Navigating a meaningful relationship can be difficult for anyone at times. When you have ADHD, however, the act of falling in love can be downright terrifying. Many troubling questions may flood your mind: Am I deserving of love? What happens if I mess this relationship up? If you fear that your ADHD (or your partner’s) might be putting a strain on your relationship, understand that not all hope is lost. With some patience, you and your partner can identify quickly what aggravates symptoms and work together to find sound solutions. To get started, keep reading to learn exactly how ADHD can affect a relationship.
Arguments happen. People annoy each other. These are basic truths even for those in the most loving of relationships. People with ADHD, though, might take even the most minor of disagreements personally. When scolded by their significant other, they internalize what is said and use it as “evidence” that they are inadequate in some way. The best way to avoid hurt feelings in such cases is to avoid accusing. Instead, try empathizing with your partner. Understand that you too have your weaknesses you want to work on and that doing so requires patience. Then forgive yourself for being imperfect. Forgive your partner for being imperfect. Accept that you both can only do your best when you have each other for support.
There is nothing worse than saying something you absolutely did not mean to say. Sometimes such things are said in a sudden flare of anger or sadness. For people with ADHD, these intense moments may happen much more often than they would like. Worst of all, those words hurt the people closest to them, and sometimes even sincere apologies seem ineffective in mending the wounds. What is important to remember is that a people with ADHD do not say such things from a place of malice; they say them because the symptoms of their illness have gone unchecked.
It is generally understood that a relationship will be healthiest if both parties cooperate with full enthusiasm. That includes always listening to what the other person has to say, even if it seems uninteresting and even if you disagree. Those with ADHD might find it difficult to listen to their partners, even if they care deeply about what they have to say. When this happens, it is understanding for feelings to get hurt. After all, who likes to speak endlessly, only to find out not a single word stuck? But again: people with ADHD do not fail to listen because they want to hurt their partners. Their struggle can be attributed to the symptoms, not to any ill-will. Instead of losing your temper when your partner drifts off, try stopping and asking politely if he understands what you are saying and if he has any questions. Do so in a way that does not sound accusing but rather inviting--you want him to be part of the dialogue, even if he struggles sometimes. Helping someone with ADHD stay on track without judgment goes a long way.
Some people are meticulous with their belongings to the point they get annoyed when anything falls out of place. Others just place things wherever and don’t think much about a little clutter. Some people with ADHD fall into the latter category--and this can be very frustrating for their partners who pine for order. Instead of getting angry with your messy partner, you might offer to help her clean up. Understand that people with ADHD tend to respond well to structure. With this in mind, why not divide chores between you and your partner and set a schedule for when each chore gets done? That way, you can hold each other accountable--but gently so.
Everyday life can be busy, and it does not help that we often feel pressured to remember: that anniversary, this birthday, and so on. ADHD often keeps the brain reeling, making remembering certain details even more challenging. If your partner has ADHD, you might feel frustrated when he forgets something that is very important to you. You might even assume that he does not care at all. Remember that most people do not set out to forget. It just happens. And a person who copes with ADHD might have to juggle mentally several details that the average person recalls without much thought. If forgetfulness is a problem for your partner, help him make a list of things he must remember: to feed the dog, to take out the trash, and so on. Again, structure tends to help people with ADHD immensely.
For more help with coping with ADHD and other mental conditions, visit Couples Clinic.