Multitudes of symptoms of ADHD or ADD (Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder or Attention Deficit Disorder) can at times appear as overwhelming. Thus, affecting your relationships. Being disorganised, distracted, and impulsive causes problems in all spectrums of adult life.
Before resorting to aggressive coping/defence mechanisms, one must be aware of themselves.
If you’re the person with ADHD, you might feel you’re being nagged 24/7, criticised, and nothing you do seem to make your partner happy. You tell them things just to have them off your back. You might seem to subconsciously avoid your partner. Or, you might just forget that they’re there.
If you’re the person without ADHD, you might feel unloved, unappreciated, and lonely. You might feel like you’re the only responsible person in the relationship. And you might be tired of doing everything by yourself. They never seem to follow through their promises. They seem to have let an important date or information slip by.
It’s easy to just let it be and see your relationship fall apart in front of your eyes. But, do you really want that? Resorting to aggressive methods, as tempting as it sounds, is a foolish and rash decision to make in the heat of the moment. The non-ADHD partner nags while the ADHD partner feels judged and finds the need to defend themselves. Thus, concluding in an unhappy note. But you can turn this around by choosing to follow a path leading to a happier and healthier friendship. You just have to choose a more positive way to communicate with your problems.
How does ADHD affect adult relationships?
Symptoms that can cause problems in your relationship: –
- If you have ADHD then you know that you have trouble focusing on one subject matter for long. This might make your partner feel unvalued and unloved. You might end up missing vital information or dates. Or, you may have mindlessly agreed to something you don’t remember.
- Trouble paying attention comes with forgetfulness. Your partner will end up thinking you’re not reliable.
- Your poor organizational skills and trouble finishing usual household chores might frustrate your partner. It also has the power to disrupt your work routine.
- People with ADHD have trouble channelling their emotions. It might result in sudden outbursts. If you’re involved in a fight, you might say something in the heat of the moment later realising what you said. By then you will have hurt the people who mattered.
Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes
It is easy to understand your partner’s intentions even if you have had the same fight repeatedly. To understand someone, you have to put yourself in their shoe and see situations from their perspective. And the best way to do that is to ask your partner simple questions and to listen. Let your partner state their points without interference from you. When they’ve finished, it’s your turn.
How to increase empathy in your relationship?
Increase your knowledge regarding ADHD. You and your partner will not be able to resolve issues unless and until you know the root of the problem. It will help the non-ADHD partner to see the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of their partner’s behaviour. And it will help the ADHD partner know his own symptoms. Thus, preventing them from taking everything personally.
Acknowledge how your behaviour might affect your partner. At times, your outburst may come out as totally harsh and your partner might not be able to shrug it off. The ADHD partner needs to realise how their untreated symptoms are affecting their partner. And the non-ADHD partner needs to understand the mental toll their constant nagging is taking on their partner. Do not disregard your partner’s feelings.
Separate your partner from their symptoms. Try to recognize your partner as someone outside their mental illness. Your partner forgets things on your itinerary not because he “cannot use his/her brain” but because it is one of the many symptoms. Try to not hold your partner hostage for something that isn’t under his control.
It is common for the one with ADHD to feel the following –
- A subordinate to their spouse
- Unloved and unappreciated
- Desires to be accepted
And it is also common for the partner without ADHD to feel as if they are –
- Unwanted and unloved
- Emotionally blocked
- Exhausted and frustrated
Take responsibility: Break free from the parent-child dynamic
Once you’ve put yourself in your partner’s shoes, try to take responsibility for the role you play in the relationship. Progress starts when the two of you become conscious of your contributions.
While the ADHD partner’s symptoms might be triggered by something in particular. They aren’t the only ones to be blamed. The non-ADHD partner’s reactions can also contribute to their outburst. While the ADHD partner also needs to be aware of how they react.
You need to break free from the parent-child relationship dynamic. If you’re taking up more and more responsibilities because your partner keeps forgetting to pay the bills, do other household chores. Thus resulting in them spiralling into a chasm of despair and dismay.
Tips for the partner with ADHD
- Acknowledge the fact that your symptoms are interfering in your relationship
- Surf through books and the internet to find out treatment options
- If you can feel yourself digressing from a conversation that you’re having with your partner, tell them you need to calm down and refocus
- Spoil your partner
Tips for the partner without ADHD
- You cannot control an adult, but you can control your reactions
- Encourage your partner and celebrate their tiniest achievements
- Stop being their “parent”