How ADHD Can Affect Romantic Relationships & What You Can Do

How ADHD Can Affect Romantic Relationships & What You Can Do

"Whether you have ADHD or your partner does, it’s easy to feel misunderstood or neglected if coping strategies are not established."

When it comes to ADHD and relationships, it’s not always a love connection. Without clear communication or effective coping strategies, it can be difficult to date someone with ADHD or someone who doesn’t get your ADHD. Some studies suggest that the divorce rate among couples affected by ADHD is as much as twice that of the general population.1 

But this doesn’t mean you should give up on love. Find out how ADHD affects romantic relationships and how to establish coping strategies for lasting success. 

Understanding ADHD Symptoms 

From distraction to forgetfulness, some of the classic symptoms of ADHD that present challenges at work or school can also cause problems in your romantic relationships. These include:

  • Distractibility: A person with ADHD may have difficulty maintaining focus and are easily distracted by other things. This can make their partner feel ignored and rejected.
  • Being disorganized: A messy home can lead to a messy relationship. A person with ADHD often has trouble staying organized, which can result in the other partner taking on the majority of chores and responsibilities. 
  • Forgetfulness: This ADHD symptom can lead to hurt feelings if you forgot about an important date, anniversary, or other event. It can lead to financial troubles if you forget to pay a bill on time.    
  • Impulsivity: Having an impulsive nature can be exciting at the start of a relationship when a person with ADHD shows up unexpectedly or takes you on a whirlwind adventure. But it can cause trouble down the line if impulsivity leads them to make risky or dangerous decisions like overspending or driving recklessly.
  • Emotional dysregulation: People with ADHD often experience turbulent emotions and have trouble calming themselves down. This can result in frequent arguing and angry outbursts, leaving your partner on edge.  
  • Hyperfocus: Often considered a “superpower” of ADHD, hyperfocus is the unique ability to zero in on an interesting activity and forget everything else. This can lead to a mismanagement of time and tendency to forget other plans made with your partner. 

Does ADHD Complicate Romance? 

Symptoms of ADHD can lead to frustration and hurt feelings on both sides of the relationship. After all, an important quality in any relationship is feeling seen and valued by your partner. Whether you have ADHD or your partner does, it’s easy to feel misunderstood or neglected if coping strategies are not established.

The symptom of hyperfocus can also cause complications when it comes to romance. At the beginning of the relationship a person with ADHD may want to give all their attention to their new partner while the world seemingly falls away around them. But as the infatuation and novelty wears off, this hyperfocus may shift to some other passion, leading their partner to suddenly feel unimportant.

Handling Romantic Relationships When You have ADHD

If you have ADHD or suspect that you do, finding ways to manage your symptoms is paramount to having a healthy relationship and a healthy life. This will take a willingness to educate yourself on ADHD and take action in helping to reduce symptoms before they wreak havoc on your relationship. This may involve taking medication, seeing a therapist, and implementing healthy lifestyle habits that can help keep your symptoms in check. 

Some other tips on handling your romantic relationships include:

  • Prioritize your relationship: Don’t let distraction lead to disinterest or impulsivity lead to rash decisions you may regret later. Find ways to make time for your relationship, even if it takes extra effort. 
  • Used a day planner or shared calendar: Trying to stay on top of important dates and plans can be a struggle if you’re doing all that work in your head. Use a day planner that you won’t lose or a shared calendar so forgetfulness doesn’t lead to frustration. Relying on routines can also be helpful, like knowing that you always do grocery shopping together on Saturdays or you go out to dinner on Tuesday nights.
  • Forgive: Managing emotions is a challenge for people with ADHD. If you find that you hold on to resentments, build a case against your partner during arguments, or overreact to minor inconveniences, learn to practice forgiveness to take the emotional load off of them and yourself. Also practice forgiveness with yourself if you tend to beat yourself up for your shortcomings.
  • Brush up on your communication skills: Don’t let quiet frustrations become giant resentments. Try to communicate in person frequently and hold eye contact to avoid getting distracted. Communicate your feelings using “I” statements so you don’t get caught up in blaming your partner.

