image of a looking glass sphere that distorts the viewer's perspective to conceptualize adhd and relationships

As awareness about ADHD is spreading, it makes sense to explore the impact of ADHD on relationships. Sometimes, when we gain an understanding about why our partner behaves the way they do, it can open the door to creative problem-solving within the relationship. It’s important to remember that only a licensed professional can make a formal ADHD diagnosis, and this post is not meant to serve as a medical article. With that being said, there are ways in which ADHD can affect the way someone relates to others, and below are some examples of how ADHD might show up in a relationship.

ADHD & Relationships: Some Symptoms of ADHD in the Context of a Relationship:

Not following through. Individuals with ADHD, or ADHD tendencies can sometimes struggle with staying focused. They can get sidetracked easily and may move on to the next task before the first one is finished. It’s important to remember that this isn’t intentional, this is a symptom and a tendency of their ADHD.

Trouble with organization. Individuals with ADHD tendencies can sometimes struggle with organizing tasks and activities. In a relationship this might look like your partner having a difficult time making plans, initiating plans, or organizing a date. This isn’t because they don’t care or are not putting in the effort, this is a symptom of their ADHD.

Getting distracted. Your partner who has ADHD might have a difficult time staying on task. This might come off as “they don’t care” or “I’m not a priority”, but in reality they have a difficult time staying focused and get easily distracted.

Memory difficulties. Individuals with ADHD can have a difficult time remembering things. This doesn’t mean it’s not important enough to them or that you’re not important enough to them, it simply means that with all the things going on in their head, and how easily they get distracted, somethings get forgotten.

Trouble with emotional regulation.  Sometimes your partner with ADHD might have a difficult time managing and expressing big emotions. They can abruptly, interrupt, might be quick to anger, or they might need some time to get their emotional reactions back in check. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are an explosive person or someone with anger issues, this can be a symptom of their ADHD.

It’s important to remember through all of this, that any hurtful or harmful or abusive behavior, should not be chalked up to someone’s ADHD or their symptoms. Those with ADHD and their partners can work towards a better understanding of each other and work together to regulate some of the symptoms listed above. It takes awareness from both sides; the partner with ADHD needs to be aware of their tendencies, and their partner needs to be aware of their own reactions and responses, and how much they internalize or personalize. ADHD and relationships work- as long as both partners are aware of their tendencies and willing to do the work.

As always, if you’d like some help navigating challenges within your relationship, a relationship coach might be able to help. Please don’t hesitate to reach out – you don’t have to figure it out alone.