Many people affected with ADHD struggle with maintaining friendships. There can many reasons for this. One of the main ones is we forget to stay in touch. Reciprocity is important in relationships. Often, I hear from my clients that they have few friends and are not sure what happened. Many times if we investigate we discover that they struggle to remember to reciprocate.
For example, you are invited to go to the movies with your friend and you go and have a good time. A few weeks later they call you again and invite you out for dinner. You happily say yes, go, and have a good time. Some months later you realize you haven’t heard from your friend in a while but soon forget the thought and move on to other things.
You begin to notice you haven’t heard from other friends in a while either. Instead of contacting them you figure they might not want to be friends anymore and this makes you sad. Many people affected by ADHD are also extremely sensitive to rejection. What really happened was you were not initiating contact enough. After someone initiates an activity it is important that next you initiate an activity or even just a call.
The problem most often is we just don’t think about it or we forget it is our turn to connect. Recently I heard from some friends of mine that I hadn’t talked to in a long time. Actually, I had been thinking about them but never took action to re-connect. The friends and I connected and at the end of the call I made a commitment to initiate the next contact. This helps me remember to do it because I have made public my intention. After the call I went to my calendar and scheduled a reminder to contact them in a few weeks.
This may seem like extra effort and it is but friendship reciprocity is important in maintaining relationships. As someone with ADHD I know I can’t count on just my memory to help me stay in touch. I need concrete reminders. It is not that I don’t want to keep in touch but like many affected with ADHD I am not good at noticing the passage of time.
I am also not good at taking action even if it is something enjoyable. Therefore, the combination of making my intentions public, committing myself and creating a reminder increases the likelihood I will reciprocate contact in a timely matter. Friendships are important and as you age it is often harder to make new friends. So, it is important to maintain the friends you have. Being friends with someone affected by ADHD isn’t always easy so the least we can do is try to hold up our end of the keeping the connection going.