Friendship is Hard


Continuing the discussion from Friendship is Hard:

I recently heard Jessica’s interview on the Mental Illness Happy Hour & was happy to learn about her website. It’s nice to have a place to go where your understood!! Social situations with people you do not know cause me so much anxiety- just the thought of meaningless small talk makes me literally want to run away screaming. When I was younger & in college, I think alcohol ( I didn’t abuse it) helped those types of situations & curbed the anxiety. Fast forward 20 years, when I never drink or go out, and all those things we do, like phone anxiety/ fear, not being super responsive to friends messages or calls, (then, because you didn’t respond, & the more time that passes, the worse you feel, the madder you think your friend will be, the more you feel overwhelmed at the thought of dealing with their anger, & feel like your ADD is an excuse they won’t want to hear, etc) and I literally have no friends left. Thank God for my husband! I know I drive him crazy sometimes with my lateness & disorgination, but he loves me & supports me, regardless, so I feel really lucky. I recently went back to school to get a different degree/change careers, & of course I’m in class with 19 & 20 year olds. I cannot stop myself from blurting out things sometimes, & feel like an idiot. I care about school & my grades 1000 times more than I did when I was younger, so of course I want to know all the answers & ask WAYtoo many questions. I know I’m intelligent, but of course have convinced myself I get on everyone’s nerves, everyone hates me & thinks I’m an idiot & a know it all. Anyone have any thoughts about tools to stop yourself before you speak? It’s like it’s out of my mouth literally before I’ve even consciously thought about it. It’s one thing to do it with family, a complete different thing with people who do not know you.



I just started taking medicine. After about a week I realized how poor my social skills were. I always wondered why I had such a hard time making/keeping friends, I mean, I am like-able right? My wife told me that she thought my awkwardness was cute and I felt heartbroken that no one was honest with me. That being said, I have gained confidence in myself knowing that I have many wonderful skills and characteristics that make me unique and a one of a kind friend. I have also learned not to beat myself up over having poor social skills, because it is just that, a skill. It has to be learned and practiced and relearned and more practiced and its different for a lot of people but that has helped me be more gracious with myself. I hope that is encouraging in some way. (also, sometimes people sometimes just suck)



True enough. I found that my own social skills have atrophied badly over time.

When I was younger, I felt that I was missing a huge chunk of social interaction. I had friends, but I still felt out of place. Little did I know that I was actually at the height of my social prowess, and that I would somehow lose the ability to socialise with people.

It all started closing in when I began to distance myself from people after a few friendships imploded painfully. I started to distrust friendship, and to protect myself from it.

Now I’d like it back.



Simon, online you have really great social skills.

Are there sites more geographically local to you that match your interests, where you can get to know people online first?

That might/will probably encourage people to cut you some slack in real life. They will already know the helpful, considerate, open you, before the face to face guy who likes to demonstrate your weakest social skills jumps in to screw it up - and if there’s any fairness in this world (and I believe there is) they will politely ignore that behaviour till the helpful, considerate etc guy shows up again.

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I do this too, talking too much in class. I think the meds help a bit.

And if you are open to helping people outside of class, you may find they mind less about you seeming like a ‘know it all’.

Are you sure they actually mind? In my current class I asked several people I am closer too about this kind of thing, and told them about my adhd diagnosis and tentative trying out if medication, and they all told me they didn’t want me to change! Obviously this is not the whole class, but still!



I have moved around alot with my parents when I was young. I never had friends, I just didn’t know how. A introverted kid. When I went to university I became more socially active. But the thing is I forget people when I don’t see them. I forget that I can call on them. I forget alot. It is horrible.

I can hold a conversation and am a good listener and I can give good answers. I know people appreciate that for they told me. I like to talk with people. But I forget what I said, what friends said. I forget important things in people’s lives. It just drifts away. So I forget to ask about it or call them to ask how this or that went.

It is not that I don’t care or am not interested but I just forget. When I meet people again I can remember things when trigger words are spoken by them. And than I feel ashamed.

My head is like a basket of seperate socks. They are in there somewhere.

And with people I feel really save with I can absolutely explode sometimes. My ex could just say one word wrong and I would just explode. I couldn’t help myself. It would derail the whole conversation. Really shameful. I never could understand the principle of counting to 10.



Thanks Lustforlife, that’s really nice of you to say. I’m not great with compliments (aparently that’s yet another ADHD thing), but they are much better than a push off a cliff.

By the way, do you have a real name? Or even a fake one that is easier to write? :wink:

Western Australia is a funny old place. The demographic here is not really my own. I find it hard to be interested in the things most others are, and nobody is interested in my stuff.

