ADHD is the common short-hand term for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. This disorder is a neurobehavioral disorder that is generally characterized by symptoms of distractibility, inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactiveness.
ADHD is easily thought to be one of the most prevalent childhood mental health disorders today. This said, there are still many people who go through life without ever receiving a diagnosis. Regardless of whether or not you or your partner has been properly diagnosed with ADHD, the symptoms of this neurobehavioral disorder can interfere with daily tasks, work, school, relationships, and more. This makes finding strategies and coping skills that can help you to manage ADHD symptoms essential for anyone who does have this disorder.
Common areas of difficulty that people with ADHD experience include:
- Remembering tasks
- Time Management
- Motivation (and keeping motivated)
- Emotional balance
ADHD in a Relationship
Just as there is no one way that ADHD can be exhibited in a person, there is no universal way that ADHD affects our intimate relationships. Whether we have just gotten into a new relationship with a partner who has ADHD or we’ve been married to someone with ADHD for years, there are very particular ways that ADHD tends to affect a relationship.
You may find that your relationship is not affected by some of the more common problem areas that many people with ADHD deal with. That said, people who have ADHD (either diagnosed or undiagnosed) do tend to face an extra set of challenges when it comes to building and maintaining strong and nurturing relationships.
These challenges usually arise from seeming distracted, forgetful, or like a poor listener. People with ADHD can often come across as less interested or invested in a relationship even when they are just as committed as their non-ADHD partner. Additionally, due to the common difficulty, those with ADHD face with concentration and remembering to do things, sometimes their partners can grow resentful and feel more like a parent figure than a partner.
Of course, the way ADHD affects your relationship is going to depend on what you and your partner value most in the relationship and how you two adapt to accommodate your (or your partner’s) ADHD.
Tips for Coping with ADHD in a Relationship
ADHD can make maintaining a happy relationship quite the challenge. This is not because people who have ADHD do not want to be in relationships, of course. The simple truth is that many of the common symptoms of ADHD result in behaviors that we as humans tend to associate with disinterest and lack of commitment.
For example, you may have issues with time management and end up showing up late (or even completely missing) a scheduled date or social event. This can easily be confused for lack of interest and lead your partner to feel that you are not as invested in the relationship as they are. Similarly, if you experience a lot of impulsivity due to ADHD, you may engage in risky decisions or reckless behavior that can lead to tension between you and your partner.
Luckily, with some hard work and time spent learning effective coping strategies, having a fruitful and happy relationship when you or your partner has (or both of you have) ADHD is completely achievable. So, without further ado, let’s dive into some tips for coping with ADHD in your relationship.
Let Your Partner Know How You Feel
Whether you are the person in your relationship who has ADHD or you are wanting to learn how to better support your partner and work towards a happier relationship together, the first step is to talk about it. You can’t expect to make any improvements without being on the same page with your partner.
If you are feeling hurt by anything that your partner does that is a symptom of their ADHD, you need to tell them. Your partner is not a mind-reader, they need you to tell them what you are thinking if you want to make any changes for the better.
Build Healthy Life Habits
Mood swings can be very common in individuals who have ADHD. Ensuring that you are creating and maintaining healthy habits can be a great way to lessen the effects of and even the frequency of mood swings. So, if you have noticed that you or your partner has been getting more emotional or having a harder time keeping a level head, you may want to check in with your daily habits.
Are you getting enough sleep? Regular exercise? Good food? These are all essential for a more balanced mind and body.
Come Up With Strategies Together
One of the responsibilities of being in a relationship is working together to solve any problems or issues you or your partner may be facing. Remember, you’re on the same team. It is not you versus your partner. So, when you or your partner bring up an issue, it is not a personal attack; it is simply something for you two to work on together.
Whether you (or your partner) are having issues with distraction, hyperfocus, organization, forgetfulness, or anything else. Know that there are tools and techniques that you can use to work on these issues. Maybe you need to start using the reminders app on your smartphone or put up a calendar on the fridge door. There are going to be solutions that work for you, you just need to try them out and work together.
Avoid the Lecturing and Blaming
It is important to realize that symptoms of ADHD can have a number of effects on a relationship and blaming the partner who has ADHD for things is not the answer. Also, your partner does not want to feel like a child in your relationship so try to avoid lecturing them about what they are doing wrong.
Keep in mind that you are a team and you are both partners in the relationship. If you want to notify your partner about something that has been bothering you — for example, if your partner routinely forgets to do their assigned chores — take a breath and talk to them calmly. Let them know what has been bugging you and work together to figure out a strategy to help them remember to get the dishes done (or whatever else is going on).
Pick a Plan that Works for Both of You
When it comes to daily tasks the last thing you want is to come home to a series of half-completed chores. But, if you have a partner who has ADHD, you may do just this. Luckily, there are ways that you can get around this and play to both of your strengths.
Maybe you can rearrange responsibilities so that the one of you who has ADHD can focus on less directly time-related tasks. For example, your partner could take care of dishes or laundry while you handle paying the bills and scheduling appointments (or vice versa).
The goal is to work together to create a plan that will be easy to implement for both of you — without having one of you doing everything.
Consider Meeting with a Therapist
You may find that you simply don’t know where to start when it comes to addressing ADHD in your relationship. In this case, you may find it helpful to consult a therapist — either individually or as a couple. A therapist can help you to figure out the best plans and strategies for your relationship so that you and your partner can work on techniques that will best help you overcome the issues you are having.
So, if you are looking for guidance on addressing ADHD in your relationship, please do not hesitate to reach out to us today at Love Heal Grow to set up an appointment with a therapist.