View Full Version : Inability to form friendships.


MikhailTal
11-13-14, 08:52 PM
Hello there,

As the title suggests, I believe I have an inability to form friendships. This doesn't mean I miss the social skills (though I'm a very social person) to interact with people. There are several people who consider me to be their friend. I would call them a friend when I would introduce them to others. Just to make myself clear; I feel empathy for people when they are in distress, I can sometimes have a good time socializing (mostly not, when I'm not interested enough), I can have a laugh with others, but I never feel the need to see some people (friends) more than others. Since I don't want to hurt the feelings of the people who see me as their friend, I play my role, but of course, I try to minimize my social activity at any cost. Some might say; you don't know what you got until it's gone, but I wouldn't agree. Mostly when a friend wants to contact me, I try to ignore them and tell them I was busy later on. As if they were telephone salesmen who I need to ignore (I know this sounds harsh and I would never be able to tell them this, but this is how I feel).

Most of the time I'd rather be alone. This of course doesn't need to be a problem, however, I have trouble with accepting this. I've always thought that to be healthy, you need to have good relationships. My hobbies tend to be competitive, so when I'm unable to succeed in my activities, I can feel like my life doesn't have any purpose anymore. During such moments I sometimes think, if only I would be able to feel friendship, I wouldn't feel so lost...

There could be tons of reasons why I am the way I am, but I'm trying to sort out whether this bonding problem has to do with ADHD (I'm diagnosed with AD(H)D-PI). I know that ADHD is associated with social problems, but is it common that it interferes with bonding? I don't know. I sometimes believe I'm autistic, but my only symptom is 'sensory integration disorder' (common in autism, but in adhd as well), nothing more, but perhaps I'm more autistic than I think. Then again, bonding problems could also be related to anxiety, problematic childhood experiences and depression; there are a lot of possible causes. And for some people it is very natural; perhaps I only need to accept it, and live more true to my feelings (or absence of them), which means, becoming a hermit (not joking here :P).

I'm just curious whether anyone else with AD(H)D feels the way I do, or that I should seek further.

Corina86
11-14-14, 06:47 AM
I understand your feelings to a certain extent, thought they're not identical to mine. I'd be devastated if I'd lose my friends, mostly because I'm not extremely sociable and I'd have a hard time finding new ones. But I rarely feel like there is a real bond between us. They're nice, caring, I care about them too, but most of the time I still wish I had different friends, people more like me: same interests, same opinions, even same flaws.

Both my ADHD and my personality make me somewhat different than they are. Too different for me to relate to them. I really like human companion, I'm not a hermit by choice, but I can only last for a short amount of time talking about and doing boring things and nobody else has even remotely similar interests to mine. I've never been in a long-term relationship for this reason.

It's not a typical ADHD thing, but I do think it's somewhat connected.

Fuzzy12
11-14-14, 07:16 AM
Hello there,

As the title suggests, I believe I have an inability to form friendships. This doesn't mean I miss the social skills (though I'm a very social person) to interact with people. There are several people who consider me to be their friend. I would call them a friend when I would introduce them to others. Just to make myself clear; I feel empathy for people when they are in distress, I can sometimes have a good time socializing (mostly not, when I'm not interested enough), I can have a laugh with others, but I never feel the need to see some people (friends) more than others.

I'm very similar to what you described above. I can be social but I struggle bonding with others. I've got a ton of acquaintances whom I've known for years and I suspect that they consider me to be their friend but I just don't feel that way.

Since I don't want to hurt the feelings of the people who see me as their friend, I play my role, but of course, I try to minimize my social activity at any cost. Some might say; you don't know what you got until it's gone, but I wouldn't agree. Mostly when a friend wants to contact me, I try to ignore them and tell them I was busy later on. As if they were telephone salesmen who I need to ignore (I know this sounds harsh and I would never be able to tell them this, but this is how I feel).

Me too. I just dodged meeting a friend tonight again. My usual excuse is that I'm too busy (which is true) but I've used that excuse so often that no one believes me anymore. I also dislike talking on the phone so I often don't pick up unless I think it might be important (and I very rarely call back).

Most of the time I'd rather be alone. This of course doesn't need to be a problem, however, I have trouble with accepting this. I've always thought that to be healthy, you need to have good relationships. My hobbies tend to be competitive, so when I'm unable to succeed in my activities, I can feel like my life doesn't have any purpose anymore. During such moments I sometimes think, if only I would be able to feel friendship, I wouldn't feel so lost...

I think, most of us have had it drilled into us that a human beings are social animals and that a healthy human being needs to have a permanent social circle of some kind and a strong need for social interactions. My mother in law keeps telling my husband and me that we need people and that we are abnormal for not surrounding ourselves with people all the time (I guess, she secretly blames me because hubby used to be more social and still is more social than I am). Even if you look at the media, successful and happy people are always portrayed as having good friends and being fairly popular.

