Relationship Advice When Your Partner Has ADD

Going through a rough patch

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You may find yourself wondering how you can cope with your ADHD partner and wondering how best to communicate and interact with your significant other. Here is an overview of some common concerns that partners may feel.

  • Avoiding sharing with them for fear secrets will be broadcasted
  • Battling with your partner to take their medication regularly
  • Being treated disrespectfully
  • Believing like your partner is using an ADHD diagnosis as an excuse
  • Feeling like your partner's parent
  • Losing the romantic part of the relationship
  • Needing time to yourself but your partner is demanding your attention
  • Realizing day-to-day life is difficult even though you've read up on ADHD
  • Recognizing your sex drives aren't matching up
  • Taking on all the responsibilities and it's wearing you down

Alleviating Your Concerns

If these concerns sound similar to yours, know that you are not alone in your frustrations. Many partners of ADHD adults do indeed experience the same problems described here. 

Understanding that the hyperactive, impulsive, emotional, and erratic responses are ADHD-related is good; that's the first step to improving the relationship. But using ADHD as an excuse is never helpful.

If your partner continues to use ADHD as an excuse, casts off all responsibility for their behaviors, and refuses to follow through with a treatment plan, things won’t get any better for you, your partner, or your relationship.

If however, the two of you can sit down with his or her doctor and come up with a plan for addressing these behaviors, your relationship can thrive and the closeness you initially felt can return. It does take effort from both partners to make things better.

Avoiding the Parenting Trap

Many non-ADHD partners end up falling into the mothering role while their ADHD partner assumes the role of a child who has to be told what to do and needs someone to constantly take care of them. You both must try to step out of these roles.

It is okay to assume responsibility for tasks your partner just isn’t good at (for instance, maybe you are better at paying the bills and he is better at cooking meals), but make sure the jobs around the house are divided evenly so you don’t wear yourself out.

Communication Is Critical

Open communication is key. The two of you must be able to address the problems without blame or accusations. Try to pick a time when you are both feeling relaxed and in a good mood. Then, in a matter-of-fact way make a list of concerns and a list of possible solutions.

For example, you both may have frustrations about your sexual relationship. You feel tired—probably pretty angry, too—and you don’t feel romantic when you are the constant caregiver and they are child so much of the time. You also probably don’t feel romantic or respected either when you are grabbed or groped at other times. Meanwhile, you partner likely feels rejected that you both have gone so long without sex.

Medication may help them refrain from impulsive groping and blurting out your secrets. And, a regular date night may help bring back the romance.

Carving Out Time for Yourself

Talk with your partner about the importance of you having alone time. Without it, you will begin to feel resentment (if you don’t already) toward them for denying you this time. They crave your attention.

Address this by setting up regular one-on-one time where you can both focus on each other. Make a daily schedule where you plan in these times and stick to the plan. This way, you get to enjoy your alone time for a portion of the day, and he gets a regular time to receive your undivided attention during another part of the day.

Don't Forget to Laugh

Try to find the humor in things together. Forgive each other, but also move forward with you both making changes for the better in the relationship. Work with the doctor or couples counselor who is experienced and knowledgeable about the ways ADHD can affect relationships.

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