If you have ADHD, you may have encountered some challenges in expanding your social circle. But even if it’s a bit difficult at times, it’s so important to put in the effort to build and maintain supportive relationships. Find out what effects social connections can have for someone with ADHD and get helpful tips for strengthening those bonds.

Social Challenges for Individuals with ADHD

Interpersonal relationships are often a struggle for adults with ADHD. Symptoms like impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity can be disruptive or off-putting to others. Social interactions might be complicated due to miscommunications, and disorganization and forgetfulness may lead friends and family to feel underappreciated. Unfortunately, ADHD symptoms can be misconstrued as signs of someone being uncaring, self-centered, irresponsible, or lazy, even though that’s not the case.

Low self-esteem is also relatively common among people with ADHD, which makes reaching out to loved ones and trying to make new friends feel more daunting. People with the condition may also find that ADHD stigma serves as a barrier to forming social bonds.

The Importance of Social Connections

Finding sources of social support is about more than just companionship for people with ADHD. It’s also a way to help manage their symptoms on a day-to-day basis.

In fact, social support has been found to increase functioning for people with ADHD. For example, studies have shown that having a supportive spouse can help an adult with ADHD be more organized and stay on top of important tasks. Certain types of social support can also help to improve mental health among those with ADHD.

Beyond these ADHD-specific perks, there are a number of other benefits associated with supportive social connections, including better overall health, a stronger immune system, improved academic or career performance, and higher life satisfaction.

How to Build and Maintain Supportive Relationships

As you look ahead to 2024, think about how you can build and maintain the social connections in your life. Which relationships are the most supportive, and how can you strengthen those bonds?

The following tips are designed to help adults with ADHD solidify and expand their social circle. Try implementing these strategies in the new year and make a conscious effort to nurture the supportive relationships in your life.

Become an active listener

For many folks with ADHD, carrying on long conversations is a struggle. You might get bored and allow your mind to wander, or you may accidentally interrupt someone in the middle of a story. These are common ADHD symptoms, but they can be detrimental to a relationship if you’re not careful.

Deep conversations are often part of forming a strong connection with someone, so work on improving in this area by honing your active listening skills. An active listener is fully present in the conversation and makes an effort to understand the other person’s meaning and intent. A few ways you can work on your active listening skills are to practice good eye contact, try to pick up on non-verbal cues, ask open-ended questions, and withhold judgment and advice.

Show that you care

It’s always a good idea to tell those you’re close to that you care about them. But to many people, it means even more when you actually show them you care through your actions. If you’re guilty of missing birthdays, showing up late, or forgetting to keep in touch, it’s time to work on nurturing your relationships more in 2024.

Find a calendar system that works for you and make sure you enter in important dates like birthdays and anniversaries. Plan to arrive at least 20 minutes early to give yourself a buffer if you tend to run late, and set reminders to reach out to loved ones regularly with a text, email, or card. Practicing these habits is a great way to strengthen your social connections in the new year.

Be open about your diagnosis

An ADHD diagnosis is your private health information. You don’t have to share it with anyone if you don’t want to. However, one way to deepen your relationships is to be more open about your ups and downs, including your journey with ADHD. This is not a mandatory step to strengthen your social bonds, but it’s one that you should seriously consider — especially with your closest friends and family members.

It can be freeing to have an inner circle of people who you don’t feel like you have to hide your ADHD from. They’ll have a stronger understanding of your symptoms and how they affect you, and they may be able to better support you in the ways that you need. This year, consider whether sharing your diagnosis with a few close confidants could help you feel more supported.