ADHD and Friendships: How to Play the Social Game!


Hello Brains! While I’m sure some of you have absolutely no trouble making and keeping friends, that hasn’t been my experience. And judging from the Facebook page, I’m not alone! (in being alone) Oh, the irony! [Intro Music] Part of my trouble with friends has been my more noticeable ADHD symptoms. I’m fidgety, impulsive, have trouble waiting my turn, have trouble staying focused on activities that don’t interest me and keep forgetting everybody’s name. But turns out, there’s another reason for it too, and THIS goes all the way back to being a kid. To help me explain, cool science stuff! [Music] ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, which means while some parts of our brains develop a little faster than normal, other parts are actually a few years behind. One of the areas is the prefrontal cortex, which has to do with our ability to make decisions. So we might be super smart and even understand all the social “rules” but still have a hard time knowing when and how to apply them. Looking back, that makes so much sense. As a kid, I had a really hard time connecting with other kids my age. At recess or on a sleepover, I didn’t always know how to do or say the right thing like everyone else magically seemed to be able to do. I felt a little lost. It was like everyone else knew something I didn’t. I didn’t really fit in. And, because I didn’t fit in, I often got left out. I also started developing social anxiety as it became clear that I REALLY didn’t know what I was doing. So even if a friend DID invite me somewhere, I didn’t always want to go. Because, I wasn’t good at it. Here’s the good news, and it’s what I wish someone had told me. You can get good at it! Just like video games, nobody is BORN knowing how to play the “Social Game”. It’s something you learn. And, just like video games, if you throw yourself into a level you’re not ready for, it’s gonna be confusing and frustrating and, not all that fun. You might even think you’re not good at the game. But, if you play it one level at a time, like games were meant to be played, you get better and better, and more importantly, you have fun along the way. “BUT!” … Yes, Jessica “How do you get good at a game you don’t have that many opportunities to play, are anxious about playing, and, aren’t really sure how to play in the first place?” It’s way easier then you’d think. Let’s learn how to play, “The Social Game”! [Ding] 1. Invite someone to play with you If you’re not getting enough chances to play on “levels” that are fun for you, invite someone to play on your level. Set up play dates where you do stuff that you are comfortable with. That could be, Level One: playing at the park or Level Three: watching a movie at your house. You can ask your parents to help you to set this up, unless you’re my age, then it’s just weird. “Hi, this is Jessica’s mom.” “I was just wondering if Suzanne would like to go with Jessica to” “da club on Friday night?” … “Da club.” … “I assume it’s some sort of club”. … “Would you like me to pick her up?” The point is: even if you are anxious, look for opportunities to play. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at the game. And the better you are at the game, the more comfortable you’ll be on the NEXT level! There’s a link to a great podcast on playdates in the description below! 2. Try a Tutorial. If you’re nervous about not knowing how to play a certain level, it can help to know what to expect. Ask someone you trust for a “walk-through” and if there are any pitfalls you should look out for. You can also google it. [Ding] [Ding] [Ding] 3. Get hints and tips from other players while you play. The people you’re playing with can help you improve your game. Ask for feedback. Tell them to let you know, nicely, if you’re talking too much, or not sharing enough. Sometimes you won’t have to ask. Sometimes they’ll tell you. Don’t get mad. Thank them for helping you be a better friend. 4. Play with the best. Instead of feeling bad that you’re not as good at the game as the other players, recognize that you can learn strategies from THEM that’ll make YOU a better player. On this same note, try to avoid players who “win” by cheating. Making themselves “seem” cool by doing stuff they shouldn’t be doing. Or putting others down. If they need to do that to win, they’re probably not that great a player. 5. It’s better to play levels you enjoy. If you get frustrated or anxious while playing, it might mean that you’re playing a level you’re not ready for. If Level Three: watching a movie together, is enough of a challenge, it doesn’t make sense to struggle through Level Ten: a sleepover. Stick to levels you’re comfortable with, and you’ll probably have a lot more fun. Which means, you’ll play more. Which means, you’ll get better. Which means, you’ll play more. Which means you’ll get better. This could mean: Playing with kids who are a year or two younger than you, who are playing at a level that you’re already good at. Limiting the amount of time you play in any one session. Or choosing players that enjoy the same “levels” you do. Like the “Playing Pokemon Go” level. That doesn’t mean you only play the way YOU want to play. Part of being a good player is making sure everybody’s having fun. But if a level’s not comfortable for you, it’s okay to say “I don’t want to play”. Good players will understand. 6. Don’t Stress! Life, especially social life, is one giant experiment. Nobody’s really sure what they’re doing, and the only way to get good at it is to do it. Making mistakes is part of that. **Psst** It’s called “getting experience”. [Ding] And remember, the real goal of playing isn’t just to make this one person like you. It’s to get good at the social “game” in general. So, even if it turns out Pokemon Go is ALL you have in common it’s okay. If the person you’re playing with doesn’t turn out to be your #bestfriendforever, you’re still getting valuable experience. [Ding] And friends aren’t like Pokemon. You don’t gotta catch ’em all. A few good ones are all you really need. Of course, it can be hard to keep the friends you do make if you rage-quit all the time. Next week, we’ll talk about how to deal with anger and frustration in a way that doesn’t mess up your friendships. That’s it for this week. Share your favorite levels that you like to play in the comments below. Mine right now are the “Playing Tennis with Friends” level and the “Reading and Responding to Comments on YouTube” level. Oh, and remember: I answer a question at the end of the video every week, so post your questions below, or on Facebook or Twitter. And subscribe! So you’ll see if I answer yours. See you next week! Bye Brains! Question time: Hey, have you thought about doing Patreon? Are you going to create a Patreon? When are you going to make a Patreon? Oh my god, seriously, MAKE A PATREON! Look! Patreon! It’s our Patreon page! If you like what I do, and want me to do more, I could really use the support. I set some goals for the channel, and if we hit them, we can start making even more videos. And in the meantime, you can sign up for some pretty cool perks. Including being on the Brain **Board** and helping us decide on future episodes. Click the “Help us Make More Videos” button for more! [Outro Music]