Even the advice for dealing with mental health disorders (or any disorders of any kind) usually tells you to have a good support network. It makes sense but for some people sustaining a network is more stressful and harder work than just not having one at all.

I think there's a general consensus that your worth is determined by the people you surround yourself with. This is especially so in school where being popular is disproportionately important and being a loner is synonymous to being a failure of some sort.

There could be tons of reasons why I am the way I am, but I'm trying to sort out whether this bonding problem has to do with ADHD (I'm diagnosed with AD(H)D-PI). I know that ADHD is associated with social problems, but is it common that it interferes with bonding? I don't know. I sometimes believe I'm autistic, but my only symptom is 'sensory integration disorder' (common in autism, but in adhd as well), nothing more, but perhaps I'm more autistic than I think. Then again, bonding problems could also be related to anxiety, problematic childhood experiences and depression; there are a lot of possible causes. And for some people it is very natural; perhaps I only need to accept it, and live more true to my feelings (or absence of them), which means, becoming a hermit (not joking here :P).

I do think that ADHD affects my ability to bond. I lose interest extremely quickly. I love meeting new people but once I've met them I don't feel the need to meet anyone again. I hate sitting around and chit chatting. Also, I feel quite different to other people and struggle sometimes to relate to others or have others relate to me. I don't feel comfortable sharing or confiding in others and that seems to be the first step in creating a bond. Besides, I either forget or endlessly procrastinate contacting others and most people with time do get put off if they always have to be to make contact first. Finally, since I've always got a never ending to do list and can hardly cope with my work both at my job and at home, I really don't have a lot of time.


I'm still not sure if it's a healthy way to live or not. I do get lonely at times and I often do long for social interaction even if I can't imagine a particular person that I want to meet (usually I just want to meet new people but you can't make friends that way). In a way, this forum fulfills a lot of my social needs and there are people on here that I consider to be true friends, much more than anyone in real life.

If you are happy with the way you are don't let anyone else tell you that there is anything wrong with you. But then the only problem I can envisage is that right now you might not feel the need for friends but you can't be sure how you will feel in the future or if you might not need anyone in the future and making friends doesn't happen instantaneously, especially if you aren't really used to it.

Pilgrim
11-14-14, 07:49 AM
I found before medication I could be clingy. People don't like it. I just wanted to be with people. Hence you get some bad friends.
I love my real friends.
Now with medication I find I'm more of a loner. But when I connect it's always a good one.

MikhailTal
11-15-14, 03:34 PM
I'm very similar to what you described above. I can be social but I struggle bonding with others. I've got a ton of acquaintances whom I've known for years and I suspect that they consider me to be their friend but I just don't feel that way.

Yes, sometimes I don't even know whether people see me as something more than an acquaintance. Well secretly I know, but I blind myself on purpose I guess.

I think, most of us have had it drilled into us that a human beings are social animals and that a healthy human being needs to have a permanent social circle of some kind and a strong need for social interactions. My mother in law keeps telling my husband and me that we need people and that we are abnormal for not surrounding ourselves with people all the time (I guess, she secretly blames me because hubby used to be more social and still is more social than I am). Even if you look at the media, successful and happy people are always portrayed as having good friends and being fairly popular.

I agree that a lot of people value a social life, also because it makes them look good for the outside world. However, I don't believe that the public image of social people is of any relevance to me; I just imagine sometimes how my life would be with reciprocal bonds, and sometimes I think it would be something good, something I should try to attain; becoming able to need people.

Even the advice for dealing with mental health disorders (or any disorders of any kind) usually tells you to have a good support network. It makes sense but for some people sustaining a network is more stressful and harder work than just not having one at all.

Yes, this is why I sometimes philosophize about bonding, because so many people claim to cope with their problems and misery better because of love and friendship.

I think there's a general consensus that your worth is determined by the people you surround yourself with. This is especially so in school where being popular is disproportionately important and being a loner is synonymous to being a failure of some sort.

I agree. But I don't care about my image that much anymore, thank god I'm in my twenties, past puberty!



I do think that ADHD affects my ability to bond. I lose interest extremely quickly. I love meeting new people but once I've met them I don't feel the need to meet anyone again. I hate sitting around and chit chatting. Also, I feel quite different to other people and struggle sometimes to relate to others or have others relate to me. I don't feel comfortable sharing or confiding in others and that seems to be the first step in creating a bond. Besides, I either forget or endlessly procrastinate contacting others and most people with time do get put off if they always have to be to make contact first. Finally, since I've always got a never ending to do list and can hardly cope with my work both at my job and at home, I really don't have a lot of time.

I even don't enjoy meeting new people. But the rest is very close to my life. Sometimes I believe that I'm deeply hardwired to do intellectually stimulating stuff, so when people don't stimulate me, I can't stand to be around them.

