anybody else, those of us with ADHD try to nurture friendships and relationships with the people we cherish.

Above all, love your friend for who they are - including the little quirks that make them unique. After all, life would be dull if we were all the same.

ADHD Friendship


Forming and maintaining friendships can be challenging for individuals with ADHD due to symptoms such as oversharing, trouble listening, social anxiety, canceling plans, and forgetting important dates. These difficulties can sometimes lead to feelings of rejection and loneliness. However, it's important to recognize that despite these difficulties, people with ADHD have so much to offer as friends.

Our unique perspectives, energy, hyperfocus, sense of humor, empathy, and inclusive nature make us fascinating and supportive people to be around. While our lives may be chaotic at times, we can still cultivate meaningful connections with those who appreciate and embrace our quirks. Surrounding ourselves with people who accept and love us for who we are allows us to be authentic without fear of judgment.

It's crucial to approach the relationship with your loved one with empathy and understanding. By acknowledging the positives that being neurodiverse can bring and being aware of the difficulties, we can nurture long-lasting friendships that enrich our lives. Communication and patience play vital roles in navigating these friendships, as well as appreciating the efforts made by individuals with ADHD to be attentive and supportive.

So, let's strive for genuine connections and embrace the importance of friendships. Let's love and accept our friends with ADHD for who they are, knowing that their unique qualities contribute to the richness and diversity of our relationships. Life would be dull if we were all the same, so let's cherish the positives that neurodiversity brings while being mindful of the difficulties it may present. After all, everybody deserves loving and meaningful long-term friendships that make us feel fulfilled and appreciated for who we are.

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ADHD and Friendship: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Do people with ADHD have difficulty keeping friends? Why?

Some people with ADHD may struggle to establish and maintain friendships. The symptoms associated with ADHD can affect their ability to navigate social interactions effectively, leading to difficulties in forming close connections with others.

What symptoms of ADHD can affect how we maintain friendships?

Several symptoms of ADHD can impact the maintenance of friendships. Oversharing, difficulty in listening, social anxiety, canceling plans at the last minute, and forgetting important dates are some of the symptoms that can pose difficulties. These symptoms can create misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and a sense of unreliability, making it harder to sustain long-term friendships.

Is being friends with someone with ADHD worth it?

Absolutely! Despite the difficulties that may arise, befriending someone with ADHD can be incredibly rewarding. Individuals with ADHD can bring unique perspectives, energy, and special interests to friendships. They often possess a sense of humor, spontaneity, empathy, and inclusivity that can enrich all of us. It might take some practice, but embracing the positives that neurodiversity brings whilst understanding the difficulties can cultivate a deep and meaningful friendship.

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