How ADHD can Impact your Relationship and How you can (still) Work it out

How ADHD can Impact your Relationship and How you can (still) Work it out


Having a fulfilling relationship is a bit of a challenge for every person but maintaining a relationship with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is exceptionally difficult. Symptoms include lack of attention, inability to focus, extreme impatience, impulsiveness,  frequent mood swings, and lack of time management skills, causing distress in the life of the person and partner of him/her and might lead to breaking the relationship apart. Does this mean that the person with ADHD is not able to maintain a healthy relationship? The probability of maintaining a good and healthy relationship is lower than in normal people, but professional says that it is possible to lead a relationship healthily with proper guidance and treatment.

Read More: Psychology Behind Relationships

Symptoms of ADHD


Impulsivity is capable of destroying the relationship, people with impulsivity act out without thinking and are unconcerned about the outcome. Those behaviours lead to hurting the emotions and feelings of the partner and impulsive behaviour has the risks of substance abuse, which also leads to a toxic relationship

Lack of Attention:

Lack of attention can give the partner the feeling of neglect, loss the connection, lack of intimacy, weaken the emotional connection and also lower the self-esteem and self-worth of the partner. This might lead to insecurity in the relationship, the individual with ADHD could be able to give attention to anything as well as to the partner and this could sabotage the relationship. 

Low Frustration Tolerance:

Disagreements, different opinions, different thought processes and different likings among relationships are quite common things and these can create some amount of tension and frustration. Normal people can tolerate that but individuals with ADHD are not able to tolerate the frustration and that leads to again frivolous arguments. 

Frequent Mood Swings:

Mood swings mean sudden fluctuations or shifts in mood. In ADHD this one is quite a common symptom. Frequent mood swings affect the understanding between the couple and harder to get along. It’s harder to understand the partner’s current mental state and not be able to solve problems. 

Poor Time Management Skills:

In the life of normal people, time management creates a major problem like losing a job, raising conflicts in relationships and so on. In the same way, PO, or time management skills also create trouble in the relationship like not being able to grab quality time with your partner, not being able to fully fulfil, and not being able to support each other’s needs.  

Poor organizing skills:

Poor organizing skills can lead to misunderstanding, chaos and inefficiency. Not remembering the schedule and commitments also creates trouble and the partner might question the trust and involvement in a relationship. Individuals with ADHD do not have good organizing skills and that might negatively affect the relationship. 

Risk-taking behaviour: Individuals with ADHD might be involved in risk-taking activities, like substance abuse, not concerned about the safety of themselves and others. It hurts the relationship. This might affect the partner’s well-being and question the safety and security of the partner. 

Complications of ADHD in Relationships

ADHD and Romantic Relationship: 

ADHD might affect the person’s work, social relationships and well-being. If the person were in a relationship, that would also affect the well-being of the partner. Impulsivity, lack of control, and low frustration tolerance can lead to misunderstanding. Partner of the ADHD patient might have felt lonely, frustrated, lack of commitment, lack of support, sense of neglect, insecure. ADHD patients cannot able to rely on the promises and words that they have said. It leads to partner lose trust and faith in them.

People might expect their partner to listen to them, share their likings,  and spend quality time with them can’t able to reach the expectations of their partner, so that might lead to conflict in the relationship. They can’t able to take responsibility and are not able to work on it and this also sabotages the relationship. A partner might lack intimacy in the relationship. If both work on the relationship with the proper guidance, that may result in a healthy relationship. 

ADHD and Friendship

While some individuals with ADHD find meeting with friends enjoyable, they frequently become bored and feel the need for a break. They struggle to consistently enjoy their company and give them their whole attention regularly. Those who suffer from ADHD may find it difficult to establish and maintain friendships and long-term relationships. Impulsiveness,  hyperactivity, and mood swings might be the barriers to establishing a friendship among others. They could not pay attention to their friendship, so the friendship wouldn’t last. ADHD might develop low self-esteem that also a barrier to developing new friends. 