100 comments

  1. I don't have diagnosed ADHD but I have all the symptoms (I'm not gonna say I have it,because I don't know if I do yet)And I have a few good friends because they understand my humour and in middle school I started swearing alot and that was when either people loved me or were completely annoyed by me,usually annoyed by me but I'm in highschool now so my annoying hyperactiveness has helped me avoid or come back at them.

  2. My favorite level is "doing something together with our dogs – and remember to learn the name of the owner as well". I tend to stick to this level for a long time but I'm starting to challenge myself more now and dare taking risks in potential friendships.

  3. I’m crying…I thought I was just a weirdo who didn’t know how to talk to people 😭😭 it’s nice to know that it’s because of my ADHD

  4. I related to this so much that I started to tear up. I’d never heard someone explain that they felt like there’s were social rules that everyone seemed to know but themselves before. I had always felt this way growing up but had never heard it put into words before. I also liked learning the science behind it.
    I feel really relieved now.
    I hope you have a great day!

  5. having been basically a career student through college and graduate school, I got very good at the levels "study party" "watching a movie with some friends and beers" levels and now as an adult, where everyone has tvs and beer and no one needs to study, I find it hard to make friends.

  6. ive been sitting at the same table with the same kids for like 5 months and i forgot someones name and now hes mad😂😂

  7. This was a pretty funny, informative and eye-opening video. Now I gotta go ask my mom to invite my friends to go to "daclub" with me next saturday. Thanks!

  8. Stuff that helped me be social – Art, Tabletop RPGs, SCA (I have never met so many of my people than the Society for Creative Anachronism!), cons, and dressing like a pirate. I carry a sketchbook in case I am bored (but people will ask about), and something to read if they don't. I have learned to embrace that I don't fit and can revel in it… but it has been a lot of work.

  9. Okay, i guess i never had invited players to my party.. Even as a kid there was this admin crawling a bunch of players together every year and i used to play with my brother instead, because we known each other and yeah, as soon as i was around 16 years, my brother became more and more of an own live. So, eight years later, i'm still there, plus social anxieties and never was really close to someone.

    By the way, if there were popping up the exps every time i got social in some way, it would be much much easier. I love this video.

  10. I love playing the level talk about characters you love and making jokes to make them laugh because it makes me happy

  11. You are awesome .Love this information.Have you thought of the non addressed adhd person that turns to the life of addication ,and then the cycle repeats in the offspring of the addict , as well as how childhood trauma makes the brain misfire and miss certain maturity levels as a results in either adhd or a serious nervous disorder.Im researching this process and wondering about your insight on the matter.Think if how many people end up in prison because they didn't have the information about their brains. I think you are providing an amazing amount of support.Gid bless and keep up the great work.

  12. My resolution for this year is to develop a character of stoicism and humour. I am curious about re-discovering the power of friendship. I am hardened against having relationships. I feel like I only have weak ties. What is helping me is Habitica, How to ADHD, and (podcast) Speak Up Storytelling. I even made a goal called "Go To Movies", because it's something I love to do, but I don't do often enough.

