Managing ADHD in Adult Relationships
Make your relationship thrive, despite your ADHD symptoms.
Adults living with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) probably know quite a bit about the symptoms that come with the condition. But if you have ADHD, you might not recognize or fully realize how deeply forgetfulness, disorganization, impulsivity, inattentiveness, and other ADHD symptoms impact your relationships. Or how to minimize those impacts. But you don't have to let ADHD symptoms get the best of your bond with your partner. Here are some common ways ADHD affects relationships, as well as some strategies for working through the issues that ADHD symptoms may cause:
Poor communication. Feeling distracted and fidgety doesn't affect just you. There's a very good chance your partner sees these feelings manifest in your communication with each another. Maybe you've been told you're sometimes a poor listener or a poor communicator. Over time, that poor communication can lead to big misunderstandings and resentment. So use these simple tricks to promote better interaction:
- Eliminate distractions. Turn off the TV, the radio, and the cell phone when you're talking over big issues or having one-on-one time. Give your partner your undivided attention. (Related: Can't give up your mobile? Read up on cell phone addiction.)
- Make eye contact. Look directly into your partner's eyes during a conversation. This serves two purposes: It helps your partner feel valued, and it helps you absorb what your partner has to say.
- Ask for clarification. If your mind wanders during the conversation, don't try to cover it up and pretend you've grasped everything. Let your partner know that you had a little trouble focusing but that you would like him or her to repeat what was said, because you really are interested in absorbing all of the information.
- Take a time out. If you ever feel overwhelmed or angry during a conversation, ask your partner for a little time to get collected. It's smart to take a break when you need it. You can always talk later, when you feel more relaxed and focused. (Related: Read up on how hugs help reduce stress for both you and your partner.)
If your communication problems continue, you might consider professional advice or counseling. For example, a type of therapy called Imago Relationship Therapy has been shown in studies to enhance communication and understanding between partners and help strengthen relationships in people who have ADHD. And there are lots of other counseling and therapy approaches as well, so talk with your doctor.