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You can find new ways to face the challenges of ADHD and improve how you communicate, adding greater understanding to your relationship and bringing you closer together. Transforming your relationship starts with understanding the role that ADHD plays. Once you are able to identify how the symptoms are ADHD are influencing your interactions as a couple, you can learn better ways of responding. For the partner with ADHD, this means learning how to manage your symptoms. For the non-ADHD partner, this means learning how to react to frustrations in ways that encourage and motivate your partner.
If you have ADHD, you may zone out during conversations, which can make your partner feel ignored and devalued. Even when someone with ADHD is paying attention, they may later forget what was promised or discussed. This can lead to difficulty finishing tasks as well as general household chaos.
How does ADHD or ADD affect relationships?
If you have ADHD, you may blurt things out without thinking, which can cause hurt feelings. Many people with ADHD have trouble moderating their emotions. You may lose your temper easily and have trouble discussing issues calmly. Your partner may feel like they have to walk on eggshells to avoid blowups. You and your partner are more different than you think—especially if only one of you has ADHD. Let your partner describe how they feel without interruption from you to explain or defend yourself.
ADHD's Impact on Relationships: 10 Tips to Help
You may want to write the points down so you can reflect on them later. Ask them to do the same for you and really listen with fresh ears and an open mind. Study up on ADHD. The more both of you learn about ADHD and its symptoms, the easier it will be to see how it is influencing your relationship. You may find that a light bulb comes on. So many of your issues as a couple finally make sense! Acknowledge the impact your behavior has on your partner.
Separate who your partner is from their symptoms or behaviors. The same goes for the non-ADHD partner too. Recognize that nagging usually arises from feelings of frustration and stress, not because your partner is an unsympathetic harpy. Progress starts once you become aware of your own contributions to the problems you have as a couple. This goes for the non-ADHD partner as well. The way the non-ADHD partner responds to the bothersome symptom can either open the door for cooperation and compromise or provoke misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
Your reaction can either make your significant other feel validated and heard or disregarded and ignored. Many couples feel stuck in an unsatisfying parent-child type of relationship, with the non-ADHD partner in the role of the parent and the partner with ADHD in the role of the child. It often starts when the partner with ADHD fails to follow through on tasks, such as forgetting to pay the cable bill, leaving clean laundry in a pile on the bed, or leaving the kids stranded after promising to pick them up.
The non-ADHD partner takes on more and more of the household responsibilities.
The more lopsided the partnership becomes, the more resentful they feel. Of course, the partner with ADHD senses this.
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So what can you do to break this pattern? One partner feels overburdened. The other feels attacked. They end up fighting each other rather than tackling the issue.
Dealing with Symptoms Together and Overcoming Relationship Challenges
To improve communication, do what you can to defuse emotional volatility. For others, the case may be more severe and they may have more obvious symptoms they need to manage. In more severe cases, you might not even know your partner has ADHD, which can lead you to misinterpret their feelings for you.
No matter how many times you tell someone with ADHD to pick up their clothes, maintain a clean kitchen, or to keep an organized living space, it may just not happen. Procrastination and lack of motivation are also significant hurdles. If you find out your partner has ADHD, the first thing you should do is educate yourself about the disorder. Orlov also suggests setting up external structural cues to help with procrastination and disorganizations issues.
Give them literature on ADHD and its impact on relationships.
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On weekends, he has a coffee ready for me when I wake up in the morning. He shares my passion for random trivia.
Adult ADHD and Relationships
He has no problem with my odder personality quirks and even encourages some of them. He encourages me in my passions. His need to keep life interesting can really keep life interesting in a positive way. Couples who try with all their might to improve their relationship can feel disheartened when nothing changes, or worse, when things deteriorate, as Orlov experienced first-hand in her marriage. Trying harder made both her and her husband feel resentful and hopeless.
What does it mean to try differently? It also means that both partners change their perspective. We will respectfully negotiate how we can each contribute. Having ADHD can leave many feeling defeated and deflated. Fully treating ADHD will enable greater consistency and success. People with ADHD also can feel unloved or unappreciated or that their partner wants to change them.
I am responsible for managing my negative symptoms. To learn more about Melissa Orlov, her work and the seminars she gives, please see her website. She blogs regularly about body and self-image issues on her own blog, Weightless , and about creativity on her second blog Make a Mess. Retrieved on January 16, , from https: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Oct Published on Psych Central.