How Adult ADHD Affects Relationships

How Adult ADHD Affects Relationships

Perhaps since the start of the pandemic, you have found yourself arguing more with your partner about the dishes and general cleanliness. During the pandemic, arguments between couples increased as more were working from home. This creates close proximity 24/7, and that can get draining and tiresome for anyone. If however, you and/or your partner have ADHD, you might have found little things like a sink full of dishes to be unbearable, and this problem is not likely to let up now that people are starting to return to the office. Once you see it, you can’t UNSEE it, and realizing how messy or forgetful you or your partner are on a daily basis may be a problem that persists well beyond the reaches of the dreaded COVID lockdown. If you suspect that you or your honey may have ADHD, here are some sneaky patterns that couples coping with this illness may fall into.

  1. The ADHD person forgets to do chores, and the non-ADHD person starts to get resentful. From the ADHD perspective, they simply forgot to do a task that you asked them to do. This is due to executive functioning being impaired in those who live with ADHD. Executive functioning includes things like working (short term) memory. For example, a person with ADHD will often forget where they put their keys or phone, but they will have no issues remembering what you said about an interesting topic 3 years ago. From the neurotypical perspective, the ADHD person forgot to do this particular task….AGAIN. They may also think “their memory seems to work fine in other situations, why isn’t it working for this simple thing? They are just making up excuses and being lazy!” This can lead to feelings of resentment in both parties. The ADHD person feels attacked and criticized for what they deem something small, and the neurotypical hates having to feel like the parent when it comes to household chores and responsibilities.
  2. The ADHD person is also very sensitive to criticism. This is due to those with ADHD often being raised in households with parents who did not know or understand how to help their child, or who may not have had access to resources. The average child with ADHD receives three times the amount of negative messages than a neurotypical child. This creates rejection sensitivity, which may lead the person with ADHD to not respond to any kind of feedback well. They may perceive feedback as an attack, and may get very emotional over perceived criticism. This makes it difficult to have a constructive and problem solving conversation with someone with this disorder.
  3. Individuals with ADHD also may wear their heart on their sleeve, especially if they struggle with the impulsive subtype of ADHD. Emotional regulation and impulse control are affected by this disorder, which often looks like the ADHD person blowing off steam or even having full blown meltdowns over stress and responsibilities. This can cause partners of those with ADHD to feel anxious and unable predict when the ADHD person might explode or go into meltdown mode. As humans, we like consistency, and we like to be able to regularly predict how we will be treated by our partners. For those partnered with ADHD individuals, this security can be hard to come by if their partner’s ADHD and mood regulation symptoms have gone untreated.

While these symptoms may be difficult for those in long term relationships to cope with and manage, it is not impossible. There are five things that a person with ADHD needs to help them be successful, and those are praise, acknowledgment, games, growth mindset, and positive acceptance. Stay tuned for my next blog post when I talk about how to implement these things into your neurodivergent relationship! Also, for more tips on managing ADHD in romantic partnerships, check out this book on Amazon:

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