What It’s Like Dating Someone With ADHD

Tips for dating someone with ADHD

Verywell / Alex Dos Diaz

Dating someone with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. 

In the United States, thousands of adults have ADHD and the rates are rising. While treatment, care, and coping strategies are available, it’s essential to understand that ADHD is lifelong. 

While there is no cure for the disorder, you can still have a healthy and loving relationship with a partner who has ADHD. As you start dating or getting to know them more closely, you’ll want to learn about their condition and understand how it could affect the relationship.

How ADHD Can Impact Your Relationship

ADHD is different for everyone. Your partner may not have a diagnosis but can exhibit clear signs of the condition. They may have a diagnosis but not be in treatment at the moment, or they may be in treatment but still experience symptoms (e.g., difficulty paying attention, low frustration tolerance, forgetfulness, and disorganization).


Here are some ways in which ADHD can affect your relationship:

  • Your partner may struggle to listen to you when they’re mentally focused on something else
  • Your partner may set a goal for themselves that they fail to accomplish
  • Your partner may promise to run an errand but forget all about it

If the above situations have frequently, it can cause a rift in the relationship.

How to Improve Your Relationship If a Partner Has ADHD

“Both partners will likely have an emotional reaction to the way ADHD impacts the relationship, and the strategies developed will either increase or decrease the connection,” says Billy Roberts, LISW-S, a therapist at Focused Mind ADHD Counseling

Roberts says it can help you understand your strengths and weaknesses, which will ultimately help you navigate your life with this partner.

From personal experience, I’ve learned that patience and understanding are key qualities to dating someone with ADHD. Your partner’s diagnosis may be as difficult for them as it is for you. For years, they may have dealt with criticism or blame for behaviors associated with their condition.

When they make a mistake, forget something, or fail to complete a task, do your best to offer them kindness at the moment.  

Here are some tips for fostering a healthy relationship with someone with ADHD.

Learn More About ADHD

When you discover that your partner has or is exhibiting signs of ADHD, it’s essential to research the condition. While asking your partner questions about their personal experience is helpful, you don’t want to burden your learning on them.

There are books, organizations, and guides to understanding ADHD which offer helpful information on the condition. 

Roberts explains that the more you know about the condition and how it affects your partner’s behaviors, the more understanding you can be.

ADHD Does Not Excuse Hurtful Behavior

ADHD is never an excuse for poor behavior, he says, but it does explain actions such as forgetfulness or not listening when being spoken to directly. Knowing that these behaviors are a result of their ADHD can help make it less personal.

Focus on Your Partner's Strengths

Rather than fixating on your partner’s weaknesses, pay attention to their strengths. They may not be expert organizers or planners, but they may bring energy, spontaneity, and problem-solving abilities to your relationship. 

Billy Roberts, LISW-S

Adults with ADHD are good with people, creative, flexible, and calm in a crisis, all of which can be beneficial in any relationship.

— Billy Roberts, LISW-S

Adults with ADHD can be very engaged as they can hyperfocus on areas of interest, Roberts explains. “This can make the start of a relationship a whirlwind. However, as in any relationship, it’s important to find ways of connecting with one another that are grounded in true intimacy and connection.”

Hone Your Communication Skills

Roberts suggests using objective language when communicating with your partner, such as “I feel” statements. 

Don't Criticize Your Partner

Rather than criticizing your partner for their behavior, it will be more beneficial to explain how that behavior makes you feel. Rather than verbally attacking them for not listening to you, for example, you could explain that when they are on their phone, it feels as though they aren’t fully engaged in what you’re saying. 

Roberts recommends scheduling a time to discuss what’s working and what’s not. It would help if you discussed your daily life, such as the systems you’ve established, the distribution of labor, and how to communicate issues or concerns as they come up. It may help to schedule check-ins, too. 

What to Do If Your Partner Won't Seek Treatment

Your partner may exhibit apparent symptoms of ADHD, which are negatively impacting your relationship, but they may not be willing to seek a diagnosis or treatment.

It can help to destigmatize the condition, Roberts says. He suggests you can do this by presenting the benefits of therapy to your partner. Maybe you even know someone with ADHD who can speak to your partner and be an additional source of support.

Ultimately, seeking treatment for ADHD is your partner's responsibility, not yours. You can’t force them to visit a mental health professional even if you want to. And if your partner's ADHD is genuinely taking a toll on you and the relationship, you might need to reconsider staying together.

Can a Relationship Work If One Partner Has ADHD?

Relationships can be complicated, and dating someone with ADHD is no different. Even if your partner is in treatment and engaged in coping strategies, they may still battle symptoms. Remember that ADHD is an ongoing condition that requires ongoing support.

As in any relationship, make sure you have shared goals and values, Roberts says. Understand how much you complement one another and consider ways to be both flexible. 

So long as your partner’s behaviors aren’t hurting you or damaging the relationship, a healthy, respectful relationship is possible.

If, however, your partner’s behaviors are hurting your mental health, it’s essential to set boundaries and prioritize your self-care before allocating time to support your partner. 

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Chung W, Jiang SF, Paksarian D, et al. Trends in the prevalence and incidence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder among adults and children of different racial and ethnic groups. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(11):e1914344. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.14344

  2. Gentile JP, Atiq R, Gillig PM. Adult adhdPsychiatry (Edgmont). 2006;3(8):25-30.

  3. Sedgwick JA, Merwood A, Asherson P. The positive aspects of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a qualitative investigation of successful adults with ADHDADHD Atten Def Hyp Disord. 2019;11(3):241-253. doi:10.1007/s12402-018-0277-6

By Sarah Sheppard
Sarah Sheppard is a writer, editor, ghostwriter, writing instructor, and advocate for mental health, women's issues, and more.