Learning to Make Friends Late In Life


I’ve learned recently that a lot of people with ADHD were social rejects when they were young, and it was a major relief to learn that it wasn’t, among other hypotheses that I’d come up with, that I was evil or that I smelled horrible but had become nose-blind from living with it every day. However, it’s still hard learning how to make friends as an adult; it feels like I’m only learning now what most other people learned as a little kid, and that everyone already has a best friend or a good friend group and isn’t really interested in meeting anyone else.

Long story short, I’m fresh out of college. I had horrible social anxiety by the time I got to college and wasn’t really able to try and get to know people until my senior year, during which I met some people. It felt amazing having people that wanted to be my friends; however, good old hyper-focus kicked in and I instantly assumed we were, like, best friends, talked to them all the time, asked to hang out all the time, leaned on them for a ton of emotional labor, etc. I moved cities after college to be with them, and took a pretty crappy job since it was the first one I could find and was desperate to stay in the first place I’d had real friends. Well, it turns out that they weren’t as enthusiastic as I assumed. There’s so much I could write, but it would take a while. Even though I know I didn’t know any better, it’s just horribly embarrassing, and I have to feel for them and regret the clinginess that I put them through.

I guess what I’m getting at is, brains, how have any of you dealt with lack of social experience as an adult? I’m typically pretty good at dealing with embarrassment, as most people with ADHD probably are, but this hits at a deeper level. It’s just confirming all I learned about myself as a kid. Anyways, any stories, thoughts, advice would be greatly appreciated. Apologies if this could’ve been consolidated into a preexisting thread, but this feels like a pertinent topic.


When I entered a massively needy phase, I promised myself that I wouldn’t lean on just one or two people, as it would be too much to expect of a friend. So I soread my neediness around, and after a few months held a party to thank everyone I knew for keeping me going. Some had done more than others, but basically even the smallest acts of kindness had kept my holding it together.

This is not an exact answer but I think it is partially what you were asking.

And yes, i was a bit of a social outcast at school. I did have some friends: we were all rejects and decided that we could stuff the in-crowd and hang out together. Later I realised that being in the in-crowd was quite possibly less important than it had seemed.


I never had friends in school until i was about 14 years old. that’s when i met my best friend and she understands me more than anyone maybe because she also has adhd. troughout the years i have bean in multiple groups and met very much people. and i found out that being at the top of a class (wich i never was) isn’t as fun as it seems. I found that the people who where different were more fun to hangout with. those people were them selves and still are i think that is more important to be yourself than having friends. because when you have friends who know who you really are only then you can cal them real friends. maybe i never really had much freinds but the freinds i have are increadible and i know who they are and when i need help i know they wil help me.


I moved around a lot as a kid. From across the country, to across the world.
I don’t recall anything close to a solid connection until I stayed in one town for about two years at the end of primary (elementary) school, and through high school (with a year or two away, but coming back after).

I started getting better at making aquaintances, with flashes of friendship, but was generally seen as a little bit strange, even as I was mildly accepted anyway.

I went on student exchange to South America when I was 16, and met some really good people. I was still seen as odd, but I guess it was half expected from a foreigner.

To this day, I still remember the moment when I realised that I was talking, and people were actually paying attention to what I was saying. I was shocked, it was hard to believe. All I could do was keep talking, and wait for the rolling eyes, and the drifting away into other conversations.

But it never came.

I had seen a strange European movie with them. And we were trying to work out what the hell it was all about over a few drinks.

I started talking, unconfidently, putting in my two cents. And my friends were actually listening. Wow! It was the first time in my life that my opinion was respected.

Anyway, I left, and didn’t keep up much contact. I wrote letters occasionally, but once every two months became once every two years, then less frequently.

At uni, I met some good friends. We were pretty much inseparable. Three of us as core members and a few others we’d catch up with regularly.

But after a taste of friendship, I wanted more of it. I got depressed when everything I tried to enlarge my social circle failed, and my uni life went downhill as a consequence of my depression (which I didn’t even know I had).

Before that, I did manage to expand my circle a little, and had a few other friends. But I didn’t know how to deal with friendship, and messed it all up. It ended with humiliation and degradation. That was when the depression (in hindsight) hit full swing.

I never thought of myself as needy, but reading here, I probably was.

I went back to my original circle (I’d never really left, just been in another share house). But all at one time, over a period of a couple of weeks, we all went our separate ways, just coincidence.

So I was alone again.

I met some people at a few uni parties through my first girlfriend, and we got along well. I moved into a share house with them. Some of the best times of my life.

But that imploded too.

So my experience of adult friendship became tainted with the anxiety of my previous failures, and I started building my defensive perimeter. I knew I was doing it at the time, but didn’t know how else to protect myself.

Now I’d like to break it down. But I built it pretty well, and I’ve found that social interaction gets much harder as you get older, especially if you are single.

Most people my age have settled, have kids, careers. And of course they are protective of those, and suspicious of outsiders. It’s incredibly difficult to enter a social circle that has closed on itself.

Many of them have known each other for many years. Whereas I am not particularly from anywhere, and have not had similar long term friendships.

So whenever I approach somebody for friendship, I am under suspicion from the start, and yes, needy maybe.

Still working on it and haven’t quite given up yet.