Birds of a Feather: The Joy of Neurodivergent Friendships

The strongest and healthiest friendships allow — no, encourage — you to be yourself 100 percent with no masking or small talk. For ADDitude readers, these magical connections happen when they find neurodivergent friends.

Two women with ADHD who built their social strengths and found connection and friendship
two happy African-American women friends taking a selfie in front of a colorful background

Loneliness is a national epidemic, according to the U.S. Surgeon General, as damaging to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Among people with ADHD, the experience of loneliness is especially prevalent. In a recent ADDitude survey, 80% of respondents reported feeling lonely, even in the company of others.

Though loneliness is a tangled knot with many threads, for the neurodivergent, many of the contributing factors relate to a lack of understanding and empathy from others. Eighty percent of readers reported that ADHD contributed to their feelings of loneliness. Specifically, they pointed to the following contributing factors:

But breaking through this darkness was a bright beacon of hope: Half of readers shared that they relate best to other neurodivergent individuals. We asked them to tell us about these neurodivergent friendships and they shared stories of stimulating, dynamic relationships with tons of shared experiences and humor and little judgment and nonsense.

These accounts show how neurospicy friendships can help address loneliness by banishing stigma, masking, and criticism.

[Read: 10 Covert Signs of a Toxic Friend]

“Being with other neurodivergent folks validates my experience of living with ADHD. There’s less judgment between us as well and we don’t need to mask around each other.” —Siobhan, Canada

“Without meaning to, I have realized that most of my friendships are with neurodivergent people. I love to hang out with other ‘weird’ people. They make me feel safe.” —Sarah, Canada

“It often feels like I am an Apple computer in a Windows world. Meeting and recognizing others with similar processors make me feel less flawed and less alone or odd.” —J.P., United Kingdom

[Read: What Type of Friend Are You? How ADHD Influences Friendships]

“It’s such fun interacting with someone as scatty as I am. We strike sparks off one another.” —Anne, South Africa

“There’s no need to worry about switching conversations often, there’s an understanding of the struggles, there’s no need to explain behavior. All of this results in less guilt or shame.” —Rukki, Australia

“I have ADHD, and one of my sisters has OCD, and dyslexia. We are inseparable, and always have been. We ‘get’ each other like no one else in this world. We are the yin and yang.” —Mary, Illinois

I don’t have to mask as much around other neurospicy folks due to them normalizing some of my behaviors.” —Lyza, Michigan

“Other bright ADHD folk are catnip to me: fast-paced, interesting conversations and no judgment, cocked eyebrows when we speak of having had many jobs, having moved around frequently, having tried and deserted many hobbies, etc. Too often, ‘normies’ can feel a bit dull, sterile, linear.” —Lesley, United Kingdom

“I feel more understood, and am able to have deeper conversations about interesting things (not needing to manage small talk and uninteresting conversations).” —Emily, United Kingdom

My bestie and I can have odd, disjointed conversations and still understand each other, partially because we have a long history and because she’s also neurospicy.” —Sarah, Vermont

All healthy and successful relationships with friends or partners are or have been fellow neurodivergent individuals.” —Aspen, Wisconsin

“I am shocked at how many of my closest friends are neurodivergent. It seems that we have flocked together, probably because we are birds of a feather.—An ADDitude reader, California

Neurodivergent Friendships: Next Steps

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