Building and maintaining friendships requires a whole host of extra responsibilities and consistent connections. Relationships simply bring too many things to do and to consider, adding to stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. Women (with ADD) feel, at some level, that developing more relationships or even a few relationships to a deeper point will put them over the top. When this happens, they often begin to avoid others, withdraw and then feel lonely and isolated.
In addition to beginning and maintaining relationships, many women have let established relationships slip away. Small occasions and important events with other people are missed: there are an increasing number of missed thank-you notes, missed birthdays, or invitations that are not reciprocated. The connections just aren’t kept up, and eventually they’re gone. They then anticipate scolding, rejection, or negative reactions when they think about trying to reconnect or rectify a situation, so they tend to avoid them altogether. While this may be true for everyone to some extent, women with AD/HD with particular histories or wounds are especially sensitive to and avoidant of this kind of potentially critical feedback further increasing the negative cycle.
This is because being good at relationships goes to the core of their identity as women. Men are more often easily forgiven for these relational lapses since it’s not so much a part of out culturally established gender role expectations. Because they don’t expect it of themselves, they don’t attach shame, guilt, and feelings of failure to it when they let relationships lapse. The challenge and the goal is to find a way to stay connected without being overwhelmed.
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