Friendships are important in our lives. They provide us with a sense of well-being and a sense of belonging. But for many adults with ADHD, maintaining friendships is rough. Impulsive speaking can result in interrupting others while talking or saying something offensive without meaning to. Social situations can be more work than fun and avoiding being with friends is sometimes easier than being embarrassed.
But yet we crave time with friends and feel empty when we do not have friends in our lives. How then can adults with ADHD maintain friendships without the stress?
Find Activities You Enjoy
Going out with friends does not need to be a formal gathering or at a restaurant or other public place where you may feel uncomfortable. Friends enjoy each other’s company. That means you can find activities you enjoy and ask your friends to join you. This may be as simple as going for a walk together in the evenings or spending a Saturday morning browsing local yard sales. Activities such as these offer an activity so that you don’t feel as if you must sit and keep a conversation going at all times. If you must go out to a restaurant, try to choose a buffet style instead of sit down. Buffets allow you to get up and move around when needed or take a few minutes to compose yourself when feeling overwhelmed. You will be more comfortable in a setting that you enjoy rather than getting together in a setting you are not familiar or comfortable in. Think about a few activities you enjoy doing and invite your friends to join you.
Cut Down Preparation
Entertaining friends can be overwhelming. Trying to create the perfect atmosphere and prepare food may take more time than you have to give. Keep your entertaining simple and remember the main reason for the get together is just that: to be together and enjoy one another. Instead of preparing an entire dinner, let your friends know you will prepare the entree and request that each bring a side dish or a dessert. Make it a covered-dish event. Or instead of having friends over for dinner, have them over for a movie and make your own icecream sundaes.
Keep in Touch
It is easy for weeks and then months to go by without a word from your friends. This isn’t a sign of their dislike of you, nor your dislike of them, it is simply busy lives and good intentions. Keep a list of your friends and their email addresses. Set aside one hour a week to write emails to your friends to let them know you are thinking of them. The email doesn’t have to be long or complicated. Everyone likes to know someone is thinking of them and your friends will appreciate your thoughts and your effort. Storing phone numbers in your cell phone will also allow you to give a call to a friend when it is convenient for you or to call and see if someone is availble for lunch.
Keeping communication going will help keep you close to your friends. Sometimes we simply don’t reach out unless we feel the situation is “right,” instead of waiting for the right time, let your friends know today that they are on your mind. I am sure your friendships will blossom and your life will feel better because of it.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.