  13. This channel is blowing up, 1000 plus comments ! Wow. I play tennis but find have not had too much luck finding females friends to play with, just Men. Don't know if it's something to do with Australian culture. PS I bet the host of this channel is pretty competitive player lol.

  14. Have 0 friends 😔, my adhd kinda makes not trust any one. Also it's too much work, I prefer to be by myself.

  15. Rip, skipped levels 7 and 8 in the graphic at 1:45. Would low-key be helpful. How the heck do you actually transition from "level 6" to "level 9"?

  16. I dont't even try to make friends anymore or talk to anyone unless they talk to me. I also changed how my brain thinks about emotions so that way i don't have to feel emotions anymore

  17. I didn’t have trouble making friends as a kid, but I did still feel out of place, and it was exacerbated when interacting with adults. As an adult, it took me until my late 20s to learn how to make healthy friendships, and more importantly, how to make long lasting relationships.

  18. Cheers for the video content! Apologies for butting in, I would love your thoughts. Have you thought about – Mahorrla Execute Shy Method (google it)? It is an awesome one of a kind guide for beating social anxiety without the hard work. Ive heard some unbelievable things about it and my friend at last got excellent results with it.

  19. Can you do something for Brains who are leaving school and going to college? (In UK we can leave school at 16 and go to Higher Education/6th Form college for 2 years before progressing to University)

    My son is very nervous about this, I could not afford for him to stay on at his private school, so he has to go to an excellent but very big college where he ‘doesn’t no anyone!!’
    He finds it SO hard to make friends, and has RSD too, so at 15 would rather stay home every day for 3 weeks over Easter break than risk pissible rejection by suggesting to his mates that they meet up!!

    So he is really anxious about starting college.

    (Will feign illness to get out of situations!)

    So if you could do a guide on handling new school/college anxiety aimed at 16 year olds that’d be great!!

  20. Thank you for being kind in your videos 🙂 I’m learning a lot about my brain with them and you’re always so kind. I feel invited but never pressured to watch more 🙂

  21. I’m the friend that try’s to make everything funny and enjoyable, comforts them but I always go home thinking people think I’m annoying and different and it gets to me sometimes😕

  22. One of the hardest parts about growing up with ADHD is the lack of understanding. I was only diagnosed when I left my mom’s place at 16 because she didn’t believe that it actually existed. Many of my teachers said that I “had so much potential, but needed to try harder”. I had no idea how to socialize when I became an adult because I’d been excluded from friend groups for being too “weird”, and is often say or do things that I had no idea were socially unacceptable. I really wish I found your videos when I was younger, it would have helped a lot! They do help me now though, so even though I’m still not completely adjusted to society, I feel a lot more comfortable in it.

  23. My best friend is a boy and we were more best friends when for our recourse math class it was disability mouth and write stuff about a famous person and I choose myself and he was writing the same thing except his name and it was even better because I found out we both had it and my other guy friend has it too and my favorite recourse teacher has it too and she was from 7 to 8th grade and she told my mom that I was her little her and acted like her as a kid and every time she is about to say something about me like saying that I’ve never got any Fs and after a parent teacher conference with my mom and she said how my math teacher said of how after homework is given I go to her desk for help but before she says that she always tells me to not get to exited then says it so I know to calm down

  24. My ADHD leads me to fights twice in a city school but I had friends in country school back then but going back to country school not same, Hope I make friends. 3 weeks away.

  25. I’m 30 and there are levels I just don’t want to play… drinking in public with coworkers after work, Not Going to Happen!

  26. It’s hard to make friends however it’s easy to keep. I recently actully made a friend and I pay tons of attention to my friends sometimes to much “ I talk WAY to much is what I mean by this)

  27. I am watching this years after it was posted. And Love your channel. Wish I had found it years ago.
    I don't do friends, relationships or family. Gave all that up. Can not maintain any relationship. Can't stand " normal " people for the most part. Have no tolerance for all the hate, ignorance and bias in our society. Basically, I find nearly everyone I encounter not worth my time.
    And " professionals " are the worst. I have never encountered a Therapist that worked. They either misdiagnose, don't understand or just out and out don't listen. Make up their minds without knowing chit about the person they are judging. Even medical and dental is a nightmare. Dental is basically legal torture for me and no one I have tried to explain that to gets it. I have had several minor to major surgeries. Anytime I am " out " for the procedure there are no lasting effects. Every time, regardless of what the procedure is, if a local is used I not only still feel the entire opperation. but have phantom pain months to years afterwards.
    The response I get from every medical professional is " it's all in your head ". No CHIT, I am not Neurotypical so of course my " head " doesn't translate the experience the way yours does. Somehow they just out and out refuse to get that.
    So yes, relationships and friends. For me, that's just a fantasy.

