Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder that affects the way people think, act and behave. It is characterized by difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. ADHD can cause problems in relationships, both romantic relationships and friendships.
There are several areas in relationships where ADHD is problematic for a healthy partnership. Both those with ADHD and their partners should be aware of the difficulties those with ADHD face in relationships. This is intended to be a way to build compassion for the person with ADHD, as they are not trying to sabotage the relationship, but do have certain compulsions or distractions associated with the Executive Function disorder that goes along with having ADHD. Here are 5 categories of how ADHD can affect your relationship from an NYC-based therapist:
1. Poor Communication:
People with ADHD can have difficulty communicating effectively, which can lead to misunderstandings and conflict in relationships. Such behavior includes:
- Interrupting others while they are speaking
- Not making eye contact when talking
- Blurting out comments without considering the feelings of others
- Not listening to what is being said
- Being easily distracted
- Speaking in a monotone voice
- Struggling to stay focused on one topic during a conversation
- Using inappropriate humor or sarcasm
- Responding too quickly before allowing time for processing
- Not giving enough detail when speaking
People with ADHD often act impulsively, which can lead to arguments and hurt feelings in relationships. Those with ADHD may also be easily distracted, so they might not always listen to what someone else is saying or remember important details. This can lead to communication problems and a feeling of being unheard or unimportant. When you have ADHD, may also have difficulty organizing your life, which can lead to missed deadlines, forgotten appointments, and disorganization. This can affect relationships, as it can be stressful for the other person to constantly have to remind them of what needs to be done.
Additionally, people with ADHD may become overwhelmed with tasks, leading to procrastination and avoidance. This can put a strain on relationships as the other person may feel like they are carrying most of the burden. Three more aspects of ADHD impulsivity that affect ADHD relationships are:
Those with ADHD may become angry, aggressive, or hostile quickly and without provocation. Some people call it “seeing Red”, where the rest of the world clouds over because they are so fixated on their anger. This can lead to saying abnormally means things to/about a partner, which can lead to further disconnection in the relationship.
Partners with ADHD may have difficulty controlling their urge to interrupt conversations and disrupt activities. Impulsive interrupting with ADHD may look like a person speaking over or talking over others when they are talking, even when the speaker has not finished their sentence. They may also have difficulty waiting their turn to speak in conversations and frequently interject with comments. Additionally, they may talk at length and monopolize conversations, going off on tangents that are unrelated to the topic at hand.
People with ADHD may make impulsive purchases without considering the cost or potential consequences. Common signs of impulsive spending include making multiple purchases in a short period of time, using credit cards without considering the consequences, and buying items that are not needed or wanted. People with ADHD may also struggle to compare prices and shop around for the best deal, and may be more likely to make impulse purchases if feeling overwhelmed or anxious. Impulsive ADHD spending can lead to financial stress and arguments between partners, as one partner may feel that the other is not taking their finances seriously. In some cases, it can even lead to divorce if the situation becomes unmanageable. Additionally, it can also lead to emotional distress if one partner feels betrayed or taken advantage of by the other.
People with ADHD may be easily distracted and forgetful, which can make it difficult to maintain focus and stay on task in relationships. For someone with ADHD, it can be difficult to focus on a single task for an extended period of time. It can feel like your mind is constantly wandering, no matter how hard you try to keep it focused on the task at hand. You may find yourself easily distracted by seemingly insignificant details, or drawn to activities that have nothing to do with what you’re working on.
Your thoughts may jump from one topic to another without warning, making it difficult to stay organized and efficient. Being easily distracted by ADHD can also lead to frustration, as you often forget important information or tasks that need to be completed. On top of this, it can be embarrassing when you are unable to focus in social situations or during conversations. All in all, it’s a very draining and exhausting experience.
Other aspects regarding Inattention can include:
- Difficulty Communicating: Inattention ADHD can make it difficult for partners to communicate effectively with each other, as the person with ADHD may have difficulty staying focused during conversations and may be easily distracted.
- Stressful Scheduling: As the person with ADHD may find it hard to manage their time, this can be a source of stress for their partner who may feel like they have to pick up the slack or take on more responsibility.
- Unmet Needs: The person with ADHD may not always be able to meet their partner’s emotional needs due to the symptoms of inattention, which can lead to feelings of frustration and resentment.
