4 Ways ADHD Affects Your Relationships… And What You Can Do

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is often associated with children and teens. In reality, it can also impact the lives of adults in a major way. A major area of concern is the intersection of ADHD and relationships—especially if the disorder has not been properly diagnosed.

The partner with ADHD may feel judged and criticized, while the other partner could see themselves as being ignored and unappreciated. Such a disconnect is fertile ground for more issues and conflicts to grow. Needless to say, it is critical that both partners commit to finding solutions. In the name of those efforts, let’s take a closer look.

4 Ways ADHD Affects Your Relationships… And What You Can Do

1. Always Distracted

Distraction is a hallmark ADHD symptom. As a result, if your partner has ADHD, you may often feel ignored. No matter how much they love you, their attention is scattered and unfocused. Thus, you lack a sense of validation. A variation of the distraction theme is hyper-focus. In this case, the partner with ADHD can become so immersed in some activity that they are oblivious to everything else in the vicinity.

What you can do:

If your ADHD partner makes you feel invisible, tell them in a clear, calm manner. Make certain they fully understand how you feel. For those with ADHD, come up with a sign to let your partner know you’re starting to zone out. If hyper-focus is the issue, do not indulge in those activities when you’re expected to participate in something with your partner. And, even when you do engage in something that triggers hyper-focus, set an alarm to create a self-imposed time limit.

2. Forgetfulness

Anyone can forget something at any time. But, with ADHD, it practically becomes the norm. As a result, your partner can lose trust in you. This is a recipe for deeper issues.

What you can do:

Let’s start with what not to do. Do not:

  • Take it personally
  • Behave as if lectures will solve the problem
  • Take control of everything so your partner doesn’t have to be trusted

Rather, work together to devise reminders—a visual planner, online alarms, etc.—to help the ADHD partner stay on point.

3. Nothing Seems to Get Done

The partner with ADHD may want to pitch in and do their share around the house. However, two big obstacles loom: procrastination and disorganization. Your heart may be in the right place, but little will actually get done if you a) don’t start doing it or b) lose track of what you’re doing. Once again, this puts the onus on your partner.

What you can do:

Dole out chores mindfully. If the ADHD causes your partner to lag a bit, do not (at first) give them very high-stakes tasks. Start by breaking down chores into more easily digestible bites. Allow them to accomplish such goals one step at a time.

4. Emotional Regulation

Mood swings often come with the territory when someone has ADHD. The inability to regulate one’s emotions can wreak havoc on a relationship.

What you can do:

  • Learn to recognize triggers in order to pre-empt mood swings
  • Practice daily self-care to reduce stress and, thus, minimize outbursts
  • Make plans to do leisure-time activities together that you both like to remind yourselves that you can and often do get along

Break the Cycle

The common symptoms of ADHD can trap a couple in a dangerous cycle, and developing the skills, tools, and strategies you need can be difficult. Hence, connecting with a therapist that is experienced in this area can be very helpful. Contact us soon to find out how couples therapy can help you identify issues and cultivate solutions.

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