Posted on

A Word on Neurodivergent Friendships

Friendship seems to be an area that a lot of us struggle in so I decided to write something up quickly to say this: Your friends are there to support and be supported. Over time, the nature of friendships change. It follows a pattern that can be similar to the romantic pattern: we have a great opening friend period with lots of hyperfocus and then those feelings of hyper focus shift downward and people begin to feel abandoned. It’s a terrible cycle and many people struggle with the RSD that losing friendships can leave us drowning in.

Over the years, I’ve come to understand myself and how these shifts can affect the people I’m in friendship with. It isn’t personal, it is just that I have learned that I cannot be friends with everyone and they can’t always understand the reasons why. Here are some things I’ve discovered I need in my friendships, and I hope they will help you to examine yours as well.

Friends who don’t keep score

There are many people in the world who feel friendships are a balance of who has called whom, who has asked to hang out last and those types of people aren’t the right kind of friends for me. Score keeping is something that truly damages relationships but especially with ADHD in play. Our forgetfulness, impulsivity and spontaneity aren’t for everyone, but especially for people who are keeping track. Those types of friendships can often make us seem lacking when we are just different. I may not be the person who answers the phone every time you call, but I am always the friend who will show up when you are in need. Scorekeeping makes me feel as though I’m being graded, not like I’m a valued member of a friendship. Keep those notepads at home and be friends!

Friends who don’t expect consistency

I want to be completely transparent here and say this: If you aren’t on my schedule, I may forget to call for a while. If you’re not on my calendar, the same “out of sight, out of mind” that my brain applies to other things? Those can happen with you too. I got a text message from a friend letting me know they hadn’t heard from me recently unless they reached out. I really appreciated them being direct with me and giving me that feedback instead of reading into what it means. People with executive function disorders often are in the dark about how their behavior makes the people around them feel. Consistency with contact is a difficult area for me. Unfortunately this can make people feel neglected, and they can make up stories about what that means. Gentle reminders instead of assuming that I don’t want to be in contact can be so incredibly helpful

Friends who have their own struggles

Inconsistency and occasional imbalance is something that people who also struggle with them are so understanding about. I love crossing paths with friends who I haven’t heard from in quite some time, catching up on their lives and then going back to my own. Many of my friends have chronic illnesses of their own that they’re out working their way through. My own life is super hectic trying to manage an aging family, an aging dog, and a new relationship. Nothing feels better than sharing with a friend who has all of those things going on too and wants to share with me with no recriminations or demands for more of my time than I’m able to give. Friends who are struggling with their own lives are infinitely more understanding of me struggling to keep everything balanced too. People who are incredibly busy and want to maintain a relationship without misinterpreting my busyness as intentional distance. They’re such a good fit for me!

It isn’t always easy balancing relationships with a busy life, and people who are not themselves neurodivergent/chronically ill can’t always understand what is going on. I want the people who are closest to me to understand me best. I can be friends with almost anybody once they understand I’m not the friend who checks in every week but I am the friend who will always be there with a shoulder to cry on and some good advice if they need it.

What do you need in a friend?

Until next time,