If you are happy with the way you are don't let anyone else tell you that there is anything wrong with you. But then the only problem I can envisage is that right now you might not feel the need for friends but you can't be sure how you will feel in the future or if you might not need anyone in the future and making friends doesn't happen instantaneously, especially if you aren't really used to it.

Mostly it is me telling myself something is wrong with me. My biggest problem at the moment is, being drained by having to play a role for my friends. It exhausts me. I don't seem to be able to gradually break with them in a way that won't hurt their feelings. (For I will hurt my own feelings when I hurt theirs, that is something I know for sure.)

Thank you for the advice, and your elaborate descriptions of your own experiences, it has given me a bit more insight.

One thing I'd like to add is, that I have used concerta (methylphenidate) in the past. I needed to quit using it because of the insomnia related to the side-effects, but I remember that, apart from a better focus and a calmer mind, I used to feel a very gentle, real interest in other people for the first time in my life. I wanted to know about them, not only about what they thought of my interests (if they shared the same interests at all).

However, mostly, having slept very poorly after using it, I always felt a psychological hangover; I felt like my social interests on concerta were artificial, and my 'real' self (not interested in people) had returned after the withdrawal.

Artificial or not, if I didn't have the insomnia, I would have continued the medication, and I probably woudn't have posted this topic.

Crosswired
11-16-14, 02:22 PM
I was a shy quiet loner up until high school. When I was 15, I discovered this magic potion called alcohol. All of a sudden, I could talk to people, make them laugh, and have fun.

The thing is, I soon needed alcohol to socialize period. It became my life. I worked at a bank for 5 years after college. There would periodically be times that I socialized with co-workers. So many of them over this period would remark at how different I am out of the office. "Mark, I always thought you were a quiet guy. You have a different side to you now". After 2 or 3 drinks, this warm fuzzy feeling comes over me and I love being with other people.

Eventually, the alcohol became too much. The problems added up and I was physically addicted. I went to rehab for 35 days. I barely talked to anyone other than a few sentences. I reverted to my natural self. It was here that I was finally diagnosed.

I don't think any of my friends really know the true me.

Rebelyell
11-16-14, 04:33 PM
Yes I do or did.i use to enjoy being me myself and I doing things alone.Id push people away because I.either couldnt.stand them or was insecure or knew it wouldn't be long and wouldn't last.fast forward 15 to 20 years and.one day I needed some help or.something and I came to the.sad realization I had no one to call or ask or.count on . I'm still in this sad situation that I ****** up with myself and . caused and Idk if there is a way out? Most people make there circle of friends and.clicks in school and young 20 adult.life.ive just never felt like I've never fitted in.with any.groups or was accepted by the right people either . I do most of the stuff in life by myself whether its.fixing my truck or.riding my bikes and.quads an.skis.people tell me I shouldn't do.that.stuff alone I.could get hurt or.killed and I.think hmmm if they only truly knew how I . felt. ...having my truck fall on me would be a blessing in a disquise

TurtleBrain
11-16-14, 05:30 PM
I have friends, but my life is way to chaotic for me to have the time to form close and committed friendships with people. I just simply can't relate to people and quite frankly, I don't even care to.

adammb
11-25-14, 09:11 PM
Yes. Im the same.
35 years old now, have not had a real friend since i was 17, over half my life.
It doesn't matter what i do or say, unfortunately my place is on the outside as an observer of normal people.

Every day i see so many people (everybody) that look really interesting, yet because of social norms i cant just go and hang out with them.

These days, it seems like people need a 'reason' to hang out together. Especially people of the same sex. At least when making friends of the opposite sex we don't need to justify our desire to spend time together, because we both have something the other person wants. I don't necessarily mean sex, but the increased self esteem that comes from receiving any kind of respectable sexual interest.

Churches, clubs, any kind of group. People go to these things as a form of social engagement. The actual kind of group is irrelevant. Unfortunately for most people with ADHD, we do not have a genuine interest in anything (that lasts for more then an instant) so we avoid these groups.
It is so painful, many people with ADHD are naturally quite extroverted, but unable to express this due to the condition.

Is there such a thing as an ADHD anonymous group? or 'Outsiders anonymous'
where social norms and expectations are surrendered on entry.
There certainly should be, but unfortunately we tend to lack organisational skills.

Anybody in Melbourne want to start a group with me?

someothertime
11-26-14, 08:21 AM
similar.... turns out this is ( in my case ) mostly lack of self worth... yes.... there are huge symptomatic causations and overtones.... though fundamentally this seems to be at the heart....

so the "fix" must be multimodal..... offsets or workarounds for the practicable barriers and resolutions / clarity on the deeper currents....

wishing you warmth

( re^.... there should be a "social anxiety" or similar group on meetup in your area... perhaps even an ADHD group.... i attended the sydney anxiety one once and there were many like minded people.... it was really nice.... )