By definition, being intimate with another person requires focus. Sharing something deeply personal with someone who seems to not be paying attention is frustrating. Inattention and distractibility can bring a blast of cold water to an otherwise steamy relationship.
Jonathan Scott Halverstadt, author of the book, ADD and Romance (Taylor Publishing, 1998), says that for many couples what is missing is a sense of connection.
"Spouses often tell me their AD/HD partner doesn't seem to really 'be there' during sex," says the psychotherapist from Fairfield, California. One of Halverstadt's clients said that it felt as if her husband didn't care who was there with him during sex. The sense of connection was missing.
AD/HD people go from unfocused to hyper-focused, which may sound like a good alternative to the distracted partner. But too much focus can cause it's own set of problems. Hyper-focusing on your own wants and needs can leave your partner feeling used and empty.
Regaining that connection can mean the difference between living happily ever after and sleeping on the couch. The first step is in trying to find what is creating the problem.
For the Partner Who Has AD/HD
If possible, try being with your partner when your medications are still working. Stimulants increase focus and decrease potential distraction. Medication can also help you to be more attentive to your partner.
One possible side effect of stimulant medication is trouble sleeping, and many AD/HD people find that they can't take Ritalin or other stimulants late at night if they intend to get any sleep. You could try taking your last dose of medication later in the day, so that it is still effective during the evening but wears off in time for you to get to sleep. Another possibility is to do your lovemaking in the morning. This may be difficult if your morning schedule is already hectic, but at least you'll show up for work with a smile on your face.
Other medications, particularly antidepressants, can delay orgasm (which may be a good thing in men) or make climax completely impossible (a bad thing for anyone). Sexual problems caused by medications are the most common reason why people discontinue antidepressant medication that's working. Other medications may also affect sexual performance or libido.
But don't write off your sex life because you take medications. Instead, find a medication or treatment that allows you and your partner to have a healthy relationship. Sex is like oxygen - you don't really appreciate it until you don't have any.
Think about that the next time you take a deep breath.
Going at it liked greased ferrets in heat may sound like fun, but it may leave your partner wondering what happened.
"From an evolutionary point of view, fast is better," says sex researcher Robert Birsch, PhD. "You didn't want to be causing a lot of commotion in the bush in case a saber-toothed tiger was around." Unfortunately, any benefits that might have been gained from perpetually quick and intensely focused sex, such as survival of the species, no longer require quite the same sense of urgency. Learning to slow down the pace and to spend time talking - before, during and after sex - may help your relationship survive.
"Slowing down" means more than simply slowing the physical pace of sex. You also have to slow down your mind. That may require some creative thinking. "When I'm having sex, I think about baseball scores," said one ADDitude reader. "Of course, now when I watch baseball, I think about sex. No wonder I'm confused."
Instead of thinking about a designated hitter or runs batted in, Halverstadt recommends more focused thoughts. "Tell your lover a bedtime story. It may be something you make up. It may be sexy, romantic, funny or just plain silly. If you've got a lot of courage, act out the story as a play at the foot of the bed with you as the only actor."
The point is to become more aware of the physical and emotional needs of your partner. Rather than thinking of sexual intimacy as only intercourse or other climax-inducing activities, try including time to talk, touch and explore your partner's body, mind and spirit.