For example, most of the guys I work with are into four wheel driving, fishing, kangaroo shooting, that sort of thing. Not really my cup of beer.

And when I start a conversation with “I was reading a book by a bloke called K. Eric Drexler about nanotechnology the other day…” I just get blank stares. And to me, it was a REALLY interesting book.

I’ve had online friendships in the past, but the geographically closest person to me was in Germany.

Online dating didn’t even get out of the gate. Not a single reply. Even the bloody suicide forums left me feeling like an outsider. Ha ha. I’m past that point now anyway, no nasty thoughts today.

Thanks again for your kind words. I know I’m a good guy on the whole, and I know I still have some social skills (in theory at least). But wherever I throw them these days, they just bounce back with “Return To Sender”.

I have little inclination to hang around with old farts like me, talking about how everything was better before microwave ovens, or negative gearing. But if I try to tap into the energy and curiosity from younger people, I get strange looks and distrust as if I’m a kiddy fiddler or some other form of psycho.

I’m working on it. I reignited Facebook, as much as I despise it (I haven’t been on it in years), and I’ve been sussing out a few other social groups based around things I’m interested in. Almost got off the couch and went to a writer’s group last night.

So I’m being more proactive now than I have been for a while. Not quite sowing the seeds yet, but at least I’ve Googled the price of the seed packet.



That’s what I’ve been finding lately, the last 5-6 years. Probably started getting worse around the time when I quit my dream career, and moved into mining which I hate.

I’m starting to get a bad habit of just spitting venom so quickly that I have no way of stopping it. No chance of counting to ten, I wouldn’t even be able to get to one.

It used to only be towards people who had me on the defensive, but I’ve found myself getting surly at delivery drivers, eBay merchants, government departments, telemarketers and customer service reps.

It’s not me. I’d like that to stop.

I’ve always had great control over my emotions (suppression at least). But now I’m becoming a grumpy old man who can’t hold his tongue.

Almost 6am. I must stop doing this… Time for sleep. Actually, time to wake up.



To that I say, Thank God for the internet! It’s amazing that people like us are able to come together from around the world. Its our own little tribe lol.

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@Sietske - OMG, all of this. I enjoy friendships. And I’m 100% there for a friend if they need me, but I won’t initiate because I forget. And if it’s long enough since I’ve talked to someone, I might forget them altogether. And how do you tell a person that?

That’s one reason I like Facebook, despite all the drawbacks. It helps me remember people.



I understand how you feel about finding people with common interest. We both work in recorces so a similar demographic I’d say. I enjoy the 4wding but not so much the task but the destinations and adventure and the beach. And I will go fishing because I like to eat fish but not something I do more than a couple of times a year.

Something I stumbled across the other day was what they call a hacker space. They have them all over the place and basically it’s a group of geeks / Nerds I’d say of all ages that get together and have a bunch of toys. And play with electronics robotics 3D printing computing and have varied knowledge and interests. It worth checking out if I was looking to extend my social group this is where I would start. They are the guys that would read a book on nano technology and they build and create things just through the desire to know how. I found it because my boy wanted to play with a 3D printer and I ended up chatting to these guys for a couple of hours. The down side for me is that the local place to me it’s much like a club style regular weekend thing and I just can’t give it the regular time.

As for career look into tech be it comms or electrical or IT. It sounds to me that you just want smarter people with common interests around you.

I find if I can’t stimulate my mind I get bored. Then I get lazy/disengaged. And then when I do have to engage with people and they don’t move as quickly as my mind wants them to I get irritated with them. That’s because I have already played out the entire boring exchange with 5 different outcomes/storyline’s in my head as I have walked up to them. And then have to wait whilst they work through whatever it is that is being worked on. To start they pick the most complex choice then mess it up change to option 2 but are not sure of the result and then work through option 4 to confirm that they actually can order me a USB cable in red because they won’t sell me the demo one and just replace it with a blue one. So I find if I stay busy I don’t find it such a drain dealing with people when I need to.

I understand about being cranky and you know that it’s not the person you are or want to be. I hate when I am like I have written above I find it helps when I realise that the reason they are like the way they are is that they are as disengaged in what they are trying to do for me as I am when I am doing the things I don’t really care about. Let’s be honest that kid could not give a crap that I want a red cable.

When I get in the head space like above I just head out and find a little joy you know just that spark you feel in your brain when you find one of the things that grabs you for a second or a week and build on that. Last week I went for a walk in the yard and tripped over a bit of irrigation pipe. That spurred me on and I ended up pulling up all the old drip irigarion and recycleing it all and fixing it up a week later I was out of my slump and had nice new irrigation. It made me go outside and go to the shops and use my brain and gave me a bit of a deadline to keep me motivated.




Hey AMAK, sounds like you’re in a similar situation.

I’ve enjoyed the four wheel driving, fishing etc. myself. But it’s just not my game. I’m playing someone else’s game, which is fine. Except my own game just gets shoved in the back of the cupboard covered in dust.

One of the things that bugs me in this life is that I’m always expected to change myself to fit other people’s sensitivities or ideas of how things should be. It’s a constant.

I can’t recall any situation in life where others have changed themselves to suit me.

So it seems that I’m constantly having to make an effort for everybody else, but when I need something myself, it’s always way too much to ask, and not their problem.

The hacker space sounds interesting. I’ll look into that. I’ve had aspirations to be a “maker”. Got the 3D printer in bits, after messing with it, getting one or two prints out and then getting frustrated. A whole bunch of other projects (Arduino for example) that I’ve hyperfocused on for weeks and then backed away from. It would be cool to find some people who could help me with motivation, ideas and tips.

It’s the emotional dysregulation that has been my downfall at work. It has always been the thing that caused me the most problems. In second place, the way I process information and the conclusions I come to seem to piss people off. Which in turn feeds the emotional stuff.

I’ve worked in tech before. I was the project manager for a multimedia company. Loved it. But ended up with a boss who didn’t pay his staff or creditors. When I kicked up a bit of noise about myself and my staff not having been paid in six weeks, I lost the job, my entire portfolio of work, and I’d pulled out of study to take this job in the first place. So no qualifications, no reference, no portfolio, and nothing to prove that I could actually do the job I’d done. Back to square one. I never got past square one again, and moved to Melbourne.

Aviation was great. Every minute was a new challenge, and in many ways it suited my brain. Some very difficult times, but I was motivated to get through them. That all fell in a heap, due to the massive finances needed just to maintain my qualifications, to train for further career advancement, and my fiancee’s reaction to the fact that I’d spent all our money. The flying stopped.

As for getting into a project when I’m in the doldrums… Traditionally my answer would be to bomb my brain with weed, watch Netflix or something, and wait it out. I was never able to really dig into a project in that state, just wearing a dent in the couch.

But the weed is not helpful in the job hunting efforts, so I’ve pretty much quit that, after 35 years of it. That, and the meds, have allowed me to work on projects instead of just hyperfocusing on them and then doing nothing much.

Hopefully that will help. And hopefully a lack of THC in the blood will make finding work less of a game that I can lose. I’ve got a medical coming up next week. With luck, I’ll be busting my arse covered in sweat and breathing in toxic fumes again by the end of the week.

The meds have helped in that respect. Currently I’m almost 90% started on a project, which seems to have held my attention longer than many. I’m planning on smashing it today, now I have all the bits in place.

I’m almost out of pet food, so I really do need this job. I’ve already been at the point of having to consider euthanasia for my animals. Not a good thought. Only half a tank of fuel too.

I’m not too concerned about people who are disengaged, there are plenty of those. It’s the people who are openly hostile or who consistently put me on the defensive just for breathing that bug me. And I’ll be fine, mature and adult about it for ages. But the straws build up on the camel’s back over time, and then one day an anvil will drop on it.

Sometimes it will be an accumulation of straws from so many different directions that it won’t even need the anvil. A stiff breeze from the wrong direction will be enough to flip the switch.

Anyway, I appreciate your advice, and it’s all good.

Dealing with friendship at this point takes a lower priority for me than not having enough food to feed my pets.



@Sietske @Gaeliceyes
That’s exactly how I’m like too!
I can really relate to forgetting what’s going on with people… I feel like I’m mostly fine during a conversation if it’s one-to-one (group conversations are a very different thing and make it much harder to pay attention!), but even the next day I might have completely forgotten what we talked about! I feel so embarrassed when I talk with the same friends again and they’re expecting me to remember important details about their lives that they’ve told me before, but I’ve completely forgot and they have to explain again…



I absolutely have the same problem, though I think I feel it less keenly. My partner and I have been together for a decade. I have pets that I love and care for. I spend a lot of time trying to so things faster and more efficiently. I have my artistic aspirations to work towards.

While always admitting that I could be fooling myself, I feel like, for now, this is enough for me.

I tried to expand my circle of friends for a time, but it was a lot of work and other parts of my life that were already suffering, suffered more. So I’ve backed off.

I have felt super lonely in the past though. High school was especially rough.



