After only recently coming to terms with ADHD itself, it's time I came to terms with how my ADHD is affecting my relationship.
by Ben T.
If I were to tell you that things were going great with my Spanish girlfriend of 10 months, it would be a lie. If I were to tell you that we have our ups and downs, I would be getting closer to the truth. And if I were to say that when things are good, they are great and when things are bad, they are really bad, it would be pretty much spot on.
Sometimes I feel like my girlfriend and I aren’t compatible: She self-admittedly has control issues, and I self-admittedly can be slightly out of control. We grew up in completely different cultures, we have different ideas of God and religion, we usually don’t agree on politics, and sometimes we flat out just don’t get along. We are bordering on being in a love-hate relationship.
But we do have a lot in common: We both love traveling, food, dogs, kayaking, hiking, gardening, and photography, and we have some overlapping tastes in music. Like I said, when things are good, they are great!
My girlfriend is well aware of my attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) and has taken steps to educate herself about ADD/ADHD. I admire that about her. She has read books about ADD/ADHD, visited multiple websites, and read everything she could get her hands on. She even introduced me to this website! But, after experiencing recent problems in my relationship -- where some of my ADHD symptoms came up as potential causes for our issues -- I realized that both partners have to come to accept not just ADD/ADHD, but also how it affects the relationship.
I know I am faulty. I realize I am not always easy to get along with. I know that I am more flawed than most. I have anger problems and a low self-esteem, I am easily distracted, I fail to follow through with things, and I hyperfocus on stuff I shouldn’t be focusing on at all. I have flaws. But so does everyone else on this planet, and sometimes I think my girlfriend forgets that.
In a lot of ways, the relationship has become more of a game or a competition between the two of us instead of what it should be. We should be a team. We fight and point fingers at each other. We focus so intensely on the other person's flaws that we fail to see our own. Thus things tend to go uncorrected. Gandhi had some good advice when he said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." If we can really focus more on improving ourselves and less on changing the other person to meet our needs, we might finally get somewhere.
Here is something we as ADDers need to accept, though: Relationship troubles are common among ADD/ADHD people. We need to accept that we are at a slight disadvantage when it comes to things like marital bliss. We can’t change how patient and understanding our romantic partners will be of our ADD/ADHD challenges. We can only change ourselves, and honestly that's a good place to start.