You are no doubt aware that ADHD can make it difficult to perform at your personal best. But living with ADHD can also seriously impact your social interactions, particularly your romantic relationships.
It can be tough to relate to your partner when they don’t understand the way you experience and deal with your symptoms. On the other hand, your partner may be frustrated too, especially when you get distracted easily, neglect household responsibilities, or forget important dates.
Solving conflicts and communicating effectively can be challenging for any couple. However, when one partner has ADHD, these things are even harder and more important for couples to address.
Thankfully, it’s possible for couples to improve their relationships. First, it's important to be aware of the issues. Then, you can devise a plan to protect your connection.
Consider the following ways ADHD can affect your relationship below:
1. Distractibility During Conversations
It’s extremely difficult for people with ADHD to ignore distractions.
You may forget things your partner told you just a few minutes ago. You might find it hard to concentrate on what they’re sharing or requesting because you feel like your attention is being pulled in other directions. Staying focused doesn’t come naturally or easily for you, though your partner may consider it common courtesy.
You understand that it upsets your partner but it’s not easy for you to stay tuned in and follow the conversation.
Sometimes, people with ADHD get so invested in a hobby or activity that their partner feels ignored.
Maybe you’ve spent hours working on a project, felt unable to limit television binge-watching or resist playing video games. It isn't uncommon for a partner to express how low they feel on your priority list. They may even feel upset and confused that these activities can absorb your undivided attention at the expense of your relationship.
You may know that your hyperfocus is frustrating and damaging to your connection, but your inability to shift gears quickly is difficult to overcome on your own.
Someone with ADHD often finds it a challenge to maintain a household.
Do you forget to pay bills or pick up the groceries? Are you constantly skipping chores you agreed were your responsibility?
Running a well-managed home together can certainly take more effort when one partner has ADHD. The strain of shouldering the forgotten or neglected daily duties can create resentment in your partner. When dealing with the consequences of missed appointments or payments, your partner’s patience can wear thin.
While you understand your partner's discouragement, you may also feel irritated by your own lack of organization and demoralized by daily criticism for your lack of follow through.
People with ADHD are also often overcome with the need to act on a thought or idea immediately.
Maybe you went ahead and booked an expensive trip without consulting your partner, or you went on a spontaneous shopping spree that exceeded your budget. Impulsivity is a common challenge for people with ADHD that can create conflict and distrust in your relationship.
While it can seem fun, harmless, or adventurous to dive into something unplanned or unexpected, making it a habit can wreak havoc on your shared finances, home life, and careers. Moreover, ongoing impulsive behavior can leave your partner feeling disrespected, unheard, and angry at the perceived lack of consideration.
5. Communication Breakdown
Couples overwhelmed by a partner's ADHD symptoms often struggle to communicate effectively and productively.
Your partner may feel drained and discouraged, lacking the empathy required to support you. You may feel defensive, defeated, and misunderstood. Of course, neither of you is to blame for ADHD or its symptoms. The lack of communication amid your frustrations can create troubling disconnection.
You don’t need to feel shamed or blamed for having ADHD. But without a clear plan for talking things out and working things through, the symptoms can become a flashpoint for hurt feelings and resentment.
When one partner has ADHD, both partners need to be committed to working through these obstacles together.
It can be helpful to put yourselves in each other's shoes and improve understanding and teamwork. Working with a therapist who specializes in ADHD and couples therapy can help. Communication, compassion, empathy and workable strategies are key.
You might have to do things differently than other couples you know to make it work, but, with support and commitment, it’s worth it.
Interested in learning strategies to manage your ADHD symptoms and improve your relationships? Contact us today to take your first steps towards transforming your relationship with your partner.