What does a happy, healthy relationship with a partner that has ADHD look like?
After frequent misunderstandings, moments of frustration and issues in your relationship, the ADHD that both helps and hurts your partner is starting to get in the way of maintaining effective communication and self-worth. Both parties begin to be heavily affected by ADHD, with the partner with ADHD feeling criticized, micromanaged and controlled while the non-ADHD partner feels lonely, avoided and unappreciated. This cycle continues without the recognition and understanding of what ADHD is, and how it affects our relationships.
So lets describe what ADHD is, and how it affects those who have it. Symptoms can manifest in a lack of attention, forgetfulness, poor organizational skills, impulsive behaviors and extreme emotionality. These things are not the fault of the ADHD partner; however, they can damage close bonds and begin to cause the other partner to pull away. Both partners need to come to an understanding of how their actions and behaviors can affect them both. This comes through the acknowledgment that untreated symptoms can really hurt your partner. As well as, understanding that labeling your partner with ADHD as “erratic”, “irresponsible,” or “unaware” can cause a cycle of negative self-worth and can make them feel as though you are picking apart their character. Notice how putting yourself in your partner’s shoes can help you empathize with their feelings of exhaustion, stress, anger, shame, or failure.
Ultimately, both partners truly just need to communicate. Communication is the foundation of any healthy relationship and communicating when calm and relaxed is the best way to listen intently to the feelings of either partner. This communication must be honest; you cannot assume that your partner is a mind reader. Always ask questions that seek better understanding and continue to practice mindfulness so that emotional outbursts can be regulated.
At times, loving and maintaining a relationship with someone with ADHD can be quite difficult, but with the right tools, effective communication and empathy, your relationship can flourish. Begin to recognize the strengths of your partner with ADHD and help establish healthy coping techniques that improve your relationship.
ADHD partners, be mindful of your unintentional behaviors and be sure to own up to your responsibilities when things get hard. Always remember, this person you love is not intentionally trying to break you down and hurt your feelings, they are struggling with something that can really affect both their mental wellbeing and yours, and oftentimes they are just as upset with themselves as you may be with them. Have grace for each other and at the end of the day, remember you love each other.