The Damaging Effects of ADHD on Relationships

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, otherwise known as ADHD, can make life difficult. Those with ADHD often have an inability to pay close attention, which can impact performance at school, work, and especially in relationships. The person with ADHD has a mind that is not unlike having several tabs open on the computer at once. In short, their thoughts are hard to keep track of. They might struggle to remember what they’ve already said or done.

Common Symptoms of ADHD

  • Struggles focusing or paying attention to the task at hand
  • Mood swings or periods of boredom or excitement
  • Absent-mindedness and forgetting things easily
  • Fidgeting, hyperactivity and repetition of phrases or words

As you may have already experienced, the symptoms of ADHD can cause individuals additional stress or conflict in various types of relationships. Here are just a few ways that  ADHD can impact relationships, both romantic and platonic.

1. ADHD Can Contribute to Feeling Insecure

The person with ADHD may get down on themselves for not being able to remember simple requests or tasks. They may forget when or where they are supposed to meet someone. Often, this can make a partner feel stood up. The resulting frustration can create insecurity and cause the other partner to feel unloved.

2. Frustration Can Lead to Anger

The partner without ADHD may start feeling resentment due to disorganization and distractions in their partner. Communication can break down into criticism and arguments, further alienating the person with ADHD.

3. Constant Interruptions Break Down Communication

Because people with ADHD have difficulty paying attention, it’s not uncommon for them to interrupt while someone is speaking. Perhaps an idea popped into their heads that they don’t want to forget.

While they don’t do this to be rude, it still creates frustration. No one wants to feel ignored or unimportant.

Other times, someone with ADHD may drift off in the middle of a discussion without realizing it. By the time they are asked for an opinion or feedback, they have lost track of the discussion. People can get annoyed at having to repeat themselves over and over again to get a point across.

4. Issues with Chores

Someone with ADHD may agree to pick the kids up from school but completely forget later on. The partner without ADHD may question whether they can rely on the other to follow through on basic requests, such as picking up milk on the way home from work or emptying the dishwasher before dinner.

It’s also not uncommon for them to struggle with completing tasks, because distractions come so easily. Consequently, some chores may end up only partially completed.

5. Mistaken Accusations of Laziness

If the partner with ADHD partner fails to complete chores promptly, it’s easy to assume that they are lazy or simply don’t care. Such accusations may come out in the heat of the moment if a partner discovers that a task did not get done. The person without ADHD may wonder just how much “laziness” is due to legitimate ADHD, or is just an excuse not to help out.

couples counseling

6. Challenges with Sex

Because the mind of the person ADHD wanders so often, it can be difficult to pay attention even during moments of intimacy. This may be one of the most critical times when not paying attention can be hurtful, even if one knows deep down that the inattention is not on purpose.

The person without ADHD may feel hurt that they are not desirable or attractive enough to keep their partner’s attention.

Successful Relationships are Still Possible with ADHD

Though at times it can be challenging, people with ADHD are capable of having healthy, committed relationships. Often, success is a team effort. The partner without the disorder commits to being compassionate and understanding, while the other agrees to seek professional help or take their medication. Some couples find relationship counseling to be helpful as well. 

Here are a few simple ways a partner or friend can encourage someone with ADHD:

  • Praise them for their strengths.
  • Be patient when they are struggling with tasks.
  • Practice communicating your feelings instead of holding them in.
  • Get creative with solutions and processes to help the person with ADHD.
  • Form clear boundaries for each other and respect them.

If you are looking for a caring, knowledgeable therapist to help you or someone you love who struggles with ADHD, contact our office to learn more or schedule an appointment.

To learn more about having a healthy relationship with ADHD, click here.

New Perspective Counseling is a group practice dedicated to emotional wellness and healing. Our caring therapists provide psychotherapy, individual counseling, marriage counseling and family counseling in our Highland, Michigan office. We are located conveniently near Milford, White Lake, Commerce Township, Holly, Hartland and Brighton, Michigan.