Relationships in which one or both partners have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) range from successful to disastrous. Partnerships affected -- or should I say, distorted -- by ADD/ADHD symptoms can bring “the worst of times.” Pain and anger abound. You can barely talk to each other about problems affecting the relationship. When you do, you rarely agree. You’re frustrated that you’ve gotten to this point, and you’re disappointed that you haven’t made things better.
If your partner has ADD/ADHD, you may feel ignored and lonely. Your partner can focus on things that interest him, but not on you. He never seems to follow through on what he agrees to do. He may seem to act like a child instead of an adult. You nag him, and you’ve started to dislike the person you’ve become. The two of you either fight or clam up. Worst of all, you are stressed about being saddled with the household responsibilities while your partner gets to have all the fun.
If you have ADD/ADHD, you may feel your partner has become a nagging monster. The person you loved has become a control freak, trying to manage the details of your life. No matter how hard you try, you can’t meet your partner’s expectations. The easiest way to deal with her is to leave her alone.
If these descriptions sound familiar, your relationship suffers from what I call the ADD/ADHD effect. ADD/ADHD symptoms -- and the responses both of you have to them -- have damaged your partnership. The good news is that understanding the role that ADD/ADHD plays in your relationship can turn it around. When you learn to identify the challenges ADD/ADHD brings to relationships, and the steps you can take to meet them, you can rebuild your lives. That’s exactly what my partner and I did.
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This article appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of ADDitude.
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