Motivational and inspirational writer, Bryan Hutchinson is the author of several books about life with ADHD including the highly acclaimed, best selling "One Boy′s Struggle: A Memoir" and the author of the hilarious eBook that went viral "10 Things I Hate about ADHD"

Making Friends and Building Relationships – Part 1

Finding friends, good friends and keeping friends can be a challenge for just about anyone and for Adders this challenge can be overwhelming and baffling—oftentimes depressing and demoralizing! I speak from an immense amount of experience growing up with undiagnosed ADD. In my first 20 or so years of life I had maybe 4 total friends and only two of those friends could be called ‘close friends’, or ‘real’ friends. I wanted friends, I enjoyed being around others, but I would always say or do something that would turn people off towards me and I just didn’t know what it was. I have learned some of the answers and there was one I could identify with above the rest.

“Getting people to like you is merely the other side of liking them.”
Norman Vincent Peale

Being open to friendships is not an easy task for an Adder. We grow up in a world that is not compatible with our way of thinking and all too frequently we are criticized up, down and side to side. Friends love to be helpful and they have all kinds of advice or suggestions for this or that and well, we just don’t like it. Some criticism is healthy and everyone will be criticized from time to time, it is a part of life, but for Adders it’s not only a part of life, it is a way of life and not a way we enjoy. Knowing this, we avoid friends. We might not realize it, but we start doing this at a very young age and it develops into something we do subconsciously. This doesn’t just happen to us Adders, it happens to anyone who is not perceived as normal and lives with an abundant amount of criticism.

One of the names I had thought of for this website was “Not Normal World”, because really, that’s how we consider ourselves and that’s how many think of us.

A huge misconception is that Adders are shy! Ha, as if, we just avoid those we don’t want to be around or anyone who is going to have an opinion about what we are doing and how we are doing it. When we are not avoiding others we make one of our biggest mistakes and that is we overcompensate with arrogance, or let’s just say, we become ‘stuck-up’. Oh man, I am a pro when it comes to acting stuck-up or arrogant. This was a technique I used for people to leave me alone and keep their suggestions to themselves. I did not develop this technique consciously, it just developed as a mechanism for many issues I had. Being ridiculed and chastised for behavioral problems can lead to a very low self-esteem and a way of self-rewarding ourselves and growing armor is to become supercilious. Yes, you know exactly what I am talking about.

Sure, we are nice people and we want good things for everyone. We have our dreams of the perfect world where everyone treats each other with love, respect and no darn criticism. But, let’s be honest, somewhere along the line we decided it was enough with the BS! To be even more honest, this isn’t a perfect world and since we are in the business of being accepted, we might as well get around to accepting others for their traits and behaviors too. Just because someone criticizes you or has suggestions does not mean they are intentionally trying to be hurtful or malicious. I have found that if you point out what they are doing and how it affects you, people will usually stop and even apologize for their behavior, but that’s the key, ADD ADHD is a behavioral issue and we dismiss people for their behavior out of hand, even if we don’t realize that we do it. It can happen so fast and sometimes it only takes a single, solitary word.

-*- This is the first part of “Making Friends and Building Relationships”. Examine your self-defenses. We Adders have so many self-defense mechanisms that many or all of them could be holding us back from meaningful relationships and gaining good friends. In the next part I will talk about the cues we miss from other people and how that affects building a friendship.