9 Ways ADD/ADHD Affects Relationships
Many ADD/ADHD relationships are affected by similar patterns, especially when the disorder is undermanaged. When you recognize these patterns, you can change them.
Areas for the ADD/ADHD Partner to Work On
1. Hyperfocus Dating. The biggest shock to ADD/ADHD relationships comes with the transition from courtship to marriage. Typically, a person with ADD/ADHD hyperfocuses on his partner in the early stages of a relationship. He makes her feel she is the center of his world. When the hyperfocus stops, the relationship changes dramatically. The non-ADHD partner takes it personally. My husband stopped hyperfocusing on me the day we got home from our honeymoon. Suddenly, he was gone -- back to work, back to his regular life. I was left behind. After six months of marriage, I wondered if I had married the right man. The non-ADHD partner should remember that inattentiveness is not intentional, and find a way to forgive her partner. Feeling ignored is painful. Address the issue head-on by establishing ways to improve your connections and intimacy, and allowing yourself to mourn the pain that hyperfocus shock has caused you both.
2. Walking On Eggshells. Tantrums, anger, and rude behavior often accompany untreated ADD/ADHD symptoms. One man with ADD/ADHD described it to me as “having to anticipate my partner’s response to every single thing I do. I live my life trying to second-guess her, because I want to please her, but most of the time she’s just mad.” Changing behavior in both partners is critical to turning around a relationship. Don’t assume that anger or frustration in either partner is part of ADD/ADHD. Chances are good that you can get these things under control.
3. Believing ADD/ADHD Doesn't Matter. Some ADD/ADHD partners don’t believe that ADD/ADHD is a factor in their relationship. They say, “I don’t need treatment! I like myself just the way I am. You’re the one who doesn’t like me, and has problems with this relationship.” My husband was in denial. The good news for us was that, about a month or so after diagnosis, he decided he didn’t have much to lose by considering treatment. He discovered it made a world of difference.
So here’s my plea to all ADD/ADHD partners who are skeptical: If you don’t believe the disorder affects your relationship, assume that it does, and get an evaluation and effective treatment. It could save your relationship.
This article appears in the Spring issue of ADDitude.
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