  28. Me and one if my really good friends are soooooo similar but she always tells me " idk how I handle you" or "Shhhhh your talking too much" or " you just interrupted me" 🤷‍♀️

  29. I love the game and level thing..cause regarding most people it is just a game & no wonder I fail miserably at it at times.

    I either never try (mainly) or throw myself into level 12 with people who've been there a long time and don't like noobs.

  30. I just went from level 3-25 lmao and I was dead lost, couldn’t focus, I was looking all over the place, I notice how someone was talking to me and I looked a different way, it’s not my intention:( I was still listening but then I look back at them and they were talking to someone else, I notice so much man, it’s hard.

  31. Pro tip: don't rely on alcohol to aid in practicing how to socialize. It feels like it's helping but the sober brain will still have no idea what to do.

  32. These are marvelous tips! I have a question, though. What if you also have major depression and anxiety? I have a really difficult time getting myself to do things I like to do. As time as passed, everything I like to do involves me being by myself (crocheting, reading, etc.) How do I help myself look forward to socializing? I almost always have a good time when I do go out, but it is SO HARD to get the motivation to go out 🙁 help!

  33. I kinda pretend like life is a is a social experiment/choose-your-own-adventure video game with a list of choices or an RPG.

    Each time I am presented with a choice on what to say or how to act, I rank my choices on which are most advantageous to unnecessary.

    As I learn new things, I mark them in a game log (my brain, or if more important, a journal) to reference later in order to make better decisions in the future or gain more experience/charisma points.

    When something doesn’t turn out well or I hear new information about a person, I get an achievement notification saying “new info learned: Rumor about…” or learned skill/ skill points gained towards “flattery” or “listening”, or when I learn from a failure, “Lesson learned: don’t ask XX about XX”.

    One way I “grind” for points to become more skilled in something, especially charisma, is looking up how to do something, for example, for interacting in social situations better, I reference a certain (very recommended) YouTube channel called Charisma on Command.

    TL;DR: I have ADHD and I pretend life is a video game and it actually works to entertain me and gives me motivation to learn new things.

    (Also I swear I’m not a sociopath/ heartless human being; I am just so self-aware (imo)to the point where I can treat it like a game. Also the game isn’t 24/7, just when I am bored or I am brainstorming/ socially interacting)

  34. Absolutely adore her videos. Visual representations of feelings. How she is, makes sense! She explains those inner thoughts so perfectly, you can visualize them. Makes you feel less alone and weird…..as I've always been called. I embrace it now, because I am to others sometimes. More fun Haha! I'm 35, only recently awaiting official diagnosis after interview. Years of confusion, ups downs…anxiety and depression always diagnosed. CBT, therapy, medication has never worked. Refuse to take meds, I think it's too much off a this pills at depression habit. Besides, they always make me tired and feel worse. Even after 6 months, made.not a jot of difference. I'd rather feel comfortable enough to talk to someone, who genuinely cares. Genuine feelings. Like somebody cares. That's my thing I guess.

  35. This is the reason why I decided to get a second job which was in retail. I couldn’t manage small talk to save my life. I was always the quiet one in the room. Working retail forced me to initiate conversations and this is how I learned to be less socially awkward.

  36. Even if you have ADD and like to talk a ton, don't forget to ask how the other person what's new with them ( an open ended question) and let them talk and listen. Really listen.

  37. I find being around people exhausting afterwards. A 15 min conversation turns in to hours of; did I talk to much, say the wonrg thing, interpret to much, was I too load, do they hate me….and so on.

  38. I am an ESL teacher, a I love your videos.

    They have helped me to understand my kids. Sometimes, I've used them to teach my students that they have to respect their classmates because we all are different.

    If you can send a video telling your experiences with your classmates, it'd be awesome.

  39. don't mind me, i'm just busy figuring out how to package up your videos and send them all back to myself 30 years ago ……..

  40. There's not really anyone in my area who shares my interest.. I can make fast friends when I visit america but here in rural UK just.. Nothing, no one, nada, 18 years of isolation despair and depression. Help.

  41. I have adhd I also have 3 friends that also have it and they understand me and I was pulled out of school because of bullying and fake friends

  42. Theres a thing i need help with
    I alwase daydream amd get distracted and then my friends get annoyed because they think im ognoring then and idk how to explain what gping on

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