Once you are able to identify how the symptoms are ADHD are influencing your interactions as a couple, you can learn better ways of responding. For the partner with ADHD, this means learning how to manage your symptoms.
For the non-ADHD partner, this means learning how to react to frustrations in ways that encourage and motivate your partner. If you have ADHD, you may zone out during conversations, which can make your partner feel ignored and devalued. Even when someone with ADHD is paying attention, they may later forget what was promised or discussed.
ADHD's Impact on Relationships: 10 Tips to Help
This can lead to difficulty finishing tasks as well as general household chaos. If you have ADHD, you may blurt things out without thinking, which can cause hurt feelings. Many people with ADHD have trouble moderating their emotions. You may lose your temper easily and have trouble discussing issues calmly. Your partner may feel like they have to walk on eggshells to avoid blowups. You and your partner are more different than you think—especially if only one of you has ADHD. Let your partner describe how they feel without interruption from you to explain or defend yourself.
You may want to write the points down so you can reflect on them later. Ask them to do the same for you and really listen with fresh ears and an open mind. Study up on ADHD. The more both of you learn about ADHD and its symptoms, the easier it will be to see how it is influencing your relationship. You may find that a light bulb comes on. So many of your issues as a couple finally make sense!
Acknowledge the impact your behavior has on your partner. Separate who your partner is from their symptoms or behaviors. The same goes for the non-ADHD partner too. Recognize that nagging usually arises from feelings of frustration and stress, not because your partner is an unsympathetic harpy. Progress starts once you become aware of your own contributions to the problems you have as a couple. This goes for the non-ADHD partner as well. The way the non-ADHD partner responds to the bothersome symptom can either open the door for cooperation and compromise or provoke misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
Your reaction can either make your significant other feel validated and heard or disregarded and ignored. Many couples feel stuck in an unsatisfying parent-child type of relationship, with the non-ADHD partner in the role of the parent and the partner with ADHD in the role of the child. It often starts when the partner with ADHD fails to follow through on tasks, such as forgetting to pay the cable bill, leaving clean laundry in a pile on the bed, or leaving the kids stranded after promising to pick them up.
The non-ADHD partner takes on more and more of the household responsibilities.
Dealing with Symptoms Together and Overcoming Relationship Challenges
The more lopsided the partnership becomes, the more resentful they feel. Of course, the partner with ADHD senses this. So what can you do to break this pattern? One partner feels overburdened. The other feels attacked.
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They end up fighting each other rather than tackling the issue. To improve communication, do what you can to defuse emotional volatility. If need be, take time to cool off before discussing an issue. When you have the conversation, listen closely to your partner. A couple fights over dinner being an hour late. How does that make me a bad wife? Fess up to your feelings, no matter how ugly.
Dating Someone with ADHD: What You Should Know
Get them out in the open where you can work through them as a couple. If your partner does something that upsets you, address it directly rather than silently stewing. Watch what you say and how you say it.
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Find the humor in the situation. Learn to laugh over the inevitable miscommunications and misunderstandings. Laughter relieves tension and brings you closer together.
ADHD symptoms can interfere with communication. The following tips can help you have more satisfying conversations with your partner and other people. Communicate face to face whenever possible. Nonverbal cues such as eye contact, tone of voice, and gestures communicate much more than words alone. To understand the emotion behind the words, you need to communicate with your partner in person, rather than via phone, text, or email. While the other person is talking, make an effort to maintain eye contact.
If you find your mind wandering, mentally repeat their words so you follow the conversation. Make an effort to avoid interrupting. Instead of launching into whatever is on your mind—or the many things on your mind—ask the other person a question. If your attention wanders, tell the other person as soon as you realize it and ask them to repeat what was just said.
If you let the conversation go too long when your mind is elsewhere, it will only get tougher to re-connect. As well as helping to lower impulsivity and improve focus, regular mindfulness meditation can offer you greater control over your emotions and prevent the emotional outbursts that can be so damaging to a relationship.
In more severe cases, you might not even know your partner has ADHD, which can lead you to misinterpret their feelings for you. No matter how many times you tell someone with ADHD to pick up their clothes, maintain a clean kitchen, or to keep an organized living space, it may just not happen. Procrastination and lack of motivation are also significant hurdles. If you find out your partner has ADHD, the first thing you should do is educate yourself about the disorder.
ADHD’s Impact on Relationships: 10 Tips to Help
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