ADHD and relationships

While the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) such as distractibility, disorganization, and impulsivity can cause issues in many aspects of adult life, they can be especially devastating when it comes to your closest relationships. This is especially true if ADHD symptoms have never been diagnosed or treated effectively.

If you have ADHD, you may feel like you're being judged, nagged, and micromanaged all of the time. Nothing seems to please your spouse or lover, no matter what you do. As an adult, you don't feel valued, so you avoid your spouse or say whatever you have to in order to get them off your back. You wish your significant other could just chill out a little and quit trying to run your life for you. You're left wondering what happened to the person you loved.

You may feel lonely, disregarded, and unappreciated if you're in a relationship with someone who has ADHD. You're tired of being the sole responsible member in the relationship and taking care of everything on your own. You don't think you can trust your lover. They never seem to keep their commitments, so you're compelled to issue continual reminders and requests, or you'll have to do everything yourself. It can sometimes feel as if your significant other is unconcerned.

It's easy to see how both parties' feelings might contribute to a disastrous relationship cycle. The non-ADHD partner criticizes, nags, and grows progressively resentful, while the ADHD partner feels defensive and withdraws, feeling judged and misunderstood. Nobody is happy at the end of the day. This, however, does not have to be the case. Learning about the impact ADHD plays in your relationship and how both of you can choose more positive and constructive ways to respond to problems and interact with each other will help you develop a healthier, happier relationship. With these techniques, you can improve your relationship's understanding and bring you closer together.

We normally focus on persons with ADHD and their problems and experiences in self-help resources on adult ADHD (including this site). How does ADHD, for example, affect their work? What's going on at home? Relationships? The others in close relationships are something we don't talk about much. Adult ADHD has an influence on partners, spouses, and significant others who do not have the disorder themselves. What are their perspectives on ADHD and how it affects their lives? Experiences? Concerns?

Even if these spouses don't have ADHD, they are undoubtedly affected by it. We don't frequently think about the other people in these relationships because of the way we think about and address mental and behavioral health issues in our country. Despite this, they play a crucial part in the relationships that are so negatively affected by ADHD.

Understanding and meeting the needs of non-ADHD partners in ADHD-affected relationships has gotten little attention so far. With the publication of her book, Is it You, Me, or Adult ADD? in 2008, journalist Gina Pera drew on her own experiences as the non-ADHD spouse in a spousal relationship. Susan Tschudi, a therapist and author from California, published Loving Someone with Attention Deficit Disorder in 2012, which also includes a lot of information for the non-ADHD partner. Ms. Tschudi is also the partner of someone who has ADHD, thus her book draws on both her personal and professional experiences.

Despite these useful and educational resources, the non-ADHD partner has been overlooked in the adult ADHD equation. This could be owing to the fact that adult ADHD has just recently received substantial attention. For much of its history, ADHD was thought to be a childhood or adolescent disorder. As we became aware that ADHD may remain into adulthood, our focus shifted to those who suffer from it, rather than those who are affected by it

However, ADHD has a substantial impact on the relationship's other partner, frequently in predictable ways. The person with ADHD's impulsive and free spirit becomes less thrilling over time. Irritation and dread replace the feeling of being captivated — about what hasn't been done today, what overdue bill hasn't been paid, what paperwork has been misplaced.