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Handling Romantic Relationships When Your Partner has ADHD  

Dating someone with ADHD can make you feel lonely and undervalued, especially if you don’t know much about the classic symptoms of ADHD and which ones your partner may be exhibiting. This is why it’s equally important to educate yourself about what ADHD looks and feels like and how it affects the brain. It’s also important to resist the urge to do everything for your partner or micromanage, which will only lead to both of you feeling disrespected.

Some other tips on handling your romantic relationships include: 

  • See things from their perspective: Whether your relationship is new or you’ve been together for years, it’s always helpful to put yourself in your partner’s shoes if you’re feeling frustrated or disappointed at them. Is it possible you’re misinterpreting their intentions or their actions? Could a conversation clear things up?
  • Separate your partner from their symptoms: If your partner fails to remember something you told them, is it because they’re self-centered or is it because their executive dysfunction has caused them to forget? If they say something inappropriate at a party, is it because they’re socially inept or is it the symptom of impulsivity? Separating your partner from their symptoms helps you to see that your partner’s shortcomings are not who they are, but reflections of how ADHD manifests for them. 
  • Delegate tasks: It shouldn’t always be up to you to do all the chores or remember all the important dates. If you live with your partner, sharing the load of domestic work is crucial. You also shouldn’t have to stay on top of telling your partner what to do all the time. Devising a plan with your partner to divide tasks equally and keep them in clear view (like a whiteboard) can help keep everyone accountable.
  • Practice patience: If your partner is working on managing their ADHD symptoms and bettering the relationship, be patient with their progress. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and letting them know you notice their efforts can be extra motivating. 

How to Find Coping Strategies  

Working with a therapist or perusing resources online can help you find various coping strategies on how to have a successful relationship with ADHD. There are also online and in-person support groups for both people with ADHD and their partners where you can safely and privately discuss and learn more about the challenges that come with combining romance with ADHD.

If you’re the person with ADHD, trying a medication like Brillia can help reduce symptoms like inattention, impulsivity, irritability, and restlessness without harsh, synthetic chemicals or harmful side effects. Brillia is a non-prescription homeopathic medication that consists of antibodies to the S100B protein, a key regulator of many different intracellular and extracellular brain processes.  Studies have suggested that when the S100B protein is out of balance in the body, there is a disruption of these brain processes, leading to classic ADHD symptoms as well as anxiety and emotional turbulence. As Brillia helps to regulate the S100B protein, it also normalizes the level of monoamines (dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin) in different parts of the brain, which are the same neurotransmitters associated with mood stabilization. Brillia achieves this effect gently and impactfully without any off-target effects. 

Find out more about how Brillia works. 

Showing Each Other You’re Trying 

It takes two to make a relationship work. Showing your partner that you are willing to work on the relationship proves to them that you value them. Schedule frequent check-ins without distractions to see what’s working and what’s not and be generous in praising the other person for doing their fair share of work. If you think you could both use more support, there are therapists who specialize in attention disorders who may be able to see both of you in couples therapy.  

Consider a Multitude of Treatments  

If you have ADHD, medication is just one tactic that may improve your symptoms and your relationship as a result. Implementing healthy lifestyle habits can be especially helpful, like those outlined in Brillia’s holistic 5 Pillars. These include following a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep, controlling screen time, and practicing mindfulness, which have all been proven to drastically reduce symptoms. And if you choose to take Brillia, it’s imperative that you follow the 5 Pillars to maximize the medication’s success. 

No two people experience ADHD alike and finding what works best for you can take time and patience. After all, you cannot show up for your partner if you don’t show up for yourself. 

Explore more resources on how to manage ADHD at the Brillia(nce) Resource Center.

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