Each of us is entitled to form or build an affectionate relationship that will inspire, help, and function successfully in our own endeavors. As the song goes, “Love will keep us alive…”
But for a person with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), forming a relationship, or even maintaining one, can be challenging in many ways.
The nature of ADHD
ADHD is a neurobiological disorder that presents with difficulties in concentration and memory, emotional outburst, and psychological instability. They also have problems with organization and time management. In a severe case, persons with ADHD live an unproductive life, with more problems concerning their family, friends, and the community where they live. With these characteristics in mind, it can be surmised that ADHD persons who enter relationships will have more problems in maintaining a healthy and successful relationship.
“When we don’t feel able to manage our lives and struggle to find personal successes due to our ADHD, we are going to feel chronically stressed and doubtful of our own abilities,” writes Larry Maucieri Ph.D., ABPP-CN.
Steps to make a lasting relationship
Experts report that anyone can have a successful ADHD relationship with your partner. It’s not hard really, as long as each partner works in his/her role to keep the connection between them and is firm in their conviction that it’s going to work out just right. The following are suggested ways to help things at norm:
- Be empathetic. This is simply putting yourself in your partner’s shoes. Remember that each can create an effect on whatever stimulus you present.
For the partner with ADHD, although it is understandable that you cannot at times control your emotions and reactions, it would help to be able to learn from your past experiences and then reflect on what caused you to react in such manner.
If you’re the non-ADHD partner, take steps to learn more about ADHD. There are many resources online that can supplement and will help about relationship issues. The more you learn about ADHD, the more you will understand your partner.
“In your relationship, when either of you is experiencing a difficult time, getting some support and understanding from the love of your life can make all the difference in the world,” writes Barton Goldsmith Ph.D.
- Learn to be compassionate. ADHD individuals will need a LOT of patience and compassion from their partner. This is where your ability to prolong your understanding and compassionate feelings towards your partner will be tested.
For the partner with ADHD, focus on your partner’s goodness. His/her availability and support proves that a helping relationship is being maintained and will assist in preserving a successful relationship.
If you’re the non-ADHD partner, avoid being judgmental and cope together with your ADHD loved one. This will promote a feeling of reassurance on the part of your loved one.
- Be there for each other. Your partner is your best buddy, friend, mentor, coach, lover rolled into one. You are partners and will remain as a team working towards a successful relationship and even through all the adversities in life together. If times get rough because of ADHD concerns, don’t leave abruptly but learn to slow down, gather your thoughts, and resolve issues with your partner.
- Try to bring back the love. For married couples or for those in long term relationships, remember the good old days when you were just dating and getting to know each other. A date night once a week or even a weekend getaway would not hurt just to take off your mind and shift your focus away from other things like work and family. This time, spend time with each other and rekindle the love.
- Ask for support if needed. Just like any relationship, couples would be seeking for professional help like a marriage counselor or a psychologist to help them go through the ordeal. If this is your plan, make sure that an ADHD trained counselor is selected as they can focus on the problem more compared with the traditional therapist. Support from family and friends is also a welcoming help as they know each concerned party and can assist in the reconciliation process.
“Lean on family and friends when you need extra support,” writes Joel L. Young M.D.
One thing is for sure. When you enter any relationship, regardless if you have ADHD or not, it will always be a work in progress to sustain and maintain it. For persons with ADHD, it is much harder and more complex considering that they have these difficulties in neurological, emotional, and psychological capacities. For the non-ADHD partner, increased expectations to show support, understanding, and love are common and at times will create an emotional burden on their part. It is always best to learn first and foremost about ADHD and work together towards finding solutions to your problems.