Relationships are important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They come in many forms: romantic, familial, friendships, and more. Yet, amidst the beauty of these connections, challenges can arise that can affect even the strongest bonds.
One such challenge is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which can affect relationships in various ways. People diagnosed with ADHD struggle with inattention, or hyperactivity and impulsivity, which can give rise to many complex problems.
Before we dive into the effects of ADHD on relationships, it's important to understand what ADHD is.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that affects thousands of people worldwide. People with ADHD find it difficult to focus on tasks, wait in long queues, remember details, pay bills on time, and so on.
The symptoms must be present within the age of 12 to diagnose someone with ADHD. The disorder can continue from childhood to adulthood and affect a person's life in many ways, including relationships.
ADHD and Romantic Relationships
Let's talk about the challenges openly and honestly. ADHD can stir up occasional storms in relationships, causing misunderstandings and frustration. It’s important to understand the impact ADHD can have on relationships.
The Impact on Relationships
People with ADHD might struggle with active listening and following conversations. This can lead to misunderstandings, frustration, and feelings of being unheard by their partners, friends, or family members. They can lose focus during conversations, which leaves the partner feeling devalued.
Forgetfulness is a major symptom of ADHD. Forgetting dates, promises, or conversations can hurt feelings and make people think you don't care.
Impulsivity in people with ADHD can sometimes lead to saying or doing things without thinking through the consequences. This can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts in relationships. Impulsive individuals often prefer taking risks or pursuing immediate rewards. For instance, they may choose to play video games rather than engaging in boring tasks that require completion.
Difficulties in time management might result in late arrivals, missed events, or feeling overwhelmed by commitments. Difficulty organizing and/or completing tasks can lead to disruption of the household’s environment. This can make the partner feel frustrated and resentful, as they may feel they do more household chores.
Intense emotions are common in ADHD. This emotional rollercoaster might be challenging for both the person with ADHD and their loved ones to navigate.
Many adults with ADHD may have difficulty regulating their emotions. This may lead to explosive fits of rage that leave partners feeling wounded or scared.
The Parent-Child Dynamic
The most harmful pattern in an ADHD relationship is when one partner becomes the responsible “parent” figure and the other the irresponsible “child.” This chronic pattern of micromanaging can result in feelings of insecurity in the relationship.
How to Support Someone with ADHD in a Relationship?
Supporting a partner with ADHD isn't about fixing them; it's about being a sturdy anchor amidst the waves.
Here are some simple yet effective ways to provide support:
Learning about ADHD can help partners and loved ones better understand the condition, its challenges, and how it impacts behavior. Empathy grows when we understand what someone is going through. Read articles, blogs or listen to podcasts to increase your knowledge about ADHD.
Encourage an environment to create space for open and patient communication. This includes giving each other space to express feelings and concerns without judgment. Few pointers on how to communicate empathetically:
Actively Listening to the other person. Put away distractions, maintain eye contact, and genuinely engage in conversations.
Repeat and rephrase. In order to stay focused, repeat and restate what your partner says to make sure you understand.
Text yourself important pointers or messages from the conversation.
Talk about how your symptoms make it difficult for you to remember things or follow through on tasks. When you share your struggles with your partner, it helps them understand how ADHD impacts your behaviour.
To keep your mind active during lengthy discussions, try using a fidget toy such as a stress ball.
Structure and Routine
Creating structure and routines can be helpful for someone with ADHD. These routines can help with time management and reduce forgetfulness.
Divide tasks based on strengths. If ADHD affects your ability to pay bills or manage money, you can ask your partner to handle it. Alternatively, you can find something else that suits you.
Use of Reminders
Utilize tools like calendars, alarms, and reminders to help with remembering important dates and commitments.
Create a shared calendar on your smartphones or hang a calendar on the wall, for better communication.
Patience and Empathy
Relationships require patience. Recognize that the challenges posed by ADHD are not intentional.
Cultivate empathy for your partner or loved one's struggles.
Counselling or Therapy
Couples or family therapy offers a safe place to talk about problems, learn how to handle them, and improve communication. You can also learn Conflict Resolution Skills to build stronger relationships. At Rocket Health, we provide online psychotherapy which is judgment-free and highly effective. Book an appointment with our team of mental health specialists today to create personalized and successful treatment strategies.
ADHD adds a layer of complexity to relationships, but it doesn't have to be a barrier to connection. By understanding the symptoms and challenges that ADHD can bring one can build stronger bonds. Whether in romantic relationships, teenage relationships, or any other connection, open communication, empathy, and patience are essential. With proper treatment and tactics, one can learn ways to cope with the challenges.
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1. Lcsw, K. H. (2023, March 6). ADHD and Relationships. https://www.psycom.net/adhd-and-relationships
2. Orlov, M. (2022, July 11). 9 Ways ADHD May Strain Relationships. ADDitude. https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-divorce-rate-marriage-help/