It is common for misunderstandings, frustrations, and resentments to build up in relationships where one or both members of the couple have ADHD. This is more likely when the symptoms of ADHD have never been properly diagnosed or treated. The upside is that building a healthier and happier partnership can always be worked on if turning these problems around is a priority. The more you learn about ADHD and the role it plays in your relationship, the quicker you can create more positive and productive ways to respond to challenges and communicate better.
How does ADHD or ADD affect relationships?
If you’re the person with ADHD:
You are likely to feel that you are constantly being criticized, nagged, and micromanaged. It can appear that no matter what you do, nothing can please your partner. You may not feel like a respected adult, so you may try to avoid your partner to avoid conflict. You probably want your partner to relax and stop attempting to control your life.
If you’re in a relationship with someone who has ADHD:
You may feel lonely, ignored, and unappreciated. You are exhausted of taking care of everything and feeling as though you are the only responsible one in the relationship who can rarely rely on their partner. Your partner may seem that they don’t follow through on promises, which can add demands to your plate. It can feel that they don’t care how much you do for the relationship.
Tips for understanding each other better
1) Learn more about ADHD
The more you both learn about ADHD and its symptoms, the easier it will be to identify when it is influencing your relationship. This could help to make sense of some of your common fights or issues. It is key to remember that an ADHD brain is hardwired differently from a brain without ADHD. This will help the non-ADHD partner to take the symptoms less personally. For the partner with ADHD, it can be a relief to understand the reasons behind some of your behaviors and give you the opportunity to learn how to manage your symptoms.
2) Acknowledge the impact your behavior has on your partner
If you are the partner with ADHD, try to recognize how your symptoms may affect your partner. Just acknowledging this out loud to your partner can help to make them feel validated. This is the first step in trying to fix the issues that are present. If you are the non-ADHD partner, consider how the nagging and criticism could be making your partner feel. Try not to disregard your partner’s complaints when you are angry about something because this will shut down open communication.
3) Separate who your partner is from their symptoms or behaviors
Try not to label your partner with names, such as, ‘irresponsible’. Instead, try to identify which symptoms of ADHD are being presented and discuss ways to manage them. The same goes for the other partner. Just because your partner gets frustrated, does not mean they are a ‘nag’. Attempt to recognize why they are reacting in that way.
Once the issues are out in the open and you are both willing to work on them, true healing will begin. There are many positive aspects of being with someone who has ADHD, such as their creativity and originality. The key is to learn how each other’s minds work and take that into consideration when getting upset or frustrated. Remember why you began dating in the first place.
To work with a therapist who specializes in ADHD, click here.