Hi, I want to tell you about how I get over not having realy anyfreinds. so I have known this girl sense kindergarten and she knows that I have ADHD and we just click and I also have a few friends that I met while in social working at school and I took me a long time to open up. and eventually I realize that I needed to stop the hypothetical scenario factory in my head and just ask them what they thought about my actions. and with there feed back and a lot of time I managed to make some good friends. And it’s better to have one great awesome friend than many people that you call your friends but it’s not a real personal connection. Also i’m a freshmen in highschool
I hope this helped :slight_smile:

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Man, so I’m not going to lie. ADHD brain here just read 5-10 responses and was like okay that enough now I need to reply. I struggle socially on forums because reading lots of long responses especially when a lot of them have very similar content is difficult for me.

I just turned 30 and I Feel like I’m starting to become much more self aware, and at the moment I’m really working on these friendship struggles. I have a lot of them!

I am lucky in that I have a lot of friends who have stuck with me for years or years and I know I am good at being a supportive friend - but it takes teh right kind of people. I am impulsive and excitable and I want to just meet people and hang out etc but I also find that can be very bad for me. I need a lot of space and alone time to decompress. The friends that I do have and get on with very well are often also ADHD or have similar issues so are understandable or else are just deccent, understandable people in general. Real friendships are ones that can pick right back up even if you havent spoken in months.

I did have to learn a lot about boundaries, both setting boundaries and maing sure im not being boudaryless as well. I do have a tendency when I get excited to dominate conversation. Or sometimes I struggle in group conversations and I wind up getting anxiety and spacing out. (ive been called a narcissist over this) I just struggle with finding my place in the flow of people.

I also have a tendency to be very empathetic and I like to help practically, so I over extend myself to others and get upset or else I offer to do a lot that always gets turned down and then when they get mad at me for being a bad friend never recognise my sincere efforts which is hurtful and unfair.

I also refuse to borrow anything from anyone anymore because I forget to bring things back. Not in a selfish way. I could literally have something sitting at my front door to grab and return to someone i see 5 days a week and forget it every single time. It causses me such anxiety, and ive lost friendships over it.

Or I had someone blow up at me once because I pretended i didnt realise i was sitting by them on a bus. I was ian the middle of something and i was too overwhelmed to have a conversation. I needed some space.

Maybe this isnt a popular opinion but I don’t necessarily think its alwas a good thing to share your ADHD diagnosis. ADHD still has a stigma with people believing its made up, so it backfires. I’m currently in a situation where someone i was friendly with and her husband are treating me vry badly, turning their kids (my daughters friend in school) against me by saying awful things about me at home and doing nasty things in person. It’s stressful and causes so muhc anxiety, but I don’t feel like I can apologise and explain so I just stay quiet and brace myself.

Be careful who you become friends with and be careful what you say to people. Feel a situation out. A good friendship should have a natural flow to it and if something has happened that has upset your friend, a good friend worth keeping will confront you about it rather than go silent or be nasty.

As I get older I’m finding a couple of good quality friends are the best. It’s hard though. Keep at it, be kind to yourself and never stop with the self awareness. :slight_smile:



Hi Izzy,

I always felt like I was the picky one with friends and because of my ADHD I was incredibly loyal to the ones I shared a lot in common with. My best friend is one who I have had since the age of 12 (we’ve been best friends for 11 years now) and he was recently diagnosed with autism a couple of years ago. We make a joke that we’ve been best friends because we’ve always been different and on the spectrum and subconsciously understood each other.

When getting to university and had the amazing opportunity of living with my friends, that’s when things got difficult having multiple friends involved and would result in some rejection. Although it really sucks at the beginning, persistence is key. We managed to resolve the falling out and after a year of not being in touch, have recently started hanging out again and it has been very heartfelt and lovely. They said it has been helpful for them to know that it’s my ADHD and not to take some things I say personally that will really help them. Of course, you don’t always have to work so hard at friendship if you feel like you’ve been hurt so much. But, I promise you will find people who will appreciate you eventually!

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So @Neverwhere your post sounds exactly like me on this topic. My therapist keeps telling me to keep putting more effort into finding a friend and I keep telling her I’m done with it all. Maybe if the right person comes around but I’m not actively looking anymore.



@MBalog Don’t give up! I make friends super easily, but keeping friends is harder. Not because I do bad things to lose friendships, just because everyone seems wonderful at first and then after some time you realise you aren’t a great match.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! Sometimes I feel like we can be very sensitive people. I know for myself, I need to learn to care less. Never stop trying though. You are a worthwhile person and your tribe is out there! <3



Every time I put a lot of effort into some relationship I get let down and disappointed. I can text people every day and ask how they are or how something went but if I stop no one ever asks me. It’s unfair to put in effort on my part and then it never gets reciprocated.