People with ADHD may have trouble sitting still or focusing on tasks, which can cause tension in relationships. Hyperactivity makes it difficult for people with ADHD to stay focused on conversations, listen effectively, and control their impulses. These challenges can cause communication problems between individuals, couples, and families.
People with ADHD may struggle to follow through with commitments they make because of their impulsivity and difficulty paying attention. They may also forget important dates or appointments. This can lead to a lack of trust and resentment in relationships. Additionally, when people with ADHD are unable to control their impulses and remain focused on tasks, they may become frustrated and angry, which can lead to arguments and fights.
Hyperactivity can also lead to social difficulties. People with ADHD may find it difficult to make and keep friends because of their impulsive behaviors and inability to stay focused. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Additionally, hyperactivity can lead to disruptions in family life as well as school and work, making it difficult for individuals to succeed in these areas.
5. Emotional Dysregulation:
People with ADHD may struggle with regulating their emotions, leading to outbursts and difficulty managing emotions in relationships.
ADHD also causes difficulty regulating emotions, leading to feelings of frustration, fear of rejection, anxiety, and anger. These feelings can be difficult to manage and can lead to conflicts in relationships. Additionally, people with ADHD may have difficulty expressing their emotions in a healthy way, which can lead to further misunderstandings and hurt feelings, such as not expressing enough emotion or becoming overly emotional. Partners of someone with ADHD may feel overlooked or neglected due to the individual’s struggles with emotional regulation.
Additionally, partners with ADHD may also have difficulty managing their time and energy. They may become easily overwhelmed and exhausted, leading to mood swings and irritability. This can make it difficult to maintain relationships, as the other person may feel like they are constantly walking on eggshells. Additionally, people with ADHD may be less likely to prioritize their time and energy, which can lead to neglect on the part of the person with ADHD.
It is important to recognize that those with ADHD can have successful relationships if they understand how their condition affects their behavior. Communication is key in any relationship, but it is especially important when one partner has ADHD. Being open and honest about your feelings and needs can help to reduce misunderstandings and tension. Additionally, setting boundaries and maintaining a schedule can help to ensure that both you and the person you are dating have enough time for your own needs and interests. ADHD-Focused Couples Therapy at the ATTN Center is a great way to address these concerns.
ADHD Can Make Relationships Challenging
ADHD can hurt relationships because of the symptoms associated with it, such as difficulty in focusing, impulsivity, difficulty in controlling emotions, lack of organization, and difficulty in following through on plans. These difficulties can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and communication issues between partners. People with ADHD may not always be aware of how their behavior affects their relationships, so it is important for both partners to work together to learn strategies to manage symptoms, communicate effectively, and find ways to show understanding and compassion.
Structure and Organization are Key
Additionally, having structure and organization can be helpful for people with ADHD. Having a plan for the day and sticking to it can help to reduce stress and improve communication. It is also important to take breaks when needed and to make sure to get enough rest. This can help to manage symptoms and prevent arguments from arising due to fatigue.
Ultimately, ADHD can have a significant impact on relationships. It is important for those living with ADHD to be aware of the difficulties they may face in relationships, and for their partners, to be patient and understanding. By taking the time to understand ADHD, couples can take control of their relationships and ensure that it remains healthy and happy. If you or your partner are struggling with ADHD, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. With the right support and resources, you can learn how to manage ADHD and create a loving and fulfilling relationship.
What else can we do to improve our relationships when one or both partners has ADHD? See our blog post “8 Tips to Manage ADHD in Relationships”. Or schedule a free consultation with one of our ADHD Couples Counselors today!
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ADHD-Focused Couples Therapy at the ATTN Center is unique because it offers traditional therapy practices to address the psychological and emotional impacts of having ADHD in a relationship. All through the lens of Neurodivergence.
Understanding the unique challenges of having ADHD that other therapies do not. Our expert ADHD-Focused therapists look forward to speaking with you. We offer a free 20-minute phone consultation to discuss your case and how we can help. Contact us today.
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Other ADHD Services Offered by The ATTN Center in NYC
We not only offer ADHD therapy, but also other services related to the treatment of ADHD and its side effects. This includes ADHD-Focused Therapy for Depression, ADHD-Focused Therapy for Anxiety, neurofeedback, group therapy, and ADHD testing options. At ATTN Center of NYC, we do everything in our power to treat ADHD without the use of medication, but we understand in some severe cases additional measures may be needed. As a result, we also maintain close relationships with many of NYC’s best psychiatrists.