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As a therapist and someone who wears the ADHD badge (complete with its vibrant palette of hypersensitivity, distractibility, impulsivity, and, let’s not forget, those relationship roller-coasters), I’m deeply familiar with the challenges this condition stirs in relationships.

If you’re romantically involved with someone with ADHD, you’ve likely felt its touch too.

There might be:

  • moments of frustration
  • feelings of isolation
  • times when you feel sidelined.

Yet, it’s essential to remember the silver linings. ADHD brings a burst of spontaneity, a passion that’s hard to match, and a unique creativity. It’s the hallmark of a distinctively wired mind.

ADHD Relationship Pitfalls

If you’re in a relationship with someone with ADHD, you might sometimes feel like you’re constantly stepping into a more guiding or supervisory role.

On the flip side, those of us with ADHD can often feel backed into a corner, reminiscent of children facing the aftermath of a mischievous act.

This dynamic — akin to a chiding parent and a remorseful child — can strain the bonds of intimacy.

Renowned therapist Sue Johnson, in her Emotional Focused Therapy, terms this the “Demand and Withdraw” pattern.

Esteemed relationship experts John and Julie Gottman attribute this to an activated stress response system, a reaction to perceived threats.

Yet, it’s essential to remember ADHD isn’t a perpetual storm cloud. There’s are unique pleasures to being with someone with ADHD.

  • Their innate spontaneity can make life unexpectedly delightful.
  • Their unique brain wiring often results in a fresh, creative perspective on the world.
  • When they hyper-focus on you, it can evoke a profound feeling of being the center of their universe.

Tips to Navigate ADHD Relationships

The question is, how do we cope with something that could be such a powerful double-edged sword?

Education

Knowledge truly is power. Dive deep into understanding ADHD—its quirks, challenges, and treatment options. It’s like getting a user manual for your partner.

Once you understand what makes them tick, things can get smoother.

Remember, if you know one person with ADHD, you know one person with ADHD because everyone with this disorder is different.

Communication

Communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity. Sharing needs and tuning into each other is foundational in any relationship, especially with ADHD in the mix.

Setting Clear Boundaries

Think of this as setting the rules for a game. By being clear on what’s acceptable and what isn’t, you’re prepping for fair play. Be assertive, but avoid the blame game.

Self-care isn’t Selfish

Being immersed in relationship challenges can drain you. Find your peace zone, whether it’s through hobbies, meditation, or a good book. And trust me, a happy you equals a happier relationship.

Organization as a Team

Don’t shoulder the entire burden of keeping things on track. Schedule regular check-ins to ensure you both sing from the same song sheet.

Delegate When Possible

You can outsource some tasks, especially the ones that tend to be contentious. It’s about making life a tad easier, one task at a time.

Positive Reinforcement

Having ADHD often feels like a lifetime of criticism and not doing or being enough. I’ve been there! A sprinkle of praise can do wonders. Remember, it’s always warmer under the sun than in the shade.

Gift of Patience

Your ADHD partner doesn’t intentionally want to trip up. They need understanding, time, and space to work through their challenges. So, a dollop of patience can go a long way.

Couples Therapy

Think of it as relationship fine-tuning. A professional can guide you through the maze, helping you spot patterns and offering actionable solutions.

In relationships with ADHD on board, self-care for the non-ADHD partner is paramount.

You can cultivate a loving, understanding environment by arming yourself with knowledge, fostering genuine communication, and being generously patient. So, let’s champion self-care and the love we nurture, one day at a time.

If you need help getting there, we’re only an email away!

David Fishman

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