Millions of readers rely on HelpGuide for free, evidence-based resources to understand and navigate mental health challenges. Please donate today to help us protect, support, and save lives. Give now. While the distractibility, disorganization, and impulsivity of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD or ADD can cause problems in many areas of adult life, these symptoms can be particularly damaging when it comes to your closest relationships. This is especially true if the symptoms of ADHD have never been properly diagnosed or treated. No matter what you do, nothing seems to please your spouse or partner.
Can you accept these qualities, or do you feel a nagging suspicion that as the relationship progresses, you may be less inclined to be accepting of them? If this person also has ADD, are they involved in treatment and actively getting help in managing their own ADD symptoms? How do you feel around this person - happy and relaxed or insecure and rather tense? Can you be yourself around this person? If you are looking for a life partner, is this someone with whom you want to spend the rest of your life?
Sometimes it helps to sit down with a trusted and supportive friend or family member to help you think through this process.
It is not unusual for an individual with ADD to become so consumed with a new relationship that all objective thought flies out the door. You may also miss important clues or warning signs about the relationship that an outside party, who has your best interest at heart, is better able to point out to you. Think through your past relationships, both the negative ones and the positive ones.
What patterns are present? Do you have difficulty unwinding and connecting intimately?
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Do your impulsive reactions or inattention to the relationship get you in trouble and push your partner away? Do you end up sabotaging the relationship, provoking fights or arguments? Do you tend to stay in a bad relationship too long just hoping that person will change? Once you have identified past relationship problems, work on coming up with solutions. Areas that are often most difficult for individuals with ADD tend to center around deficits in self-control-distractibility and inattention within the relationship that may be perceived by a partner as uncaring, problems in regulating emotions and inhibiting behaviors that may lead to hurt or irritated feelings.
Medication is often very effective in reducing the severity of these symptoms. Additionally, strategies, such as self-talk, role-playing and practicing positive interactions, becoming more aware of emotional triggers and taking time out to decompress, etc. Education about ADD is also important. When you and your partner understand how ADD affects your relationship, the plan for addressing issues becomes much clearer.
Good, open, honest communication is essential in any relationship. Be friends first. Continue to assess the progress in your relationship. Sit down together on a regular basis and talk about how the relationship is going.
Constructively and in a sensitive way address any problems. Be solution focused, not blameful. Try not to personalize negative feedback, instead talk together about how things may be done differently so both of you feel happy. If you tend to talk a lot, try talking less and listening more when you are together.
Maintain eye contact while your partner is speaking. Show an interest, and let him or her know you care. Plan activities together that you both enjoy.
Misunderstood ADHD Symptoms in Relationships
Laugh warmly together. Learn to laugh over the inevitable miscommunications and misunderstandings. Laughter relieves tension and brings you closer together.
ADHD symptoms can interfere with communication. The following tips can help you have more satisfying conversations with your partner and other people.
Sep 29, Difficulties with paying attention to others, missing important verbal and nonverbal cues, impulsively reacting or saying things that may be hurtful, moodiness, quick temper, low tolerance for frustrations, forgetfulness, zoning out in conversations, oversensitivity to criticism, emotional over-reactions, problems following through with commitments-these are just some of the issues that make dating and maintaining positive relationships hard for an individual with ADD.
Communicate face to face whenever possible. Nonverbal cues such as eye contact, tone of voice, and gestures communicate much more than words alone. To understand the emotion behind the words, you need to communicate with your partner in person, rather than via phone, text, or email.
While the other person is talking, make an effort to maintain eye contact. If you find your mind wandering, mentally repeat their words so you follow the conversation. Make an effort to avoid interrupting. Ask questions.
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Instead of launching into whatever is on your mind-or the many things on your mind-ask the other person a question. Request a repeat. If your attention wanders, tell the other person as soon as you realize it and ask them to repeat what was just said.
If you let the conversation go too long when your mind is elsewhere, it will only get tougher to re-connect. Manage your emotions. As well as helping to lower impulsivity and improve focus, regular mindfulness meditation can offer you greater control over your emotions and prevent the emotional outbursts that can be so damaging to a relationship.
The key is to learn to work together as a team. A healthy relationship involves give and take, with both individuals participating fully in the partnership and looking for ways to support each other.
It should feel like an equal exchange. For example, if neither of you are good with money, you could hire a bookkeeper or research money management apps that make budgeting easier.
Divide tasks and stick to them. The non-ADHD partner may be more suited to handling the bills and doing the errands, while you manage the children and cooking.
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Schedule weekly sit-downs. Evaluate the division of labor. Make a list of chores and responsibilities and rebalance the workload if either one of you is shouldering the bulk of the load. Delegate, outsource, and automate. If you have children, assign them chores. You might also consider hiring a cleaning service, signing up for grocery delivery, or setting up automatic bill payments.
If you have ADHD, you might find it hard to date and to make friends. That's partly because good relationships require you to be aware of other people's thoughts and feelings. But ADHD can make it. While the distractibility, disorganization, and impulsivity of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) can cause problems in many areas of adult life, these symptoms can be particularly damaging when it comes to your closest relationships. This is especially true if the symptoms of ADHD have never been properly diagnosed or treated. The condition starts in childhood, but it can stay into adulthood. Some people don't even know they have ADHD until they're adults. And if you have it, it could be causing relationship problems.
Split up individual tasks, if necessary. This is an area where the non-ADHD partner can provide invaluable assistance. They can help you set up a system and routine you can rely on to help you stay on top of your responsibilities. Start by analyzing the most frequent things you fight about, such as chores or chronic lateness. Then think about practical things you can do to solve them.
For chronic lateness, you might set up a calendar on your smartphone, complete with timers to remind you of upcoming events. Develop a routine. Your partner will benefit from the added structure. Schedule in the things you both need to accomplish and consider set times for meals, exercise, and sleep. Set up external reminders. This can be in the form of a dry erase board, sticky notes, or a to-do list on your phone.
Control clutter. People with ADHD have a hard time getting and staying organized, but clutter adds to the feeling that their lives are out of control. Help your partner set up a system for dealing with clutter and staying organized. Ask the ADHD partner to repeat requests. To avoid misunderstandings, have your partner repeat what you have agreed upon. Attention Deficit Disorder Association.
Ned Hallowell, M. In the U. But there are ways to build a healthier, happier partnership. Get more help. Print. Overwhelmed, secretly or overtly, by the constant stress caused by ADHD symptoms.
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Keeping daily life under control takes much more work than others realize. Subordinate to their spouses. Their partners spend a good deal of time correcting them or running the show. The corrections make them feel incompetent, and often contribute to a parent-child dynamic. Men can describe these interactions as making them feel emasculated. They often hide a large amount of shame, sometimes compensating with bluster or retreat.
Unloved and unwanted.
Afraid to fail again. As their relationships worsen, the potential of punishment for failure increases.
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But their inconsistencies resulting from ADHD mean that this partner will fail at some point. Anticipating failure results in reluctance to try. Longing to be accepted. One of the strongest emotional desires of those with ADHD is to be loved as they are, in spite of imperfections. Unwanted or unloved. The lack of attention is interpreted as lack of interest rather than distraction. Angry and emotionally blocked.
Anger and resentment permeate many interactions with the ADHD spouse.