ADD and Relationships: How Adult ADHD Affects Relationships
Ever wonder how adult ADD and relationships work? It's easy to fall in love. The brain sends a rush of neurotransmitters responsible for the euphoric feeling associated with falling in love. Those with ADHD have less pleasure-producing chemicals available in their brains, causing them to focus on new love and romance with a laser-like acuity in an attempt to increase the levels of dopamine and other pleasure chemicals. But this initial rush does not last; nor, do they build the foundation required for lasting ADHD relationships.
Adult ADD and Relationships
Building a lasting, satisfying relationship is challenging for everyone, but especially for the adult with ADHD. Consider the difficulties facing adult ADHD relationships:
- People without ADHD can experience a bond and connection with their partner at any time, day or night. For the adult with ADD/ADHD, sporadic connections are the norm. This disconnect in the eyes of the non-ADD adult can foment doubt and suspicion in ADHD relationships.
- Frequently, the ADD adult's irritation with touching and closeness can create a sharp disconnect in the relationship. Sometimes people with ADD experience heightened senses, causing physical contact to feel annoying. This rejection can create a significant wound in a relationship with a non-ADD person.
- The poor memory skills exhibited by many suffering from ADHD can cause hurt feelings when they forget a birthday, anniversary, or important meeting.
- All couples argue at times, even in the best of relationships. But adults with poorly managed ADHD are quick to anger, often over insignificant matters. This can create an environment of tension and friction in an otherwise good relationship.
- Chronic boredom represents another issue that plagues adults with ADD and relationships. People with ADHD become bored more frequently than those without the disorder. This can cause relationship issues when the normal adult feels his or her partner is bored with their company and the activities they participate in together.
- The impulsiveness associated with ADD can certainly cause a rift in the ADHD relationship. While some level of spontaneous activity is attractive, adults have responsibilities and goals that do not lend themselves well to the unhealthy levels of impulsive behavior shown by adults with poorly managed ADD.
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Creating an environment in which an ADHD relationship can thrive requires diligence and commitment. Consider the following strategies:
- Keep a notebook with a calendar handy to jot down daily and weekly "to do" lists for the home as well as grocery lists. Keep the calendar updated with important dates and occasions highlighted inside.
- Mitigate the clutter in your mind by cleaning up the clutter in your home and personal spaces.
- Create a routine for repeating tasks and duties and stick to it.
- Ask your partner to request that you repeat back his or her requests and needs to ensure that you were 'on board' and listening to the conversation.
- Share your feelings honestly. If you feel heightened sensitivity to touch and sound at the moment, tell your partner in advance so he or she will not feel hurt by a rejection.
- Budget your money by sitting down with your partner at a designated day and time each week. Plan expenses, entertainment expenditures, and menus for the entire week ahead. This relieves you of dealing with this burden on a daily basis.
Finally, relationships are hard. They are hard for everyone. Do not allow ADD to adversely affect your relationships. Take steps now toward a fulfilling life.
Last Updated: 10 February 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD