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Tips for Nurturing Women’s Friendships

Women’s close friendships with other women frequently offer a level of personal support and understanding, developed over many years, that can’t be found elsewhere. These relationships can carry women through the seasons of life, along with its joys and heartaches.

For many women affected by ADHD, nurturing these important friendships doesn’t come easily. Symptoms of inattention, talkativeness, forgetfulness, and a poor sense of time management impact their friendships. Friends can feel neglected or undervalued while a woman struggles to remember commitments and life events, or has trouble listening while another talks.

“Women with ADHD often underestimate the investment of time and energy necessary to maintain friends,” says psychologist Ellen Littman in Attention magazine’s Friendship and Women with ADHD. “Unfortunately, the woman with ADHD may be oblivious to the impact of her inadvertent neglect upon others.”

“Women with ADHD want to connect but because of their difficulties with executive functioning, they often develop emotional barriers,” adds psychotherapist Sari Solden. “The key for these women is to take stock of their barriers and make a plan to slowly start getting back on the road to relationships.”

Tips to improve friendships

What can you do to help strengthen your friendships with other women?

  • Use your datebook. One of the most frequently offered suggestions is the low-tech, in-your-purse datebook. Writing in your datebook—or on your calendar or day planner—is a good way to remember events and birthdays that need to be marked. You can read more about day planners at Time Management and Using a Day Planner.

  • Use email for quick, friendly notes. Email also offers the flexibility to keep in touch at any time of the day, rather than having to remember when is the best time to call. It also offers time to think about what you would like to say to your friend and even write a few practice emails until you’re happy with your message.

  • Be realistic about the friendship. Not everyone can be a best friend; some friendships may need less maintenance and also less emotional involvement. Try to cultivate one or two close friends and take time to see where the friendship goes from there.  

Smalls steps can have a big impact on your friendships. Begin by establishing a regular meet-up with your friend, a monthly coffee date or a Saturday afternoon for ice tea on the porch. Occasionally, confiding to your friend that you are working on conversation skills such as listen or turn-taking can help her understand your sincerity, and encourage her to offer you pointers in a friendly environment. Some women may work with a therapist or a coach to learn new skills to bring into their friendships.

You can read more tips on strengthen your friendships in Friendship and Women with ADHD.

This article appeared in ADHD Weekly on May 11, 2017.

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