ADHD and Social Skills: 

Social circumstances can be challenging for people with ADHD when they exhibit symptoms including impulsivity, lack of attention and hyperactivity. Individuals with ADHD may misread social cues, talk over other people, or struggle to focus. As mentioned earlier individuals with  ADHD might develop low self-esteem, so they have low social skills.

ADHD and Marriage: 

Marriage requires more responsibility in the individual such as financial responsibility, parental responsibility, housekeeping fixing issues within the domestic tasks. This sharing of duties can make the partner of the ADHD individual more tiring. Partners may find it as a sign of a failing relationship and it might lead to divorce. Parenting could not be successful, both the partner and the children encounter many difficulties. 

According to Assistant Professor, Mudita Raj, ADHD can create roadblocks in relationships. Forgetfulness, scattered focus, and impulsive actions can leave partners feeling ignored or on edge. The imbalance caused by one partner taking on more responsibility due to ADHD can breed resentment. However, by understanding these challenges and working together with strategies and professional help, couples can strengthen their connection.

Tips and Strategies 

  1. EmpathyUnderstanding the partner’s point of view is the first step towards improving the relationship. If they have been together for a long time or if they have had repeated arguments, the partner may assume that they had known their ADHD partner’s perspective. Non ADHD Partners may tend to misread their ADHD partner’s behaviour and motivations. So they have to be careful when they are trying to understand. 
  2. Couples therapyConsider couple therapy for improving healthy relationships, prioritize the therapist who specialises in ADHD treatment and additionally supports couple therapy. And foster productive and honest communication, learn some management techniques and learn how to react to the behaviour of the spouse’s behaviour. 
  3. Education: Non-ADHD partners also get education about ADHD and its symptoms. It is crucial. Once one learns about the condition then has to analyze the behavior due to the condition of the ADHD and have to act according to it. 
  4. Practice active listening: Both ADHD and Non ADHD partner should practice active listening, it is important to understand what their partner trying to say and help to understand their point of view and their expectation. 
  5. Open CommunicationSet a safe place to communicate about the partner’s condition and how it affects the relationship. Share what’s going on in our mind and share the expectations and needs of the partner. Both ADHD and non-ADHD have to share their thoughts. 
  6. Mindfulness technique: Practice mindfulness techniques to focus on the present rather than the past and future. It takes time and skills for the regular training. It will help to avoid the anxiety about the future and worrying and dwelling on the past (helps to forget about the conflicts that arise between the couple due to ADHD partner). It gives a fresh and pleasant mental state for both of them. 
  7. Meditation: Meditation will help to cope with stress, frustration, and impulsivity and also help to connect better and help to improve the focus. And also helps to reduce negative feelings and foster a positive and peaceful mental state. There are several techniques in meditation and both ADHD and Non ADHD partners have to practice meditation.

According to PhD Scholar (JRF), Isaac Thomas, Managing ADHD symptoms in relationships involves conscious efforts, patience and a few key strategies. Open, simple and honest communication is essential for understanding each other. Setting clear routines can help create stability for both the child and caretaker. Behavioural therapies, mainly cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) will aid in inculcating effective coping skills alongside functional social skills. It is key to involve therapy alongside medication with appropriate clinical supervision. Lastly, fostering resilience, and nurturance and seeking professional support can greatly improve relationship dynamics with the child; and interaction with the therapist can aid in the development of their social skills.

Maintaining a healthy relationship with a partner who has ADHD is challenging due to symptoms like impulsiveness, lack of attention, and poor time management. These can lead to misunderstandings, feelings of neglect, and frustration. However, with proper guidance, treatment, and strategies such as empathy, open communication, and mindfulness, couples can overcome these challenges. Education about ADHD and couples therapy can also foster a supportive and understanding environment, allowing for a fulfilling and healthy relationship despite the difficulties.

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