How to Maintain a Healthy Relationship Despite ADHD

ADHD and Relationships: Tips for Fostering Better Communication

ADHD and RelationshipsFor anyone, relationships are challenging. They demand massive amounts of energy, time and commitment.

Even if you do well to provide your relationships with enough resources, disaster can strike; a mistimed comment, a thoughtless behavior or a neglected anniversary can throw a functioning relationship into a tailspin.

Studies show that about one-quarter of the romantic relationships are dysfunctional on some level. The difficulty associated with relationships only increases when one or both partners have a mental health disorder. Often, the disorder plays a significant role in the relationship.

Take ADHD for example: if one or both partners have an ADHD diagnosis, the rate of dysfunction jumps from 24 to 58 percent. This means that ADHD doubles your chance of having an unhealthy romantic relationship. It also means that if you have ADHD, it is more likely that your current or future relationship will be dysfunctional rather than functional.

Most people are not interested in a life without relationships, though. People seek the emotional and physical closeness, the stability and consistency of having someone around, and the practicality of having someone to share responsibilities and expenses.

Whether your relationship is your desire or outside forces thrust you and your partner together, the goal is a successful, happy relationship. Even if ADHD works to derail your plans, you can achieve the goals you desire. Here’s how:

ADHD and Relationship Issues: How to Identify the Issues

With all relationships, problems arise from a number of sources. In the case of ADHD relationships, both the person with ADHD and the person without ADHD play a role in the negative facets of the relationship.


Taking time to investigate how each person contributes to the relationship will yield useful information that you can use later to develop an appropriate treatment plan.

When assessing the situation, be sure to enter with open eyes. Otherwise, you may be more interested in pointing fingers than accepting your share of the responsibility.

The Person With ADHD

Some of the symptoms of ADHD that can be problematic in a relationship include:

  • Poor attention. Of course, paying attention is important in relationships. Giving full attention to a conversation is essential when trying to make the other person feel valued and appreciated. Poor attention leads to poor communication, poor listening and a poor ability to respond appropriately in a conversation.
  • Being forgetful. During periods of attention, the person with ADHD can do well to convince himself and his partner that he heard every detail of the conversation and took the needed steps to follow through. Then, an hour later he has no recollection of the conversation.
  • Acting without thinking. People with ADHD have a track record of making impulsive, spontaneous and reckless decisions that lead to unwanted consequences. The choices can be associated with poor spending habits, infidelity or conflicted parenting.
  • Similar to above, people with ADHD may say things in an unfiltered way. Typically, this leads to hurt feelings and statements being made that are untrue. Some outbursts can be aggressive or physically abusive
  • Other mental health factors. Unfortunately, ADHD does not exist in a bubble. Instead, people with ADHD commonly have co-occurring disorders like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. These influences further impact the relationship.

Next page: the person without ADHD.

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